Best Shots Advance Reviews: LADY KILLER #1, FEATHERS #1

Credit: BOOM! Studios
Lady Killer #1 cover by Joelle Jones
Lady Killer #1 cover by Joelle Jones
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Lady Killer #1
Written by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
Art by Joëlle Jones and Laura Allred
Lettering by Crank!
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

She may look like a Mad Men pin-up, but Josie Schuller is no ordinary housewife. Underneath all that domestic poise lies a trained assassin, and it's that dichotomy that propels the first issue of Lady Killer. Similar to Jennifer Blood before it, there's a lot of room for subversion and violence to this series, even if a sagging second half keeps this first issue from reaching its full potential.

Lady Killer started off as a set of off-kilter pin-ups by Joëlle Jones, and in that regard, it's fitting that the art is the defining characteristic of this book. With Josie's Jackie O. hat and pastel blue attire, Jones nails the '60s-era style. What's great is that Jones' level of detail is just enough to be off-putting, down to the little flecks of ink everywhere that evokes blood that you can't quite wipe out. Jone's characters emote when they talk, they bounce when they move, and when the stakes are high in a Kill Bill-esque opening scene, boy do they ever bleed.

Working with Jamie S. Rich on the story, Jones is able to give Lady Killer #1 a strong first half, one that juggles the inanity of "Avon calling!" with the brutality of shoving a knife into someone's chest. But the once we return to Josie's domestic life, the pacing starts to slip. From the blood-splattered cover, you know that the main appeal of Lady Killer is watching this housewife cut loose, so jumping from the over-the-top violence to the lower-key juggling of home and work - while clever in a thematic sense - kills this book's energy. There are a lot of great questions that Jones and Rich bring to the fore with the smart-ass, sexist handler Peck, including whether or not Josie is as respected as she is talented, but 10 pages of it is just a little too long.

Judging by the over-the-top final page, however, I'm hoping that the second issue of Lady Killer will have a little bit more insane spectacle to go along with all that traditional exposition. The visuals are there for this book, no question - but you have to point these visual big guns in the right direction to get the most impact. Still, on a conceptual and visual basis, Lady Killer is a strong debut from Dark Horse, one that can only get better from here.

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Feathers #1
Written and Illustrated by Jorge Corona
Published by Archaia
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Feathers #1 reads like a cross between a Disney film and one of Marvel's merry mutants, as Jorge Corona delivers his cartoony, energetic first chapter. While this comic will almost assuredly read better in a collected form, the first issue of Feathers still brings some superb artwork and more than a little bit of endearing qualities to its characters.

Hearkening back to orphaned characters ranging from Tarzan to Superman, Corona's main character, a feathered child named Poe, is embued a likability from the very beginning, as he's found in an alleyway by mortal man Gabriel. And as we get to know him, Poe becomes both sympathetic and magnetic because of his differences. With goggles on his head, a smile on his face, and crow-like winglets along his arms, Poe reads almost like the Spider-Man of Notre Dame, leaping around and confounding the guards of a Victorian England. It's a character we've seen before, and while Corona doesn't give him a ton of depth beyond sneaking away from his sleeping father to play Robin Hood for the local street urchins, it's a cliché precisely because it's so fun.

What gets me about this particular issue - and why it feels as thought Feathers might read better as a collected series - is the pacing. Feathers reads very much like a screenplay to me in terms of its structure, down from Poe being found to the Jack the Ripper-esque being stalking the streets. We see just enough of Poe in his day-to-day world before it's upended by Bianca, the daughter of an aristocratic family and the clear impetus of the plot. Their meet-cute isn't quite as memorable as it could be, because it's so similar to some of the earlier scenes, and by the time sparks could fly, the book is already over.

That said, structure aside, the art in this book is the definite highlight here. Corona is a bit of a mix of Disney and Humberto Ramos, with his cartoony, sometimes exaggerated characters. Poe emotes particularly well, and looks even better when he's donning a cloak and a top hat to go with his yellow goggles and purple features. (One can only hope that he adopts that as his "costume" moving forward.) What's interesting about Corona's artwork is that instead of going for iconic images and pin-ups, he's focused on two things: emotion and speed. His panel layouts really help emphasize how Poe is always moving, and he and Bianca are always cranking up the energy with their expressions.

While the introduction of this book may be just a hair too scary for some, this gothic Disney-style story will likely draw in plenty of young new readers. There's action, there's heart, there's just a little bit of humor and mythology, and all of that keeps this book aloft. If the worst thing about Feathers is that people will be impatient to find out what happens next, that's a very good thing for Corona and Archaia.

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