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Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

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Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby LOLtron » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:50 am

Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Stumptown, the Portland-based crime comic by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth, finally returns with a totally rockin' new issue!




While the creators of Stumptown originally gave the book a scattered release schedule to accommodate penciller Matthew Southworth's heavy workload, the real world ended up eating the artist alive.  Thankfully, he was able to surface long enough to give us another Stumptown story; thus we have Stumptown 2 #1, continuing the adventures of private investigator Dex Parios.  

Southworth gets to start big early, as the very first page of the issue contains all kinds of rock 'n' roll bombast, with pyrotechnics, lights, and (implied) sound bounding out in every direction.  It's an eye-catching way to start things off.  From there, it's a series of conversations in which the reader is given a considerable amount of insight into the characters that populate this particular version of Portland, OR.  PI Dex maintains something of a shaggy, impromptu existence; we encounter her here trying to move into a new office and smashing her own thumb with a hammer.  Southworth's pencils seem a bit rougher than they were in the first Stumptown story, but ultimately, it's about the richness of the setting with him.  The way his characters interact with their environment is a sure strength, and the body language they exhibit tells the reader so much about who they are.  Dex is casually confident, and Miriam, the rock guitarist who hires Dex to find her missing guitar, carries herself like she's used to being the coolest person in the room.  Southworth really swings for it during a driving/surveillance scene, where his attention to location-specific detail and sense of place ground the quiet, contemplative action in a specifically tense mood.  It's a "mundane" action that's actually a pretty deep moment for the issue.  Southworth ends the issue with two ghoulish, pale-faced, tweaking Neo-Nazis that look like something out of a horror film, just to bring a bit of pulpy action into the whole thing.  Things look simple, but underneath it all, there's a lot going on with his art, which is complemented by Rico Renzi's flat colors.  Renzi underscores the grit of the story

All of this is of course guided by another able script by writer Greg Rucka.  Modern-day crime fiction is of course in Rucka's wheelhouse, but what's really remarkable about this issue is how it really encapsulates the "everyday" of it all.  This isn't a flashy, endlessly stylish noir; Stumptown lives in that routine, step-by-step process of detective work that entails gathering information by asking a succession of questions from everybody and anybody who might have something to say.  The plot, as you would expect from a story like this, comes tumbling out of that milieu.  In this case, Rucka introduces elements of intrigue and mystery, and before long it's clear that this is really some missing guitar (sure it's a Gibson Les Paul, by why would Neo-Nazis and the DEA be this interested?).  Rucka imbues his characters with distinctive, believeable voices, though there is a bit of wonky dialogue very late in the issue (a gun-toting antagonist actually commands "now I see your hands, or I see your hands or I see the fine pink mist that once was your brains."  Maybe this is a noir after all.), but the natural patter of human speech is a real strength of his, and he shows it off wonderfully here.  The highlight of the script is the way Miriam, or "Mim," as she prefers, talks about her guitar.  She refers to it as her "baby," and anyone who's played in a rock band, especially a touring one, knows exactly what Mim is talking about.  Every musician can own 110 guitars, but they'll always have that one specific one that they truly love like it's a part of the family.  "They're art," she intones, "and they're the art by which we make art.  But this one, this one's my baby...always faithful, always steady, always there for me..."  The way she speaks rings very true, and really, all of the rock 'n' roll stuff in the issue feels dead on, making one wonder if there's secretly a headbanger living in Rucka's nerdy writer brain.  In any case, the issue really rests on that material, so it needs to be strong lest the narrative fall apart.  Rucka is a very cerebral writer, but he always makes the reader feel what he's writing.  

Although there isn't much overt connection to the specific events of the first series (other than a reference toHector Marenco, the crime boss introduced in that story) Stumptown 2 #1 picks up where the earlier material left off, tonally.  It has a great, lived-in quality that makes it very engaging and a pleasure to read.  The first issue of "The Baby in the Velvet Case" is both light fun and seriously appealing.  It also achieves the best thing any first issue can do, which is to highlight the potential of the story and leave you with something that will make you want to continue reading it.  It slowly but surely introduces enough plot threads to bring the reader deeper into the story, and it also flourishes on a technical level as it moves forward.  One issue in, it's good to see that Stumptown is back and it's just as we remembered it.  













Written or Contributed by Royal Nonesuch


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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby TimDrake'sDumbWings » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:16 am

This will be the first time I've bought a single issue in a year and a half. I can't wait for a hardcover for this comic!

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Punchy » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:04 am

When is this released in stores?

I really enjoyed the first Stumptown arc, glad to have it back.

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby TimDrake'sDumbWings » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:12 am

Tomorrow, I think.

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Stalzer2002 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:29 am

Greg Rucka Fun Fact: Mim was the lead character in his novel "A Fistful of Rain"
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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Eli Katz » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:32 pm

:smt026

Couldn't be more excited!

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Eli Katz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Love the essay on Rockford! :smt026

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Punchy » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:10 am

I really think we are living in a Golden Age of Crime Comics at the moment, and Stumptown, along with Criminal and Parker, is one of the standouts. Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s mini was a surprise pleasure a few years back, and now it’s back for a sequel. The series, for those who aren’t familiar, follows Portland-based PI Dex Parios, a hipster, female Jim Rockford, who gets involved in classic Noir-type mysteries with a modern twist. In this arc, she is tasked with finding a missing guitar (the titular baby) by a member of a fictional Indie band. But of course, this seemingly simple case is a doorway to a whole lot more trouble, as she comes face to face with some crazy bald guys who are also after the guitar, and then an agent from the DEA. It was just a lot of fun to be back in this world, I know I make fun of Greg Rucka’s endless number of tough female protagonists of ambiguous sexuality, but Dex is a great character and you just know that the mysteries are going to be well-constructed. If you haven’t read the first story, I urge you to check it out, and hey, if you’re impatient, you could just pick up this issue, there are a few references to supporting characters and previous events, but mostly, this stands on it’s own as a great little crime story that’s not like anything else on the stands. Highly recommended, especially given Rucka’s recent comments about Big Two comics, this is his best kind of work, not that Batwoman shit.

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Eli Katz » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:15 pm

Punchy wrote:I really think we are living in a Golden Age of Crime Comics at the moment, and Stumptown, along with Criminal and Parker, is one of the standouts. Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s mini was a surprise pleasure a few years back, and now it’s back for a sequel. The series, for those who aren’t familiar, follows Portland-based PI Dex Parios, a hipster, female Jim Rockford, who gets involved in classic Noir-type mysteries with a modern twist. In this arc, she is tasked with finding a missing guitar (the titular baby) by a member of a fictional Indie band. But of course, this seemingly simple case is a doorway to a whole lot more trouble, as she comes face to face with some crazy bald guys who are also after the guitar, and then an agent from the DEA. It was just a lot of fun to be back in this world, I know I make fun of Greg Rucka’s endless number of tough female protagonists of ambiguous sexuality, but Dex is a great character and you just know that the mysteries are going to be well-constructed. If you haven’t read the first story, I urge you to check it out, and hey, if you’re impatient, you could just pick up this issue, there are a few references to supporting characters and previous events, but mostly, this stands on it’s own as a great little crime story that’s not like anything else on the stands. Highly recommended, especially given Rucka’s recent comments about Big Two comics, this is his best kind of work, not that Batwoman shit.

Quoted for truth!

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby TimDrake'sDumbWings » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:45 am

I've been loving this so far! Does anybody know if this volume is a mini or an ongoing?

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Eli Katz » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:14 am

Loved the second mystery. I would never have thought that I'd enjoy an illustrated car chase, but Stumptown #4 proved me wrong. This book is so Rockfordesque -- it's as if Rucka were writing it specifically for me.

Does anyone know when volume 3 begins?

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby TimDrake'sDumbWings » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:55 am

Eli Katz wrote:Loved the second mystery. I would never have thought that I'd enjoy an illustrated car chase, but Stumptown #4 proved me wrong. This book is so Rockfordesque -- it's as if Rucka were writing it specifically for me.

Does anyone know when volume 3 begins?


I asked Southworth on Facebook. His response was:

Not sure. We haven't discussed the next one in any detail yet.


So it'll probably be a while. That last page had me excited for more, though!

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Re: Advance Review: Stumptown 2 #1

Postby Eli Katz » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:19 am

Thanks. Too bad that they don't have immediate plans for a new storyline.

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