By Jonathan Edwards
I swear, with every new issue of Royal City, I read it, love it, and want more. Lemire does such a good job of setting and maintaining a tone that it hardly takes any effort to slip back into the same emotional space each month. Furthermore, he has a specific way of revealing information so that it informs about the characters and world while also generating further intrigue and follow-up questions. As far as I can tell, the "model" (if you want to call it that) tends to be something of a reversed order of events. We meet a character who's feeling a certain way or in a certain state of mind. Then, we slowly move backwards to find out the actual event that got them there. And after that, we uncover what led to that event. For example, Tara and her husband Steve have been at odds since the first issue, and with this one we finally learn what the cause of that was (I refuse to spoil it). And now, the question becomes "what else was going on before it that affected and led up to it?" It's really great stuff, and I can only presume it will all eventually lead back to finding out exactly what happened to Tommy Pike.
The Tara/Steve thing isn't all we get in terms of revelations either. A video from the YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting, which does analysis on a broad range of films and film topics, talks about the director David Fincher and how his relationship with exposition differs from others. Basically, it's suggested that Fincher derives strong drama from his characters learning new information, and I think Lemire does something similar with his characters finally admitting things to themselves or another. Functionally, it's still very much exposition, which is traditionally frowned upon. Although, as this issue shows when Pat seems Tommy in the diner, it carries a lot of emotional weight as well. Plus, I didn't even know I needed to know why Pat is having trouble writing his book until I learned the reason, and now I'm so glad that I did.
Also present in this one is the introduction of two new characters. Of them, Robert is of particular interest based upon the brief interaction he has with Patricia (side note: I'm just now realizing that Pat was, perhaps, named after his mother). Based on some of her dialog from previous issues, and what she says to Robert here, I have a pretty solid expectation of where Patricia's story might be moving. But at the same time, I'm expecting another Lemire curveball to come out of nowhere and, at the very least, take it somewhere unique.
I've already professed my love for Lemire's art in my reviews for both of the previous issues, and that's really not going to change any time soon. However, I will note, that there were some panels/pages that I didn't quite love as much with this one. And then, there were also some that I loved more than usual, so it all balanced out. And at the end of the day, it's going to take a lot more than a few instances of "this panel isn't quite as good as this other one that's really good" for me to do anything less than completely vouch for Lemire's work.
I really don't have much else to say. This book is really good, and I'd thoroughly encourage anyone who hasn't checked it out to promptly do so. At this point, you might need to pick up some back issues to get the full experience or wait a few additional months and pick up the trade. Well, that or you could do what I'm going to probably end up doing and just buy all of it.
Royal City #3
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics