REVIEW: ‘Stillwater,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Stillwater #1

Stillwater #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Ramón K. Perez, colors by Mike Spicer and letters by Rus Wooton. Daniel West is a graphic designer with a bit of a temper. After an altercation with a coworker he gets fired from his job. As things are looking down a mysterious letter summoning him to the quiet little town of Stillwater shows up at his door. It seems his great aunt has died and left him some money. Maybe this will be the solution to all his problems…

Getting a comic series off the ground is a tricky proposition. That first issue needs to set the scene, introduce characters and deliver a concept that will make readers want to come back for the subsequent issues. Not a lot to ask for from 40ish pages of comic huh?  Nonetheless, this is the challenge faced by Stillwater #1. Does it manage to deliver that critical balance of set up and take off? Sure does. Let’s dive in.

The better portion of this book is focused on Daniel’s character. From our first introduction to him we see he certainly has his flaws. Fired from his job for shoving a coworker, his first step to move on involves getting puke faced drunk and swinging on a bouncer. Okay, not the brightest bulb in the batch. Complementing Daniel’s personality is his friend Tony. Falling somewhere between supportive and out right enabling, Tony does his best to help his buddy get his life back in order. Every impression I got of him makes me feel like he genuinely means well, even if he doesn’t have all his ducks in a row either.

Stillwater #1

As Daniel awakens from his night of poor choices, with Tony looking after him, there is a knock at the door and a courier delivers a letter for Daniel. His great aunt has passed and he’s been called to Stillwater to deal with her estate. Tony agrees to tag along and the two set off on a road trip to the sleepy town. Though they’ll certainly find more than they bargain for.

Throughout this portion of Stillwater #1 Zdarsky does a good job establishing the two prime characters. They both come across as mostly likeable, if a bit flawed. Guys you could spend an afternoon with, but I probably wouldn’t trust too much. While this hinders a reader’s ability to get too close to them it also allows for growth. If Zdarsky can give Daniel a strong arc in future issues, this start will be well done.

So, we’ve talked about how Stillwater #1 sets up it’s story, now about that crucial hook. Don’t worry. I won’t give spoilers. But I will say that what the duo discover in sleepy old Stillwater is intriguing. The town instantly gives off a strange vibe, and when the two friends witness something they shouldn’t, it quickly changes to dangerous. If you like stories that leave lots of questions this hook will grab you hard.

The artistic presentation of Stillwater #1 delivers it’s story well. The presentation is clean, and artist Perez does a good job of giving the subjects all the emotion moments call for.

The color work here is something I find myself going back and forth on. The colors chosen by Spicer here have a sort of faded or washed out look to them. I appreciate what this look is going for, but it just doesn’t quite land for me. I wish it had just a bit more contrast to bring the art a some more depth.

Lastly, the lettering work here by Wooten mostly hits home. With the exception of one panel where the dialogue got a bit confusing everything ran smoothly.

When all is said and done I think Stillwater #1 sets up a story with an intriguing hook and characters that have the potential to grow. If Zdarsky and crew can deliver on it’s narrative this could be the start of a truly interesting tale.

Stillwater #1 is available September 15th wherever comics are sold.

 

Stillwater #1
4

TL;DR

When all is said and done I think Stillwater #1 sets up a story with an intriguing hook and characters that have the potential to grow. If Zdarsky and crew can deliver on it’s narrative this could be the start of a truly interesting tale.