What does a sociopathic killer-for-hire look like? Underneath it’s dark comedy exterior, that is one of the primary questions that LadyKiller #1 poses to its readers. The book challenges, on pretty much every level, our hollywood-crafted notions of the prototypical hitman (er, woman).
LadyKiller, created by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Smith, is the story of Josie Schuller; by all appearances, the epitome of the American housewife, circa the 1960s. She cooks, she cleans, she manages the kids and the mother-in-law, all while maintaining an elegance and grace that was only a reality in the fiction of that bygone era. Behind the pristine makeup and frilly apron, however, Josie is something much more cold and calculating.
The opening issue to this five part miniseries is full of black comedy and social commentary, all juxtaposed quite nicely. There’s the obviously suspicious mother-in-law, who disapproves of Josie’s secretive excursions and has no qualms about reporting her observations to her oblivious son who believes himself to be king of his domestic castle. Some of the characters are fairly comical in their depictions, bordering on caricature, but they work within the confines of the story well. The kids for instance look the part of the golden-haired little angels, but the decision to dress them in stereoypical American Indian garb as they play “squaw”, makes on wonder if they won’t play a more sinister role later in the series.
There’s no denying the quality of the artwork. Jones sells the over-the-top theme of the story with a mix of classic comic book styling and pop art leanings. The panels alternate between homicidal glee, contemplative moodiness and something like the humor of the mundane deftly and fluidly. One other thing that’s for sure, you won’t get bored by stock images or traditional poses.
The indications of a complex association between Josie and her “handler”, the debonair and confident Peck, point toward some interesting conflicts in later issues. On the whole, this was a great first issue and Dark Horse probably couldn’t have picked a better series to open the New Year with. Pick it up and if it’s sold out, tell your comic shop to put in an order. You’ll be glad that you did.