Here is a grown up story that reaches for a poignancy that few comics aspire to. For the most part, it succeeds. Despite the astral projection and the specter of a deceased child, this is an introspection from the survivors’ point of view. It’s messy and convoluted and there are never any easy answers even if you have your dead brother to give you guidance. Pain and grief linger on their own schedule and there is nothing wishful thinking and good intentions can do to change that.
This first arc of Royal City comes to a close with little in the way of resolution, but that’s just like life, isn’t it? The tone and voice of the prose have worked for good purpose in this moody and conflicted contemplative examination of a family unraveling. The art takes the same approach in a washed out ethereal format.
The problem is that sometimes it feels like Lemire is trying too hard. There is this authorial voice beneath the surface urging the reader to take this seriously. I get it. This is drama. The Tommy “ghosts of Christmas past routine” was a little too on the nose and piled on too close together.