The essence of a heroine is reflected in the ideal of her goals or pursuits. “Stumptown – Vol. 1” [Greg Rocha/Oni/156pgs] knows what it is and embraces it. Dex is the vision of anti-hero with a chip on her shoulder but a thirst for a good time. She needs money. She is down on her luck. She likes to drink. But she hits it with a sense of humor. ABC created the series adaptation that is premiering this fall. The pilot seen perfectly captures the feeling of the graphic novel and while the characters are reflective, liberties are taken in terms of moving the storylines. At least in the initial push the art captures a dingy feeling which is dictated to be Portland but could be Anytown USA. The major difference is in the music mix tape highlighted in the series which adds an undeniable tinge of the Greek chorus either underplaying the humor or overplaying the irony. While the investigations unit with Dex besets is already established, the texture of her relationship with Grey seems to be still developing. The essence of violence seems to be a constant in Dex’s life though she seems to take it in stride but her world weariness is apparent. She wants to be loved but she doesn’t want to put too much work into it. The politics, which seem so apparent at times in the pilot in terms of the Indian Reservation law, are subdued here although the capture of the matriarch of the casino and her nonchalance is adequately relayed. “Stumptown” plays into that noir concept of a character that seems to be stuck in her life but accepts it as existences. Like the gumshoes of the 40s, the world and its intentions forever focus what the characters choices will be. Dex makes the most of it and the least of it in the same throw.
By Tim Wassberg
The texture of a cop lost in the brutal paragon of what is right and wrong has always been a style of thriller since the early 70s. From Serpico to Dirty Harry, the reflectivity of what determines conscience is based on what the goal is to get it. The lead character here in “Stiletto Vol. 1” [Palle Schmidt/Lion Forge/144pgs] who is unassuming in the best Barney Miller tradition continues through his life like he just doesn’t care. The wife is looking for beach houses. His daughter is lost in her own little world. He seems to just keep his head about water. The art of this graphic novel is washed out in an almost melting kind of perspective while still keeping a sense of grittiness. The gunshots are frozen in time. The melancholy of the lead character is played well as a misdirect but it is based almost in the fact that he is basically a nihilist backed into a corner making decisions simply because that is the only option. It is the idea of the greater good or simply a sociopathic intent that really walks the line. Stiletto, as he is ultimately known, is at the beck and call of nasty people but at a certain point he thinks he is himself unredeemable and therefore commits acts that even if you were on the take seem a little severe. The funnel through which is life is purveyed gets smaller and smaller despite the f act that evil begets evil. Ultimately “Stiletto” effectively is on the point that once the knife is in, might as well turn the blade. “Stiletto” is a disciple to its own genre but plays it very well.
By Tim Wassberg