These past couple months have been evidence that DC’s contract with Bendis included the words, “You can do whatever you want, sir,” and I couldn’t be happier. This week we get the latest unique creation by the indomitable Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Pearl. The title character is a tattoo artist who is involved with the Yakuza. An overly simplistic description, by the end of the first issue last month we learned that the Yakuza boss named Mr. Miike owns her soul. After a deadly encounter forces Pearl to kill, Mr. Miike would like to expand her services to the Yakuza past simple tattoo design to include assassination.
This week we get a couple looks into Pearl’s past that put the beginning of her new life into (albeit limited) perspective. A pretty straightforward crime drama, Bendis does well to set up a world that’d fit right in with a new AMC or HBO drama ready to capture everyone’s attention. One scene, though, was particularly uncomfortable. Pearl’s love interest now known to be involved with a different clan of gang shows up at her door to talk. As he attempts to talk with her, Pearl asks him to leave several times and several times he continues with his “pick up.” If this was a scene of intimidation rather than an interaction between a (seemingly) well meaning person trying to get the attention and affection of another, it wouldn’t be so toxically relevant to male/female interactions.
Now that I’ve slapped the book’s wrist, I’ll give it its due props. Gaydos has created something gorgeous with this comic. Focusing the story on tattoos is clever enough to allow for some creative page layouts, but that only explains a fraction of Pearl #2’s beauty. Five different settings get five very different textures and hues. Particularly interesting was the difference in two of the flashbacks; one with Pearl’s mother and the other with her father. The warmth of the art and dialogue of one scene contrasted well with the cold tension of the other. On top of that, the details of Pearl’s past are still not one hundred percent clear and that anticipation is well played with. In the present, something very interesting happens where the main character has previously untattooed flesh aggressively overtaken by images in times of stress. Whether this is metaphorical or something supernatural, I loved it, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes.
8.5 “Bananas” out of 10
Reading Pearl? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.
Want to get Black Nerd Problems updates sent directly to you? Sign up here!