“Day Men” #4 arrives a few months after the revelations of issue #3, and rather than building strongly on those events, takes a bit of a step back to explain more of the world. From a series perspective, I appreciate getting a wider sense of the vampire mob dynamics, but the month-to-month reader in me wanted more forward motion. Regardless, Stelfreeze draws quite a comic, and “Day Men” offers a promising twist on the usual vampire story.
Stelfreeze’s meticulously constructed art is still the primary draw for the series. Layouts and staging are reportedly the longest part of his process, and looking at these pages, it’s easy to believe. The panels have such neat composition and arresting angles, not only individually but taken together as a page. The fight scene on Block Island is just about pitch perfect. Fluid, brawny and cinematic, it’s such a deft read that I’ve already gone back to it three times. Other scenes hit at about average, and the women’s chests are invariably a little much, but Stelfreeze’s work is remarkably re-readable. He knows all about placement.
Darrin Moore’s colors provide a satisfying, if not inventive, complement to Stelfreeze’s work. The blues in the background, especially on Block Island, are a pretty reminder that the night rules everything in David’s world, even when it’s daylight. Moore also uses a nice balance of these cooler colors with pinks and reds, giving the story some swing even when it’s just recap.
Much as I loved the fight scene, I can admit that it felt gratuitous. It wasn’t required for the plot, and it seemed to be written in just so that the reader could enjoy it. (Of course, I did.) The other pieces of the story continue to move at a solid clip, including the growth of the Scourge and the fallout from the “fang trade” accusation against Calista. Sometimes the ordering of scenes doesn’t follow, and characters can hold on to revelations for longer than seems feasible, but Gagnon and Nelson maintain a fine clip.
Though the story grows on me with each issue, the writing is still overly wordy. The vampires speak in chunks which would read fine in prose, but can come off as clunky in comics. A little paring down on the sentence level would do wonders for their dialogue. In addition, it’s such a pleasure to read Stelfreeze’s panels, that I do wish they’d let the art carry a bit more of the story.
That said, David is slowly outgrowing his more generic elements, and he’s becoming all the more likeable for it. Though he undoubtedly fits a type, his dynamics with Titus and Jacob give the reader a glimpse into his loneliness and competitiveness. In their tension and complexity, these relationships are thus far more satisfying than the more straightforward interactions he has with his employers and Casey. It’s nice to slowly unpeel the layers of this character.
With its release schedule, “Day Men” undoubtedly faces challenges. It might not be able to afford steadier, groundwork issues like this one as regular installments. For now, though, it’s kept my interest piqued.