Ricky’s hate for Dante reaches new peaks as she strives to find him an exact revenge for killing her mother and framing her father. We look back at how it all begins and then flash forward to see how much of a botch Ricky has made of her life in Lodger #2.
Writers: David and Maria Lapham
Artist: David Lapham
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: December 5th, 2018
Previously in Lodger: Teenager Ricky falls for a handsome young drifter named Dante, who moves into their spare room. Soon, Dante’s sinister intentions come to light, as he twists events to seek Ricky’s father kicked out of the house. In the present day, Ricky wants to exact revenge on Dante, but under the Lapham’s, innocent events quickly get out of hand…
David and Maria Lapham don’t need an introduction. Just mentioning they are the creators of Stray Bullets should be enough to tell you that their new title, Lodger, will be a devilishly dark slice of American fried noir. With their trademark broken characters, the Lapham’s in Lodger #2 explores the forgotten corners of the American dream, and the evil that lurks within them.
Lodger #2 covers two time periods – the events leading up to the murder of Ricky’s mother, and Ricky, in the present, searching for her killer. Dante, a travel writer who records his adventures on his blog, narrates the flashback scenes. Knowing the fate of Ricky’s family, these events are full of foreboding. Dante’s blog entries also serve as a compelling counterpoint to the truth. While Dante is setting up the family for tragedy, his blog entries tell a different story, skewed to his benefit, that hides his true evil.
In the present, Ricky is in New Mexico, siphoning petrol for her car, and stealing burgers from roadside diners. Her hate for Dante is true, but she seems to be drifting aimlessly, reduced to leaving accusatory comments on his travel blog. Armed with the gold-plated pistol her father made before his injury incapacitated him, she moves from stealing food to robbing the diner, with tragic results.
Books like Lodger #2 aren’t for everyone. There’s a thick streak of hopeless inevitability to the tragedy that comes to Ricky’s family that isn’t for everyone. Nonetheless, it feels real in a way other takes on stories like this would fumble. Ricky’s family feels real because the sort of travails they face – a father who is too ill to work, a daughter who forms a crush on the lodger, and a mother trying to hold it all together – is something most readers can understand. The Lapham’s skill is to take this scenario and introduce an insidious evil in the form of Dante (his name is an obvious clue to his true nature) who really doesn’t have to do much to bring the family down in ruin.
The writing in Lodger #2 is sharp. Ricky’s desperation as an adult feels palpable. It really feels, from my distance on the other side of the world, that in modern America, if events don’t go your way, you can quickly lose everything and fall through the cracks. No job, no healthcare. No family, no support. No money, no hope. Ricky can’t afford petrol, and has to steal her food. And all because one day a serpent appeared in the garden of her family and brought about utter ruination.
The brilliance of this issue is the counter-narrative that runs through the flashbacks. If we didn’t know that Dante was the cause of Ricky’s misfortune, his positive comments about wanting to put the town of Elroy on the map would be innocent enough. Couple his cheery bonhomie with the real evil of his deeds, and the reader gains an appreciation of the insidious evil that Dante represents.
SHADES OF BLACK
Readers of my reviews know well how much I love and appreciate black and white art. The starkness of Ricky’s situation, and the fate of her family, would feel softened by the addition of color to the artwork. A bleak story like this, with tragedy heaped on tragedy, is well served by the trademark black and white artwork of David Lapham. It forces the reader to concentrate on the intermarriage of the story and art, without the distraction of fancy colors to take you out of the narrative. In its own way, the art tells the story in its own way.
BOTTOM LINE – AS BLACK AS HELL IS HOT.
I admit – I am gushing about Lodger #2. There are elements of the 90s movie, The Last Seduction, that are to be found in this issue. A good-looking stranger drifts into town, insinuates themselves into the lives of the main characters, then through manipulation of events, bring everyone down. Lodger #2 presents its own form of seduction, drawing the reader in by presenting an ordinary family down on its luck, and then shoving them off a cliff’s edge with the introduction of the Devil. If you want sweetness and light, go watch My Little Pony. For the rest of us, the Lapham’s and Lodger, will do just fine.