High Five! Comics

Stumptown #1 – Carrie, Tara, Kate, Renee, and now, Dex!

Posted on: November 5, 2009

stumptown1I know we’ve said it about a billion times, but we’ll say it again; Greg Rucka knows how to write for the ladies (both characters and readers). Rucka’s latest Oni Press book, “Stumptown,” kicked off this week, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Rucka is well known as the “chick guy”; he’s one of very few writers in comics who not only write about women, but consistently get it right. More remarkable than his ability to channel brilliant, complex, female characters is his ability to make them all markedly different from one another. Occasionally, Stumptown’s Dex parallels Renee Montoya a bit (private investigator, cracking jokes under pressure), but the similarities end there. Stetko, Chace, Kane, Montoya, and Dex could all kick your butt to next Tuesday and most of them are borderline alcoholic, but these women are anything but carbons copies of one another.

A Stumptown opens, Dex is yanked from the trunk of a car, wisecracking all the way, and promptly shot in the chest. Well. Damn. We spend the rest of the book finding out how she managed to get herself into this one. We meet Dex’s special needs brother Ansel (Whenever Dex meets up with anyone, or speaks to anyone on the phone, they ask how Ansel is. After a while, I noticed everyone was asking how Ansel was, but almost nobody asked Dex how she was doing. I started to wonder if anyone liked her at all.) Dex appears to be Ansel’s sole guardian, and they live together in a sweet craftsman house, which doubles as the homebase for Dex’s Stumptown Investigations.

dexshot

I’ve never been to Portland, but Matthew Southworth’s artwork makes me feel as though I have. Southworth is a Seattle-dweller himself, but he spent lots of time in Portland taking pictures and driving around, making sure he got Portland just right. In the first issue’s afterword, he mentions that there’s nothing more frustrating than reading a book set in your hometown and realizing the writer or artist got it all wrong – so he went out of his way to achieve accuracy.

Stumptown’s first issue is solid. Go buy it. Now. I drank Newcastle with it, but I get the feeling I need to pick up a six pack of something from a Portland microbrewery to really appreciate this.

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