Lady Killer is a series built on one of my favorite concepts: women with immaculate makeup and giant heels murdering people (mostly men). Unfortunately, it is also a series falls back on using lazy assassin tropes. Josie, our heroine, becomes an apparent liability to her organization, due to her life as a housewife and mother, and her handler is ordered to kill her. He fails, her mother-in-law sees her commit murder, and thus the status quo for Lady Killer 2 is set. The first issue of the new series feels equally uninspiring. With flat antagonists and awkward pacing, Joelle Jones fails to fully introduce a new story arc or create interesting enough characters to create a desire to continue reading.
The issue opens with Josie giving a demonstration at a tupperware party, hosted by two judgmental old women who are immediately painted as villains. It very quickly becomes clear that the party was a coverup for a job, that Josie was hired by a nephew of the women to kill them both so that he’s able to receive his inheritance. Through Josie’s narration, we learn that she has gone into business for herself. The issue mostly works as a means for us to understand what her life looks like now– that is, to see that it hasn’t really changed. She is still a housewife and mother, still making up reasons to leave the house in order to go to work; the only difference is the kind of client she works for and the kinds of jobs she takes.
One way the book fails is by neglecting to push the question of morality. While it might be boring, or perhaps too expected, to dwell on it too much, to wonder if Josie’s chosen profession is “right,” it is equally boring to not consider at all the fact that the heroine we root for is a killer by trade. She murders three people in this issue, and it is well established by the time they die that these people, while not necessarily evil, aren’t exactly nice. It makes it easier for us as readers to accept that she is murdering them, when perhaps asking us to think critically about the choices she’s making might create a more clever book, one with more heart or at least more fun.
And somehow, this book manages to not be very fun. Despite Michelle Madsen’s pop art color palette and the fact that Jones has Josie looking like a pin-up girl whether she is cutting up bodies with a bone saw or grimacing at her husband’s boss’s sexist comments, there is a sincere lack of delight to be had. No one tells jokes. Josie seems to fully lack personality, even when she is swinging a hammer into someone’s skull. Despite the fact that the whole point is that she rebels against the idea that women should be quiet and look pretty, she seems to spend most of her time being quiet and looking pretty.
On top of all of this, there is no real setup for a next issue. Aside from the fact that her mother-in-law knows that she is a killer, and the fact that an unknown person seems to know what she’s up to at the end of the issue, there has been very little established in the way of conflict. If the characters had been more engaging, perhaps this issue would have worked as simply an intro for a new story arc, without needing much of the meat of the plot, but that has ended up not being the case. Maybe the issue’s cliffhanger will deliver on its promise for something engaging, but based on what we’ve seen already, I wouldn’t count on it.
Lady Killer 2 #1 is out this Wednesday, August 3rd from Dark Horse Comics.
Elizabeth Brei grew up in Chicagoland, once worked at Disney World and has a cat named Moo. She holds an MFA from San Diego State University and can sometimes be found on Twitter @peachchild grumbling about kids these days or talking about Sailor Moon.