Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Perdy, Vol. 1 by Kickliy

Genres are quirky things -- especially the small ones. I'm pretty sure "French Western comics" is a pretty small genre, but it's hard to say, as a purely Anglophone reader an ocean away.

I have seen a stream of things in that genre, though -- first the Blueberry comics by Charlier and Moebius, which I read in the '90s but were mostly older than that. then some other random things, and most recently Perdy, Vol. 1 by an entity credited as Kickliy. [1] And they all have seemed to fall into a basically coherent genre. It's a comics version of Sergio Leone movies more than anything -- not just influenced by the American cinematic Western, but specifically influenced by the late, decadent, European burst of "the American cinematic Western." They definitely have nothing to do with the thin American genre of Western comics, which were another one of those vaguely superhero-esque brand extensions from the Big Two and are now quite thoroughly dead.

Then again, French adventure comics tend to have a distinctive tone or style to begin with: more fatalistic than their American equivalents, depicting worlds in which horrible, irrevocable things happen...and are not afterward wished or retconned out of existence. French comics, from what I've seen, play fair with their audiences: they say clearly "this is real, this story matters, and what happens in it will have consequences."

I appreciate that, as a reader who likes stories and not just narrative shards. And that's one of the reasons why I wanted to read Perdy.

(Among the others: it's unabashedly about sex and violence but centered on a woman no longer young, never terribly attractive, built very sturdily, and possessed of the bullheaded will and drive usually reserved for men in popular fiction. Perdy herself is a great obnoxious character, and that came through even before I read the book.)

Perdy is a woman of middle years -- call her somewhere in her forties, since she has a grown daughter. She's been in prison for fifteen years as the story opens, and is just getting released for her unspecified but clearly violent crimes. She has nothing but the rags of her prison garb: not even shoes. But we readers can see immediately that this will not be much impediment to her: Perdy is the kind of person you either quickly get out of the way of or get bowled over by.

There's something cartoony about Perdy, but it's the fun, narrative-enhancing kind of cartoony. A story always moves forward with someone like Perdy in it, and so this one does: she goes to retrieve her gear from the place she hid it, and then sets out to get back to the work of her life: robbing banks.

(Well, and causing trouble, but that's more of a hobby -- the kind of thing she can and does do nearly every moment of every day. She's also quite fond of very vigorous sex, entirely on her own terms, which is also nice to see in a woman like Perdy who is almost entirely not constructed for the male gaze.)

Along the way, she comes back in contact with someone from her old life, though I won't spoil that surprise. There's another female character here who is nearly as overwhelming as Perdy, in her own more conventionally feminine way, though I have to admit the men mostly do not acquit themselves well in the company of either woman. It's understandable: they're clearly overmatched, and know it.

As the Vol. 1 might imply, this is not a complete story. The second book is promised for this fall, though, and what we have here has most of the shape of a story -- there's no ending, but it's a satisfying story that tells us a lot about these people and their world and runs us through a series of entertaining and amusing scenes. I'm cautiously optimistic that we won't be looking for the ending in a Vol. 12 some years down the road...but that's always the danger.

For now, though, this is a fine beginning and a great central character. Perdy kicks ass in several ways, and it's fun to watch her doing it.

[1] A desultory Internet search leads me to believe that Kickliy is a male human being. I can't prove this, so take it as you will. Every entity on the Internet can be assumed to be a dog unless you have compelling evidence otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment