Royal City #2 Review

Posted April 19, 2017 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written by: Jeff Lemire

Art by: Jeff Lemire

Publisher: Image

I think it’s safe to open this review with, “Jeff Lemire is a masterful author and artist,” because everything I’ve read by him so far has been simply amazing. I think it’s also safe to open this review with, “his books are hard to review” because damn, I don’t exactly know where to start with Royal City #2.

Perhaps the beginning? Our main plot is that a father’s sudden stroke has brought a broken family back to Royal City, the childhood home. To those that left for better opportunities, the city is both different and the same, and to those that have stayed, well, it’s probably still both different and the same.

There is the ghost of a dead brother wandering around, but that’s neither here nor there.

At its heart, Royal City is a hyper-focused character piece with an entire family at its disposal. It lacks the flash you’ve maybe come to expect from the comic book medium, but that’s to its favor. Good characters make good stories. This comic is full of them. And yes, there’s a supernatural bit, but right now, the ghost of Tommy is the least interesting thing going on.

Were I to describe Royal city with one word, it would be “Real.” This place feels real, like I could hop in my car and drive there right now. It’s got that dying, middle-American shine to it, with factory smoke filling the air and bars lining the streets. Jobs and money are hard to come by, but no one really feels compelled to leave.

Those that did aren’t too happy to be back.

Were I to describe the characters in this book, I would use the same word. Every one of them feels real, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say this was an autobiography or a bibliography or some kind of ography—just one with a ghost.

The writing is goddamn perfect. There’s this melancholy to everyone and everywhere, and in some strange way, I’m reminded of FLCL. Maybe it’s that Royal City and Mabase are just really similar, but I think there’s more than that. I’m not sure what that is yet, but it’ll crop up. Would that every comic could offer something that exciting!

On the art front, Lemire brings his water colors, strange, distorted faces, and gorgeous backgrounds. It is, perhaps, not traditionally pretty, but it fits the characters, tone, and Royal City so well that it doesn’t matter. This is how this book needs to look.

Royal City is…really, really good. It’s so not the comic book norm–mostly in terms of quality–but man, wouldn’t it be nice if it was?

About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.