American Vampire #14

A comic review article by: Matthew Z. Rios
I love vampires of all shapes and sizes. Of course, I'm not referring to those pretty-boy, glitter-faced goons that are so popular now. I am talking about bloodsuckers, new and old. I can respect and love anyone who takes a risk and tries to add something new to the mythos. Evolution is the item that keeps our favorite things alive (even if the subject is dead). For these reasons, I continue to tip my hat to American Vampire, one of the few horror books out there that keeps the genre alive and kicking by giving us something new.

Here we are at # 14, only two issues into a new story arc following everyone’s favorite vampiric flapper Pearl and her doting husband Henry as they continue to enjoy marital bliss. Last issue had Henry joining up with a secret army troop, that are sent to a local island to destroy a horde of vampires. With all that set up in issue 13, we’re immediately dropped right smack into the middle of the action. One of the most shining parts of this month’s issue are the war-related sections. Scribe Scott Snyder really channeled the writers of war books past for these latest issues. There’s such a strong association with titles like Our Army at War and Our Fighting Forces thriving inside these pages. From the simple two-sentence introductions of characters that create a full-fledged war hero, to the grizzled dialogue between men with nothing to lose -- the war genre comes back to life for this story.

Besides the stellar writing, the book also benefits from Rafael Albuquerque’s terrific art. Over the last year, I’ve really grown to enjoy Albuquerque, whose sharp style houses a grittiness inside of it. This issue really showcases his ability to play with detail in order to manipulate the mood. The scenes featuring soldiers are very intricate, expressing every crevice and pouch in their uniforms. Yet when the monsters come out to play, we often get nothing more than a simple black outline housing two sinister eyes. In addition, Dave McCaig’s coloring really adds to the book’s dichotomy. Tales of the war-torn brigade are lit with bright yellows, red and oranges, accessing the dangerous fires of violence burning. Meanwhile, the soft blues and greens help mellow out scenes featuring Pearl at the hotel. For a horror book, it’s very brightly colored -- and it works just fine.

While this issue was yet another great one, my only concern comes from the use of characters. Scott Snyder has put a lot of work into intertwining the lives of these characters from various eras, which isn’t an easy feat to do. However, I worry that the constant use of this will cause the book to grow stale. I love villains like Skinner Sweet, but I don’t know if I want to see all stories converge around him. Sometimes characters need a break to keep from overexposure (I don’t want another Borg or Wolverine situation on our hands). But it’s just a thought; I’m sure Mr. Snyder has grand plans for this title.

Overall, I really enjoyed this issue and so far, this is slowly becoming my favorite storyline. It could be the interesting mix of war and horror genres, or just simply that I love WW2 tales. Whatever the case is, I’m just “fang-ful” for such a great book.

Hey, these reviews are free -- you get what you pay for.

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