Originally, I planned to write about my favorite feminist TV shows this week, but that changed after I picked up a comic book at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books today.
Obviously, the cover immediately piqued my interest. I mean, how could it not? A 1950’s housewife mopping up blood in her pink dress and pearls? I had to know the rest of that story. I’ve only read a handful of comic books in my life, but this one is definitely going to be a new favorite.
I love stories about violent women. That’s probably because I like stories that subvert expectations, and as we all know women are not supposed to be violent. Violence is not only expected of men but often encouraged. (Did another guy insult your manhood? Well, you better punch him in the face to prove him wrong!) Of course, in real life I’m very happy that women aren’t violent beings, but it’s refreshing to see stories where women take on nontraditional roles.
In Lady Killer, Josie Schuller is a 1950’s housewife and a covert assassin. Her husband and two young daughters suspect nothing about her secret life. Her mother-in-law is a bit more suspicious. The conflict begins in Lady Killer when Josie’s boss thinks she’s become too much of a threat due to her commitment to her family over her job.
The trouble of balancing family and career is a frequent problem in real women’s lives, although not usually with life or death stakes. Josie clearly enjoys her violent work, or else she would’ve gotten out of the game a long time ago. She also cares deeply about her family, and she does her best to keep her work separate. Although, her daughters do accompany her as she stalks a fellow operative. Don’t worry though, Josie gets them to ballet class right after she gets her information.
However, the question of balancing work and family is a bit more complicated for Josie, considering she is literally a murderer. The boss who puts the hit out on her has a valid point when he says her kids might be better off as orphans than be raised by a murderous mom. It takes a certain kind of person to kill people for money and I’m not sure if that kind of person would make the best mother.
The stark juxtaposition of the classic 1950’s housewife look with the violent and bloody images of Josie’s assassinations is what really stands out in this book though. The artwork highlights this on every page.
It’s easy to imagine this graphic novel on the big screen, and then Josie can join the ranks of all the violent silver screen stars that came before her.
I really enjoyed this book, and if you’re into stories about violent women who wear pretty dresses I think you’ll like it too.