Review: Snapshot #4 (of 4)

I don’t like stories about heroes. Now, that might seem a strange thing to say, coming from someone who reviews comic books, but just humor me for a hot sec.

In movies, TV shows and of course comics, it’s a tried and true device to show “the hero in all of us” - that special little person somewhere near our nougaty center who can divine the best parts of the human spirit to overcome great and terrible obstacles. But you know what? Sometimes, just sometimes ... fuck that little guy.

Sometimes I don’t want to see the valiant warrior striding over a graveyard of bones to reach and defeat the mighty and evil dragon. Sometimes, I want to see the story OF those bones that hero is trampling underfoot; the victims, the failures and also-rans. The losers. I think that’s why, without meaning to give too much away, I enjoyed this the fourth and final issue of Snapshot.

This is a series I have been very impressed with since it jumped from its first life as a serial in Judge Dredd Magazine to a full-length Image book, and its ending herein is completely satisfying ... in that it leaves so much to be desired.

Snapshot #4, which combines the formidable, well-acquainted powers of Andy Diggle and Jock, is not about a young boy and his trusty female sidekick, thrust into a dark underbelly world to which they can, given enough spunk or chutzpah, deliver light and salvation. This isn’t about beating the system. It’s about establishing that there is one, and bowing to its terrible purpose.

This is it for Jake and Callie, the two teens who have wandered into the crossfire between what is, ostensibly, The Illuminati and a disgruntled, scheming assassin named Keller. But all of the strange images of dead bodies on telephones, long-thought-dead family relations rediscovered in the woods and regularly-occurring salvos of bullets finally cease in this issue. And, as per usual, it is the house, and not the players, that wins.

At first, the final moments of this book, which pits Jake in a verbal and uncharacteristically willful confrontation with “the bad guy” (SPOILER: not Razor Ramon), seems well-trodden, but in a story beset with bangs, its slip into a quiet whimper (after, admittedly, a pretty big BLAM) leaves an all-the-more powerful exit wound.

In his afterward at the end of the book, Diggle himself writes, “Maybe not the most upbeat of endings, but that’s just one of the great things about doing creator owned work - you don’t have to cop out.” And that’s what makes this series so wonderfully intense, particularly in this, its swan song, and why - even though Snapshot was originally written as a screenplay - I don’t think it would work as well as a huge Hollywood production.

Its final message would be too muddied in all those lovely feels, that frustrating finality so common to the mainstream. It should end the way it has - not in a victory lap, but a defeated slump; a resigned galumph toward the exit, in broken spirits and bones, trampled not by a dragon, but by inevitability.

Hollywooding this thing would also necessitate a lack of Jock’s art, and even though he would be able to do it as much justice as possible, given his practiced talents in cinematic concept design, I just don’t think it would leave the same impact. Jock drenches his monochrome style in Snapshot within a deluge of both rain and a granite emotion, which only shows cracks around his typically expressive eyes, existing like a carved warning or etched worry.

The layouts employed by Diggle and Jock, from the very start, are iconoclastic. I tell ya, when this artist is given some room to breathe, the page itself hyperventilates. It gulps at the story like a drowned thing, and it’s hard not to walk away breathless.

Altogether, I would call Snapshot a resounding success, even if - and in fact especially because - the fallout for its characters is decidedly the opposite.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Andy Diggle

Artist: Jock

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: $2.99

Release Date: 5/1/13