Bull Entertainment is semi-famous for three things: Garth
Ennis's Just A Pilgrim miniseries, the poorly written/conceived/executed
series Gatecrasher, and being the only small print
comic book company (that produced around four actual titles)
to receive multiple, full-page advertisements in Wizard
for this was that Black Bull was coincidentally headed by
Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard Entertainment, and let no man
say that corporate nepotism isn't publicity, despite its inherent
lack of ethics. I dislike Wizard for this and several
other reasons, among which is the fact that the magazine caters
to the lowest common denominators of fanboy-dom.
my disinclination toward Wizard and Black Bull, I came
across a title by them that boasted some damn admirable attributes
and pretty much begged to be read: Beautiful Killer.
by Jimmy Palmiotti (currently writing 21 Down for Wildstorm)
and drawn and painted by Phil Noto (of Birds Of Prey
cover fame), it is the story of Brigit Cole. Brigit has been
trained from nearly birth to be the perfect killer. She's
an expert in weapons training, hand-to-hand combat, and she
can disappear into any crowd without so much as a trace if
the need should arise. If her crosshairs are on you, you'll
soon have a grapefruit sized hole where your left ventricle
used to be. But she never wanted any of it.
legends in the espionage field and now hiding from it, have
kept her secluded from the rest of the world on a remote island,
living as normal and happy a life as they could, while training
Brigit to deal with the worst the world has to offer. They've
been awaiting the day when their past as agents, and their
"theft" of an experimental formula designed to increase
one's lifespan finally catch up to them. And it does.
was supposed to disappear after the death of her parents,
but has opted for a second option: revenge! (Dramatic, ain't
I?) What follows is a tale of pain, woe, and plenty of snazzy
explosions and gunfire.
is a comic veteran and it shows in the story. He handles Brigit's
character exceptionally well, especially in the moral realm.
Palmiotti makes no apologies when he writes Brigit: her parents
are dead and someone has to pay. Brigit doesn't agonize over
the validity of her mission and doesn't over-analyze her grief
after she makes the decision to avenge her parents, and we
do get to see her make the decision right at the beginning,
in a scene Palmiotti pens well:
I had so much confidence two days ago
48 hours and
I'm a mess
If I can only stop shaking
enough to take the shot.
how we start the book and I like Palmiotti's decision to put
the reader right at the critical point: does Brigit take the
first step necessary to balance the scales, or does she give
up the idea of revenge and go live an anonymously safe life?
she picks the former, otherwise the book would be called Beautiful
Math Teacher, but seeing her make the decision and then
carry it out in cold determination, with no further moral
questioning, is a great hook for the reader. It's reminiscent
of the anti-hero days of the late 80s and early 90s, where
serial killer zombies and gun-toting vigilantes could hold
their own books (the difference being that this is written
Palmiotti slowly brings the reader in on the whole story,
placing flashbacks throughout to flesh out Brigit's character,
and to provide the reader with the back story of how Brigit's
parents became embroiled in this affair in the first place,
and to show us who Brigit's victims will be. Admittedly, the
flashbacks are somewhat muddled at first because they're an
abrupt slow-down during the usually fast paced action, but
as the book progresses, it becomes less of a problem.
Phil Noto is what really makes this book shine though. While
Palmiotti's storytelling is good, Noto's art takes the comic
to a higher level. You may have seen the cover work he's been
doing for DC in the recent years (which is one of the reasons
I've always kicked myself for not picking up Birds Of Prey
every week), but his page work is something even better.
some of the characters suffer from what I like to call facial
sameness (many of the females have faces that are just a touch
too similar), Noto renders each character clearly and creates
a god visual sense of each through uses of hair and dressing
style. He excels with Brigit, whose unique look and design
are creative. I'm a big fan of the different color eyes: a
visual that Palmiotti works into the story. And the fact that
Noto did all the coloring with paints, with little to no inking,
makes everything a more vibrant and gives all the characters
a touch more life.
has a great touch with the action. He knows how to depict
movement and the only thing I can compare it to is Bryan Hitch's
work on Ultimates and The Authority. Brigit
moves quickly, but with an inherent grace that Noto captures
has a great cinematic mind (a skill that stems from his time
spent as an animator) and sets up some really nice scenes,
especially during the action sequences (one scene where she
walks into a room full of gun-drawn bodyguards put me to mind
of a Tarantino flick). And he takes a page from Will Eisner's
The Spirit, when he does some splash pages that ignore
comic book panels and make for intriguing visuals.
with Beautiful Killer and almost mourn the fact that
there aren't more stories in the making at Black Bull (though
there is talk of a film starring Jessica Alba). It's a great
story with great art, a Phil Noto sketch gallery, and a cover
gallery, all for a meager $9.99. I recommend it to all those
raised on an island and taught ten different ways to perform
an unwelcome tracheotomy on unsuspecting bad guys.
always, the views expressed by Mr. Sparling are not necessarily
those of Fanboy Planet. Wait a minute -- I
did like this