American Vampire Vol. 3 (DC/Vertigo)


Rating: 4.5/5 – Brutal, bloody and with a lot of tooth.

I wish I didn’t have such praise to heap on Scott Snyder. I’ve felt the same way about the likes of Ellis and Hickman, even the oft praised god of meta-fiction Morrison has demanded my most critical eye. It’s not that I want to diminish the depth of their work, there’s just something in me that rails against the darling of the day.

Snyder is that man of the moment for me.

So now, with my fatal flaw exposed, let me tell you about what an unbelievable gem volume three of American Vampire has been. Artists Albuquerque and Murphy are both at the top of their game. So much so in fact I’m willing to call it their best work so far.

This series has many threads running through it, but the most profound seems to be time. To some of the heroes it is a forever ticking clock, clicking in their ears as they try to pull meaningful life from oblivion. To others, time is little more than a nuisance, just an eternity of whimsy and blood. We open on Skinner Sweet in Strange Frontier as he settles an old score with Jim Book. For those of you unfamiliar with Sweet, he is a sunlight powered vampire killing machine born in the American west with a chip on his shoulder and a deadly allergy to gold. We see this notion of time as a nuisance come to the forefront here as Skinner passes a former love on his way out. This interaction rekindles something in Sweet, and he is reminded of his old friend/love interest/nemesis Pearl Jones, from there the story starts moving and never stops.

The first arc entitled Ghost War takes mood to a whole new level as Albuquerque  and Snyder transport the destined-to-die-screaming Henry Preston from his service stateside to the war in the pacific. While vampire society has shown the depth of its age and resources in other volumes, we see murder and depravity on a new and brutal scale as Henry and the Vassals of the Morningstar face off against a new breed of vampire on the island of Saipan. What ensues is less of a firefight and more of a bloodbath. The first engagement with this enemy is some of the most visceral combat we’ve seen in the series so far. Adding Skinner Sweet to the mix is like using napalm to put out an inferno; heat upon heat until little remains.

In the second arc, Survival of the Fittest, we follow Felicia Book and Cash McCogan on a mission behind enemy lines in search of a Nazi scientist who claims to have found a cure for vampirism. What they find instead is a mad man trying desperately to wake a giant slumbering vampire god that could destroy every living thing on earth. The art for this arc is handled by phenom Sean Murphy who renders these lush frames with a dry brushed intensity of detail that is almost mind splitting.

Beautiful, tragic, bloody and sexy; everything a Vertigo book should be.

Guest Reviewer: Asher L. Turnaround – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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