Thursday, October 20, 2011


Greg Rucka (writer)
Matthew Southworth (art)

Stumptown features Dex Parios, a private investigator with shit luck at gambling. Down nearly eighteen grand to a casino, she is offered a case by the head of casino operations: find the missing granddaughter of Sue-Lynne Suppa, and the debt is erased.

Greg Rucka has worked on some of the biggest franchises from Marvel and DC Comics, but should be best known for his work on Queen & Country and Whiteout. Queen & Country is some of the best espionage fiction you're likely to run across, and given the difference in medium, I'd hold it up against prose fiction. It's damn good.

The thing about comic books is that where a writer can be so good on one series, his next work can fall flat and not meet the expectations his own excellence has set. Granted, this is true about anything, but I am a bit more hesitant with comics than with prose novels. Whiteout was good. Queen & Country was great. Could Stumptown even compare?

Happily, yes.

Charlotte Suppa has been missing for four days, and like any good detective story, Stumptown isn't quite so simple as “find the girl who ran away.” There's more to it, but not so much in a way that would begin to strain credulity. After telling personal stories on the world's stage with Queen & Country, Rucka tells a smaller story with Stumptown. Though the focus is on Dex's investigation, readers get a sense of Dex's life and personal story in an organic manner that serves both the macro story of the investigation as well as the micro story of introducing this new world. Rucka is very good at that balancing act. He does well with Dex's characterization and gives enough hints for the supporting cast to come alive as well.

Matthew Southworth's illustrations should also be commended. There is a certain washed out quality that serves the tone of the story while perfectly conveying who the characters are and what sort of world they inhabit. The art does its job, but it is more than simply serviceable. Matthew Southworth helps tell Rucka's story and with a different artist, we'd have an entirely different book – and probably not as good as the one we have now.

The four issues collected in Volume One cover “The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini).” That title is the only bit of cheese to be found in the book. The only collected edition available is the hardcover that'll run you in the neighborhood of $30, but it's well worth checking out. One can only hope that Rucka has more Stumptown books in the works and that Southworth will be back doing the illustrations.  This interview suggests that there is.


Kevin Burton Smith said...
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Kevin Burton Smith said...

I agree completely. A masterful crime comic, one of the best in what is rapidly becoming a crowded field. Rucka and Southworth have created a world and a cast (and a detective) here as vivid and real and grounded as Marlowe's or Rockford's LA, Spenser's Boston, Scudder's Manhattan or Robicheaux's beloved bayous.

Even if I felt a little cheated by the rushed feel of its conclusion (or was it just that I didn't want it to end?), I'll be first in line for any sequel to STUMPTOWN that Greg and Matthew decide to bless us with.

Matthew Southworth said...

Thanks very much, guys!

Just wanted to tell you that there is indeed another arc of Stumptown coming. I believe it's being released in February, so keep an eye out and be sure to ask your local store to stock a couple hundred copies!

Thanks for the review!