No matter how much things are changing in the timeless town of Stillwater, some of the worst aspects continue to fester and grow worse for all those involved. This series continued look at horror through the lens of what human beings are capable of doing to one another in order to keep an ‘idyllic’ life resonates, as it finds ways to constantly flesh out every single aspect of this world that isn’t far from the one outside our windows.
Welcome back to the town of Stillwater where you can meet the new boss, who is the same as the old boss. Well, actually, the new boss might be worse than the old boss.
Revolution came to the town of Stillwater after decades of the Judge’s iron grip on the town, but things haven’t exactly gotten better in the ensuing year. Chip Zdarsky, Ramón K. Perez, Mike Spicer, and Rus Wooton’s small-town eternal life horror series takes a leap forward in time to find that the future that the ‘children’ of the timeless town have brought isn’t quite as shiny as they tried to sell it as.
Time jumps are often a very useful tool for long-form storytelling, allowing the creators to not have to show every single step between parts B and C of the story. Here though Zdarsky and Perez show the other benefits of such a jump right from the start, the ability to sort of mix up the characters and introduce new relationship dynamics that strengthen the overall cast and story itself.
Charting where Daniel was as a character in the opening pages of the first issue compared to now is definitely very intriguing, as we keep getting to see new layers of him as he grows and becomes more involved in the ongoing issues of this town. At the same time, while Daniel is the protagonist of this story, some of the previous flashback issues and this new one give us a lot more depth to some of the others such as the former Sherriff Tanya or the new Sherriff Kreegs. Even the new ‘youthful’ leader Galen, who has been a growing fixture since being the literal inciting incident for the whole series.
Speaking of Galen, while he’s pretty terrible and has a lot of proverbial blood upon his hands the image of this hard new leader scooting up to a meeting at a treehouse on his little kid motorbike is both terrifying and hilarious at the same time.
Perez and Spicer remain the perfect team to bring this book to life, as both of their styles really hammer home some of the bleak realism that is needed for this book. Every bit of this is a horror book, the horror being centered around how far humans will go in many cases, and that darkness and shadows are seen on every page while the visuals of this small town are idyllic and beautiful at the same time. Truly it feels like it could be any small town anywhere across the country that you might pull into randomly on a trip to somewhere else.
That’s because no detail is spared, even on the pages that go for sparse backgrounds in panels there is a ton of detail put into every character and piece of scenery that is seen. This isn’t just a static world we’re told that people live within, we can feel that lived-in feeling as we turn the pages.
There is a duller tone alongside the darker bits within Spicer’s colors, which helps with that realistic and heavy feeling. One thing that is very appreciated is how dark scenes truly appear dark within this book. Often darkness gets brightened up just a bit, understandably, as a way to help the audience ‘see’ things better. Here though the darkness at night feels exactly like what most of us see when doing things at night with very little light, as one would find in such a stuck-in-time small town.
It comes up all the time but the journal-like internal captions that are here for Daniel are always such a great way to share a character’s thoughts, and Wooton always makes them look great. Like little torn-out pieces of well-used paper with a font that definitely looks like it was scribbled out. The same goes for the dialogue all around, as the different bubbles and ways that the font is used shift around for different characters or means of communication and perfectly show off different emotional states. We see the emotion on the faces in most cases, but in reality, voices can also give that away and Wooton achieves that effect here every time.
Things are heating up in this small town and it’s going to be extremely interesting to see where it goes from here, especially with that cliffhanger ending reveal.
Stillwater #11 is now on sale in print and digitally from Image Comics.