Bloody good issue

Publisher: Image & Skybound
Creator/Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Creator/Artist: Ramon K Perez
Colourist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Rus Wooton

After a brief sojourn into creepy tales around the campfire about people escaping Stillwater we’re back to the inescapable town and the main plot this issue. Things ended with a revelation in issue #12 that the map of Stillwater could be redrawn and in doing so that changes everything. Daniel, who had been taken outside the limits to die for good this time, was saved by the simple act of redrawing a line. This reveal made me think again of the question – why is Stillwater the way it is?

The original map of the town clearly holds some important power and by the end of the issue that might not be a good thing depending on who has that power and what they might want to do with it. It does beg the questions of how and what and why. Why is the map able to do that? What is it about Stillwater’s map that caused this? How did it suddenly happen in the first place?

There aren’t many answers here as the story rumbles on but there’s developments on the horizon. What I did like was that Galen’s little trip to a neighbouring town at the end of Stillwater: The Escape takes on a really important twist in this issue. I appreciated that that issue wasn’t just a spin-off but something that will directly influence the main plot moving forward. Galen has turned into quite the villain. He plots and schemes with the best of them. He’s now the one they have to stop.

I did like that Daniel was unaware of how he survived until quite late on. He’s our main POV character but in this case the reader knew more than him. Seeing him deal with that revelation was quite something. For a lot of this issue he was on the back foot but he still has his allies; his mother and Tanya. However after their brief victory last issue there’s still quite a bit to go before they can escape, in whatever form that takes.

The art is great this issue. I do love a good bit of body horror and there’s plenty on offer here. Whether it’s Daniel, burnt to a crisp but then his flesh healing, Galen with his cheek missing, or any other character with a wound that ordinarily would be mortal there’s something horrifying in seeing flesh torn like that, and then heal up. In the process of healing it looks really rather disgusting. The horror element of Stillwater remains very strong and I enjoy it, though perhaps not whilst eating.

The art of the characters themselves also remains strong. There are a lot of panels where we have a closeup of characters’ faces. It really plays into the tension as the various factions face off against each other. The expressions are always full of emotion and very expressive. You can pretty much feel the contempt coming from the page at points as well as the desperation and determination.

This is another decent entry into the Stillwater series. I admit I have no idea where things are going to end up. It feels like the world of Stillwater is about to get a serious shakeup. Just when it seems like you have things figured out another curveball is thrown. I am intrigued as to who will win this war of attrition. And also – what’s up with that map?

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