STILLWATER #3, available from Image Comics on November 18th, gives Daniel a grand tour of Stillwater’s residents and starts to fill in the blanks about the good and the bad of immortality. Written by Chip Zdarsky, this issue is almost entirely exposition and setup that lays the foundation for the story to come.
Ramón K. Perez’s cover is an excellent attraction for this issue. Daniel screams into the void as he’s surrounded by blood and death, threatening to swallow him whole. Perez’s shock of red instantly draws you into Daniel as the center point. The scene’s energy is horrific.
Zdarsky’s story gives the reader plenty to chew on as far as filling in the blanks for how the town operates. The story satisfies on that level by building on the world that’s largely been a mystery up to this point (see our reviews of Stillwater #1 and Stillwater #2 to see how we got here).
Despite the grim circumstances, this issue also had a fair bit of black humor, which lightened the mood to make you feel this town isn’t so bad. For example, butchering cattle for meat in a town where nothing dies becomes a gruesome endeavor. That said, Daniel finally comes to terms with the reality that the leaders will go to any extreme to protect the town and its secrets.
What remains, which I feel continues to hinder investment in the story, is why. Why is this town immortal? And why should the reader care about the story beyond the curiosity of the situation? Now into issue #3, the longer that question remains unanswered, the less satisfying this run becomes because the zealotry of the residents becomes less relatable.
Perez’s work remains strong for the series so far. This issue is largely character piece with a cavalcade of residents interacting with Daniel. There’s a heavy focus on faces and expressions to convey the reactions to punctuate each scene’s conflict.
Perez does a great job articulating natural poses and realistic gestures to make you feel like you’re watching a real conversation taking place. If there’s one oddity that stands out, it’s the frequently-changing shape of Daniel’s face. I like using non-flat camera angles in the panels, but sometimes the angle on Daniel’s face makes him look like a different character from one panel to the next. When an issue is hyper-focused on character conversations, it’s those little things that turn into a distraction.
Mike Spicer’s coloring work enhances this issue’s lighter tone by casting nearly all the panels in bright, sunny palettes. If not for the situation’s surreality, a majority of the book would look like it was about folks spending a pretty Summer day in a quiet little town. The contrast between the sunny mood and the dreaded circumstances creates a great mood of disease.
Rus Wooton’s lettering work is excellent in this issue. Lots of exposition. Lots of conversation. And yet it’s spaced well, paced well, and gets you through the story quickly.
STILLWATER #3, available from Image Comics on November 18th, improves on the prior issues with some answers and humor. If you’re a fan of the series up to this point, this issue will give you more to like.