Script/Letters: Erica Schultz
Art: Carola Borelli
Colours: Gab Contreras
Edits: James Emmett
When we reviewed the first issue of The Deadliest Bouquet for the August Round-Up podcast none of us really enjoyed it. However, I am always one for giving a book a second chance and this second issue allows me to do that. I think it’s a stronger issue. It seems to feel a bit more cohesive as the family dramas take more of a centre stage and the characters’ background is worked in more confidently.
I’m still not sold on the whole Nazi hunter aspect. Here it does have something of a plot point adjacent role as we look at the mothers background and a gun also links back to the family history and the whole Nazi hunting past. It feels more organically worked in this time as we find out that their mother had a weird and unconventional upbringing which is why the three sisters, her daughters, ended up also having a strange childhood.
We get some interesting flashbacks. The art transitions really help with that aspect. The flashbacks just have a different feel. Seeing the characters as children who look like children is a bonus. It’s not always natural or easy to have children looking like children in comics. The panels of the girls in the attic give a really slightly unconventionally creepy vibe to the whole thing which does pay off with the family drama.
For there is a lot of family drama. We go back to the night their father was killed by their mother but there’s really some rather dark secrets as to what pushes their mother into that. It gives a rather darker dimension to their already shadowy upbringing. This is really where the strength of this issue lies, revealing those family secrets and tensions as the characters both try to work out what happened to their mother whilst dealing with the tension between them in the present.
Most effective with writing and art for this is when the three of them are being interrogated. we see each being asked a question and their response with a flashback panel inserted between. Rose is stoic as she remembers her mother pushing her to be stronger, Poppy turns on the waterworks as she remembers her mother berating her and Violet acts more annoyed and disinterested as she recalls an argument with her mother. That nine panel page really illustrates so much about each of them and their relationship with their mother.
I also really liked the use of symbols and colours to show who was speaking as the art showed flashback panels. As the cops ask questions and each sister answers we can easily tell who is speaking. This really helps makes things easier to follow. The different flowers for each sister is especially clever. It’s these little touches that show the care being put in.
It’s not a perfect issue but it feels more assured. The real strength is the family relationships which are front and centre. Getting more of a feel for the sisters and now they relate to each other and their mother with the overlap that entails really does ground this issue. Sure there’s still mysteries and some revelations with regards to their mother’s death that throws a curveball but at the heart it’s about family, generations and legacy. I hope to see more of that going forward.