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Stumptown v2 #1 – Review

By: Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (art), Rico Renzi (colors)

The Story: Dex Parios is back with a new case that’ll doubtless be a LOT more trouble than it seems.

Review: I really enjoyed the first Stumptown miniseries.  It may not have ended on quite the high that I’d hoped, but the memory of the first few issues was so strong that Volume 2 was keenly anticipated.

This issue falls into the “good, not great”.  If this was a new series from Image by some unknown creators, the hardcore fringe would be huffing and puffing about how swell this first issue was: splendid character work and a clever, hard-luck PI story.  But, when it comes from Rucka and company and has this much anticipation behind it, well…it doesn’t quite match the anticipation.  Perhaps that is unfair, but it is what it is.

On the plus side, Rucka is doing great character work (again).  I love his main character: Dex Parios.  She’s capable, but not so incredibly awesome that she isn’t always in trouble personally and professionally.  Her flaws make her interesting, likable and believable.  All the other characters around her all seem like real folks too.  And, the basic story is a good one: Dex isn’t going to get people coming to her with cases involving missing suitcase nukes or plots to assassinate the President; she’s a grimy, low-rent PI and does things like catch cheating husbands, finding lost dogs, locating stolen property, etc.  It feels authentic.  I don’t know any PI’s in real life, but I imagine that’s the kind of thing they do everyday.

The overall look and feel of the comic is appropriate too.  This isn’t a comic for big, bold colors, so other than page #1 (which is an awesome riot of color from Rico Renzi who keeps himself on a tight leash in this issue), this is a pretty subdued comic that looks rainy and messy–as it should.  And the line art is appropriate too as Southworth doesn’t skimp on drawing things like Dex’s rundown office space that is full of boxes and other mess.

But, the line art is where I struggled with the issue too.  Everything looks a little melted, especially the faces.  I just recall the first volume of Stumptown having crisper and cleaner line art than this.  A lot of the faces, especially Dex’s, are kinda asymmetrical and that bugs me.  The subject matter for this series is so authentic that I think the art needs to be a little tighter.

Conclusion: A good first issue, but not the greatness I’d hoped for.  The creators are reason enough to stick around for issue #2.

Grade: C+

- Dean Stell

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2 Responses

  1. While I might have given it a B- instead, I think my biggest problem with this issue is that it just didn’t feel like much happened. I almost felt like the issue ended right when it actually got started. Honestly, it’s a good thing that Dex is as strong and charismatic of a character as she is, because if she wasn’t, this issue would feel downright empty.

    ah well, I guess that’s what you’re liable to get when picking up a 4-issue mini in singles.

    I also agree with you 100% on the art. I also felt that things were a lot more distinct and, as you say, cleaner last time around, though I haven’t gone longbox diving to see if I’m right. Stumptown was never the most super polished art, but this looks rougher than I remembered.

    • I think the first volume was some of Southworth’s first comics work. So, his style probably “evolved” over the course of the series and especially from then until now.

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