Comics: Stumptown (Volume 2)

Greg Rucka is my kind of writer: energetic, sharp, fun, and unapologetic about his pop-culture influences. The second volume of his terrific P.I. comic Stumptown has me even more hooked on his work. In this outing (“The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case”), Dex takes a job searching for a rock star’s prized guitar, only to find herself entangled with local skinheads, crime lords, and smugglers on the mean streets of Portland.

Rucka is a terrific storyteller who creates memorable, kickass heroes and nicely defined side characters. Stumptown is a another perfect showcase. Dex is an accessible and highly likeable protagonist, a modern day, more physical, female Rockford, working herself into scrapes and jams as she butts up against the criminal element in her town. She’s the quintessential twenty-first century American private investigator, and this is clearly something Rucka has thought a lot about; his essays about the PI genre in each of the five issues are illuminating and reflect a deep love and knowledge of the genre.

Also, high praise for the artwork of Matthew Southworth. I remember feeling lukewarm about the art in the first volume, but in retrospect I think I was off-base. Southworth’s style suits the milieu, and he’s masterful at visual storytelling without dialogue, something I recall appreciating in volume one, but failed to comment on in my earlier review.

Stumptown is terrific stuff. If you miss the infectious blue-collar PI vibe of Terriers, you could do worse than to fill the void with this great comic series. I’m hoping Rucka will pull a Queen & Country and write novels in this universe, too.

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