Written by: Chip Zdarsky, Illustrated by: Ramon K Perez, Colours by: Mike Spicer, Lettering by: Rus Wooton.
It’s 1999 and Ted is doing the Judge's dirty work by heading to a disgruntled family member of one of Stillwater's residents. Ted and the Judge know full well that if he comes to town or calls the authorities, then they have a problem. The solution is to go rid them of this person. Along the way, Ted meets up with his Marine friends. His old Sergeant sees something is wrong and follows him. After Ted dispatches the gentleman, the Sergeant confronts him about his life choices, giving him a chance to flee before he calls it in. Ted, however, can’t have that, so he beats his Sergeant to a bloody mess on the floor, and threatens his family if he were to say anything to anyone. In 2017, an unexpected car is seen traveling towards the town. Ted is ordered to turn them around. However this was not how he expected things to go, as the Sergeant gets out and threatens him. What can this mean for the town going forward?
Ted is a character who has always been the “bad guy,” but now we start to get to see the grey of his character rather than the black and white, the good vs bad. It’s been clear for a few issues that he’s getting fed up of being the executioner for the Judge, lashing out without caring for the lives that he’s putting an end to. This is where that changed, and we see the breakdown of his character. Why and how he’s gotten to that point. The fight with his ex-Sergeant was a poignant moment in his life. He gave his Sergeant his word that if he ever spoke a word to anyone about what he did, he would kill his family. After which he sits in his car and breaks down into tears. Showing us that he wasn’t always so unemotional, he was forced to hurt the person he respected to save the town where he resides. The whole issue was centred around him and his transformation as a character, going from the start of the breakdown of his emotions running through to the end of the last issue.
Now, though, the issue doesn’t push the story much further from a narrative perspective, as it concludes only seconds after the end of the last issue. This was an incredibly emotional and well-delivered book for the character of Ted. Fleshing his character out even more was a good call, considering where the book now promises to go in the coming issues. To me, this actually was surprisingly one of the strongest-written of the series for that reason. The last issue left on such a pivotal moment and a big cliffhanger, that if you can answer virtually no questions and flesh out the “bad guy” to the point of real character emotion without leaving me feeling frustrated at the lack of closure, then that is fantastic writing.
Artistically, we have some great panels throughout, which helps deepen the emotional state of Ted. The fight scenes are intense, which makes the car emotional breakdown scene even more powerful. I’m unsure if it’s by choice of Ramon K Perez and Mike Spicer, but to me it seemed like there was more depth of character in the features, which fit very well with the story being told.
This was one of the best issues so far in the series, I feel like I say it a lot, but the team is managing to top what they did last issue each time. Which is why I have loved this series and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a horror /action / suspense book. It has something for everyone.
Stillwater issue 6 was released on 17th February from Image Comics and your local comic shop as well as comixology