Pretty Deadly: The Rat #3 Review

by Jay Hill on November 05, 2019

Written by: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by: Emma Ríos
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by: Clayton Cowles
Published by: Image Comics

The whodunit continues. Frank Fields, the Conjure-Man, tries to find the explanation behind his niece’s death. Ginny guides him on a journey to the domain of the Reaper of Thirst. What they learn there, tells them their quest for answers will have to go on.

This story is leaning into its noir elements to a great result. Out of all the narrative influences used in the various volumes of Pretty Deadly, this one has been the most adaptable. The three issues have taken the Fields story on a journey through the darkness under Hollywoodland’s glitz and glamour. It has used the classic feeling of sadness and sorrow that is hidden behind the environment and that has been used in many other great noir stories. On top of that, the other two narratives of Bunny and Butterfly and of the World Garden are at their most lucid. The poetic writing of Kelly Sue DeConnick is usually more to be felt than understood in Pretty Deadly, but in this volume, every issue is divided to feel like a telescope focusing on different levels, each with its own ambiance. It starts with the ethereal world of Bunny and Butterfly, then zooms into the majesty of Sissy’s Garden, then finally, down to earth where the mortal plane’s story is the most “straightforward”. It gives you three distinct realms that can interact with each other. Bunny and Butterfly watch Sissy in this issue, Ginny has left the Garden to wrangle in the other Reapers, and Frank holds a connection to their world.

As always, the poetry in the writing style is fused with Emma Ríos’ art to create a tapestry of pure emotional imagery. She’s one of the best and most creative artists to choose comics as their art form. In this series, the art has gone through a mild shift, all for the best. Her use of Lotte Reiniger style silhouettes adds to the cinema influence of the narrative, and the darker shading brings out the noir. But the greatest effect in this series is her boxing off of the panels in the Fields story. In the other realms, she uses her full atmospheric art style, giving it that other-worldly feel. However, in Hollywoodland the panels are mostly boxed off, bringing you down to earth. It’s not until the “real world” is affected by the other realms in dreams, visions, or other forms that the art breaks it’s boundaries and swoops the story into a symbolic aura. Colorist Jordie Bellaire has just as much a hold on this story as the others. She knows what each aspect needs to make it breathe. Giving soft highlights to her colors and infusing blaring hues into her palate when the mood dictates. Her use of gradients is subtle, and the texture of the colors invokes a feeling of film grain which is perfectly at home with the narrative.

Pretty Deadly: The Rat is not only a great continuation of the series, three issues in, I’m ready to call it the best yet. This issue is an immaculate piece of a series that is building a mosaic of poetic bliss. The story at the heart of this comic is lovely, but it’s the heart of this comic that is the real treat.


Our Score:


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