Stillwater #3 Review: Chip Zdarsky's Master Class in Exposition

Stillwater #3 by writer Chip Zdarsky, artist Ramon K. Perez, colorist Mike Spicer, and letter Rus Wooton continues the story of Daniel, a man who happens into a town where people can't die.

Stillwater #3 cover. Credit: Image Comics
Stillwater #3 cover. Credit: Image Comics

In the best issue of Stillwater yet, Chip Zdarsky gives the comics industry a master class on how to dole out exposition. After two issues of establishing that no one dies in this town without allowing the reader or narrator to get any more information, Zdarsky flips the script this issue. Do you remember how in, for example, Lost, there would be a scene where a character in-the-know would be asked a simple question about the mythology of the Island? And then, the character would say something like "There's no time" or change the subject? The viewer in me always wanted the other character to say, "Hey, dick. Tell me. We're walking a mile through the forest. There is absolutely time." Well, this time, Zdarsky essentially has that moment in Stillwater #3, as the lead character Daniel seeks out someone who will give him answers and basically annoys him until he does. It's simple but effective and makes the reader part of the hunt for exposition, so it feels less like an information dump and more like a real discovery.

The pure invention in the answers we have here in Stillwater #3 is also stunning. The mythology of this town is well-thought-out, with the whole "people don't die here" thing impacting life in ways that many would've never thought. Food, for example… those who eat meat are pretty much resigning to the idea of slaughtering a pig, cow, or chicken that will regenerate the very next day—an eternal life of endless torture. And wait until you read about the woman who plans "deathdays" for people in order to create the illusion that the life cycles within this town are normal.

It's all incredibly brilliant stuff, with Ramon. K. Perez's art and Mike Spicer's color continuing to shine, creating the perfect balance of horror and drama with surprisingly warm, idyllic indie art with an edge. The lettering here by Rus Wooton is also terrific here, as Daniel's journal is introduced as a narrative device.

Stillwater #3 is another great issue from a team that has been killing it from the very start.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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