When done wisely, pairing multiple artists on a single issue of a comic can be invigorating. In a highly visual stand, placing two distinct styles side by side can elevate a book and make it stand out on the roller stand. Otherwise, such a change in the art can make a book feel uneven or rushed, with an artist feeling more like a bench-warmer or filler rather than a coherent natural progression in the storytelling. Number 5 of dc the vampire slayerwritten by James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg with letters by Tom Napolitano, sees artist and regular colorist Otto Schmidt joined by his double threat Simone Di Meo.
The issue picks up with a break from the previous story of the Justice League battling Batman and Green Arrow, and instead focuses on what Task Force X does as vampires spread across the world. Tynion and Rosenberg continue to provide perfect voice acting for the various characters, with both writers showing off their talent for the ensemble books. Between this series and the other creature feature written by Rosenberg (Task Force Z), it would be nice to see the writer get a crack at Flagship Squad in the future.
It is also thanks to the rise in notoriety of the team due to multiple films and animation projects that a fairly standard roster had emerged. While objectively a vampiric King Shark is amazing, it would have been nice to see some D-listers filling out the roster. With the two writers’ stories about their two great books and their knack for pulling deep cuts, it would have been nice to see this corner of the world flex.
It is curious to know why the creative team decided to hire Di Meo for the artistic change of this number. The story is not a backup, but is directly tied to the main plot and is interspersed throughout the issue. Schmidt had no problem bouncing around in the various groups and corners of the DC Universe, but the choice to bring in a supporting artist for the Suicide Suicide subplot is fascinating. Compared to a book like strange adventures, which had two artists on the entire series for a specific reason, this rotation just seemed a bit out of left field. With a little more connective tissue – perhaps bleeding between styles as storylines established with the Batfamily crossover with Suicide Squad – the issue would have been perfect. Instead, it feels like an experience that barely misses the mark.
Thanks to the stylish nature of the two artists’ work, the change isn’t shocking enough to detract from the reading experience. It’s interesting that the two styles can exist together, as they feel like opposite ends of the spectrum. Schmidt’s is rough and volatile, while Di Meo’s is much smoother and more fluid. What facilitates this smooth transition from one style to another is the fact that the two artists also work as their own colorist, creating two distinct yet well-matched segments. Combined with Napolitano’s lettering that fits perfectly with the different factions of the universe, there’s a consistency that makes the book feel cohesive even when these art styles come and go.