In “Veil” #4, the plot finally begins to accelerate in another beautiful issue. Fejzula, Tomic and Kelly still do the heavy lifting in creating this world, but Rucka’s script widens in scope and picks up momentum. “Veil” #4 reveals more about the world, the stakes, the characters — and, of course, the rats.
Ah, the rat motif. Since the first issue, rats have scurried all over “Veil,” seemingly symbolic or significant, but it was unclear what role they were meant to play. In issue #4, Veil’s self-described “boss” — presumably a big-name demon, if not Satan himself — uses a rat to possess Dante’s friend, Gabriel. The rat as demonic conduit, particularly when drawn with Fejzula’s demented eye, is a believable and surprisingly fun idea. It also adds another element of control to a series that’s so focused on that idea.
Indeed, all the themes become more explicit in issue #4, creating both the strongest and most obvious moments. The issues of Veil’s agency and control are drawn out in her interactions with Cormac, as she demands to be treated as a person and he insists she’s an object. Admittedly, aside from the creepy touch of having Cormac address Veil as “baby,” Rucka’s dialogue is not particularly nuanced or distinctive. It’s a shame, because these characters make surprising and varied choices; it would be wonderful if their dialogue could be similarly interesting going forward.
Perhaps the only element that becomes less obvious is Dante — though the “Inferno” allusion of his name is certainly becoming clearer and clearer. Thus far, he’s been a generic good guy and savior, noble and kind despite his bewilderment. In this issue, he makes a keen judgment call that shows some edge to his ingenuousness. I’m curious to see what the consequences of his decision are, and more importantly, I’m curious to see what other decisions he’ll make. It’s great to watch good characters do good deeds, but it’s even better to watch them do so in intriguing ways.
Fejzula and Tomic and Kelly are still far and away the stars of this show, though. Fejzula draws such a demented world, teetering on unnatural and distorted angles, that demon raisings and mind-control murder feel like an expected part of the landscape. His use of perspective is particularly effective. The panel viewpoint is frequently coming up under character’s chins or down their fingers: it’s teeth and nails, teeth and nails, and it makes even talking head panels feel unnerving. Fejzula also doesn’t shy away from the gorier, grosser aspects of the story. His panels linger on ripped-out hearts, the violence of Veil’s being choked, and the dead rat clawing its way to a gutter.
The colors and textures from Tomic and Kelly are just as visually stunning and viscerally disturbing. Veil’s skin is constantly changing shades of red, from a nearly human pink to crimson Freddy Kruger. From the boardrooms to the sewers, “Veil” is a moody kaleidoscope. The colors do feel a little mixed in this issue, though, as if there were a few different hands at work. They’re still pretty top-notch, but perhaps not as consistent as in issue #3.
This is a series with a clear point-of-view, even if its script isn’t yet the most compelling thing. As Rucka’s plotting grows to match the artists’ worldbuilding, ‘Veil” could really excel.