Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Letterer: Michael McCalister
Review by Michael Farris, Jr.
Pearl #1 takes us to San Francisco where a tattoo artist named Pearl is out with a friend when a cute guy named Rick starts gushing over her spider tattoo created by a well-known tattoo artist. As she’s getting to know Rick, a group of Yakuza appear from nowhere and start shooting up the place with Rick in their sights. Pearl saves him, but, as a result, she might have started a bigger war than her boss Mr. Mike wants to have on his hands. He assigns her to clean up the mess by assassinating those involved.
Pearl comes to us, as the cover dutifully reminds us, from the creators of Jessica Jones and is a product of Brian Michael Bendis’s creator-owner studio Jinxworld. There’s a lot of hype and prestige built into those expectations, and so far, Pearl is living up to those standards.
One of the very first things that will strike you when you see this book is the art. The cover is gorgeous. The art inside does the cover justice. To add an element of believability, Gaydos used a model for Pearl, Exotik Alek. A side-by-side comparison of Pearl and the model she’s inspired by is uncanny. All of the other characters you meet are amazingly life-like; Mr. Mike looks like a dropout of Creed or some other generic early 2000s alt-rock band.
The colors are oftentimes a monotonous, watercolor wash that somehow capture the lighting of the scene as if you were there. The greens and the reds are hypnotizing, and the greenish-blue hue in Mr. Mike’s personal tattoo parlor make you almost expect to see the occasional blink of a fluorescent light. There’s also a flashback scene that seems vaguely similar to ancient Chinese scrolls.
As for the story itself, we don’t get a whole lot revealed, but just enough to bring us back for more. The story grounds itself right away with Rick and Pearl shop-talking about a legendary tattoo artist and Pearl’s story about her tattoo and then jumps right into the action and sets up the high stakes we will inevitably have for the rest of the story. However, it seems at the cornerstone will be the relationship between Pearl and Rick.
If the art and the story aren’t enough, this book is loaded with all kinds of cool stuff. In addition to the model on whom Pearl is based, the tattoos shown in the book were also designed by tattoo artist Diego Martin. With Bendis and Gaydos teaming up once again, we get a fun extra at the end of the book that will make you stand up and clap in a silent theater.
Verdict: Buy it.
I’m on a see-saw right now going back and forth over whether I liked the art or the story more in Pearl #1, but regardless, this is a series you’ll definitely want to jump into right away. This a modern-day Romeo and Juliet involving tattoos and the Yakuza that will get in your skin and stay there.