Local #12

Story by
Art by
Ryan Kelly
Letters by
Douglas E. Sherwood
Cover by
Oni Press

"Local" has followed the life of Megan on her often-difficult journey of self-discovery for a period of 12 years now. After going all the way around the U.S., Megan finally finds herself somewhere she might be able to stay -- the house she grew up in.

The themes of family and homecoming often turn up in Wood's work, and this is no exception -- Megan's life brought full circle as she settles back in the house she once abandoned, having inherited the property following her mother's death. It fits perfectly with the character and themes that we've seen developed over the last 12 issues, and while it was sometimes a frustrating wait for issues, it's always, without fail, been worth it.

The conclusion to "Local" is incredibly natural -- neat without being contrived, satisfying without being cathartic. In some ways, it's a little too gentle. Having witnessed some screwed up people and events while along with Megan, there's a sense of understatement about this conclusion. Then again, it works in the sense that her life goes on and we're just not going to be there to see it anymore, which is certainly the case. There are a lot of questions left to be asked about where Megan will go next, but the question readers have been wondering since she first picked up her backpack and left â€"- the question of where she'll end up -- has finally been given an answer.

Throughout the series, Wood has been interested in engaging online with readers of "Local" who don't actually like Megan. Indeed, it's fair to say that she's a rather flawed protagonist on an unusually large scale, and that part of the series' journey has been to find out why and whether she can fix that. It's interesting, then, that when the ghosts of her past confront her, she finds herself unable to actually address them. It leads you to wonder: has she simply grown old without really growing up? Wood's ability to construct the material in such a way that, rather than seeming simply incomplete, crafts a dialogue with the reader is one of the reasons he's one of my favorite writers in comics.

Ryan Kelly's art is itself bordering on masterful -- the level of detail is occasionally staggering, and his ability to draw Megan over a 12 year period and show her physically aging in a subtle, realistic yet visible way must certainly be applauded. Despite the illness-induced delays Kelly has suffered throughout the series, he can at least now look back on the completed series and be incredibly proud of what he's drawn. If there's any justice he'll have people kicking down his door with work lined up for the future.

Of course, speaking of "looking back" -- "Local" is now due for release in a hardcover format. The episodic nature of the series means it'll benefit massively from a collected edition. My recommendation? Buy two, then give one to someone who doesn't read comics and see what they make of it. It's just that good a series.

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