The team that brought you “Green Arrow: Year One” and “The Losers” bring you something that looks really great, but might not be quite as memorable.
Written by Andy Diggle
Illustrated by Jock
Jake Dobson is your typical nerd; works at the Near-Mint Rhino comic-book store in San Francisco. But when he finds a lost cell phone, he’s horrified to discover it’s full of snapshots of a murder victim. Suddenly he finds himself hunted by a vengeful hitman who wants his phone back… and Jake in a body bag! And then things start to get *really* complicated…
Typically, lightheartedness doesn’t come to mind when you think of “vengeful hitmen”, murder victims, and threats involving the term “body bag.” All told, that’s where the real pleasures of Diggle & Jock’s “Snapshot” lie. Jake Dobson finds the cell phone with the titular “snapshots” on the first page of the issue, but we’re given several pages to develop his character before we get into serious-business mode. Jake works at a comic shop, where his overbearing but well-meaning buddy comes to read through comics without paying for them and nerd out over rare issues. These scenes are charming in their humor and ring true through good dialogue. After finding the picture, things get gruesome and the men get wrapped up in a twisting murder mystery. Even when things turn dark, there are moments of levity and even a plot twist or two that lighten things up quite unexpectedly. These scenes almost serve as comedic red herrings that lull the reader into a false sense of security. In this way, Diggle engages his audience pretty well.
Unfortunately, this really solid script is betrayed by a major decision by the main characters that more than stretches the bounds of believability. Without spoiling anything, there’s simply not a good enough motive established for why these characters dig themselves deeper into the mysteries surrounding the premise of the book. Characters make dumb or high-risk decisions in fiction all of the time, but in the better examples, there’s usually a possible risky payoff as motivation for the characters. In “Snapshot”, the characters could walk away with the plot resolved and don’t stand to gain much of anything by putting themselves back into danger. Yet they do, because of, what, curiosity? It’s a tough pill to swallow that two ordinary, comic-loving manchildren would throw themselves into the frey without a really good reason. It’s one stumbling block in a really gorgeous and enjoyable issue, but it’s a big one.
The star of the issue, as per usual for books that he’s involved in, is Jock. He brings his loose and expressive style to a book that really uses it to its full potential. Jock also never looks better than when he’s in black-and-white. Jock in black-and-white just serves to make the art just flat-out look better versus contributing to any sort of moody element. As was already mentioned, this book is relatively lighthearted for a murder mystery. There are moments where shadow plays a part in shrouding a scene with dread, but the overall tone of the book doesn’t necessitate it. It’s just that Jock’s style lends itself to being left alone. There are tons of little scratches and intentional imperfections that the coloring of his work on Snyder’s “Batman” stories tends to cover up. At times, “Snapshot” pays reverence to the comic book medium itself, and the pure delivery of Jock’s art is more of a gorgeous testament to that. There’s a kinetic feel to Jake biking through the city on his way to work. There are a few times when the book even gets a little Hitchcockian suspenseful from a visual standpoint, with spiraling staircases captured from vertigo-esque angles. And the comical way he draws the exasperated police detective tells the reader exactly what they need to know about what its like to have two slackers come to you with a pretty unlikely story.
If you look past the majorly questionable decision made by the central characters, you’ll find a rewarding book with some fun dialogue and plenty of twists and turns. It’s really hard to overlook that decision though, especially coming from two guys who are incredibly unequipped to handle the consequences. But if it weren’t for that decision then there wouldn’t be another issue of “Snapshot” and any excuse to read a book from this team is worthwhile.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Pick it up, if you like the art.