Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos, co-creators of breakout character Jessica Jones, join forces again to bring us the first Jinxworld title from DC Comics, Pearl, a crime comic set in the worlds of tattoo shops and Yakuza gang members.
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Michael Gaydos
Letters by: Joshua Reed
Design by: Curtis King
A Jinxworld Title
Published by: DC Comics
PEARL is the story of an exceptional tattoo artist and accidental assassin for one of the modern-day San Francisco Yakuza…She was born into one life, but another is calling to her. When Pearl accidentally meets one of her peers, her doppelgänger from another clan, she starts to dream of a better life. But Pearl has a very special ability that keeps pulling her back into the violent world she is desperate to escape.
Brian Michael Bendis is arguably one of the most important creators in modern comics. Now at DC, he spent almost two decades at Marvel. But he got his start writing gritty crime books like Goldfish, Torso and the book that he named his publishing company after, Jinx. Pearl is exactly that kind of book and it’s great to see him back in this genre. This is an unsafe world populated by dangerous people. A place where violence can just happen at any moment. There is a perilous tension that slowly rises too.
What sets Pearl apart is the added element of the main character also being a tattoo artist on top of being a Yakuza assassin. Bendis has also always been great at immersing readers in worlds and having two to play with here holds a lot of possibilities.
Pearl herself is fleshed out enough to make her likable, interesting and the right guide into this world. She’s humanized first so when her assassin skills are exposed it feels more grounded.
If there is one complaint, it’s the heavy amount of ‘talking’ (especially in the opening). This can fill a page with one two many word balloons, which can cover up art (though letterer Joshua Reed does wonders with his placement). But Bendis is also a good writer of dialogue and the words lessened toward the end, becoming less of an issue.
Michael Gaydos is not just a penciler, he is a bona fide fine artist (just check out the cover!). With Pearl, he is doing the usual excellent work he does, but he seems to be playing with color and tone more; the Yakuza hit in the bar is a perfect example, not to mention the way he illustrates Pearl’s much discussed, strange, and perfectly pale white skin.
Gaydos is also gifted at facial expressions, using subtle movements to portray emotions and personalities; just look at the charming looks Pearl has/gives right before the guns come out in the aforementioned bar scene. It’s fantastic work.
Pearl is a return to classic early era Bendis. That means heavy, but well-written dialog, pop-culture references, strong female leads, dense/twisting plots and the perfect collaborator that produces the perfect art.