Happy death day in Stillwater #3 ADVANCE REVIEW

Writer: Chip Zdarsky, Illustrator: Ramon K Perez, Colours: Mike Spicer, Lettering: Rus Wooton.

After being caught trying to run away from the town, Daniel is brought back and advised to keep by the rules. After all, he’s on strike 2; at 3...well they make 3 the final solution. He’s started to document his time in town, knowing this could be his final stroke if they ever find his journal. There’s only one thing he can do, blend in and make it seem like he’s embraced the idea of becoming one of them. He finds out more about their way of living, and how they cope with the new way of life. How they now celebrate death days, to keep up appearances of the town's population fluctuating. He’s doing his best to blend in, but he won’t forget what these people did. Can he go up against a whole town though?

This is a slightly slower issue, although it starts with some intense action, after that we get to see more of the effects the “curse” or “gift” has upon the town. From the effects on crops, to how it changes drinking habits. One panel in particular is used to great effect with the words of Ted, one of the more violent and unforgiving officers. In which he says that he still drinks coffee cause he wants things to be the same, despite things never actually changing. Now out of context it sounds like a nonsense statement but to me, I get the agony and the struggle from him, as this “curse” clearly has taken its toll on some of the people. Humans are creatures of habit, and he wants to feel in control of something by keeping up his habits. Just this one sentence gave such depth to a character who we have seen nothing of but aggression and violence. In that sentence Zdarsky has made this unlikable character actually kind of endearing. (Don’t worry, straight after we are reminded how contentious the character is.)

I’m still very intrigued and drawn to the panel layout of this book. Throughout the past 3 issues, the team have still kept the border going along one side of each page, alternating the side. In doing so, not fully using the page, which is unconventional, keeps the readers at a state of unease about everything. This is cleverly mirrored in the beautiful artwork by Ramon K Perez, even to minor details, like characters' smiles. During this issue we get to see more from the doctor and we are also introduced to Mrs Lillow. Her smile has a very menacing look to it, which is clearly the point, as Daniel even states that he’s been in the town a while but no one has scared him like she can. The saying goes "the pen is mightier than the sword." It seems fitting for her, as she clearly lays out that she’s the one who can sign the death certificates. Pointing her pen at him menacingly, her smile changing drastically between a single panel. It’s moments like that, where the art and the script so clearly and cleverly play off each other to unnerve the reader.

Overall this was a highly enjoyable issue, delving more into the strange effects this aura has on the town and the people. I’m still loving the unsettling feeling that things are about to kick off, yet I know Daniel wouldn’t stand much of a chance. For a character who started off with this arrogant entitlement, he’s been levelled, and it makes for great reading. I would highly recommend this series. I can’t wait to see how we develop from here.

Stillwater #3 will be released on 18th November from your local comic shop as well as comixology


Stillwater #1 and 2

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