The vision of Royal City from this creator/writer/artist is dark and introspective. A struggling writer returns to his hometown while his father is in a coma, his marriage is falling apart and his family is haunted by aspects of his dead brother.
This is more of a psychological drama than horror story and it shows. Lemire takes every opportunity to explore the dynamics of a dysfunctional family disintegrating from within. The creepiness of Royal City is not in the supernatural but in the personalities and histories of its inhabitants. Guilt and shame are more powerful than the supernatural.
This is not a story for everyone. It has ambition beyond the usual comic fare and that is both the strength and weakness of Royal City. Those that follow Lemire’s writing in the more standard superhero titles might be disappointed with this project. There are none of the usual action staples here. Instead, this is contemporary literature in graphic form. So, the question is, does it live up to the highbrow hype? I think it does.
This second issue delves deeper into the relationships of the principals and their influence (intentional or not) on each other. It ups the stakes without becoming a soap opera. The artwork is simple and realistic but captures the mood and internalization of the ghostly brother Tommy with appropriate subtlety.