By Jonathan Edwards
There's something about Jeff Lemire and Royal City that makes it so damn engaging to read. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I know it's there, probably having to do with the sum of the parts over any individual aspect. It's the same type of dynamic that can happen when a comic incollected format versus issue to issue. Sometimes, the collection just adds another dimension. Consequently, that's exactly what I expect to happen with the eventual Royal City hardcovers and TPBs. Although, even if that does turn out to be the case, it won't dissuade from picking up and reading the individuals issues.
Royal City #2 focuses in mainly on Patrick and Richie, jumping back and forth between them throughout the issue. Starting with Pat, we're introduced via phone call to his wife Greta before experiencing their marriage fall apart right in front of our eyes. It's a fantastic sequence that, in lesser hands, may have amounted to little more than an exposition dump. There's something inherently natural and human about Lemire's writing that tends to make believable dialog even when it is also heavy with exposition. Beyond that, the way he juxtaposes panels, framing, colors, etc. adds so much to this sequence and really stands out among Lemire's already unique art.
What's really compelling about Richie's sections are his relationship with his version of Tommy. While other members of the Pike family (Pat excluded) seem to be unaware and/or unwilling to come with the fact that Tommy isn't actually alive, it seems like Richie might know. At the very least, he doesn't bat an eye when he sees Tommy at the bottom of a toilet bowl. That might sound weird, but it makes a lot more sense in context. Furthermore, Tommy eventually references his demise, and Richie doesn't question it or so much as look confused. A few moments do perhaps contradict the idea that he's aware, but it's hard to say for sure. It could just as well be that he's aware Tommy isn't alive but annoyed that he never appears for anyone else in the eponymous Royal City.
I already talked a little bit about art, and there's really not much else to add. Everything I said last time holds, and it holds strong. It's Jeff Lemire and certainly nothing less. If you're not familiar with his work, the cover should tell you all you need to know. If that immediately turns you off, that's unfortunate, but that's you're right.
I was already on board with this series from the get go, but this issue reconvinced me to be on board. If you're reading this book, my recommendation is too keep reading, and if you're not, start. At least give it an issue and your honest effort. Hell, you could probably get away with starting here if you don't want to hunt down the first one. I was originally inclined to take my own bias toward Royal City with a grain a salt when scoring this issue, but the Patrick and Greta stuff is what really pushes it past the threshold.
Royal City #2
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics