I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, right? Blah blah- best new comic in a long time-blah blah – you absolutely must be reading this -blah blah – every issue has amazing quality. There’s only so many ways to shine this apple, and yet it’s always delicious. The second, and final, instalment of this short arc is another in such a long line of great issues. Here we get action, death, forboding creepiness, and character dissection that really opens up the humanity of these distinctly inhuman creatures.
I have long waited for Pearl to completely own the spotlight and this issue does it. Whenever she commands the action or the captions, we get a sense of a character finally becoming real. Her relative relegation to the sidelines previously has kept her thin, but here she becomes a person I understand, and hugely like. There are intriguing emotions at play here that make you wonder about what the transition into vampirism must be like on a few fronts. Snyder handles this character with delicate and deft precision, and now I really want to know what is coming down the line for her.
A major issue is Pearl’s concern over what her human husband thinks about her in the blackest, most real, parts of his brain. She knows the reality he must be faced with and so understands the doubts and possible repulsion he might feel. It is then interesting to note that all of her worry and concern is exactly what shows Henry he is right in loving Pearl. She might be a vampire, but she is still perfectly human. For that, he’ll always love and understand she is not lost.
This two-part arc is more a character piece; two soliloquies set to violent death, rather than a three act plot. Pearl is pushed much further forward and Hattie is established as an extreme threat. It’s masterfully written though I can’t help but feel that Hattie’s story could have used fleshing out, even just by one more issue. There is no true conflict for her, only a simple journey and set up for more to come. It’s all well put together, and the aspect that she has all the time in the world to exact revenge upon Pearl juxtaposed against Pearl dealing with her husband’s mortality being a mere blip on her endless timeline is fantastic, but it merely feels like a prologue. I guess wanting more of a character isn’t the worst thing to happen to a comic.
As well as being one of the best written books in the market, “American Vampire” is fortunate to be one of the best looking titles available. A feat more impressive when you look at the fact this arc didn’t feature the main artist. Snyder must have a team locked in his basement working in shifts to produce a comic this gorgeous on time every month. Santolouco has matched Albuquerque’s ability to create pages that please the eye and also tell a tale. The violence will awe you and the soft and beaten smiles will warm you up.
In a comic where death surrounds both leading characters, the main thing you walk away with is a sense you know these girls more emotionally now. This issue caps a brutal origin of another vampiric villain who rivals Skinner Sweet for the ability to command a page. I cannot wait to see Hattie used to further effect in the future.