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Dark Horse Comics: Lady Killer #1

Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor

Don’t be fooled by her charm, beauty, and prim mannerisms because underneath it all, Josie Schuller is one stone-cold killer.


Writers: Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
Artist: Joëlle Jones
Colorist: Laura Allred

There was always something off about how housewives were portrayed in the early 1960s. The nicely done hair, the all too perfect smiles, the neatly pressed dresses, all the while happily posing in their kitchens with freshly baked pies. Now we know why. They were hired killers in disguise! Gasp! Okay, that wasn’t really the case back then (at least we hope not), but Josie Schuller is definitely an exception.

On the surface, Josie is a homemaker, wife, and mother of two who loves her husband and has an intolerable mother-in-law. The issue opens with Josie posing as a cosmetician on the front doorstep of Mrs. Roman’s house. While Josie appears to be showing off some cosmetics, she’s actually plotting Mrs. Roman’s death. Josie tries to be discreet, but having her initial plans foiled, she calmly takes a more hands-on approach with a hammer to reach her goal. Talk about headstrong and brutal! With her hit done, she returns to her suburban home as if was just another ordinary day. Simple. Flawless. Classy.

Lady Killer #1 presents itself as an amusing story for almost any adult reader. It mixes dark comedy with action and gives new meaning to the words “poise” and “perfection”. What really makes this series a winner is its unique elegance and angle to storytelling. Jones and Rich strike a good balance between not just how they tell the story through dialogue, but also through the scenes unfolding. The attention to detail in the art is breathtaking, which is paradoxical considering how violent it can and will get. But it is this dichotomy between wholesomeness and indecency that is emphasized so well.

The opening pages clearly bring this point across, making light of a very dark situation. Josie appears prim and proper, but it is all a façade. Her forwardness toward Mrs. Roman is comical and her grin, while it should be filled with sinister motives, still comes off as stunning and provocative. In a strange way, Jones and Rich makes Josie’s act of murder tasteful. That’s because Josie does it with such calm and her only concern is that her dress still looks nice. Jones and Rich are able to dial down the grotesqueness of the scene. Though this is greatly due to colorist Allred, who uses shadow tones to lay out unsavory moments. For example, choosing black as opposed to red to depict blood splatter, maintaining an air of propriety and cleanliness. You can call it a distorted version of “class”, which makes the story even more dark and twisted. This distorted idealism is emphasized more in the bright, colorful scenes showing Josie’s domestic life. Its cheesiness is both delightful and frightening.

Lady Killer #1 loses its momentum in the second half of the issue when readers are introduced to Josie’s duller, domestic life. Not much is said or hinted about what her real motives are yet. But as a comic set to span 5-issues, hopefully the story will pick up speed and reveal what Josie is really up to.  

4.0 out of 5.0