"Stumptown" #2 by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth opens with our protagonist, Dex Parios, hip-deep in a federal investigation she really shouldn't be involving herself in and well on the way to royally pissing off D.E.A. Agent Chase. That scene ends with a slammed door and Dex heading back to her office to continue her effort to find Miriam Bracca's baby.
Miriam Bracca's baby isn't a young child -- it's a guitar that Bracca, better known as Mim and a member of the band Tailhook, hired Dex to find. As a fan of Greg Rucka’s novels, I found myself more enthused about the inclusion of Mim and Tailhook than I probably should have. Granted, it's not an Avengers/Justice League level crossover, but there's just something so geekily rewarding to seeing Mim cross from Rucka's prose novels to comics. I know it's been done before with Rucka's own "Queen and Country" (and yes, I know it was the other direction) but this is a reward from Rucka to his readers, to his fans.
As Rucka does with some of his characters in prose and comics, Dex has an unashamed caustic wit that is both charming and alarming. As comics are intended to be a fantastic release, it's fun to see Dex get under the skin of Agent Chase. Rucka balances that sassiness with the electric flirtation of having Dex meet someone new who might just be as interested in her as she thinks she is in him. It all builds to some invigorating connections in "Stumptown," certain to pay dividends later on.
Series co-creator Matthew Southworth returns to give Rucka's story life that waffles somewhere between animated stills and production storyboards. Southworth's art drifts between nuanced photo-reference and barely more than rough thumbnails. Luckily, Rucka's cast is tight enough to build depth in Southworth's style. The artist's strong storytelling, fine character expressions and figure acting are exactly what give this story the strength to succeed. Rico Renzi's colors compliment nicely, giving Southworth's art depth and warmth. Anytime they want to work with Rucka to have a go at Atticus Kodiak, I'll be first in line.
"Stumptown" #2 is nothing at all like any of the other comics that came out this week. It's a detective story with a touch of melodrama. It's both drama and sitcom. More than once, Rucka has made comparisons between this series and "The Rockford Files," a vibe many readers will be able to connect with. Dex is smart, funny, and prone to bad luck as evidenced by the "Oh, fudge!" look on Dex's face in the final panel of this issue. She's also so believably human that "Stumptown" #2 is sure to provide any number of common threads relatable to readers.