Royal City #4 Review

Posted June 20, 2017 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written by: Jeff Lemire

Art by: Jeff Lemire

Publisher: Image

I’m back with another stab at reviewing Royal City, and like with the second issue, I’m finding it hard to review. It’s so precision-focused on character work that openly talking about anything feels like it would tread into spoiler territory. However, because there’s nothing interesting about reading vague praise…

Thematically, Royal City covers a lot of ground, and it does so with a thick coating of water-colored paints. Lemire is easily one of the most talented writers/artists working right now. Each panel of this book is cozy, giving every little detail room to play. This works on two levels: The first is that the book is easy on the eyes and easy to read. It’s comforting and inviting. The second is that it makes Royal City feel empty and downtrodden. There’s a small sense of agoraphobia going on here, which plays into those aforementioned themes.

Growing up. Getting older. Dying. Existential dread. Letting go.

All of these have played a big part in this series, and while they’re very in-your-face, it’s maybe for the best. Royal City #4 opens with Pat having an almost breakdown over the fact that he’s getting older and going to die, and the open window into his thoughts really sells his fear, both the known and unknown. At 40, I’m not sure Pat really knows what he wants to be, and time is creeping up on him.

Meanwhile, Richie is a dead beat, broke, and more concerned with getting money for cigarettes than anything else. Time is creeping up on him too, though in a more literal way.

It’s funny, in a way. The only person not plagued by time is Tommy because he’s already dead.

I’m not sure what else to say. Royal City #4 continues to be a brilliant look at a broken family haunted by a ghost. But it’s hard to tell if the ghost is a real ghost or just a strange manifestation of memory, of an idea. It’s hard to tell if he’s helping anyone or holding everyone back.

And that in itself is as real as a ghost can be. Growing up. Getting older. Dying. Existential dread. Letting go. The first four are easy, but how on Earth do you do the last one?

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.