In Review: Pretty Violent #1

A hilarious tale of a hero making the worst possible mistakes accompanied by beautifully graphic art.

The covers: Two different covers are available should you need as much Pretty as possible in your collection. Cover A is by Derek Hunter and has Gamma flashing a big toothy smile with a wave. Her right hand is on her hip, her cape billows behind her nicely, and her left foot is atop the butt that’s up in the air from the body of a character that resembles Batman. This is only the first of several bodies that made a tremendous mound in the center of a city’s street that the title character stands on. This image sums up this book well: cute and graphic. This cover got me to pick up this book that I knew absolutely nothing about. The B cover is by Ryan Ottley & Nathan Fairbairn and is in a much more realistic style than the A cover. Gamma is covered in gore and standing in it. She’s holding a monster’s eyeball by its nerves, with the dead foe’s mouth frozen open in death in the bottom right corner. Being on a white cover has all the blood, and there’s a ton of it, really pop on the cover. Gory goodness! Overall grades: Both A+

The story: At the base of a construction site in Bay City, Hulktress holds a boy upside down. “No one is going to save you, you monster! In fact, when I’m done with you…no one will ever see you again!” she yells at the teen. A bystander yells that the hero has gone mad. As the Hulktress explains what she’s doing she’s interrupted by the arrival of young Gamma Rae, who knocks her down and pulls the boy to safely. The crowd of onlookers cheer the saving of the boy by the girl with pink hair and a blue cape. However, upon hearing one man say that the Hulktress is a hero, Gamma wonders if she’s done something wrong. The hero returns and punches Gamma into the sky. “Yes! And that was the bad guy! You just rescued Madmanimal!…I’ve been trying to catch him in his human form for years!” Suddenly a gigantic furry orange fist pounds down upon Hulktress, killing her. The crowd boos, but not the bad guy, they’re jeering Gamma. In fact, the angry mob calls for her killing, with one going so far to say to the villain, “She — She let you go! And — and because she did that, you killed Hulktress! She doesn’t deserve to live after what you did!” This has Gamma confused, but there’s no time to think as Madmanimal grabs a civilian and tears him in half to use as an object to beat Gamma. This is a funny, gross, over the top tale from Derek Hunter &┬áJason Young. The premise is established quickly, that Gamma wants to be a hero, but everything that could possibly go wrong, as well everything that could impossibly go wrong, does and she ends up hated by the citizens she so desperately craves praise from. The last two pages take the story in a new direction and I’m eager to see what this adds to her character. There’s also a four page back up story that’s very funny. It takes a common premise in comic books and runs with furiously. It’s titled “Time Crisis! (The Other One).” Due to its length, I won’t spoil anything, save to say it’s good. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals are what got me to pick this up. Derek Hunter captures the sweetness of the characters and their gruesome battle violence extremely well. I’m all for cartoon characters that cross a line and Hunter definitely puts his toe over that line several times for uproarious results. The book opens with Hulktress holding up a whimpering upside down by a leg. She is a top heavy mound of drooping flesh wearing a low cut Wonder Woman-like (no lawsuits) outfit. When she roars at a bystander at the bottom of the page she looks like fury incarnate. The arrival of Gamma is great and her punch delivered to the oversized Hulktress instantly labels her as a hero. I love the plume of debris kicked up by this gigantic character’s fall in the second panel on Page 2. I’m a fan of characters that snarl and this issue has several, with one of my favorites being Hulktress at the bottom of 3. Squinty eyes, like the one she has in that panel, are also good at making me giggle. The design of the character that appears at the top of 4 is outstanding. The action at the top of 5 was startling and incredibly funny. I shouldn’t have laughed at the top of 7, but I did. The sound effect, which I’m fairly certain was created by Hunter, also is funny/gross. I like the design of the new character on 8. Again, top heavy characters are always neat to see and this flying character captures all the elements of this kind of hero beautifully. The death rattle on 10 is perfect, reminding me of deaths in Stan Sakai comics. The anger of all the characters on 12 is beautiful, but I was still surprised by the action that it creates at the top of 13. The two new characters on 14 and 15 are also neat and their postures say so much about them; I especially like the design of the mask which frames the character’s face wonderfully on 15. More new characters and a villain appear after this and I really like the molten death that spews about. The last page is a full-paged splash and I’m looking forward to seeing what each individual can do. The last four pages are also well done, but I can’t discuss any part of this short tale for fear of ruining the story. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This book’s visuals need a wide range of colors to show the positivity of Gamma and the swath of characters that inhabit this world. Spencer Holt is the perfect colorist for this book. The book begins with Hulktress in action and she pops off the page with light blue sky skin and a mottled green for her dreadlocks. When Gamma makes the scene, notice how the backgrounds go a light yellow, brightening considerably from the first page — this signifies a hero brightening the dark world. The colors of the baddie that appears on 4 are terrific shades of orange, brown, and tan. The gore that soon follows explodes off the page in every shade of red. The coloring of the sound effects during the battles are outstanding. Notice how the coloring lightens around a character’s entrance on 8, making the character god-like. Gamma is a stand out on every page with her pink hair being an eye magnet. I love the use of greens for a character on 15 that makes him the focus. On 17’s first full panel Gamma is given darker colors to show how intense she is and they increase her focus. The molten muck during these pages is fantastic, with several shades of orange and white. The dimming of colors on 22 help increase an ominous tone the lower Gamma goes. Kudos to Mr. Holt for his work on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: There’s no credit given to a letterer, which is a shame because there’s some good work done. Dialogue, yells, and distant speech comprise this book’s text. There are sounds, to be sure with all the carnage, but I’m guessing that they were put in by artist Hunter. The dialogue looks good, with the yells set apart by being in several sizes of larger font. My favorite yell comes from Gamma on Page 13, with one word in a unique font for emphasis. Some distant dialogue comes into play when the crowd has things they wish to say. Though it’s in a smaller font, it’s still easily read. Overall grade: A

The final line: A hilarious tale of a hero making the worst possible mistakes accompanied by beautifully graphic art. There’s a lot to love with cute characters, monstrous villains, and violently vivid deaths creating shocks and giggles. Not for the kiddies, but definitely for those who like cartoon carnage. If you’re a fan of Adult Swim or comics that go too far, it’s time for you to get Pretty Violent. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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