Royal City #1 Review

Royal City #1

Created, Written, and Illustrated by Jeff Lemire (@JeffLemire)

Lettered by Steve Wands (@swands)

Whether it’s Jeff Lemire’s writing on Old Man Logan with Andrea Sorrentino or his illustrations on AD: After Death with Scott Snyder, he pulls out the essence of either to create something truly special.

Royal City follows the Pike family as they gather together after their father Peter suffers a stroke. The distance between the family members can be felt on every page as each introduction gives us a snippet of Royal City. This is a city that is no longer thriving off the back of industrialization. The factory owner is hesitantly accepting a proposal to tear down in his factory in favor of a hotel resort and golf course. The very thing that needs to be let go of is the very thing that is keeping the city from outgrowing its past. The city is stuck and suffering for it which parallels the state of the Pike familial relationships.

The thread that travels through the comic and the family is an elusive character that everyone refers to as Tommy. Though each family member remembers this character at different stages of his life. He’s a reminder of a better between the Pike family and it’s evident in how they bring comfort to each character. Lemire even uses warmer color tones in the scenes where Tommy shows up. Tommy also haunts the comic as well as he narrates throughout from a 1993
journal that adds another layer to his lingering in the memories of his family. Each of them are facing some form of depression whether it’s with their marriage or their alcoholism. 

The book is thematically about loss and how family comes to terms with it. It’s about looking to the past for comfort and trying to realize that it’s mental poison. The fermentation of those thoughts and emotions can create fragmented relationships. Especially, if the reasons for holding onto that grief derives from a tragedy. Lemire employs a magical realism to get drive those points home because it isn’t only about the mystery of Tommy’s character. It’s also about what family can do when they come together rather than being alone with their ghosts.


Buy! This is a monthly book that strays away from what Image usually puts out. This is a comic that will have an incredible trajectory of emotions and prove to be a cathartic experience. It’s expressing issues that we all deal with in ways that are both large and small. Lemire is cooking up something seriously special and you really shouldn’t miss it. There’s also a playlist on Spotify that captures the tone of the first comic which you can find here:

I'm a journalism major at Rutgers University who loves reading comic books and writing fiction for fun.

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