I try to keep these reviews as pseudo-professional as possible. There’ll be no “meh” or any other idiotic slogan spouted here. However, if you’ll humor me, I’d like to briefly point a few things out. Cool? Then let’s rock on with our bad selves!
1. I’ve been gently poking fun at DC’s editorial decisions lately, and they just might be listening. All of my DC comics this month had 22 pages, rather than 20. Bravo, DC! Way to pay your creators. However, with both of Scott Snyder’s books, the two pages seem tacked on. American Vampire’s first two pages are pure exposition, similar to the first page of every comic from the distinguished competition, and this issue’s first two pages are so self-contained, you could stick them in any anthology if you wanted.
B. So it’s come to this: Harvey Bullock references Glee. I might as well point out that the two pages in question are pretty terrific, and if they were part of some anthology, this would be one of the stronger two page comics to ever be produced. Although, it might’ve been funnier if that out-of-touch dinosaur had complained about soup Nazis or something. Glee and Harvey Bullock just don’t mix.
III. I love that both of Snyder’s books come out in the same week now, especially when this issue’s title is named after one of Snyder’s favorite vampire movies. Can a Batman reference from Skinner Sweet be far behind?
All of that said, this issue is astounding. If you were to call this Scott Snyder’s best comic, I wouldn’t disagree with you. Come to that, you could say the same for Francesco Francavilla and Jared K. Fletcher as well. Fletcher is the letterer, by the way. He’s not hand-lettering or anything, but it looks like it could be. He distinctly establishes the difference between everyone’s internal thoughts, giving Bullock’s a From Hell vibe, and that’s a damn good thing.
As I mentioned, Snyder’s little opening number with Bullock is terrific, just giving us a brief glimpse into the coarsest mind in GCPD, while continuing the bird theme in this book. Then Snyder goes and weaves a masterful demonstration of story structure, juxtaposing past and present until the gut-punching climax that’s as unexpected as it is unsettling. Snyder also has that unenviable shadow of Frank Miller looming over him, since we haven’t gotten Gordon served this raw since Year One. Snyder doesn’t rely on Chandler like Miller did, which means it doesn’t impress or suffer from purple prose as much, but Snyder’s more interested in Gordon as the father, which doesn’t require as stern a reading. Gordon’s vulnerable here, and so are we.
Not to be outdone, Francavilla is with Snyder in effort and tone every step of the way. The Mazzucchelli-tinged style is great enough, but Francavilla gets Snyder’s narrative juxtaposition across visually with consummate ease. He also does all of us a good service by coloring himself, using unique hues that give his linework even more depth. Not only does Francavilla handle the stylistic approaches well, but a story with twists and heartbreak requires an artist who can render his actors to emote our little hearts to their breaking point, and Francavilla ably does that too.
From sardonic musings to absolute gushing, this issue obviously meant something to me. It’s really good.