Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #54 by Drew Barth
Reaper of Tears
Kelly Sue DeConnick is one of the best writers of this century. Emma Ríos is one of the best artists of this century. Pretty Deadly: The Rat has recently wrapped, and no other series that has come out that has so thoroughly affected the way in which I engage with monthly comics.
Pretty Deadly: The Rat is the third volume of the Pretty Deadly series, but is the first of planned miniseries that will continue the story forward. I discussed the return of Pretty Deadly after a three year hiatus a few months back and having the entire story laid out before me is an experience that has brought me no shortage of tears. As the story centers on the Fields family in 1930s Hollywood, we meet Clara Fields, granddaughter of Sara Fields from earlier in the series and niece to Frank Fields—a man who is looking for the reason his niece had to die.
As a noir-tinged mystery, Pretty Deadly excels in creating a mood and atmosphere that draws readers and characters alike deeper into its world. But as a story of family and the ways in which people are broken by their own obsessions, DeConnick and Ríos bring us a story fraught with such sadness and hope that it is difficult to walk away without feeling overwhelmed by emotions.
There is a particular way that comics approach storytelling that will always be unique to the medium, namely in many of the modern, independent comics. A series can go on hiatus and return to us after a few years—the feeling of those series returning is like coming home to settle into a warm blanket. The characters and story bring such a comfort to the senses. Even in a story like Pretty Deadly centering on death and revenge, seeing the final image of Ginny in the first issue brought a small swell of tears to my eyes. And that is the power of a good story and good characters—the emotional connections we make that persist even after a story ends. However, Ginny’s story isn’t quite over yet. There are still a few more miniseries planned for the future, and I can only imagine the devastation they will bring.
I predict Pretty Deadly is going to remain as one of the greatest pieces of fiction in this century and maintain as a shining example of what comics can do when words meet pictures. It is mythic and massive with its storytelling, but intimate in characters that you want to get closer to throughout. To read Pretty Deadly is to experience the best comics have to offer.
Get excited. Dry those tears.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.