It’s the beginning of the end for the secret of Stillwater as well as the series itself, as the immortal horror series moves into its final story arc with a pretty big bang. What this creative team has created is such a emotional, engaging and realistic look at the true horror that humanity brings upon itself.
Immortal life can be seen as a miracle but also a curse at the same time, and the beginning of Stillwater’s final story arc begins to showcase how thin the line between the two truly can be.
The previous twelve issues have already showcased how much horror truly can be found in being stuck in the eternal look of never aging and healing. It got so bad that former outside Daniel and others made a move against the new leadership of the town (after the group of townspeople that were stuck forever in children’s bodies made their move and took over), resulting in Daniel’s being seemingly burned to death. Except, his mother and others messed with the original map of the town and changed the borders, saving Daniel’s life and opening the door to something much worse.
Chip Zdarsky, Ramón K Perez, Mike Spicer, and Rus Wooten have created a series that has tons of horror and almost science fiction-like elements with a deep well of interesting characters that are compelling. Building such a world with original characters and concepts is not easy, but they make it work and it’s almost hard to believe that we’re closer now to the end than the beginning.
Compelling character work is one of the things that Zdarsky continuously excels at when it comes to any book that he works on or creates. The best part of the horror in this book is that it’s not about the horror of some unknown force or being coming for anyone, the horror is fully based around human beings and what they do to themselves and others. Right now, we’re constantly confronted by the horror of humanity on an everyday basis, and that is far more terrifying than some mythical slasher or an ancient curse.
Another element that brings the horror is setting this in a small town away from all others, where everything is contained, and a minority holds power over the majority with an iron grip. There is always looming darkness around the town of Stillwater and Perez and Spicer bring such depths and weight to the proceedings. There are brutal visceral moments and images within here that are striking but Perez makes sure they have weight and power without going into the overly gory realms that one might expect. A badly burned, naked, and ominous Daniel is just one of many images from this issue that just stick with you well after the issue is over.
This all takes place at night and Spicer continues to do such a fantastic job at creating a realistic nighttime situation, where the darkness feels ominous and present. There is light but it’s relegated to what light would do in a real-world situation rather than trying to lighten all the scene just for the sake of doing so. This realistic sort of bent is found on all the pages as Spicer uses all kinds of colors, from the bright to the more middle of the road but makes sure they are sort of muted or more Earthy in a sense rather than bright popping colors that one might find in a superhero or fantasy or science fiction story.
It’s a horror series and that is not lost in the imagery that makes sure that the horror elements and feelings they should elicit are present.
All of this is also felt within the lettering that Wooten brings to the page. There are changes to the font or bubbles that mirror the emotional or tonal elements present in the moment, making sure that we can feel the intent and feeling behind words just as much as we can see them on the page. He is one of those letterers that makes sure that yelling and yelling are very much discernable from more normal levels of conversation. It’s not something that can take someone out of a story if it’s not there, but it’s a thing that can really elevate the overall story and make things feel more real in various ways.
It looks like things are about to get even worse for those in Stillwater as well as its neighbor, promising a very big and status quo-changing final story arc.
Stillwater #13 is now available.