Immortality Is A Drag: Reviewing `Stillwater: The Escape’ #1
by Tom Smithyman
With the series about to enter its final arc, Stillwater: The Escape paints a grim picture of how the story will pan out for the inhabitants of the town where no one can die. While this one-shot lacks variety in the short tales it tells, it tries to shed some light on the reality of immortality.
Eternal life may sound like a paradise for some, but in the world of Stillwater, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Ramon Perez demonstrate that living forever isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This special oversized one-shot tells several stories of people trying to escape the town where no one ever ages and all wounds are somehow healed. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t end well for most of them.
Told through storytelling around a campfire, the tales of would-be escapism feature a family, a young gay man and a couple all trying to sneak out of the mythical town so their lives can return to a sense of normalcy and aging. None of the stories are long or detailed enough to develop the characters to the point the reader is emotionally invested in their escapes, though. Instead, we’re meant to experience just a slice of their lives – and the futility of escaping destiny.
Each story is written and drawn by a different team, though the various styles flow together seamlessly enough that it isn’t distracting. Jason Loo and Ethan Young write and draw their stories, while writer Andrew Wheeler and artist Soo Lee tell the middle tale. Zdarsky and Perez handle the storytelling responsibilities for the framing piece. Each adds their own unique to the book, which adds to the overall experience.
While the individual stories lack variety – whatever the particular situation, there is no true escape from Stillwater – they do help to reinforce the true horror of the series. Real pain doesn’t come from physical wounds, which heal nearly instantaneously, but rather from feelings. Boredom. Repetition. Lack of control. These characters are somehow granted something that so many seek, only to find that it falls well short of what they expected.
The regular Stillwater series is about to enter its final arc. It will be interesting to see if that theme carries through to the finale or if there truly is an escape from the town and its curse.
Stillwater: The Escape is now on sale in print and digitally from Image Comics.