Review: Snapshot #3 (of 4)

There are very few moments in life when you sit back and go, “Well shit, that was intense.” Childbirth, for example, or illegal Mexican cockfights. Either way, and at all points in between, when shit gets real, you just have to express yourself in an appropriate and proportionate manner. Thus: “Well shit, that was intense” ... which is exactly what I said at the end of Snapshot #3.

It being the third in a four-part series, this issue of Snapshot moves with more urgency than a hail of bullets. In the penultimate affair of the reunion between The Losers and Green Arrow: Year One’s creative team of Andy Diggle and Jock, we follow the unwitting misadventures of Jake and Cassie, two youths thrust into a deadly game of financial espionage and murderous corporate wrangling, all because comic book stacker and devoted slacker Jake found pictures of Cassie’s recently-slain father on a cell phone he randomly found in a park on his way to work.

In their joint search for answers, the two break in (with surprising dexterity for two punk kids) to the fortified forest fortress of the clandestine Bravura Acquisitions, which secretly houses not only the extensive human resources of a killer named Keller, but a very surprising and particularly enlightening family development for Cassie, which could spell doom for them both.

Story-wise, Diggle never dangles his digits too deeply here, stepping back in favor of the visual action provided by Jock. In fact, the story itself is served mostly as the bread of this book’s action sandwich, and I have to admit that it feels a bit quickly made and thinly-sliced. But that’s okay. Look, let’s call this issue what it is: one long, ammunition-peppered car chase with very little dialogue, which takes a break only briefly to catch its breath ... before hurling itself back into its rich milieu of mayhem. It’s a hyperactive, overly-caffeinated pound of sugar-made-paper, and for the most part, it has the desired effect of being sinfully delicious.

Like any good shoot-out, of course, there is a rush at play within Snapshot #3, and I mean that mostly as a positive. On either side of the action, the story feels somewhat forced into a confined space, without much room to breathe. This could point to Diggle’s allowance of almost too much space to let the action play out, although it’s important to remember that Snapshot first appeared as a serial within Judge Dredd Magazine, wherein the short burst approach was favored over measured camping.

It may lack some of the precision within the series’ preceding issues, but sometimes you need your snipers to take five while some scary motherfucker with a handlebar mustache rocks in with a minigun to give the place a lead paint job. Like chicken soup for the soul. Y’know, Andy Diggle may not be making Action Comics, but he’s still goddamn good at making action comics. Saying that, I wonder if this book would have the same resonant punch without the strength of Jock’s art.

Having just attended the second annual Middle East Film and Comic Con, I got to meet, talk with and watch Jock in action, and seeing his process was nothing short of breathtaking, even if he was just doing commissioned sketches. Apparently, this issue was cutting a bit close to deadline, forcing Jock to churn out two pages a day to get it completed in time, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that with this art.

His use of negative space continues to be exceptional, if not peerless. I’ve heard some sculptors remark that when they address a slab of granite with a chisel, they do so not to render a statue out of nothing, but rather to cut away the stone to reveal the piece already existing inside it. I feel like Jock does that here with his art: he doesn’t just draw a picture, he draws a scene out of the page. Sometimes it feels like the pages are sketching themselves into existence, while at others, they appear carved in white flesh, bleeding shadows, leaving thick, black scars.

I also love the way Jock plays with Snapshot’s page architecture here, pleasantly baffling a few panels by marrying them into one another without a visible barrier. It plays to the emotional underpinnings of each scene, and offers a nice break within the conventional form.

Diggle and Jock, probably because they have known one another so long and worked on such high-profile projects together, are seamlessly able to play off one another’s sense of timing to turn this series into a sparse story of stark contrast. I continue to love the absolute shit out of Snapshot, and am fully expecting a bittersweet finale next month.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Andy Diggle

Artist: Jock

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: $2.99

Release Date: 4/3/13