Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

STUMPTOWN #3 by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth

So far I’ve been following and really enjoying Greg Rucka’s new private eye comic series, Stumptown. The first two issues were fantastic and brought us up to date on our heroine’s (Dex) life and career, as well as her friends and family. The mystery, a search for a missing granddaughter, has been well done as well.

Issue #3 turns out to be something of a change of pace. Dex finally locates Charlotte in a hotel with Isabel, the daughter of a prominent local mobster, Marenco. Dex’s snooping has tied Charlotte to both Isabel and her brother, who has a lot of problems of his own and isn’t above using violence to solve them.

The standoff in the hallway turns into pages of action that artist Matthew Southworth renders with eye-catching appeal. I especially like the way Southworth breaks up the panels to reflect Dex’s perspective on a situation. The coloring during the physical violence (especially the use of red) really stands out on the page. The two-page spread depicting the conflict with the goons is good eye-candy and Southworth does a lot with the changes in perspective as well as close-ups.

And Southward shows some definite love for the Mustang Dex drives. One of the panels has a 3-D effect that makes it look like the car is pulling right off the page. Later in the story, Southworth’s picturesque lake landscape just really pops with the pine trees and the lakehouses.

Rucka’s feel for the characters is good. I like the way that Isabel gets in touch with Dex because Dex took her Porsche. No matter what kind of trouble she’s in, Isabel has her appearance and doesn’t want to lower her lofty standards. In the end, it’s Isabel’s weaknesses that put her right back into Dex’s hands. And by this time, Dex has figured out who’s behind the attempts on Charlotte’s life and why she’s gone missing.

The final page of the comic is a definite cliffhanger that sets up the next issue. I’m looking forward to it because Dex has got a really deep hole she’s gotta dig out of with all the wickedness coming her way. And I hope we get to find out more of Dex’s relationship with her brother, the police, and friends. Rucka has created a deep character that’s capable of telling a lot of stories, and Southward has made Oregon his own beat, filled with interesting visuals that I want to see more of.

For added value, the reader gets four pages of commentary and artwork from Matthew Southworth. I enjoyed getting to hear all the stress he went through with the missing page and deadline thing, because those are issues I struggle with in my own career. But I also liked seeing how detail-oriented he can’t help but be. This is a guy I would want to work with, and his art really makes this comic.


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