Creator & Artist: Derek Hunter
Writers: Derek Hunter, Jason Young
Colorist: Spencer Holt
Publisher: Image Comics
I tried, but just couldn’t get with Pretty Violent #1. The new superhero satire from Image Comics has a lot of intriguing qualities, especially the artwork. And, fans of gratuitous blood and gore will be pleased to know that the action sequences generally live up to the comic’s title. But, overall, I found the debut to be lackluster. I’m not personally a fan of hyper-violent, cartoonish homages to bumbling young superheroes.
To his credit, creator Derek Hunter attempts to apply to the comic medium the skills that he learned as an animation designer for shows such as DuckTales and Adventure Time. He and Jason Young create a character that is everything your teenage self wished for, but never got to see, in a cartoon. Gamma Rae is a hopelessly violent superheroine-in-training. Prone to the occasional curse, she is not so good at saving the day. And, she comes from a family of criminals who ruthlessly murder other superheroes for fun.
So, the intent here could be read as a dark and muscular bildungsroman set against a brooding family drama. But, this is mostly wishful thinking on my part, as the plot elements are quickly overwhelmed by the need to spread as much cartoonish mayhem as possible. Admittedly, the fight scenes are satisfying for the inner-13 year old in all of us. But, I quickly got bored and wished for a better story to go with the fighting. Fans of animation may feel differently. The comic world is certainly wide enough now to accommodate a book devoted exclusively to exaggerated animation-inspired violence.
The artwork is the best part of Pretty Violent #1. Hunter’s pencils and Spencer Holt’s colors create an unsettling atmosphere akin to a Rob Guillory comic. Like Farmhand, the creative team shoots for the juxtaposition of gruesome plot elements against loopy line-work and bright coloring evocative of a fun Saturday morning cartoon. But, the fact that there is nothing lighthearted about Gamma Rae and her family upsets this feeling. The result is a disturbing compliment to an already gratuitous story. Fans of violence for its own sake, and fans of animation hoping to feed their inner adolescent, will be pleased.