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Comic Book / Stumptown

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Dex Parios is a very good private investigator, operating Stumptown Investigations in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, she's a very bad gambler and ends up owing the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast $17,616. Fortunately, Sue-Lynn, the head of the Confederated Tribes, will waive Dex's debt... if she will find Sue-Lynn's missing granddaughter.

Add in two bad guys named Dill and Whale, one very rich, very powerful, and very connected man, and one easily broken car, shake well, and you get Stumptown.

Stumptown, written by Greg Rucka and published Oni Press, consists of two limited series—Volume 1, The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo But Left Her Mini (2009), and Volume 2, The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case (2012)—followed by an ongoing, bimonthly series. So far, the monthly series has featured two arcs. "The Case of the King of Clubs" deals with an assault on a member of the Portland soccer community, while "The Case of a Cup of Joe" has Dex being hired to transport a rare, expensive batch of civet cat coffee.

On February 2019, it was announced that ABC had ordered a series based on the graphic novels, with Cobie Smulders cast as Dex Parios and co-starring Jake Johnson. The series debuted on September 25, 2019.

Tropes used in this work:

  • The Alleged Car: Dex has an old Mustang that's in and out of the shop. She finally totals it during "The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case," by jumping it over a suspension bridge as it's rising, and is rewarded with a much newer model of Mustang... which promptly gets its back bumper sheared off by a random passerby.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished. Averted. Dex spends the majority of the first volume with a rather large black eye.
  • Crossover: Dex's client in volume 2, Mim Bracca, is the protagonist of Rucka's novel A Fistful of Rain, which places Stumptown in the same continuity as Rucka's Atticus Kodiak series.
  • Da Chief: While he's not her boss, the chief at the local police station hates Dex (because she broke up his marriage), and makes it clear at the top of his voice.
  • Determinator: Like a lot of other Greg Rucka female characters, Dex manages to take brutal beatings and still keep going.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Dex's full first name is Dexedrine.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Dex's middle name is Callisto.
  • Everyone Is Bi: This really comes to the fore in volume 2, where pretty much every female character has a complicated history with every other female character.
  • Football Hooligans: The third volume involves a friend of Dex's getting assaulted after a Portland/Seattle soccer derby, with some of the main suspects being football hooligans supporting one side or the other (which is terrifying to the league, which will tolerate some aggressive chanting but fears that any sign of seriously-violent European or Latin American-style hooliganism will kill the sport dead in the U.S.).
  • In Medias Res: The first issue starts with Dill and Whale shooting Dex and leaving her for dead. We then go 27 hours earlier to find out how she got there.
  • Meaningful Name: Dex's full first name is Dexedrine, which is also one of the trade names for dextroamphetamine, a central nervous system stimulant used as an athletic performance enhancer, and by military and special forces as a go-to pill during fatigue-inducing missions, such as those done on night time or extended combat operations. So, it's appropiate for it to be the name of a character like Dex who never gives up, no matter what.
  • The Place: "Stumptown" is one of the nicknames for the city of Portland, Oregon, where the story is set.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: In Stumptown #4, Dex punches a large thug named Whale, to no effect. She seems to lampshade the futility of it afterwards:
    Dex: Sorry, but I had to try, you understand.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: The second volume opens with Dex being offered an excellent detective job, without significant risk and with high pay, which she turns down when she learns that the owner of the company is the crime lord she tangled with in the first volume. She would love the money and the work, but she refuses to have any association.
  • Shown Their Work: Almost everything about Portland is correct (especially since Greg Rucka lives there). Rucka basically lives and breathes this trope.