A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the first trade of Stillwater, titled “Rage, Rage”, sort of on a whim. I had heard that it was good, but I couldn’t remember why, or even what exactly it was about. I’m all about finding new and different things to review, however, and Image Comics has rarely, if ever, disappointed me.
I like superhero comics quite a bit but, if you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll have noticed by now that the majority of what I read are comics that are a little bit strange and a lot bit different from your average superhero comic. Not to knock superheroes at all though! I think the world needs superhero comics and larger than life characters. I think they’re important because they give us something to look up to, to dream about, and to grow our imaginations on. As much as I enjoy these, I sometimes find that the most interesting comics are the ones about average people who find themselves in situations that are anything but average.
That’s exactly the sort of comic that Stillwater is. Main antagonist, Daniel West, is just an average guy working an average job. Until he gets himself fired from that job, gets into a drunken fight with a bouncer at a club, and wakes up blurrily the next day to a letter from a lawyer summoning him to a town he’s never heard of to receive an “undisclosed sum” from the estate of a relative he’s never heard of.
Suspicious, Daniel brings his rich and bored friend Tony along on an adventure to find the town of Stillwater. They soon discover that, strangely enough, Stillwater is a town that doesn’t want to be found. It’s not on any road signs or maps, and the woman that works at the gas station an hour away from the town says that she has never even heard of Stillwater. If it weren’t for the GPS on Tony’s phone, it would be like the town didn’t even exist.
After a less-than-friendly run-in with a Stillwater Deputy on the outskirts of town, they finally roll into town. From the outside, Stillwater’s a quaint and sleepy little town. It’s typical small town Americana in every way.
Except, of course, this town is anything but typical, as Daniel and Tony soon find out. Stillwater has a secret, one that those in charge of the town will do anything to protect. The secret, dear reader, is that Stillwater is a town frozen in time, a town where something as fanciful sounding as immortality has become a reality. Its citizens do not age and cannot die. This extends to crops, livestock, plants, and animals within the town limits. Everything alive remains exactly how it was the moment that time inexplicably stopped some thirty years ago.
And so, the town made itself disappear. Outsiders are not allowed in. Townspeople are not allowed to leave and, most importantly, they aren’t allowed to tell anyone about Stillwater’s secret.
Written by Chip Zdarsky (known for his work on comics like Sex Criminals and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man), Stillwater deals with the issue of whether immortality is a gift, or a curse. Trapped within the town’s borders by its self-appointed leader, the Judge, the townspeople of Stillwater have remained physically unchanged for over thirty years and now, finally, are restless for change. Daniel, who discovers that he has a surprising tie to Stillwater, arrives in town on the verge of a power struggle that, by the end of the trade, only promises to get uglier.
With illustrations by Ramon K. Perez and colors by Mike Spicer, the comic builds up suspense that the artwork seems a perfect match for. This is exactly the sort of comic that I love – the storyline builds with mystery and new surprises, causing you to want to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen on the next page because it’s probably not something that you predicted was going to happen. However, I also really enjoy that I didn’t devour this trade all in one day. There’s enough going on in it that it was a two-day read for me to be able to both fully enjoy the story and take in all the nuances in the artwork, as well. Finally, although I often subscribe to comics, I’m really happy that I picked up this trade that combines the first six issues so that I didn’t have to wait a month to find out what was going to happen between each issue! I could really see this series being made into a tv show (no, this isn’t me speculating that it will be a tv show, it’s just me saying that I think it would be great as one!) and, in this world of binge watching, waiting for the next piece of the story can sometimes be excruciating. Still, it looks like issue seven will be released in May and, although I know I’ll be forced to wait between issues, I will definitely be adding Stillwater to my subscription lift.
Dedicated in loving memory to Boots the kitty. Immortality should be reserved for all beloved pets, as far as I'm concerned. RIP 4.9.2021
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.