In Royal City #10 from Image Comics, creator Jeff Lemire brings several story threads together, finally revealing some of the buried secrets and feelings of the Pike family.
Royal City #10
Written and Drawn by: Jeff Lemire
Alternate Cover by: Dustin Nguyen
Published by: Image Comics
Jeff Lemire shifts the focus here to Tommy Pike, and the result is one of the most emotionally engaging chapters this comic has had so far. Tommy’s death has always been central to Royal City. It’s not what the book is about (not really) but the event has certainly haunted the pages since issue one. Using what appears to be Tommy’s last night is a fantastic narrative choice. His introspection sets the mood, spreading to the other characters. Having all the Pike children in one place at one time gives them all moments that further develop them. Steve and Tara, in particular, get a revealing scene that illustrates the seed of their complex relationship. The party is also a great setting, creating a ‘never-ending night’ atmosphere that has always been important in ‘coming of age’ stories (and that’s exactly what this arc has been. One could argue the book itself is about a town perpetually in a ‘coming of age tale’). The party is also a great way to contrast the isolation so many of the characters are feeling.
Lemire shines when he gets to draw these kinds of small town, slice of life images and his love for doing so is evident in how delicate yet powerful the linework is. Some of the layouts and panels in this issue are quietly beautiful, using subtlety excellently; like how for a party story, so many characters appear either alone in a panel, or sitting two-fold, away from others. It highlights the isolation.
The slightly sketchy pencils and inks, paired with the water-color feel of the palette, creates the feeling of a hazy memory. Yet at the same time also puts you right there at a time and place. It’s like Lemire has crafted the perfect way to illustrate nostalgia with all its melancholy sadness. There is also a bold move to end the issue with literal journal entries on notebook paper; an idea the beautifully underlines the personal nature of this series.
If you haven’t checked out Royal City yet, this issue is actually a good one to start with (even if it is the end of an arc). There are enough relatable emotions, situations, and characters for just about anyone. And like every issue, it’s beautiful to look at.
*Once again there is an excellent alternate cover invoking a classic ’90s album. This month we have Dustin Nguyen doing a riff on Smashing Pumpkins ‘Siamese Dream’. You can see it below.