Indie Comic Review: Stumptown #2 (with preview)

The plot, as they say, thickens in the second issue of Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s P.I. procedural from Oni Press.

Dex Parios just can’t buy a break.  A simple investigation in to a missing guitar took a dangerous turn at the end of the last issue.  Now there is a new twist as the DEA shows up and there is a possible spark between Dex and one of the band members.  But will her blossoming feelings for the sexy drummer cause her to lose focus on the case?

Rucka dials back the action in this issue.  Instead he focuses on bringing in the supporting characters and beefing up the plot.  Both of these are welcome additions since finished the first issue feeling like things were a bit thin in both departments. The introduction of the adversarial DEA agent is particularly welcome since she gives Dex a foil as well drops additional clues about the case.   Every good P.I. needs a person if not on the inside, at least close to the investigation to pester for information.

Rucka takes a cue from some of the classic detective novels in this volume as well.  Sometimes it is not as important to determine the location of a missing object as much as it it important to determine who would take the object in the first place.   A missing guitar is  not nearly as interesting as the conspiracy to cover it all up.  The Macguffin, as it were, is just the device to get to the real story!

Southworth’s art continues to perplex me.  As much as I enjoyed the first volume (as well as his work on his self-published project), I am not enjoying it nearly as much in this volume.  Part of it I can chalk up to colorist Rico Renzi.  However, that is not entirely it.  Southworth’s faces are off.  The proportions are wrong and they seem somewhat distorted.  It gets distracting since character facial features change radically from panel to panel.  It was enough to take me out of the story a couple of times.

I find it perplexing since a: this wan’t an issue in the first volume, and b: the rest of Southworth’s work in this book is solid.  His bodies, his set pieces, the entire atmosphere (minus the color) is spot-on.  It is just the faces which are driving me crazy!

Like any good P.I. tv show (Stumptown draws part of its inspiration from The Rockford Files), the break between issues serves as a great time to review the facts, make hypotheses, and try to guess what the star will do next.  While I may have my suspicions, the reveal at the end of the issue has given me pause.  I really have no idea where the story is going and how it will all be resolved.  In that manner, Stumptown is a success.  I will definitely be back after these commercial messages to see what DEX does next!

Stumptown #2 is in stores today!


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