For the first time in the series’ entire run, Lady Killer 2 #2 has given me pause. After tendering her resignation in Lady Killer 1, Lady Killer 2 started with Josie embarking upon self-employment. The murderous hausfrau was embracing the women’s lib of her ’60s time period and setting out on her own, but the second issue of the second arc may have Josie right back where she started: under the thumb of unscrupulous men.
Last issue, as Josie attempted to dispose of a body — a service which was, in her former job, handled for her — she was surprised by someone. The someone is revealed to be the equally murderous and dangerous Irving, who has a simple offer for Josie: despite the events of Lady Killer 1, he claims his age is catching up to him. Since he can no longer keep up with killing, he offers his services to Josie as clean-up crew. While initially skeptical, Josie accepts Irving’s help a little too easily.
Too easily given that Irving almost immediately oversteps his bounds, and threatens to blow Josie’s cover wide open. He appears at a family barbecue, which unnerves Josie, who is forced to claim him as her uncle. I have no doubt this will later prove to be a dangerous lie as readers may recall that the elder Mrs. Schuller, who has never liked Josie, recognized and seemed to know Iriving from before her life in America. I have no doubt that this will rear its head in a nasty fashion for our heroine.
Irving’s arrival also heralds an invitation and job offer from a mysterious, questionable man who already seems to know too much about Josie. She apparently accepts his offer for stable employment, and the issue ends with her gleefully and causally accepting Irving’s help in disposing of another body. Add this to the list of things I’m sure will bite her in the ass later.
It seems an odd turn for a character who has been, up to this point, exceptionally shrewd and untrusting. Will the ultimate lesson here be that no matter how emboldened a woman is, she will ultimately end up having to answer to The Man? Or will the lesson be that our friendships and familiarity — she seems well-acquainted with both Irving as a person and his reputation — can be a deadly blind spot?
Or, is it entirely possible that Irving has his own endgame and this is just a means to that end? Or, is it possible that Irving simply wants to help a promising young assassin, and longs for some sense of legacy?
The art, of course, remains one of the strongest points of this series. Everything about Josie and her world exudes 1960s modern glamour and kitsch. The Christmas beach party, with everyone drinking tiki drinks and wearing large, pointy bikinis feels ripped from the pages of LIFE magazine. The bingo parlor scene juxtaposes a wholesome simplicity with a dangerous and macabre discussion for our heroine.
Lady Killer 2 continues to be a visual treat, and a kitschy commentary. Josie remains a highly compelling and dynamic character, however this issue feels like a slight step backward from last. Josie quickly traded her new found independence for shocking dependence upon a character whom we have no reason to trust. I have faith all will work out and make sense in the end, but this is the first issue to leave me uneasy.