The opening issue of Lady Hollywood saw Cult Empire Comics step out of the horror shadows we’d seen in their other titles and what an opener that was.
That change of direction saw Cult Empire founder & writer George Lennox team-up with the ever-impressive Russell Mark Olson on art and in this second issue they drag us back into the seedy world of gangsters & double-crosses. Things pick up pretty much where we left off with those best laid plans unraveling and central character Kate facing off against a new nemesis that has his sights firmly set on taking control over the whole of LA.
Private detectives, gangsters, gadgets and the movie business get all rolled up into a multi-layered story that has more threads to it than you can count but George does a stellar job at keeping them all on-track and I’m sure editor Eli Winter had a hand in that too. The violence is visceral from the off but the element of risk & danger brings with it a strong sense of honesty to the characters who are really risking everything and feeling the body-blows of the losses along the way.
Kate herself is evolving from the headstrong, have-a-go lead into a damaged but real challenge for the darker forces trying to corrupt an already corrupt world & the team around her are all-in with her on it. The story ebbs & flows naturally through the course of this second issue and with some more surprises along the way it’s feeling like the kind of book you’re glad to be on-board with from the beginning.
Alongside that the art oozes off the pages and into your eyeballs as Russell colours the shit out of art that has the pulpy vibe I just can’t say no to and all with some slick panel layouts & impressive two-page splash images that nail the action & intrigue at just the right points. There’s another nod for Alex Ronald for that variant cover again too:
The one minor criticism I have is that there are some sections that have just too much dialogue and given the Noir theme, you could get the story across by converting some of that to narrative and it’d fit just a little better with the world that’s being created. That being said, there’s no doubt that the momentum from the opener is recreated and then embellished upon here with us heading into something that feels special and different in the indie comics world…….can’t wait for the rest of this.