Pretty Deadly is a supernatural western comic by Emma Rios, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles. Three issues have been released so far by Image Comics.
Revelation is defined as the disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity. We associate this term with it’s close cousin “apocalypse”. We associate the term with the unveiling of a supernatural truth generally one which brings about the end of the world. And often times that is where the emphasis lays, but one of the core concepts of our western conception of an apocalypse is the justice side of the apocalypse. Apocalyptic literature is always in some way about judgement. Whether it is the judgement of those who have withheld a particular knowledge, or the judgement it causes in the life of the person to whom the truth has been revealed. The notion that in the modern context, if the end of the world is coming, have you lived your life adequately, have your choices been wise, has your life been satisfying. An apocalypse is about the application of the metaphor of death across an entire existence of beings. It is also a space before that. That fraction of a second that exists forever before the end. Cut up over and over and over until it seems to almost move backwards away from its conclusion. It all ends in a flash that lasts for an eternity.
These themes of death and justice that are endemic to apocalyptic literature, are also very easy allies to the western genre. When we zoom in on a fire scorched landscape jutting violently against a plain sky–we can imagine riders in the distance. Off to the left of that mesa.
We pull back further:
We pull back further, and the landscape turns into a river. A river of blood. A woman stands there alone looking out, hands clasped in prayer.
And then there is a man looking at this woman, in this fire scorched blood of a river. Slumped with his hair blowing across his face. He stands there but only just.
This man and his weight and the things he must do:
This. Right here. This is the intersection. This is where Apocalyptic literature meets Spaghetti Western. Here where symbols and the vitality of fairy tales mix in with the hysterical trappings of genre.
And the two eyes that look out from the page, and the baby that is the book itself, and how an apocalypse is never a self-contained experience, but always something intrinsically meant to take life within the fear of its audience. And too, the Leone close-up.
It is a shame people only write about first issues.