Review – Stumptown #2 (Oni Press, 2010)

Sassy private dick with a gambling problem gets in way over their head in gambling, has to pay off the debt by undertaking a job to find a young women who has disappeared. Said young women, it turns out, has more then one interested party who are in a hurry to find her, meaning that the private dick gets even further out of their depth….

I am sure some, or all, of these elements sound familiar to those who read Detective / Crime fiction. Stumptown, the new title from Greg Rucka (Queen & Country, Whiteout), and from where the above synopsis is taken, is firmly rooted in the crime genre, and does not stray too far from convention – but there are little twists, and it is with those twists, and the overall storytelling, that lifts this title above the mundane to something that is effortlessly entertaining.

The main twist up to now is that the protagonist is a female. Dex Parios is her name, and the other twist is that, despite initially being portrayed as down-at-heel, she actually manages to support herself and look after her brother, Ansel, who has downs syndrome, an Xbox addiction and a job to try and keep down.

The mystery is thick with intrigue, and well paced – the 2 issues so far sizzling, the tempo occasionally flaring up, then settling down again. Lots of smart dialogue. Matthew Southworth is an artist I have not heard of before, but he really hits the mood of the piece with unnerving accuracy – grainy, grimy and well realised characters.

And although the website isn’t up and running just yet, you need to go and check out the front page – it’s a classic;

Looking forward to more of this – the plan is to have each case last 4 issues, then ‘Stumptown Investigations’ will take on a new job. One to consider for the pull list.

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