Last year in Lady Killer, we were introduced to Josie Schuller – a 1960s housewife who leads a double life as a contract killer. Its opening five issue arc presented us with a view into the past, to a time where women were only expected to be homemakers. Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones did an amazing job of constructing a strong female character and surrounding with the stereotyping and misogyny of the time period.
In Lady Killer 2, Jones is back – taking on both the writing and artistic duties – and with the first issue, it’s clear the intrigue surrounding remains Josie is strong.
Lady Killer 2 #1 opens up with a scene that is reminiscent of the very first issue. Josie is dressed to impress and selling Tupperware to a group of women. What’s really amazing about these first few pages is the detail Jones puts forth in constructing the 1960s atmosphere. As Josie demonstrates the wonder of the plastic storage containers, readers eyes are drawn to the tacky Hibiscus flower wallpaper and awful green drapes, perfectly enhanced with Madsen’s garish colors.
Though Josie is clearly the center of attention, these smaller details pull readers right into the time period. Jones consistently presents these attention-grabbing details throughout the issue’s backgrounds, too, strengthening the stereotypes that Josie tries to break away from.
In Lady Killer 2 #1, Jones also shows her artistic strength in pairing action with drama. Josie is presented as a well-dressed, well-mannered housewife in some panels, only to turn into a brutal killer with little to no remorse in the next. Jones excels at this characterization – Josie murders old women and car salesmen in a most effective but messy way, only to follow it up with a backyard picnic with her husband’s boss. Josie’s confidence in both her home and secret life blasts a spotlight on the perceived inadequacies bestowed on women during the time period and links back to the perceptions Josie endured with her former employers.
While the artwork is really the stand-out feature of this issue, the plot that Jones begins building is just as well-crafted. Jones balances the story she created with Jaime S. Rich in the first series with a new direction for Josie extremely well. One aspect that drives Jones’ story in a new direction is having the Schullers move to Florida, and the move provides Josie with the opportunity to establish her own reputation. It’s very interesting to see how Jones builds Josie’s character within the new freedom of being a self-employed contract killer. Where Josie was once controlled by a handler, her methods have become more erratic. This creates interest not only in terms of the ongoing plot but also for the underlying theme about gender that runs throughout the story.
Jones leaves readers on a cliffhanger that raises many questions about the interim period between the first series and the new. By presenting a solid continuation of the plot with keen artistic detail, Joëlle Jones and Michelle Madsen create a visually stunning and thought-provoking start to Lady Killer 2.