Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth
This is a fantastic comic. It really surprised me, but it shouldn't have come as such of a shock since Rucka has really proven time and again that he can put forth some quality material. He's very gifted at writing complex female protagonists, and this was certainly no exception. Dex is a private investigator who likes gambling, women and being a complete smart-ass. And all of those things get her into trouble. But she's good at what she does, which is why she's given the task of find the missing grandchild of a casino owner who may or may not have run off with her boyfriend. It's neat watching Dex put two and two together as she examines Charlotte's things - as readers, we seem to do the work right along with her. But things are a lot more complicated than they seem here, as several people are actually looking for the whereabouts of Charlotte, people who either want Dex's help as well, or want her to stop sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. The entire book has a great amount of tension and mystery shrouded over it, and Southworth paces panels like a pro, really drawing out the suspense. Southworth is actually pretty instrumental to the success of this book. His style puts the perfect noir edge to the title, making things a little grittier, but clearly illustrated for some very fluid storytelling. Stumptown, or Portland, Oregon, just oozes atmosphere under the skill of the creative team, opening with perhaps the strongest locale of all, and with quite a teaser. If this first issue is any indication, I think we may be looking at a career-best for Rucka, and with titles such as Whiteout and Queen & Country under his belt, that's really saying something.