Royal City #5 Review

Written by: Jeff Lemire

Art by: Jeff Lemire

Publisher: Image

Welp, we’re now at issue #5 of Royal City, and it’s still an absolute treat. If this weren’t written by Jeff Lemire, I’d call it a sleeper hit, a wonderful little surprise that bucks the comic-book norm, but come on. It’s Jeff Lemire. We all saw this coming.

What’s great about #5 is that it’s actually kind of easy to review!

We return to Royal City not through Patrick, Richie, or any of the other living members of our royal family but through the stroke-ridden father and Tommy. It’s a journey of ghosts. It’s Tommy taking his father’s hand and going, “come on, let’s go see what’s happening.”

There’s a Dickensian vibe to the whole comic that absolutely works. First, we know what to expect from such a framework, and it’s both cozy and mysterious. What does this new character—because let’s face it, the father hasn’t had a speaking line since page two of the first issue—think of his kids and what they’re up to? Secondly, it allows the book to navigate every little plot thread and establish mini climaxes and cliffhangers without cheap tricks.

I get it. You get it. We all get it!

And of course like the four issues before it, the rub isn’t something big or flashy but rather a series of deep character moments and growth. We gleam new bits of information out of everyone, and it feels so wonderfully natural and obvious because every character in this comic feels like a real person.

On the art front, the comic is still a water-color wonder. There are one or two panels here that look a hair more distorted or off than they should, but otherwise it’s as amazing as it always is. The art matches the writing beat for beat, which is a major feat when you think about it. The writing is just super good.

Royal City will be going on a hiatus after this issue, and while this first arc isn’t ending with a bang, I’m still left satisfied and ready for more. For good or ill, I’ve grown attached to these characters and this place, and I want to see them through this journey. I hope they find whatever it is they’re looking for.