An artist with a needle and a gun.

Brian Michael Bendis has shortly confirmed himself at house within the DC Universe. If he can hit the bottom operating with Superman, there’s little purpose to fret about Bendis’ potential to deal with, say, Batman or Inexperienced Lantern. Nonetheless, Pearl represents the subsequent main hurdle in Bendis’ DC tenure. Can the transfer to DC reinvigorate his creator-owned Jinxworld imprint in the identical manner it has his mainstream superhero work? It is a bit early to evaluate based mostly on one difficulty, however Pearl #1 does function a promising debut and a welcome return to mature readers crime comics for Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos.

It is simple sufficient to imagine that Pearl is minimize from the identical material as Alias/Jessica Jones, given the artistic crew and the emphasis on a feminine protagonist. However past these fundamental parts, there’s not a lot connective tissue between the 2. By way of character, background and worldview (to not point out a scarcity of super-powers), Pearl is a totally totally different character from Jessica. Proper out of the gate, Bendis and Gaydos make it clear they are not merely rehashing their previous work.

Pearl #1 is, for probably the most half, a sluggish and deliberate begin to the collection. Readers get a style of Pearl’s background and her reluctant ties to the San Francisco department of the Yakuza. However the focus right here is much less on crime that establishing a sure temper and portray a portrait of an inventive girl quietly craving for a special life. There’s additionally a heavy emphasis on forging a bond between Pearl and her new admirer Rick. Pearl appears to be as a lot a love story as a criminal offense comedian, so it is good that the 2 make for an immediately likable pair. Typically, the principle attraction with Bendis’ crime work is much less the crime trappings themselves than the truth that his peppy, David Mamet-influenced dialogue is best-suited for that setting. Pearl is not any exception.

Even visually, this new collection is a far cry from the seedy, dreary world of Alias. Gaydos’ work is given a significant stylistic overhaul with the choice for him to color his personal work. That heavy emphasis on colour could be Pearl’s strongest asset to this point. Gaydos paints an evocative portrait of San Francisco, one which’s stylish, inviting and a bit harmful. The lighting brings a powerful sense of temper to every scene, whereas the shift to stark blacks and whites within the flashback scenes creates a dreamy sense of unreality. And naturally, a guide that revolves closely round tattoo artists makes nice use of recurring tattoo imagery.

Just one visible quirk works in opposition to the collection. Gaydos is clearly utilizing a good quantity of photo-reference materials for his character faces. Whereas that helps him conjure up some expressive, vibrant facial work, the faces do not at all times mesh with the figures in addition to they might.

Concern #1 contains a good little bonus within the type of “Citizen Wayne,” a brief story Bendis and Gaydos crafted for the Batman: Black & White anthology a few years in the past. This story positively exhibits its age in some methods, by no means actually rising above its standing as a Citizen Kane/Batman mash-up, but it surely serves as a enjoyable time capsule and a showcase for simply how far these two creators have are available 20 years.

The Verdict

Pearl #1 does not essentially get off to probably the most thrilling, fast-paced begin, however there’s lots to love right here for followers of Bendis and Gaydos’ earlier work collectively. Robust dialogue, intriguing characters and a lush new visible type from Gaydos all mix to kind a compelling new addition to the Jinxworld library.

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