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Retro Review: Stumptown #1

Stumptown #1 CoverDex is the proprietor of Stumptown Investigations, and a fairly talented P.I. Unfortunately, she’s less adept at throwing dice than solving cases. Her recent streak has left her beyond broke—she’s into the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast for 18 large. But maybe Dex’s luck is about to change. Sue-Lynne, head of the Wind Coast’s casino operation, will clear Dex’ debt if she can locate Sue-Lynne’s missing granddaughter. But is this job Dex’s way out of the hole or a shove down one much much deeper?

Originally released in 2009, Stumptown was for me an eagerly anticipated new series by writer Greg Rucka and artist Matthew Southworth. The promise of such a strong writer and artist for a series staring a kick-ass female detective had me excited to see what was in store and thankfully then, just as I am now, was not disappointed.

At the time of release, noir was the hot genre in comic book story telling and Stumptown stood out in what was a crowded market. The intriguing crime drama is headlined by a deeply flawed heroine, and an interesting cast of characters that continues to entertain me and looking forward to the second issue, even with a reread. Rucka clearly took his time researching and creating the world of Dex and it shows. The first issue is important in setting up the mystery, the danger, the characters (and their quirks), and leaves enough for you to want to come back and unravel the mystery. Rucka pulls this off masterfully and in a manner that I was not only sucked into the first issue, but want to know what happens next.

Matthew Southworth’s gritty art reminds me a lot of Sean Phillips’ artwork in Criminal.  It’s very fitting for the series and ads to the overall noir-ish/crime drama feel to the series.  Even on pages with no text, Matthew is able to convey the feel and continue the narrative. Together with Rucka, the two feel like a classic team similar to Brubaker and Phillips.

The first issue is all about the “set up” and Rucka succeeds weaving the beginning of a tale that sucks you in and makes you want to come back for more. Even with all of the various noir series of the time and since, this series and issue still stands out as a solid entry and example of its genre. Eight years later, it’s a great read, series, and characters.

Story: Greg Rucka Art: Matthew Southworth
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with an advance copy of this issue for FREE for review.