By Ben Snyder
In Royal City #7, Jeff Lemire finally begins to reveal his intentions with the character of Thomas Pike. Throughout the series so far, every member of the Pike clan pasted their expectations and hopes onto the lost soul that was Tommy. In entry #7, Lemire does a great job of showcasing this while also introducing Tommy’s new role as a broadcasting center of sorts.
It should not be a shocker or a surprise at this point to say that the Pike family was and still is broken. It shows that Patti and Peter can barely be in the same room as each other when Peter takes off of work. Within sentences of speaking to each other, the two are at each other’s throats. I loved the subtle break in which we get an excerpt from Tommy’s journal in which he restates a fear most children have; we don’t want to view our parents as people. We forever hope and wish they are capable of these superhuman tasks, and the realization that they aren’t crushes us. So having this passage intersect Peter’s aimless depressed driving really drives home the fact that these people are damaged.
Tommy’s passage also shines quite the depressing light on small town living. It’s all so sad and quiet, but most importantly- real. This is what happens in small towns. Besides the insight into Peter and Patti’s past, nothing of major note happened in this issue and for this reason, this issue seems like a lost chapter. The only other major story beats are that Tommy gets a CAT scan and Peter begins collecting antique radios. We may get more insight into why Peter has such an affinity for these radios as he and Jaun share a moment, but that is pretty much it. I feel like more could have been done even if we got a panel of the Pike children each.
A good portion of this issue seems to have focused on the supernatural aspect of Tommy’s headaches, and I don’t feel that they worked particularly well. As of now, we don’t know a lot about the nature of Tommy’s headaches, so the small glimpses into the black and white world don’t really offer much. Hopefully, we get some answers regarding the purpose of these headaches, the radios, the black and white world, and Tommy’s colored reflection but as of now, it seems a bit superfluous.
Also, it seemed like some pretty overt foreshadowing when the brain doctor kept asking Tommy and Patti if Tommy was drinking or taking drugs. It was a bit extended, especially because we have had no reason to believe Tommy was a typical non-drinking teen before this conversation. Ultimately, I fully expect Tommy to take drugs and drink next issue; which should lead to some answers regarding the supernatural elements.
While the script may not be Lemire’s best, the art is typically exceptional- specifically the faces. The scene that encapsulates this most is when Peter and Jaun meet. Lemire places their two faces in back to back panels surrounded by the white outlines of the page. It simply emphasizes how these characters are seemingly lost and alone. Only finding solace in a similar face, it also doesn’t hurt that these two characters look alike as well. These two panels are exceptional and totally sell Peter’s midlife crisis and Jaun being Peter’s salvation.
No issue of Royal City is bad, any time we can get more of Jeff Lemire’s depressing and human writing we are better off for it, when we can get past the tears. However, Royal City #7 doesn’t quite meet the bar Lemire has set for himself in prior issues. Often times, this issue seems meandering and lost just like Tommy. Next issue, Lemire promises a drug and drink fueled joy ride with Richie, Tommy, and friends. Hopefully, we will arrive a more concrete plot location then.
Royal City #7