by Joelle Jones, Jamie S. Rich and Laura Allred
After being given no choice, and in a business with no real friends, Peck was sent out after Josie. Whether or not Stenholm was justified in his hit on the agent is an inarguable point. The issue ended with Peck catching up with Josie, and Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich bring readers right back into the fray in Lady Killer #4. The book, which has had fantastic art and writing from the very beginning, reaches its penultimate issue. Here, the story hits full throttle and Jones and Rich deliver an excellent issue.
The opening sequence of Lady Killer #4 is a quick reminder of the true nature of the people in this business as well as the unforgiving tone that lies underneath every exchange. Peck offers Josie a way out, but readers will remember that he was sent to take Josie out before she failed to complete her mission. To the rescue comes an elderly bystander, but Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich deliver a fantastic twist to the sequence. Josie is ruthless, and with every sequence, she grows ever more fascinating. Only a killer as cold and calculated as she combines her secret life and her family in such a way as she does in this issue. Though the fourth issue of the series is filled with incredible moments of writing and art, Jones and Rich’s idea to have Josie tail Peck with her daughters in the car is a moment of brilliance. The sequence is a harrowing one as the unassuming assassin dances dangerously close to her killer. The experience of reading through these pages is maddening as readers will be simultaneously wishing vengeance and an end to this tension while bracing themselves for something dreadful.
Not only does the book deliver page after page of impressively paced story-telling, but the artwork in each issue seems to only get better. The moments of action are so well crafted, but the spaces between them are even more impactful. Jones panel construction and page layouts play a major role in the tone and effectiveness of the story. At points, the story utilizes tight panels, focusing in on a hand or face, while others pull back and show the entire three stories of a building and the events happening on every floor. The detail in every image, no matter how wide or close, never waivers. The decision to place the story in this era and Jones’s ability to deliver on that decision is excellent. There is something about the set pieces and makeup of the characters that drives the story even more. Jones finds a way to utilize elements of this era, not just in how the story looks, but in the writing and dialogue to add a layer to book.
Lady Killer is more than just a story of an assassin gone rogue because of these types of careful decisions that are not just chosen to create a surface-level aesthetic. Instead, the choice ripples through the entire makeup of the series. And the decision to bring Laura Allred into the fray was icing on the cake. The coloring is beautiful, yet somehow has a muted tone. Though the book has purples and yellows and reds, Allred uses a palette that keeps the story from feeling too poppy or modern in its visuals. The muted finish to the colors helps capture the era, and every page and setting is all the more pretty. When Josie enters the restaurant with her kids, the scene is and decisions made for the setting are fully realized. These scenes make the pages of Lady Killer feel cinematic, where every shot is developed and considered. Only once in the issue is a panel border broken, a decision that, at a time, carried weight and significance. As Josie stands in wait for another assassin, her cool posture breaks out from the panel and delivers that “larger than the scene” tone. Josie is a force, and the creators of the series understand the importance of these decisions.
Lady Killer #4 is another amazing chapter in what is quickly becoming the leading contender for best mini-series this year. Though one action sequence seems a bit short, the issue is otherwise page after page of top-notch story and art. There is only one issue left in this story, and there is absolutely no reason for anyone reading comics to be in the dark when it comes to Lady Killer. The conclusion drops in just thirty days, and it is sure to be fantastic.