By Nolan P. Smith
Jeff Lemire is no stranger to amazing, character driven comics. His work on Black Hammer, A.D., Descender, and more show that he knows how to humanize a character, and connect to the strings of our pasts to make a story that resonates within us long after reading it. With Image Comics Royal City #1, we get a book full of mystery, nostalgia, and one of the hardest things to do in one’s life: going home.
Patrick Pike is a writer who can’t seem to continue any momentum he had in the past. When his father has a stroke, Patrick comes back to Royal City, which means reconnecting with his two adult siblings, his close knit mother, and the memories of his little brother Tommy, which echoes throughout the lives of all of his family. After reading this double sized issue, I immediately had to re-read once I realized what the ending meant. None of Patrick’s family is able to let go of their specific memories of Tommy, so for all of them, Tommy represents something and someone different. What happened to Tommy? That is a question for a later issue.
Lemire crafts a book that speaks to all of us. Of a dysfunctional family, of the ones that didn’t get away from their home, the one that did, and how everyday life can be excruciatingly hard. The words that fill this book can easily resonate with almost anyone, especially myself. The urge to escape the small city and start over, its embodied perfectly within the first few pages. The artwork is distinctively Lemire, which is a fantastic match for this eerie debut.
Royal City isn’t a beat ‘em up superhero battle, or a space faring sci-fi adventure. It’s the story of a family torn apart by tragedy, and how another tragedy is bringing them together once more, whether its for better or worse. Royal City should be on your must read list, if even to give the first issue a shot. After this book, you will no doubt be hooked.
Rating: 10 out of 10.
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