The second issue of Greg Rucka’s Stumptown comic series featuring Portland private investigator Dex Parios slows down the action, but picks up the momentum of the hunt for a missing young woman. Dex is still recovering from her near-death in the last issue where she was financially maneuvered into looking for Charlotte Suppa.
The first issue opened up with Dex getting taken out to the bay and getting shot, then backtracked to show what had happened up to that point. Rucka invokes his characters with real personality, a history, and family/friends that all feel real. In this issue, Rucka spins Dex’s backstory in with the ongoing casework she’s involved in.
The highlight of the relationships is Dex’s love for her mentally-challenged little brother, Ansel. We don’t know what’s happened to their parents yet, but that story will doubtlessly be told as the series progresses. All we know at this point is that Dex loves him and tries to take care of him, even though she’s got a gambling addiction and a dangerous job.
The friendship with a homicide detective, Tracey Hoffman, and the antagonism between Dex and Captain Volk, head of the homicide squad, is familiar and almost predictable. However, we’re not quite sure how Dex broke up Volk’s marriage, and that’s another question I hope Rucka eventually answers.
The groundpounding Dex does to find the missing girl feels right. She’s pulling at every string she has – trying to track the guys that attempted to kill her as well as following up on the Marenco family. The Marencos definitely tie into Charlotte’s disappearance, as the reader sees in this issue, but we don’t know exactly how they work together.
The father of the family has organized crime and international smuggling ties, and the daughter Isabel doesn’t appear too fond of him. However, she’s interested in finding out how much Dex knows about everything. I enjoyed the verbal fencing that takes place between the two women, and it just puts an edge on the curiosity pulling me through these issues.
The encounter with Oscar Marenco turns things around because he claims Isabel knows more about Charlotte than he does. Dex goes looking for Isabel and I have a problem with how easily she seems to find her. I just don’t see it happening that way. Likewise with the entry into the hotel. Clerks are trained not to mention room numbers, so that played kind of false for me.
However, the cliffhanger at the end leaves me waiting for issue 3. I can’t wait to see what’s really going on and how everyone is involved. I’ve got a few scenarios playing out in my head, but I have to wait to see if I’m right.
Matthew Southworth’s art continues to be outstanding. It’s not typical comic book art. Feeling kind of edgy and rough, it’s easy to see these issues getting turned into a movie.