This concludes the transitional two-parter, with Mateus Santolouco filling in for Albuquerque. This is Scott Snyder’s shortest arc to date, and it shows. It’s admirable that he manages to cram as much narrative progression as he does, but the way he does so could use some polishing. There’s a technique Snyder employs here to transition from scene to scene. A character will start talking in panel, and then finish talking out of panel as we see the next scene. It’s a fine technique, but it’s used far too often. Since Snyder is cramming here, there are a lot of scenes, making that technique go from fine to tedious. That, coupled with the sheer amount of story we’re fed, makes this issue laborious at times.
Santolouco is a studio mate of Rafael Albuquerque’s, which means he’ll probably be the go-to-guy to allow Rafael to catch his breath, and you couldn’t ask for a better candidate. Mateus’ linework is similar to Rafael’s, but he’s using different materials; a rougher type of lead, I’d guess. This gives his scenes more of a coarse feel, and can even look painted once you add Dave McCaig’s colors to the mix. This gives the book a harsh, beautiful aesthetic, which is quite exhilarating, especially when rendering all those bloodthirsty vampires dismembering each other. Mateus also gets to draw a few two page splashes in this issue, which are the first we’ve seen in this book, I believe, and they look great.
The character progression we see in this arc is vital, and ultimately handled well. Snyder’s just working the kinks out. As much praise as I and many others have lavished on these earlier issues, I think, as Snyder continues to hone his craft, it’s the later ones that’ll really blow us away.