Pearl #4 is the lull between storms considering the action-packed events of the last two issues. Bendis takes the opportunity of this downtime to explain certain things that are going on. We get more insight into the motivations of certain characters as well as the answer to Pearl’s mysterious disappearing tattoos. But in a masterstroke of writing, Bendis also takes the opportunity to turn the focus on a mystery that has been building since the first issue.
The reader is now put in a particular position of questioning certain events and past conversations. This is how you build a mystery and keep the sense of suspense running for a long time. Bendis and Gaydos are truly a fantastic creative duo.
If Bendis is known for any one thing, that would be his focus on keeping characters the center of stories. This issue picks up after Pearl, Kimmy, and Rick made an escape from the nightclub after being chased by an assassin. They take this moment to catch their breath, collect their thoughts, and discuss their next moves. As a result, there are some fantastic interactions between the group as their personalities bounce off one another.
One thing I think is done excellently in these interactions is grounding the experiences they just went through. Pearl, Rick, and Kimmy are young adults and only recently have begun to interact with the Yakuza. In Kimmy’s case, this is the first time she has ever had something like this happen. But being young adults, they act a bit immature about the whole thing and even crack jokes about it. But once they calm down and think about it, they begin to see the horror of their situation. Rick even feels guilty about the potential collateral damage his bad decisions have led to.
Puzzle Box Storytelling
With us being 2/3rds of the way through the first arc, Bendis finally gives us an explanation for Pearl’s tattoos in Pearl #4. They are always there, they don’t move, but are only truly visible in color when Pearl is experiencing intense emotions. It’s a result of another condition she has as well as the fact that she is albino. She put the tattoos in the areas to cover up the scars that were present in those areas. But here’s the catch, she doesn’t remember putting the tattoos there.
On top of all that, her mother’s history is brought into question. Just how does Pearl resemble her mother and act like her to the point that everyone comments on it? Why do Mr. Miike’s tattoos resemble Pearl’s? This is puzzle box storytelling at it’s finest, another mystery is added to the box as a previous one is answered.
The More You Look At The Art The Better It Gets
Gaydos’ art continues to be superb. The different styles and color pallets continue to add substance to every scene. There was something hidden in his art that I didn’t even notice. It had to be pointed out by one of the letters in the letters column section in the back of the issue.
Pearl’s tattoos are actually always there, just like she said. But they aren’t outlined or colored in so you can easily just glance over them without noticing, just like the characters in the story. Such attention to detail should be commended.
Pearl #4 Is A Lull In The Story That Is Well Worth Reading
This issue is a bit slower paced than the previous issue but that’s to its benefit. Pearl #4 takes the opportunity to give us some downtime with the characters, let their personalities develop with each other, and answer questions while asking new ones. I’m really enjoying this series and is probably one of the best things Bendis has done in the past few years.
The Pearl series has consistently been one of the best if not the best comic I'm currently reading. Every month it comes out with style and substance that I have been missing in many other comics I read. Pearl #4 personifies what makes it great, the characters, the mysteries, and a unique take on a crime drama story. If any of these sound good then do yourself a favor and pick this comic up!