Now, in its third series arc, Royal City remains to be one of the most personal and emotionally honest books currently running. One should expect nothing less from Jeff Lemire, whose contributions to the medium of comic books, especially those entries published by Image Comics, could each be classified as an industry masterpiece. As brilliant as his other works may be (particularly Essex County), Royal City stands among them as his most flavorful.
Royal City continues to march through the melancholy struggle of the Pike family. This story is mature, and not in the way of violence or sexual content. It is mature in emotional depth and continues to grow in maturity with every entry. This particular issue deals with themes of depression, imposter syndrome, fear of being seen, and suicide. The thesis seems to be that we do not need to handle these situations alone, contrary to our strong beliefs that the opposite is true. Time and again, we see that the Pikes learn the hard way that their strength truly lies in leaning on one another. Family support becomes not just an obligation, but rather a necessity that each member must face or risk further loss and pain.
For fans of the series, this is a Richie heavy issue. Personally, Richie is my favorite. The character of Richie is similar to Fredo from The Godfather. He is a lovable screw-up who can’t help but bring everyone down with him. He abuses drugs and alcohol. He gambles his money away. He is psychological pain incarnate. Each character is haunted by the ghost of their dead brother Tommy, and the version of Tommy that Richie must face pushes him towards suicide. Richie is faced with the lie that the world would be better off without him. This is consistent with the flawed logic of an addict. Richie cannot clearly see his options for what they are, because he cannot continually assess his value through the lens of a destructive self image.
Richie is only one of many complex and broken characters in Royal City. I am more than eager to continue with the series. Good things should be celebrated, and Royal City is a good thing.
Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (story and art), Steve Wands (letters)
Publisher: Image Comics
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