Nobody is thrilled when Lana starts digging into the past of Ruby Falls, but she just can’t seem to quit. And then her grandmother goes missing. It’s a small town; where could she have gone? Find out in Ruby Falls #2 from Dark Horse Comics.

Ruby Falls #2 ReviewRUBY FALLS #2

Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artist: Flavia Biondi
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 6, 2019

Previously in Ruby Falls: We met Lana, a young lady living aimlessly in Ruby Falls until one day when she visits her grandmother, Clara, at the nursing home. Clara talks about a woman named Betty, most famous for leaving town and disappearing, presumably murdered. She lives on as a cautionary tale to young women. Clara remembers an incident in the local bar, called Ruby’s. Lana’s mother (Greta) owns Ruby’s now. Greta has nothing to add to the story but tells Lana to stop visiting her grandmother. Lana goes to the library where Raymond, an old friend of hers seems happy to help. He seems attracted to Lana, but she already has a girlfriend, Blair, a talented acrobat who makes ends meet performing at a local strip club.

PICKING AT THREADS

When Ruby Falls #2 opens, some kids have found Lana lying on the sidewalk, her case notes and photographs scattered around her. The family dog, Queenie, has wandered back to her as well. She wakes up, gathers her stuff, and starts walking home. When she passes the nursing home, there are police out front and one of the officers is holding a familiar shirt in front of a search and rescue dog. Lana’s grandmother Clara has gone missing.

Greta accuses Lana of being the culprit, that she scared her grandmother, causing her to run away. Lana’s father is more understanding and he reminds her that this is not the first time that Clara has run off. But we see a brief scene were someone cuts their hair short, darkens it with shoe polish, and grabs a cap and flannel shirt. This is a complicated family, and not a particularly happy one.

Lana goes home to Blair, who is concerned about the injury she has on her forehead. Blair has also been reading the crime book that Clara gave her. Lana hides what happened to her and where she was. Blair is concerned that she might be in danger looking into a cold case. Lana retorts about Blair’s working in a strip joint, especially now that the boss has insisted she wear a skimpier outfit.

Raymond has been researching. He shows Lana a sketch map of the area of town where Betty was from, and he’s found a couple living there who also lived there at the time Betty went missing. They remember Betty. They remember things slightly differently through the lenses of time and their gender. Was Betty a free spirit who was independent, or was she no good and got what she deserved? I think this story has some strong points of thought in it. Back at the nursing home, one of the residents makes a comment about Marty Byrne, a gangster from that time period.

Clara, in her crude disguise, has wandered off to an old train tunnel. In her memory, she is young, and she is going to a party. She can go because it is her father who brings the liquor. As she goes in, a security guard is on the phone, wondering how the person who called him knew she would go there, and gets instructions to take care of her. And as Blair has to deal with pressure at her job to let herself be groped, Lana makes her way to a camper by the junkyard where Marty Byrne was last seen.

CLEAN LINES AND SUBTLE DETAILS

The characters are drawn with such elegant lines in Ruby Falls #2 and they are full of inner tension. Their body language is something to pay attention to throughout. We know that Lana is trying to keep secrets from everyone, and it shows. But I think this makes us that little bit more aware that other people are keeping their own secrets. We just are not privy to them as we are with Lana and maybe a couple other characters.

I like the jigsaw puzzle guy from the nursing home – puzzle pieces stick to his sweater, as they do. In a natural gesture, Lana picks up a piece that falls from him. This comes around later when she goes back and talks to him. Handing him the puzzle piece is so natural as part of the conversation, even though his words seem almost tangential.

History and memory are relevant in this story, and when Clara returns to the old train tunnel, her memories are brought to life through the art. We see a few moments that she remembers, almost like ghosts. It is as intriguing as it is terrifying. Clara may actually know more than she is able to communicate coherently.

BOTTOM LINE: A COLD CASE, AND THE MYSTERIES OF THE HUMAN MIND

Ruby Falls #2 is a mystery inside a mystery as well as a comparison of the past with the present. How far have we come, and how far have we not?


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Ruby Falls #2

80%
80%
A Mystery Inside a Mystery

Women have had a rough time of it in Ruby Falls over the years. Will Lana or her grandmother be next?

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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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