Script/Letters: Erica Schultz; Art: Carola Borelli; Colors: Gab Contreras; Edits: James Emmett; Cover: Adriana Melo.
Les trois fleur. The three flowers are our main characters: Poppy, Rose, and Violet Hawthorne, a deadly bouquet raised not so much by a florist, but by a hard-edged Nazi hunter they knew as "Mom". After a childhood of trauma, the sisters went their separate ways, desperate to forget a life they never asked for, but you know what they say: nothing brings people together like a funeral.
The Deadliest Bouquet #1 is a fun read but banks on reader investment that I believe it doesn't quite earn. The story rocks a killer premise — anything anti-Nazi starts off well with me — that insinuates a blend of the video game Wolfenstein and the animated series Totally Spies, but fails to solidify any tangible ideas before its end. The opening manages to throw you into the narrative quite abruptly, helpfully providing context through dialogue that shows how adept this creative team is at pulling the reader in. Bright colors and animation style art contrast darker themes and subjects in a unique way, especially in moments of unspoken emotion and flashbacks.
The script frames the narrative well. There's no correct pace for the first issue of a new series, but it's undeniable that whatever the pace is, it should be consistent and work for the story. The Deadliest Bouquet #1 manages to set a pace and then backtrack, throwing us into the action then burying it in context. The sisters are definitely individualized, though often I feel that I'm supposed to pigeon hole them based on the paths they took in life. Poppy stayed with her mother, so she comes off as anxious and frenetic. Rose has a family, so she is matter-of-fact and fierce. Violet is a women of the world, so naturally she carries a hidden blade and makes impactful entrances. These are not bad foundations, but I hope the series allows these characters to grow around these molds and make them their own. This issue gives us bare essentials, hoping we are intrigued enough to pick up further issues.
The art interests me a lot in this book. Deceptively simple-looking, the art and colors work together to convey much of the hidden history of the Hawthorn family. Bright colors and animated lines are loomed over by saturated shadows that foretell hidden resentments or past traumas. These stylistic choices also serve to distinguish flashbacks from current time. Colors are made hazier as individual flashback panels interrupt the main timeline to further the story in unique and rather amazing ways — one instance with a throwing knife had me rereading the sequence again and again.
The Deadliest Bouquet #1 is tantalizing, it sets a solid foundation but wanders around it, seemingly self-conscious about maintaining pace. The bones of this title are strong and clearly display creative talent; however, they are not strong enough to maintain my attention. I'll sadly be missing out on the second issue, though I urge to give it a try for yourself. Mine is but one of many perspectives, and I hope yours might be more optimistic than mine.
This title earns itself 3 POPSs out of 5 for pure potential.
Pick up The Deadliest Bouquet #1 when it releases on August 10th from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP(!!!) or from Image Comics' website here! If you want to follow more comics in the vein of Nazi killin' then I'd also go check out The Butcher of Paris #1 and The Silver Coin #12!
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.