Stillwater #15 ADVANCE REVIEW: Religion and social media begin to consume the town where no one dies
Written by: Chip Zdarsky, Illustrated by: Ramon K Perez, Colours by: Mike Spicer, Lettering by: Rus Wooton.
Daniel, Laura and Tanya are giving sermons to anyone who listens as they convince people that life is precious and a gift from God. Galen calls them to a meeting, where he explains that his new found religion is great but he can’t have the government taking over. Daniel wants people to have the freedom that they used to have, so he declines. Galen is now getting desperate, so he feels the need to jump to extreme measures. All while the truth might just be coming out about Stillwater’s curse.
We are almost going on 2 months since the last issue of Stillwater and it’s not missing a beat. Although the series is going heavy on the religious tones. The first 3 panels are overflowing with it. Panel 1 is of a church, 2 is inside where Daniel is in front of a cross with his arms open. Panel 3 is close of his arms open with Laura and Tanya on ether side. The most interesting thing about this is that he is centred and in line with the church steeple on the first panel. His resemblance to Christ is undeniable with his long hair and beard. I thought this was maybe a bit on the nose but that was part of the point that writer Chip Zdarsky is making: that Daniel has completely turned his life around from the person we met in the first issue. He sees living this long as a curse and a slight on God. This even Galen references when they meet, as if Daniel has had an epiphany. Yet he also knows that this now has become a larger problem, due to people being more responsive about religion that they would if Daniel wasn’t preaching it.
Something else that Zdarsky wasn’t subtle about was the takeover of Coldwater. The interesting thing about this is the way that Galen has to censor the town to stop word getting shout about their immortality. He does this by confiscating all phones and even unleashing an EMP. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is a critique on society right now and our use of our phones, by the woman Galen put in charge of combing through social media to ensure all seems normal to the outside world. She even responds by saying that “this social media . . . it’s all-consuming”. We are living in an age of so much screen time, that it’s partially down to social media and this is a dig at our society. If that was too subtle, then Galen even quips that the people of Coldwater are “so connected to the outside world it’s killing them”, making a point that they are fixated on global issues from social media and not thought about what could enrich their lives from a more localised viewpoint. Although I do partly agree with his conclusions that people could be less connected to their phones and more to the natural world around them, he’s still become worse than the judge, ruling by decree.
The art is, as usual, fantastic. One panel in particular I thought was a stand-out was the one above. While Galen thought about what to do about Daniel. He’s been told by Ted that too many people in Coldwater are listening to Daniel, and so rejecting their way of life. After this, Galen takes the time to have food at the diner he goes to. What’s interesting is that he’s alone other than the server. Even the people who help keep order in the town aren’t with him to discuss things. This shows how isolated Galen has become, and he’s just as isolated as the judge was.
Overall, another great issue from the team. Despite a lack of action, it’s still very engaging with the story and dialogue. It’s also interesting to see Daniel do a complete character 180 from the time we met him to now. Yet this doesn’t feel unnatural for the events that have transpired, it shows character growth and impressive writing.
This is an easy 4 POPs out of 5 and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come.
Stillwater issue 15 will be released by Image Comics on 28th September from your Local Comic Shop as well as comixology
Andrew Carr was blessed to grow up watching the animated series of Batman, X-Men, and his favorite, Spider-Man.This started his dive into the comics world, which resulted in meeting his amazing cosplaying wife Imogen. They live in England with their Sinister Six dogs.