American Vampire #2


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American Vampire #2


  • Words: Scott Snyder & Stephen King
  • Art: Rafael Albuquerque
  • Colors: Dave McCaig
  • Story Title: Morning Star & Deep Water
  • Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Apr 21, 2010

American Vampire is a new series from Vertigo, written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King, boasting the latter’s first original comic work. Issue #2 takes us deeper into the world they’ve created, simultaneously telling two origin stories that occur forty-five years apart, but are distinctly connected.

In the first issue, we met aspiring actresses Pearl and Hattie. It’s Hollywood, California and the year is 1925. Subjugated to being slave girls in a latest DeMille-esque epic, they’re just happy to be near the shiny lights of Hollywood. The more responsible Pearl works three jobs and takes care of the more care free Hattie. After being noticed by the movie’s huge star, Pearl is on cloud nine after being invited to a glitzy party. Against the warnings of a swarthy hillbilly, she goes to the party. Things don’t work out that well for Pearl, and she gets left for dead, half eaten by a brood of movie producer vampires. Scott Snyder scripts this half of the narrative.

In 1880, King spins a tale of the prison transfer/soon-to-be break out of one Skinner Sweet, who bears a striking resemblance to the first story’s roguish hillbilly. We’re given witness to Skinner’s nastier qualities during conversations with his captors. King does a great job of building the tension, showing us what this man is capable of, making us wonder what kind of force he’ll be in death.

Issue #2 carries these two stories forward, maintaining the same structure with Snyder tackling the first half and King the back. Pearl is found on a desert road, torn to shreds and near comatose. She’d be dead by morning were it not for the interference of one Skinner Sweet. The two stories completely converge with his official introduction into Pearl’s world. After a cryptic and playful run down of “the rules,” he exits, leaving Pearl with a life defining choice. Feed the hunger, or hang on to her humanity.

Snyder’s playful tone with these characters is fresh and breezy. He breathes life into their voices in such a way that feels current, but never betrays the time frame. Pearl is a very appealing tragic figure and the writer hits all the sweet spots, endearing her to the reader in no time. This fondness for her plight makes the story’s end all the more jarring.

King continues the beginnings of Skinner Sweet’s afterlife, but focuses on the previous issue’s hunting party. Nearly nineteen years pass and Skinner is left to rot in the ground, dead alive. We follow the adventures of Book, Felix, and tag along writer, William Bunting, who narrates the proceedings from the familiar time frame of 1925. Time heals few of these men’s wounds as their chronicles are juxtaposed with Sweet’s time underground and eventual uprising.

With tightly paced and plotted stories, American Vampire is a surprising pleasure to read. Not being a fan of this new rush of vampire-related material, I was apprehensive to give this book a try. Anyone worried about this being a Twilight cash grab can rest easy. There is real care and effort all over these pages. What truly seals the deal, making this a must purchase are the stunning art chores by Rafael Albuquerque and colorist Dave McCaig.

The art team works on both stories, but creates a different artistic representation for each time frame. Albuquerque’s line doesn’t change drastically, but feels a little looser in the 1925 story, adding to the horror of what happens to our heroine. The one major difference between the two stories is McCaig’s beautiful color work. Pearl and Hattie’s world is lit with spotlights and the California sun, emitting a natural color, while the dust lands of 1880 are rustic and take on a painted and shadowy palette.  There is real attention put into the execution of this book, which begs the eye to really take it in. Only two issues in and this is easily some of the best work of their careers.

American Vampire can simply be labeled as horror done right, or as a gothic, American fairy tale. It’s tough not to be impressed by this book’s slick execution and presentation, down to the ongoing theme of its cover design.  Even the slightly curious should give this very Vertigo book a chance. And I mean that in a good way. 



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