Stillwater The Escape REVIEW: three hopeful stories with the standard Stillwater immortality twist.


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


“The Prisoner”

Writer and Artist: Jason Loo.


“Live to tell”

Writer: Andrew Wheeler, Artist: Soo Lee, Colourist: Dee Cunniffe.


“Matrimony”

Writer and Artist: Ethan Young, Colourist: Dee Cunniffe.


This Stillwater one-shot is set in the year between the Judge being killed and Galen taking control of the immortal town of Stillwater. Daniel and a few others are sitting around a fire telling stories about the people they knew. Each of the people in the stories feeling trapped in some way, yet their situations give hope that they were able to escape the town, so why can’t Daniel and the others? In classic Stillwater fashion, did each of them actually get to live free, or did Ted and the other sheriffs catch up to them?


It’s very hard to break this issue down, but I’m assuming the writing and art in between each story was done by the original creative team. So this starts with a fantastic internal monologue by Daniel: “Fire consumes, fire destroys. . . fire invited, fire draws us in”. This is exactly what I’d expect from Zdarsky, so dramatic and yet also so true, it’s a fantastic way to start the issue.


I won’t say too much about each individual story as I don’t want to ruin them, but we start with an Asian American family who are trapped in the town and not sure how to deal with it. The next story is of a teen struggling with his sexuality, again trapped in Stillwater, and feeling like he wouldn’t be accepted anywhere else. The last tale is about a husband and wife whose marriage is falling apart, saying that immortality is the death of marriage. Each of these stories feel different from each other and the overarching plot. All three have distinguishing features: the immigrants who knew they had a better life yet were unlucky enough to settle in the wrong town; the teen struggling with his sexuality during a difficult time when he should be growing as a person and yet never gets to; last, the breakdown of a marriage that makes you think "Is immortality really a gift or a curse?" Just like the children or the babies in Stillwater that never grow up, this situation, although sounding good, can end up being torturous for many different reasons. Although each feel different, they do all very well integrate themselves into the town as a whole, and each writer has got a great grasp of the concept of Stillwater.


One thing that I couldn’t help wonder about an issue like this was, how would Zdarsky feel about letting other writers handle his concept. For any writer, what they create has a special place in their heart, and even they would feel pressure if it’s received well enough by an audience to keep up the pace and quality. So to pass this off to three other writers must have been a difficult decision, but personally I think each one of them handled it very well.


Artistically speaking this might sound offensive as each artist wants to have their own style, but the art each produces fits perfectly into the story and the world. Now I don’t have any experience with any of the artists, so I can’t say for certain, but this could be done on purpose to make sure readers aren’t taken out of the story by drastically different art within a single issue.


Overall, this was a great issue that had everything. I loved the hope that each story brings to the characters, yet we know from experience that Stillwater isn’t that simple. This felt like a good teasing issue to get us ready for the beginning of the last arc with issue 13 releasing on May 11th. This 34 page special was exactly what we needed to keep the story with us so we don’t forget between issues 12 and 13.


Stillwater The Escape was released on 16th March by Image Comics from your Local Comic Shop or on 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.

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