Written by: Frédéric Maffre
Illustrations: Julien Maffre
Coloring: Julien Maffre
Stern #2 De Stad van de Wilden – Comic Book Review
Last time we met the rather awkward gravedigger, Stern, who’d rather be alone all day, reading books, instead of having to deal with the townsfolk that despise him because of his profession. Nonetheless, last time he was sucked into a murder case, that only got solved thanks to his wits, this time however things head in a completely different direction as it’s all about his most beloved hobby, namely reading books. We get to see Stern crawl out of his protective bubble and head towards the ‘big city’, to revisit shadows from his past, all while hoping to add some extra weight to his bookshelves.
Stern is in desperate need of new books, as he is pretty much the ‘Belle’ of a backwater town near Kansas City, thus he is the odd one out that actually likes to read books, instead of being a farmer, visiting whores or waving his peashooters around. Sadly his usual supplier has lost his supply route and it might take several months before books come pouring in again. Nonetheless, Stern is able to go to Kansas City, to add some books to his collection, but for some dubious reason he’d rather avoid going there. Upon his very reluctant arrival, he immediately heads towards the bookstore, to find it closed, but there he is approached by a shady figure from his past. While this character presses on to talk to Stern, he soon after gets mugged by him and his cronies, all to leave Stern unconscious in an alley. There’s only one thing to do, namely head towards a bar where he’s sure he can find his items back, but he then discovers that the establishment is now ‘ladies only’, and the proprietor is none other than his estranged wife, who clearly has her heart in the right place. Awkwardness ensues.
Even though Stern isn’t exactly solving a murder in this story, the flow and pacing feel the same as a normal detective story, as he is trying to find back his belongings, while having to deal with said criminals. Frédéric Maffre keeps things very amusing and light throughout this issue, but also adds a few snippets that tell you more about Stern as a person. This issue might feel a bit different than part one, but in many ways, you’ll start to like Stern a lot more for who he is, quirky and all.
Illustrations are once again top notch in this issue, which doesn’t have the same rugged and gritty appearance as most other Wild West series. Julien Maffre does a great job in translating the words to pictures in this somewhat lighter album than the first. Most of the illustrations also feel a bit more lighthearted than in the first issue, probably because now it’s all about Stern and his social awkwardness, rather than an actual murder case.
Stern #2 De Stad van de Wilden is an exciting, but above all, a very funny story of a man who has to come out of his comfort zone and then runs into all the trouble he was avoiding in the first place. This Wild West based series clearly has a lot more up its sleeves and we are dying to see what Stern is up to in his next issue, now we’ve learned a tiny bit about his past life, and how he ended up where he currently is. If you’re into western stories, with an atypical hero that doesn’t swing his guns all over the place, this series earns its right in your collection.