Brian Michael Bendis, writer
Michael Gaydos, art
Dave Sharpe, letters
This issue is the start to a new story arc. At the end of the last arc, Pearl Tanaka learns the truth about her mother and her involvement with Mr. Mike and the Yukaza Clan. She also gains a new rival in the Endo Twins while she keeps Rick Araki close to her. In this issue, Pearl utilizes the support of her longest and truest friend Kimmy to escape San Francisco before FBI agent Yuko can arrest her because of her involvement in a shooting. Rick, who’s left behind, is told by Yuko not to leave town. Meanwhile, Pearl and Kimmy arrive in Portland to meet Kimmy’s cousin and is surprised that Mr. Mike arrived ahead of them.
A story about a tough, world-weary female involved in crime who outsmarts the boy’s club is becoming well-worn. Even so, an Asian-American tattoo artist with beautiful skin marred by a full body tattoo that glows when she’s upset is mysterious but on its own is not enough to build a story. However, the support of a ride-or-die friend who knows how to keep her safe adds emotional depth and makes this story interesting. And, it’s Pearl’s affections for Rick despite her hard exterior, that piques my interest. In fact, it’s the connections between the characters that makes me want to read this book and not necessarily the soiled world in which they live.
The art is reminiscent of the work Gaydos did on previous crime-noire team-ups with Bendis. However, it never gets old for me. For example, Kimmy and Pearl’s faces slightly raised off the page with the city’s landscape in the back has been done in other books. It’s not unique in that sense, but it really works with this story. The landscape provides a kind-of muddy pallet which parallels Kimmy and Pearl’s life situation in which Pearl is a hitman and tattoo artist for a criminal clan in San Francisco. Visually it works.
Overall = 9/10
Pearl is a crime noire story built on the bonds between two close friends and the criminal element that entangles them. Sandwiched in is a possible love story, or tragedy, as Mr. Mike’s Yakuza clan circles its prey. I highly recommend this story to fans of Bendis and stories about unique characters with complex backstories.