Pretty Deadly: The Rat #4 Review

by Jay Hill on December 10, 2019

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

Ginny and Frank go further into the mystery of Clara’s death. This time it drags them into the dangerous realm of the Reaper of Obsession. With Frank caught in its grips, it seems he may suffer the same fate as his niece and never get the answer he desires.

This issue started with one of my favorite Bunny and Butterfly stories. They watch as a wolf and badger form an unlikely partnership. The clear symbolism being of Ginny and the Conjure-Man. It showed more of the cohesion found in this series. And, as their story wraps up, we briefly see Sissy before we return to Earth for the ongoing mystery of Clara’s death. I have enjoyed the tri-level nature of the series and hope future Pretty Deadly installments keep it. It quickly becomes apparent that something has gotten ahold of Frank. Ginny realizes that the Reaper of Obsession has captured Frank and she follows the Conjure-Man into the Reaper’s realm. Kelly Sue DeConnick turned a, pages long, fight scene into a multitude of emotional battles; Ginny is in a battle of wills, a battle against her past, and a battle for Frank’s soul. During the fight, Ginny and Alice’s history is detailed resulting in another one of my favorite moments in the series. The irony of how cruel it was for Ginny, the Reaper of Vengeance, to choose to ride without Alice, the Reaper of Cruelty, causing Alice to become vengeful, was a brilliant moment. The fight between Ginny and Obsession doesn’t have a clear winner and ends in a trade that, unless Ginny can pull off something spectacular in the last issue, will have long-reaching effects going into the next arc of Pretty Deadly. With that said, the biggest gain from the fight is the apparent promise of the answer to the question that started this comic and unlikely partnership: What happened to Clara?

I’ve felt that the issues have acted as a sort of reverse Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy and Toto meet three characters while making their way down the yellow-brick road. Ginny and Frank leave behind three characters. The first being the cowardly director, Jack Kaufman, the second being the Reaper of Thirst who grabs ahold of the heart, and the final being the Reaper of Obsession who controls the thoughts of a person. I’m not sure if intentional, but it would line up with the Hollywood and cinema aesthetics of the story. And the “monster or wizard” piece that the landlady held is reminiscent of the Wicked Witch. As Frank said, “Something to think about, I guess.”

From the opening Bunny and Butterfly scene, it seemed Emma Ríos was operating differently this issue. The use of silhouettes, this series’ focal point, and negative space for the wolf and badger shots were spectacular. Then there was the art of the squirrel’s tunnels that led to an interesting mirrored composition (one used again later). When we get to Earth, Clara’s characters are drawn around Frank’s head to express his obsessive thoughts. Ginny’s physical and mental battle with Obsession is done intricately with an incredible design. I took Obsession being illustrated as a dragon as a play on the saying “don’t chase the dragon”. The entire realm of Obsession is filled with the type of imagery that has made Pretty Deadly one of the pinnacles of comic book visuals. Jordie Bellaire’s colors are not just amazing when adding intricate detail to the space between Ríos's art, but I particularly enjoyed the colors in the opening Bunny/Butterfly scene; she really added something great to that scene. Her way of gradienting colors has been a vital part of the art this series and the colors used for the Obsession scenes show off that. She chooses a signature color, this time orange, for a moment then blends it to give it expression. There were also some deep reds added to the orange that gave it a subtle menace and brutality.

Pretty Deadly: The Rat is becoming the most cohesive addition to the series. The partnership and mystery have been interesting from the start and appear to be wrapping up in the perfect manner. This next beat of their journey adds to the atmosphere and sets up some interesting things. The showdown in this issue is filled with stunning visuals. And, DeConnick’s poetic sensibility has built up this issue, and the entire series, with great ideas. With the finale on the horizon, It will be interesting to discover the answers and see what glimpses we get of the future.

Our Score:


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