When we left the series Kadir had possibly doomed the entire universe. But this arc begins with Sara and Grant going through a kind of inter-dimensional marital therapy. Sara gets to see what her life might have become if she followed her dream to become a performer, and both of them get to meet several people they had lost contact with…and they rediscover their connection. But they have not forgotten the search for their children that has driven much of the action in the series. When the opportunity presents itself to use a Pillar drill to get to the base level of reality, they take it (as other versions of themselves have apparently also done). Just when everything seems lost, their old team (including the children) comes to the rescue. The main question for longtime readers is: with so many versions of these characters in multiple universes, are these “our” Sara and Grant? Are we actually seeing the resolution of their story, or is it just another thread in the multiverse?
The second collection opens with “Torpedo” Lou Pirlo and his new girl, Delia, on a boxcar headed to New Orleans. The goal is a cure for Lou’s werewolf infection, but that goes sideways when the group confronts railroad police in the terminal. Lou tries to defend his friend, and goes to prison for his trouble. His big city Yankee roots make him a target on the chain gang. Coping as well as he can, Lou sees that escape looks impossible–but his werewolf transformation changes the odds dramatically. In the back woods, Tempest makes a deal with the gangsters, and many things go wrong. Pirlo finds his way to the New Orleans address he was given–and Book Two ends. This series is moving a little slowly, but it’s such stylish storytelling that it’s worth the wait.
The second installment of this rural mystery series finds the brothers digging into the case of a murdered boy some years back, and the connection with a serial killer. That murder happened in a nearby town, but there is another death in the Grass Kingdom that was never fully explained. Several residents chip in to shed light on that one. As one of the characters observes, the Grass Kingdom is a pretty small place to have so many unsolved crimes. Just when the brothers think they have a full explanation for the death that had been written off as a suicide, the Sheriff of nearby Cargill delivers a bombshell in the form of the autopsy report of the dead woman. It reinforces his contention that the Kingdom is harboring a serial killer, setting up what should be an explosive series finale.
The saga of the fading industrial town Royal City and the Pike family concludes here. In only four issues Jeff Lemire answers all of the remaining questions: the details of Tommy’s last day; how the extramarital affair began; how the fascination with old radios started. All of the secrets come out, and Richie finally hits rock bottom and seeks help. The married couples all come to a new understanding. It’s far from a storybook happy ending, but it feels emotionally real. The demolition of Royal Manufacturing at the end of the series is a powerful image representing new beginnings. But Lemire also imagines all of the old memories of Tommy disappearing into the river, just to emphasize the point. A very satisfying series conclusion–a rare thing.