Pretty Deadly #10, by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios, arrives from Image comics today. Marking the end of the series’ second arc, this issue maintains the chaotic elegance and emotional powerhouse that readers have come to expect from the creative team, which includes the coloring and lettering efforts of Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, respectively.
As we know from prior issues, Ginny and Alice have left for the trenches of World War I in Europe in search of Sarah’s son, Cyrus. The battlefield quickly becomes a struggle not only between earthly political powers but also between the nebulus powers now known as Reapers—specifically between Ginny and the Reaper of War, Coyote and Alice. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that the result of these battles—otherworldly or mortal—is a homecoming for everyone involved.
What has stood out about Pretty Deadly since inception is the creative team’s use of reflection or mirrored actions and imagery as a vehicle for moving through a plot or a concept. The first cover was Ginny reflected in a pool in such a way that I still have a hard time telling which way is “right” side up. While the first arc of the series used this idea to move characters from the living world into that of the dead and vice versa, the second arc has used it to zero in on specific themes. In issue #10 in particular, the mirrored imagery is particularly strong in both visual representation and story, a point that Deconnick addresses in the back. The creative team uses opposite color palettes–warm versus cool, red versus blue or white–to separate characters from the Reaper of War. War is red, over-arching, and made of twisted, maze-like shapes that move and swell and overpower those caught on the battlefield, including Ginny. Cyrus and his fellow soldiers, as well as War’s horse upon separation, are done in navy blues or blacks highlighted by the white horse. This technique immediately tells the viewer that the soldiers are separate from the war that surrounds them–an impactful message done with no words. More than that, War and the Horse as symbols–opposite from one another once separated in both design and purpose–deliver the characters to the end of the arc while addressing the all-too-familiar battle between fear and our inner selves. I have SO MUCH I could say on this but I promised Image no spoilers.