By Jonathan Edwards
Royal City #5 marks the end of the first story arc. Although, that is perhaps a loose definition. Because, though the stakes are higher this time around, I didn't find this issue to be distinctly more revelatory or terminating than any previous issue. I don't mean that as a bad thing either. I tore through this issue, enjoying every moment of my reading. And when I realized I was at the end, I only wanted more. But, it looks like we'll have to wait for October for the next arc, where Lemire sends us back to 1993 and the final days of Tommy Pike. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's on the issue at hand. Namely, issue #5 of Royal City.
We hit the ground running with Peter Pike's heart stopping, him meeting up with Tommy, and them going off on some ghostly adventures together. It's one hell of a way to immediately engage the reader, and boy does it work. Even now, I can't help but think and/or say "oh shit" every time I reread it. At its core, it's simply a matter of pace, composition, and layout executed exceedingly well. Our first panel is a wide shot of Peter lying in his hospital bed. This is followed by a closeup, flanked on the left by EKG heartbeats, and on the right by the EKG flatlining. Finally we have an extreme closeup of his eyes popping open. It's so incredibly concise and pithy that it kind of makes you wonder why anyone would try or even want to do more.
The following sequence of Peter travelling with Tommy to see his family is great and heartbreaking for a number of reasons. But, the Richie section is hands down the best part. We haven't really gotten to spend a lot of time with Peter or learn who is as a character over the last few issues. And then, here comes a moment where we learn exactly the type of father he is. We've seen that some of the Pike family has clearly had a falling out with Richie. But to Peter, it doesn't matter if Richie's motives are shitty (which they are). Richie is still Peter's son, and Peter loves him. It's truly touching and probably my biggest take away from the issue, and that's including the big reveal at the end (although, that one is a close second).
The art is Lemire. Therefore, the art is amazing. In addition to the aforementioned greatness that is this issue's first page, I found the skies and rain to be particularly powerful aesthetics in this one. In the case of the former, I'm not exactly sure why. But, when Peter first follows Tommy, there's just something so vast and jewel-like about them that really caught my eye. Regarding the rain, Lemire's art is always so inherently evocative and in tune with the tone of the story that it'll always be far more poignant and honest than a mere change in weather.
Royal City is great. I love reading it, and for that reason, I think this might be my last review for it. From here on out, I kind of just want to experience Lemire's story, art, and all that comes with it for myself. If it wasn't obvious, this is a book I recommend. At this point, I'd say go for the trade when it releases in September. And if you dig it, you only have a month to wait before issue #6. I'm not even going to bother to say you should read this if you've been keeping up with the series. Because by now, I'm sure you don't need me telling you that it's still very much worth reading.
Royal City #5
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics