Can we just take a moment to appreciate Marcus To’s talent for drawing facial expressions, here?
Okay. First of all, look at Tim’s expression in that first panel. He looks terrified and horrified and helpless, all of which make sense, but it’s not overdone. Many artists would have given him the most ridiculous, over-the-top, ‘Big Noooooo’ expression there. Marcus To didn’t go that route. There is a TON of emotion on Tim’s face, but it’s realistic, not hammy.
Secondly, look at Stephanie’s expression in the panel where she has the gun pointed in her face. Look at how absolutely unafraid she looks. Look at her narrowed eyes, the grim set of her mouth. While Tim is busy freaking out that Stephanie’s about to die, Steph herself doesn’t show the barest trace of fear - only anger, defiance, and steely determination to beat her opponent. Even before you see her take Prudence down on the next page, her expression in that panel alone says that she’s more in control of the situation than Tim thinks she is. There’s more than anger on Stephanie’s face, there’s focus - this is a woman who knows what she has to do, and knows that she can do it.
And, of course, Tim’s expression in the last panel. I don’t think any words are needed, are they? Nope. Just take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness. ;-)
This is what really great art can do in comic books. It doesn’t just illustrate the story, it also adds additional layers of meaning and emotion through the small details, the body language, the facial expressions, and so on. Look at the flashback panel of Tim and Stephanie kissing. Now, it’s a pretty straightforward moment. Tim is remembering his relationship with Stephanie, and so there’s a panel of them kissing. Simple enough. But once again the expressions do so much to make the moment more powerful. They really look like two people who are just so completely in love and lost in each other. It both adds emotional intensity to the moment - we can literally see how much Tim loves Steph - and also provides a perfect visual illustration of what Tim is saying about how he let his emotions cloud his judgement. He literally looks like he can’t think straight because he’s too completely lost in his love for Stephanie. It’s a perfect example of writing and art working hand-in-hand to both complement and strengthen each other.
The best writing in the world will fall flat if the art isn’t going its part. And conversely, gorgeous art can elevate lackluster writing, adding subtleties of additional meaning through the characters’ expressions and body language.
This whole page is a great example of what good comic book art should be like. It’s an awesome moment either way. It would be an awesome moment no matter WHO was drawing it. But how good the art is really does a lot to elevate the moment to the next level.
In other news, yes, I am kind of a Marcus To fangirl. ;-)