Written by Chris Micieli
Cover Rank: 6/10
After reading superhero book after superhero book and the art style that comes with them, this cover is more real to life with normal humans gracing the cover rather than a mutant or evil God. Maybe that is unfair on my part, but the cover for Royal City is a great example of the karate saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. If the cover lacks any wow appeal, fear not. For it truly is what’s on the inside that counts and what’s on the inside of Royal City is a real treat.
Best Variant Issue: 5/10
Emi Lenox Issue. It says that it’s an issue for women’s history month so that is a great thing to see, but it’s still minimalistic and basic. The art style Lemire uses is definitely something to get used too, but the covers here are not something he was trying to impress us with.
What I Like:
One of my favorite movies ever is a movie from P. T. Anderson called “Magnolia”. It’s a long movie with many different story lines and moving parts and when it was over I really had to digest what I had just watched. I liked it but didn’t know why. The next morning as soon as I woke up all I could do was think about it and try to figure out what it all meant. So I watched it again, then again, then another time. Each viewing it made more and more sense and I don’t think I’ve ever watched a movie with so much depth and creativity as that one.
Royal City has the potential to be the Magnolia of Comic books in my opinion. Jeff Lemire (who is also knee deep in many other projects, including the new Thanos series) is running this series as a one man show. You can tell it’s his pet project and has been given creative control by Image to do as he sees fit. He’s earned the right. So everything you see was done by Lemire. From the story to the art to the layout. The art seems minimalist at first glance, but by the end of this double sized first issue not only is the art amazing, but there really could be no other art that would fit within the structure of the story.
In short, Royal City is about a family living in a once thriving suburb. The city itself has fallen on hard times and is struggling to survive, and the Pike family is a microcosm of the downfall of that city. They don’t get along, the parents argue constantly, their three kids are all grown up and have issues of their own. In the beginning their father gets injured by something supernatural and the family has come back together to stand by him in the hospital. That’s when things get strange, and I’ll leave it at that.
The way Lemire tells the story is genius, and we really get to know the many pieces of the Pike family, or so we think. Lemire has stated we will get to know each one of these family members in detail in the coming issues, so it looks like we are in store for a really down to earth, relatable story with a twist. The Pike family, like any family, has its secrets and we will be on for the ride as they deal with them alone or together.
What I didn’t like:
At first I didn’t like all the jumping around between characters, but I blame myself for that. I read a lot of comic books, and the pacing for the most part is the same. It took me awhile to get used to the more novel like feel of Royal City and I can’t blame the book for that.
There’s not really a moment that stands out as ‘oh my God did you see that!’. The story is more of a slow burn that builds up to something more. If you’re forcing me to choose something I’d have to say the art. It’s amazing how minimal it looks, but at the same time so detailed. I was looking at one of the characters making a presentation and she looked exhausted. Bags under her eyes and just looked like she could go into hibernation. The next thing I know one of the characters is asking her if she should be in bed with her father being in the hospital. To which she replies she’s been up all night with him next to his bed, which at that point we didn’t know. So he does an amazing job of portraying the visual strain these characters are going through.
So if the story is a slow burn, then the ending is a bonfire. Something is going on the entire issue that you just can’t figure out. It doesn’t seem like anything is making sense and you are already planning a re-read of the issue to fill in the gaps you know you missed somewhere. Then the end hits and leaves you in a state of awe. There are bits of supernatural things here and there throughout, but the end sets the tone for what is to come from Royal City.
What I’m Looking Forward To:
We don’t get books like this very often. A real down to earth story that could be its own novel but in comic book form. Lemire says this will be ongoing and he has been given free reign to do what he wishes every month. So getting a well fleshed out, detailed book is almost a given. It’s not for the shoot’em up crowd but rather for the, dare I say, more sophisticated comic book reader.