The Schuller family may embody the stereotypical nuclear family of the early 1960’s–a husband that provides the wealth for the family, a wife that maintains the home, two energetic children, and a grumpy grandma. However, wife and mother Josie Schuller has a dark secret that she hides from those she cares for. It is the rebellious spirit of the era, where women fought for gender equality and opportunity, and it’s this attitude that makes Josie Schuller an instantly interesting and complex character in Lady Killer #1.
Authors Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich open this miniseries with plenty of violence and intrigue, all mixed with the prim and proper beauty associated with the fashion and social norms of the period. This perfect mixture creates a bold statement: stereotypes may be harmful, yet they can also be used as a disguise.
Jones’ portrayal of Josie as a housewife adorned with pearls and a Jackie O. dress suit is expertly constructed. Her good natured, almost aggressive friendliness as an Avon saleswoman emphasizes the notion that women in the 1960’s desired more than just a life at home, while her quick transition into a deadly – albeit sloppy – killer provides a metaphor for the lengths women must take to achieve any professional accomplishments.
Josie’s transformation is made completely believable as she improves her sales pitch to lull her target in to a vulnerable position. This coupled with her distaste for the mess she makes from killing her target creates an uncomfortable, dark humor within the plot that leaves the reader on edge and wanting to know more about this character.
There is plenty of drama throughout the issue as Josie’s home life and secret profession collide. The dialogue captures the overarching commentary on the time period as Josie has to withstand the chauvinistic insults of a fellow killer for hire. The back and forth between the two as Peck blatantly states that Josie’s next target was assigned to her because of her body and not her accomplishments leaves Josie disgusted. This conversation establishes the hardships Josie, and women in general, endure in a male dominated society.
Jones’s art combined with Allred’s coloring is vibrant, capturing the tone of both the plot and the time period with bright pastels and detailed backgrounds. At times, the violence spills off the pages. As Josie attacks her target the blood spills and splatters out of the panels with a few well-placed ink splotches, and it draws the reader into the underlying fervor and freedom Josie feels about her work.
Lady Killer #1 is both thought provoking and visually stunning. Josie’s dual life presents a stark contrast between the submissiveness established by social norms and the animalistic enjoyment she shows for her work. This juxtaposition illuminates a repressed American culture in the 1960’s on the verge of a slow and hard fought change.