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Tommy Can You Hear Me?

Royal City charts the lives, loves, and losses of a troubled family and a vanishing town

Taking on a tale as complex as the new Royal City could spell disaster. But Jeff Lemire makes it look easy in Royal City #1. He has a practiced hand telling such complicated stories as Sweet Tooth, Essex County and Moon Knight. And he makes this new undertaking seem effortless.

Royal City #1 (Variant Cover)
Royal City #1 (Variant Cover)

Taking on double duty in writing and illustrating, Lemire methodically introduces us to the Pike family. There’s the elderly Peter and Patti, who are having marital issues. Author Pat who is having trouble batting out his next novel. Daughter Tara, who is struggling to reshape the titular city–and make a fortune in the process. And Richard, who finds solace from life at the bottom of a bottle.

Then There’s Tommy

Tommy, the youngest son, appears in different forms–a young boy, a drinking buddy, a long-forgotten voice on the radio. He is whatever his family needs him to be. While it’s easy to guess Tommy’s real fate, the revelation is no less of a gut punch.

Royal City itself is a character. And plays a significant role in the book. Royal City is a sleepy town of 45,000. Many of the characters are looking to escape the town. Or at least they think they are. More than likely, we’ll eventually learn they are trying to escape their own poor life choices. Lemire hasn’t taken us there yet. But when he does, we’ll be waiting.

With his other acclaimed projects like Descender and A.D., Lemire is clearly at the top of his game. Between his colored pencils and his even more colorful words, Royal City is already among his best works.

SEE WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE BLACK-SHEEP OF THE PIKE FAMILY. PRE-ORDER ROYAL CITY #2

Royal City #1, Image Comics, Released March 1, 2017, Written and Art by Jeff Lemire, Lettering by Steve Wands; $4.99.

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Written by Tom Smithyman

Tom Smithyman is a newspaperman turned marketing executive. A comic book enthusiast since the 70s, he tries to keep up with these alternate realities while juggling a professional career, family, community theater roles and passion for travel. Connect with him @tsmithyman and linkedin.com/in/tomsmithyman/