Brian Michael Bendis
Michael Gaydos, art
Josh Reed, letters
This issue begins in Portland, where Kimmi Stern quits her job so that she can meet Pearl in San Francisco. Meanwhile in San Francisco, special agent Yuko Masako confronts the Endo Twins, Pearl Tanaka, and Rick Araki. A flashback shows Pearl and her mother sharing a special moment. Her mother has a message for her: “Everything means something.” Back in the present, The Nagasaki Nine, another criminal clan, attacks Pearl and the Special Agent. Another flashback delivers a message from Pearl’s dad: Fight to save the neighborhood from other groups, like your mom, do what’s necessary to get the job done. The final message from this book is presented by Pearl after her victory over the Nagasaki Nine. She says, “You fight for art and you protect the ones you love.” The story ends with a changing of the guard. Pearl and her generation take over the Yuzaka clan.
This has been one of the more satisfying books of 2019. Bendis developed this world where a female protagonist fights for respect and standing in a crime organization dominated by males. Pearl is smart, “chill”, always big enough for the moment, and victorious. What’s interesting is that within this narrative is a young lady who also found love in the form of a naïve fellow-tattoo artist named Ricky. What intrigues the reader is that this woman who is self-sufficient and not in need of help willingly gives her heart to a young man who appears to be a renovation project. The flipping of the age-old super-hero complex normally played by a male protagonist makes this story feel modern and truer to everyday life.
The art in this issue is stellar. It’s hard to think of an art style that matches Gaydos’ expertise on this book. Frankly, it reminds me of the work he did on Daredevil, which he co-wrote with Bendis. There’s a darkness to the color scheme. The faces are pulled forward in some panels while pushed to the back in group shots. The expressions on the faces of the characters are rich with emotion and personality.
This story has been a how-to by Bendis and Gaydos on how to build a world with interesting characters and a compelling backstory. The darker criminal tones in the book is what drew me to the story. The unpacking of Pearl’s character and her backstory is what kept me interested. I highly recommend this story for fans of crime noir and stories written by Brian Michael Bendis.