Stumptown #1 Review

Written by: Greg Rucka

Art by: Justin Greenwood

Publisher: Oni Press

Detective Dex Parios is back in the latest volume of Greg Rucka’s acclaimed crime series “Stumptown”. There are a few changes for this new volume however, as well as the series now being released as an ongoing the artistic duties have been taken over by Justin Greenwood.

The issues seems to have been designed with new readers in mind (with myself personally among that group) and Rucka manages to introduce you to the characters of the series in a natural way that avoids giving you a lot of exposition in a big info dumb. Rucka frames the issue around football (or soccer for my American readers), with the cast being the main participants. It’s a fun way to familiarise us with the characters and it is a testament to Rucka’s writing that he can keep me interested in the events while focusing on a sport that has is of no personal interest to me.

The story of this issue seems to take a back-seat to the character interaction between Dex and her younger brother Ansel, something I feel was done for the benefit for newer readers. Fortunately the chemistry between the siblings is fun to read and feels genuine. There’s a real softness to Dex which she reveals only to her brother, it helps her feel real and shows the connection the two share. Ansel also seems to suffer from a learning difficulty though Rucka treats the issue with respect and doesn’t go overboard in his portrayal of this, again making him seem like a three-dimensional character rather than a stereotype. Outside of this however the issue is surprisingly barren of plot, it is only at the very end that we see the elements of a larger mystery that will drive the plot for future issues. Like I said, I feel this was done to make newer readers feel they were on the same page before diving into the crime elements, though it feels as though the issue is over just as it gets really interesting.

The art by new artist Justin Greenwood is a mixed bag however; there’s a great sense of kinetic energy during the initial football match and he effectively manages to create the raw and intense atmosphere of a live football match. When it comes to the characters themselves however they seem very rough around the edges, which is a shame given how human Rucka makes the characters feel. I don’t feel the art is bad however, the story is framed well and as stated he evokes a great sense of atmosphere, his style will most likely just require a bit of adjustment which will hopefully improve as the series continues.

Overall, I would say this is a solid introduction to the series, although one that is pretty slowly paced in regards to the crime elements of the comic. Given the quality of Rucka’s previous work I’ll definitely be back for a second issue to see where the series goes from here. There are enjoyable moments in this issue, with the relationship between Dex and Ansley forming a nice emotional core, however due to the decompressed nature of the story it is hard to rate the comic any higher.