Secrets and lies – every family has them. Some are more innocent than others. Some happen to involve hunting down and killing Nazis. That last example may be less common but it certainly applies to the Hawthorns, the family at the center of Image Comics’ murder-mystery miniseries, The Deadliest Bouquet.
The story begins with the unexpected death of Jasmine, matriarch of the Hawthorn family and allegedly-retired Nazi hunter. Brought together by this tragedy are Jasmine’s three daughters Rose, Violet, and Poppy, who all seem far more angered than surprised by her otherwise shocking death. Will these estranged sisters be able to set aside that anger and mutual resentment in order to work together and solve their mother’s murder?
Did I mention Jasmine and Rose work in a flower shop? Yes, a book called The Deadliest Bouquet features no shortage of flower names and metaphors. The thing is, though, they all totally work. Writer Erica Schultz has crafted an enthralling mystery that is less about the murder and more about how the girls were shaped by their mother, for better or worse. The dialogue occasionally veers into a more melodramatic tone but it’s more fun than distracting. The script is otherwise solid, with a 90’s setting that serves the story rather than playing to nostalgia, and an engaging, if not necessarily likable lead trio.
In terms of the artwork, Corala Borelli’s designs are the perfect blend of realism and style. The sisters have their own distinct look and personality but Borelli has included enough subtle similarities to really sell them as a family. Colorist Gab Contreras is the next Jordie Bellaire, utilizing a bright pallet with flat colors to great effect. Simply muting the color to differentiate flashbacks from present time is a nice touch. The result is a book that is pleasant to look at, despite the dark subject matter.
By far the biggest draw for me here is the world-building. While the flashbacks really only hint at Jasmine’s own past, her upbringing by a pair of Nazi-hunters post-WWII is a concept worthy of its own prequel series. Likewise, “baby sister” Violet is a rich enough character to lead a miniseries or at least a one-shot of her own. With a flirtatious, violent personality and equally violent backstory, this sexually-fluid vixen is the most dynamic of La Trois Fleurs. While neither Rose nor Poppy get as much page-time or development (yet), it’s apparent that all three Hawthorn sisters have their own secrets, which I’m excited to see unfold over the course of this series.
THE DEADLIEST BOUQUET
Dysfunctional Family Drama9.0/10
- Script/Lettering: Erica Schultz
- Art: Carola Borelli
- Colors: Gab Contreras
- Editor: James Emmett
- Cover: Adriana Melo
- Variant Covers: Natasha Alterici, Liana Kangas
- Publisher: Image Comics