PEARL #2 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos
PEARL #2 develops the characters well while continuing to show the present day. There's an impressive balance between the past and present scenarios. I can't wait to see more of Pearl!
98 %
Great Overall

PEARL #2, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Michael Gaydos, brings us Pearl before she was an official tattoo artist and shop owner. We talk a little about the past, get in-depth about the art, and end with a small talk on character development.

Warning, potential spoilers for PEARL #2 are below!

Connecting the Dots in PEARL #2

Rick Arakai, the possible love interest introduced in PEARL #1, visits Pearl’s shop and tries to ask her out again. Of course, Pearl has suspicions that Rick works for Mr. Mike. Considering that, Pearl firmly rejects him.

In a flashback with Pearl’s mom, we see that she was also a tattoo artist that was planning on teaching her daughter the art of inking. When Pearl became thirteen, her mother was considering letting her practice on human skin. In the tattoo world, that’s very young. We spy Pearl’s mother handing an envelope of money to Mr. Kai for delivery to Mr. Mike. This shows a connection that’s relevant to Pearl’s present, as Mr. Kai still seems to work for his old employer. The final, heartbreaking, yet anxious scene of PEARL #2 is the lead up to the death of Pearl’s mom. At least, that’s what the reader might assume.

PEARL #2 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Fun, Edgy, and More Close-Up Art

PEARL #2 includes even greater art from Michael Gaydos. While its art style is still similar to Telltale Games, the presentation is different this time around. We have more close up scenes of the tattooing process on several pages. These close-ups give the reader time to appreciate the art within the art.

What most interesting and attention grabbing regarding the art is the use of color change. In the flashbacks, Pearl’s coloring is more vibrant, lacking any white. Her multi-colored hair is slicked back in a ponytail, exposing her pierced ears. In her adulthood, she has pale skin and white hair that covers her ears. Her makeup as a teenager is much edgier as well. Later pages change the color theme to a cool blue tone, even though it’s still part of the flashback portion. Maybe it’s a symbol of a low point in Pearl’s life. The color shift could also be a symbol of change itself.

PEARL #2 page 5. Image courtesy DC Entertainment.

In the final pages, we have some colorful retro pop art to support what’s going on in the scene. We see Rick at a club dancing and talking to girls. The colors support the situation, but also make this reader think that maybe Rick took something and actually sees these vibrant, crazy colors. In general, the art seems more dramatic and carefully articulated than in the previous issue.

Deeper Insight and Great Plot Development in PEARL #2

Seeing Pearl’s past with both her parents enlightens the reader on who inspires Pearl to become a tattoo artist. Her father isn’t directly shown to approve or disapprove of his daughter taking after her mother, but it seems likely that he’s okay with it. Pearl’s father remains a mystery. Maybe he’s the reason why the family works for Mr. Mike. Take a look back at PEARL #1 when he gives Pearl a gun. Wouldn’t that raise any suspicion if you’re not already suspicious of something? If you’re not curious yet, then look at how often he pops up in the PEARL series so far. What does he do? He gives his teenage daughter a gun accompanied by a harsh talk about boys (basically if they touch her) and in PEARL #2 he tries to tell her about what’s going on with her mom. Yeah, something doesn’t feel right about him.

It seems that Pearl really admires her mother and wants recognition as an artist in her eyes. Yet, her mom is kind of a subtle hard-ass, for good reason. Pearl’s mother is a symbol of wisdom and guidance, as she continues to teach her daughter the way any good, loving parent would.

PEARL #2 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Now, we just have to talk about Pearl and Rick. Pearl points out that Rick’s working for a clan, but the reader is left guessing as to which one. We’re left assuming that Rick might work for Mr. Mike, but it isn’t made clear at this time. All we know is that Rick’s still romantically interested in Pearl, but he’s firmly rejected in PEARL #2. Rick needs to prove he’s trustworthy, rather than constantly asking Pearl out, while she needs the certainty that he isn’t a spy who’s going to hurt her either. Let them be together Bendis, PLEASE.

Keep It Coming PEARL Creators

Bendis and Gaydos continue to keep this series interesting. With the pace of the narrative and the immaculate storytelling, I don’t know how anyone could stop reading PEARL. Everything seems to reveal itself at the right time, when the reader is still asking questions, but not before they become overwhelmed by them. Like, what’s going to occur next in Pearl’s flashback? Is this where we find out about what happened to her parents? Do we discover if one or both of them are still alive? Will Pearl and Rick ever have a romantic connection? We’ll (hopefully) find out in the next issue!

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