Stray Bullets #24, Sunshine & Roses
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer, Artist & Letterer: David Lapham
Review by PeteR
It’s 1981 and Orson a.k.a Derek, Beth and Virginia are on the run from a group of mobsters they ripped off driving north through Florida. After seeing a sign for New Orleans the ladies decide they need an opportunity to unwind. Oscar, calling himself Derek is in a panic because he keeps expecting the thugs who are after them to show up out of nowhere and kill them. Ultimately he is outvoted so off to New Orleans they go.
Beth is totally fed up with Derek’s paranoia so she and Virginia head across the street to drink heavily and make trouble. Derek is actively hallucinating that the people they are escaping from are next to him and are going to murder him on the spot. A roper for a burlesque establishment across the street from Danna’s Bar where Beth and Virginia are carousing, convinces Derek to come in and have a drink. Derek sequesters himself on the outside patio so he can keep an eye on the door of the bar across the boulevard. Derek is joined by the “waitress” Yolanda who talks with him as he rapidly tries to drown his fears in vodka.
The majority of Stray Bullets #24, Sunshine & Roses is dedicated to conversations. Beth talking with Virginia in one bar while Derek and Yolanda converse across the street. That might not sound like much but it is actually riveting. Some of the most engaging comics have nothing to do with steroid infused fisticuffs but rather focus on the drama of interpersonal communications. If you don’t believe me, check out Captain America #401 as an example. The best parts of the comic are when Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are sitting in a bar trying to mend bridges and while comparing their philosophies.
David Lapham’s artwork in Stray Bullets #24, Sunshine & Roses’s is on par, if not better than the previous issues in his series. He is able to convincingly convey drama utilizing body language, dialogue and facial expressions. Yes, I do talk a great deal about the use of facial expressions in my reviews because most communication is actually interpreted by a combination of both words and countenances.
The top panel of page five of Stray Bullets #24, Sunshine & Roses recreates a corner of the French Quarter in New Orleans. I thought the details of the distinctive railing on the buildings was terrific. The interior of Danna’s Bar on page 11 is reminiscent of some of the great L.B. Cole’s work. Look at the illustration of the hands on page 30. The art is concise and realistic.
Why you should buy this book? David Lapham infuses Stray Bullets #24, Sunshine & Roses with a combination of stress, terror and disdain. The series focuses on criminals and the consequences of their actions on those around them. It’s gritty, raw and well worth your time.