Time for Daniel to step up in suspenseful but artistically conflicting Stillwater #9 ADVANCE REVIEW

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

Ted has brought Tonya to the Judge, and as he declares that she will be held, he throws her in his truck to take her away. His Marine Corps are getting tired of the constant changing of rules and realise that Ted isn’t as influential as he has said he was. All while Daniel is being shown around the treehouse built by the Stillwater children. They are desperate to grow up and look to him as one of their own and also their saviour. He represents what they want. Despite him calling himself a screw up, they explain he was given the chance. Now Ted is disobeying the judge and it seems like Daniel is the only person who can stop him.

A long intro with this one, as this issue was the culmination of the previous two, where Ted was dealing with Tanya, and Daniel had been taken to safety by the children. This issue now brings it back together in a glorious way. I’ve had my issues with this series over the last few, as they have felt like filler, but it seems we are back on track now. Zdarsky is doing such a good job with building suspense, and even making things dramatic without needed lots of action and explosions. The best part to the series however is how they deal with the gift / curse as it’s dependent on who you talk to. Some, like Ted, are enjoying their immortality, but on the other hand the children are finding it torture. They go on to say that the treehouse took them decades to build, as their muscles can’t get stronger. They will always be childlike. This sentiment hits even harder when they introduce the baby. Daniel even asks if he can understand. This kind of torture must be excruciating on them. To grow in mental capacity but not physically so still unable to perform simple tasks. This really makes you think about the town, are they gifted or cursed.

The artwork by Ramon K Perez and Mike Spicer is defined by this issue. We have both the best of what they offer and also parts that seem rushed. Above you can see a beautiful panel of Daniel and the children in the treehouse silhouetted against the sky. I’ve been blessed in my last few books to have some amazing landscape pieces and this I count as another one. Truly stunning. Even showing the moment that Daniel decides that he needs to go and save everyone from Ted.

Contrast the first panel and this one here. The art is good, but what made me stop and look at this panel was the blood. Instead of it being dynamic and having any kind of movement, it looks more like paint that had been spilt over Ted. This is frustrating for a series that has had some really good artistic panels. Now this is just one out of the whole book, so it’s very limited in terms of percentage of the whole series, but when a single panel makes me question things, then something is amiss.

Overall, though the series has been great and this is another great issue. The team are doing a fantastic job of building the suspense within an action / horror scenario. It makes you question how you would deal with the situation at hand.

Stillwater issue 9 will be released from Image Comics on 4th August from your Local Comic Shop as well as comixology

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