Written by Chip Zdarsky, Illustrated by Ramon K Perez, Colours by Mike Spicer, Lettering by Rus Wooton.
After the brutal murder of his friend before his eyes, Daniel was saved by his mother. Now his fate is in the hands of “the judge”. He explains: to keep the town safe from outsiders and keep everyone secure, they have strict rules. Ones they have followed for a long time. As most of the townsfolk know, all outsiders are put to death. However, Daniel is not an outsider, but as the judge exclaims, someone broke the rules. So punishment is necessary.
This book starts with a brief tale of a child being neglected and in potential danger. This is set during the '90s. What makes it interesting is the boy who’s supposed to be looking after the young child is the same boy from the first issue, who was playing on the rooftop when he fell and broke his neck. Yet the mystery behind this is heightened for me due to the fact that these first few pages are “normal” comic pages. The standard border around it, suggesting that back then all was normal. This was before the mystical force granted everyone in town eternal life. I think this because as soon as we hit the third page titled “Now”, that border shifts like it did in the first issue. Alerting the reader that things aren’t as they should be.
This issue I found that the best parts are the conversations between Daniel and the Judge. Although very informative they are also intense. Mixing that with the residents who say that the judge only have one ruling. Outsiders die to keep the town safe. It creates a very profound aura. The writing on show here is truly remarkable. I was kept on the edge of my seat as I wondered what could happen. When a writer can craft such heightened states with just conversations, it displays how superior their style is. Zdarsky manages to pull of an issue that’s both intense with the spoken word and with actions that accompany some of the conversations. One interaction jumps to mind with one if the police officer assaulting Laura (Daniel's potential mum). The way it suddenly happens shocks the reader by having it happen so quickly and by having a flash of red and yellow in the panels. Red being the colour of rage, showing the anger brewing in the officer who clearly has a disregard for their rules, even if their rules are so brutal.
The artwork within this issue is mostly fantastic. Ramon K Perez and Mike Spicer have done something great with the characters and the town. Using a large amount of rather muted colours that make it all seem so realistic and dull. Only splashing the colours when Laura gets assaulted by Ted. I think this is on purpose as with the way this issue ends, I think we are in for a brutal next issue. The only time I wasn’t sure about the artwork was the one panel that I’ve highlighted above. There’s too much shading in the judge's eyes and mouth down to chin. With what he’s saying, if it was a conscious choice to make him seem less human and more evil, I can understand. However I think it has the opposite effect. If you had his eyes in focus, so you can see them. It would reinforce the idea that these people in the town are human, despite their abilities and their lack of respect for others' lives.
Overall, this is an enjoyable second issue, building on the first's suspense. Even crafting some great dialogue between characters like Daniel and the judge. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.
Stillwater issue #2 was released on 21st October from your local comic shop as well as comixology