Six issues in and the first story arc of Pretty Violent is all wrapped-up. There’s a three-month break now before the next issue and the first collection is out in March. And for me, it’s my time to beg my leave. The joke was good for a little while, but this is just a comic that never quite got things right.
Over the six issues, we’ve followed the exploits of Gamma-Rae, a royal screw-up wanna-be hero, whose superheroing invariably ends up in plentiful bloodshed, whether it’s the bad guys, the good guys, or the innocent bystanders. We’ve explored where she’s come from and where she’s going, met the league of villains (which also happen to be her family) and the league of heroes (which is where she really wants to be) and seen her keep getting into all kinds of trouble.
And you know, with issue one and two, things really looked like they were going to be just the right blend of stupid and gross, with page after page of dumb gags done well, a chance to laugh at the blood and guts spewing out everywhere. It was hardly subtle, but it was funny. Ren & Stimpy with superpowers.
And then it stopped being as funny and started wanting to be more of a story. And that’s just what didn’t work as well. The gags, when they come now, are mere re-hashes of what’s gone before, and more and more, we’re getting bogged down in the bigger story that the comic wants to tell, of family ties and what it might mean to be this screwed-up hero.
Yes, comedy is subjective, but in my time I’ve loved some fabulous comedy comics. Aragones‘ Groo, Kyle Baker‘s stuff, Moore & Davis on DR & Quinch, and plenty more besides. So, it’s not like I can’t enjoy a good gag.
And yes, there were a couple of moments here where there was a smile…
But overall, what issue 6 came down to was one extended fight, lots of violence but none of it with that same bloody slapstick sense that made the big fight scenes in issue one seem both fun in their gross-out madness and a long time ago.
I think it all comes down to that simple issue of not really knowing where it wants to be. I have a feeling that writers Jason Young and Derek Hunter (who also illustrated the series) have seen and enjoyed the same references that I mention and more. But they made the mistake of thinking it had to be a funny comic with a storyline across the six issues. It would have been so much better if they’d just tried to go the route of Groo or DR & Quinch and deliver a new gag-filled story of ridiculousness every issue. Oh, that would have worked so beautifully well. Instead, what I’ve read is a nicely put together comic with some sweet artwork, but one that just fizzles and falters when it should be making me laugh as often and as deep as it managed with that first issue.
There’s still some hope for it to go good places I suppose, but I don’t know if I’ll be around to see it. Six issues was pretty much my lot for Pretty Violent.
Pretty Violent #6, written by Derek Hunter and Jason Young, art by Derek Hunter, published by Image Comics.