Comic Review: Stumptown #2


Stumptown is a brand new ongoing crime series from Oni Press. The series is written and created by Greg Rucka, and marks his first creator-owned comic series since the Eisner award-winning Queen & Country. The artwork on the series is by Mattew Southworth, and is coloured by Lee Loughridge.

To see my review of Stumptown #1, click here!

To see my interview with artist Matthew Southworth, Click here!

To see a six-page preview of Stumptown #2, click here!

The Story

Stumptown follows the misadventures of a Dexedrine C. Parios, or Dex to her friends, who is a private investigator and the proprietor of Stumptown investigations. In this first story arc ‘The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo, But Left Her Mini’ we follow Dex as she pursues a missing persons case, involving a young girl who has run away from home under mysterious circumstances.

In the first issue, Dex is hired to solve the case by Sue-Lynne, the owner of the Whispering Winds Casino, to whom she owes a substantial gambling debt. Sue-Lynne’s grand-daughter, Charlotte has gone missing, but while she has taken many items from her home with her, there are some odd things about the case, like the fact that she didn’t take her car. As Dex starts to investigate the case, she bumps into all sorts of characters, such as Hector Marenco, one of Portland’s Richest businessmen, who is also looking for Charlotte, and is willing to double Dex’s wages if she comes to him first! She also runs afoul of  two thugs called Whale and Dill, who warn her off the case. Even stranger though, Dex gets a call from Charlotte herself, who knows that Dex is on the case, and says that she doesn’t want to be found. Dex eventually gets Charlotte to agree to a meeting, but when she gets there, all she finds are the thugs from earlier. Angry at Dex for ignoring their advice, they budle her into the trunk of their car, take her down to the river, and shoot her in the chest at point-blank range. The thugs leave her body floating in the reeds, but little do they know that Dex was wearing a kevlar vest…

Issue two is a lot slower in pace from the opening shot (pun not intended). Mostly, we get to meet several new characters, such as Tracy Hoffman, Dex’s friend in the Portland Police force. Tracy is helping Dex track down the thugs who attacked her, that is, until the Police Chief, Ansel, spots her in the precinct, and throws her out - apparently, there some bad blood between the two. We also get to meet Grey, who works with Dex’s little brother, Ansel; Grey seems to have a crush on Dex, but it was hinted at in issue one that Dex is actually a lesbian.

Later in the story, Dex has run-ins with Isabel Marenco, and then with Oscar Merenco; both being the children of Hector Marenco, who Dex met in issue #1. Both these leads are seemingly dead ends, as Isabel points Dex towards Oscar, who dated Charlotte, and Oscar points Dex towards Isabel, who he says was close friends with the missing girl. Dex seems to be getting nowhere fast, until her luck suddenly changes…

The Rating

While a lot slower in pace from the first issue, this second installment allows for a lot more character development. The first issue was all about the set-up, and introducing the key players and threats, and in this second issue Rucka gets to introduce us to some of the more peripheral characters in Dex’s life, and spend some time developing the characters. This is something that Greg Rucka excels at, and he spends quite a bit of time in this issue acquainting readers with this intriguing and complex character, her motivations, and what drives her. We get to see a glimpse of Dex’s troubled past, as her confrontation with Ansel, indicates the two had an affair, which broke up his marriage. We also get to spend more time with Dex’s young brother, who seems to suffer from some sort of developmental disability; Dex seems to be the only family member left to care for Ansel, and she has to balance her life as a private detective, with that of her role as a guardian to him.

It’s all great character stuff, and Rucka executes it beautifully, with very three dimensional characters, natural sounding dialogue, and some genuine emotional moments. Greg Rucka is great at taking a character and fleshing them out until they feel like a real person. I think that’s part of what makes his writing so good, because once the readers feels like they know the character, they start to live the story with them - they experience every up and down, and every trial and tribulation.

It’s not all about getting to know the characters though, and Dex does actually get some good leads on the case in this issue. However, with the twist at the end of this issue, Rucka lets us know that this case is far more complex than Dex originally thought!

Matthew Southworth provides us with another issue of gorgeous artwork, which I think is actually better than the art in issue #1. Southworth produces some really nice linework, with great attention to detail, which is inked really beautifully, with thick, confident brushstrokes that give the book a very dark and moody atmosphere. He compliments Rucka’s great character work by illustrating the characters with a great range of emotions and facial expressions, which make them feel that much more real.

Stumptown #2 is a wonderful follow-up to an explosive debut issue. I don’t normally review both the first and second issues of a series, but after reading Stumptown #2, I felt like I had to let people know just how great this comic is! This is crime comics done right, with interesting cases, a suspenseful plot, and believable characters. This is an essential purchase for fans of crime fiction, and your pull-list is incomplete without it!


Related posts:

  1. Advance Comic Review: Stumptown #1
  2. Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s Stumptown #1 Sells Out!
  3. A Five-Page Preview of Stumptown #1
  4. Stumptown #1 Release Party & Signing
  5. Stumptown Interrogations: An Interview with Artist Matthew Southworth


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  1. [...] #2 is set to be released on Wednesday January 6th. To see a review of the issue, click here! [View with PicLens] Writer: Greg Rucka [...]

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