It’s rare that an ending defies your expectations in a good way. While I’ve been gearing up for the finale of Snapshot, building it up in my reviews like it’s the heir to the great pantheon of action thrillers, the fact of the matter is that the action belies the real narrative of the book. Not unlike The Losers, Snapshot is about something bigger than its main character can conceive of because Jake doesn’t really understand the big picture or, at the very least, the machinations of those he’s going up against and just how extensive their influence. Jake has a sense of justice, an idea of the proper punishment for those who commit murder, but what he wants to happen, what he believes will happen, fall short when he’s forced to face reality.
From the beginning, Jake’s story seemed to be following the typical narrative of the common man meets conspiracy, rises to the occasion in the face of insurmountable odds, and wins in the end. Certainly with each issue the story appeared to be charting the course expertly. Pursued by both a hitman and the police, Jake and fellow conspiracy victim Callie decide to take the fight to those who’ve wronged them because they believe, Jake especially, that the system will work in their favor. Once the suits behind Bravura are found out, Keller is subdued, and the police are informed, then everything will fall into place. Well, yes, things do fall into place just not in the way Jake thought. It’s those final pages of Snapshot that truly set it apart from other comics because of how bleakly it ends.
By his own admission on the last page, Andy Diggle acknowledges that Snapshot’s ending is a downer. Obviously I’m not going to tell you the whats, hows, and whys of that, but suffice it to say that when I tell you Jake is representative of the common man, the typical underdog, Diggle shows exactly how effective such a person is as a cog in a massive machine. All I’m saying is there’s a reason machines have mechanics. If you’ve read any of Diggle’s other works, then it wouldn’t surprise you that he has a bit of a cynical worldview, to put it lightly. What I find interesting, however, is the intent of his cynicism in Snapshot. It’s one thing to be pessimistic about the world in general. Most of us become jaded at some point, it’s practically a cornerstone of becoming an adult. Our hopes get dashed and we become a little wiser, a little more wary about the world around us.
In Jake’s case, he really understands how the world works. If he’d never picked up that phone, he’d be none the wiser and continue to exist in a world of comics with a lackadaisical direction to his life. I think it was extremely smart of Diggle to make Jake a comic book reader since it instantly gives the reader an idea of who Jake is and how he views the world. Comic books, certain books in particular, regularly champion the concept of justice and what it means to deserve justice and receive punishment for one’s actions. The more Jake falls down the rabbit hole of the conspiracy, the more he holds on to the idea that these people need to be punished so that justice can be served. It’s what drives him throughout Snapshot purely because Jake has hope that the system, and his worldview, will be proven right. Diggle, in fact, craftily teases that Jake’s certainty will be proven right. Several moments in this issue feel like they could be that moment where everything works out, but Diggle goes one logical step further and really lets you feel the impact. The aftermath is brutal in its own subtle way: What does the world look like when you know the truth and there’s nothing you can do about it?
But it just wouldn’t be a proper review if I didn’t talk about Jock’s art. As always, the kinetic energy from each panel and page is palpable. I don’t think Jock knows how to draw a boring piece of art. Have you seen the man’s movie posters for The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3? About a third of the issue takes place in the rain and it’s downright gorgeous. Jock’s a cinematic artist so he knows a thing or two about how to keep you invested in the story through the art without overshadowing the dialogue. And like I’ve said before, it’s Jock’s faces that really sell the emotional impact of Snapshot, and he gives Jake a whopper of a look at the end.
Final Thoughts: It may be a downer of an ending, but it’s a brilliant ending nonetheless.