Lady Killer Library Edition

Writer / Artist
Lady Killer Library Edition
Lady Killer Library Edition review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Dark Horse - 978-1-50671-652-7
  • Release date: 2020
  • UPC: 9781506716527
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, Period drama

Lady Killer is based on the original idea of the 1960s sitcom world of the perfect housewife clashing with the sordid world of the paid assassin. Josie Schuller takes both roles, performing the contradictory trades with confidence, although always aware of the danger of one world seeping into the other, and that provides a constant tension. This combines two outings originally available as separate paperbacks, starting naturally enough with Lady Killer.

Joëlle Jones collaborates with Jamie S. Rich on that, and serves up the better sequel solo. While the idea and Jones’ art impress, and the blending of sitcom and murder is well handled, there’s a lack of engagement to the first story for not knowing who Josie really is, or how her contrary life came about. The couple of pages of explanation provided in the sequel would have bolstered the opening story about her wanting to escape her dual life no end. However, that does have greater shock value as Josie in her immaculately reproduced early 1960s fashions goes about her grisly business, Jones relishing the explicitly violent interludes.

The panels sourced for the cover prove just how good the art is. Jones’ drawing is stylish and stunning on the first story, and even better on the second, where a move from Seattle to Florida enables a brighter setting maximised by Michelle Madsen’s colours. Jones really puts the effort in to reproduce the period to the last detail. Fashions, furnishings, locations and especially cars are supplied very carefully, and look great. She’s equally good at designing people who radiate their character. Several are present in both stories, and there’s a clever transformation of one from exaggerated comedy relief to someone with purpose.

A combination of reasons ensure the sequel is the better read. The art has improved still further, while the strengths of the opener have been sustained with the addition of a plot that’s tighter and less reliant on the slapstick of possible discovery, although that remains a threat. Josie is now freelance, and that brings its own problems, not least that she now has to dispose of corpses herself instead of having a clean-up team follow up.

It could be just looking through at the gorgeous art will make this a hardcover you want on your shelf, but the ideas flourish and eventually the story matches the art.