“American Vampire” #29 opens with a flashback to Pearl Jones’ first days in Los Angeles. Following that brief reflection, “The Blacklist” continues in 1954, as Pearl joins Skinner Sweet in an effort to hunt down vampires secluded by Hollywood’s elite.
Take a moment to digest this: Pearl and Skinner are working together. One begat the other, but spite and anger has fueled their relationship since. Not only that, but Skinner was left for dead from wounds inflicted by Pearl less than a year ago in the comics and over a decade in the “American Vampire” timeline. The unexpected pairing goes along with everything else Scott Snyder has put into this series.
Snyder’s cast of characters have evolved over the course of the series and in this issue we see just how driven both Skinner and Pearl are in their assignment for the Vassals of the Morning Star. The writer keeps the focus in tight on Sweet and Preston, using Pearl’s voice to narrate the story’s flow. Naturally, since the characters are Snyder’s from their first appearance, he has a mastery of their nuances and eccentricities.
Rafael Albuquerque matches Snyder’s mastery note for note. Other artists have handled portions of the series, but with Albuquerque delivering art, “American Vampire” is a truly different experience. Albuquerque is able to transform both Skinner and Pearl into savage, fearsome creatures with minimal apparent effort. With Albuquerque on the art, it doesn’t take much to envision a more pronounced, fluid interpretation of this story like a movie or television show. More significantly, Albuquerque delivers on anything and everything Snyder throws at him, from a pride of lions on the prowl to Skinner Sweet’s Corvette in a variety of styles, encouraging Dave McCaig to contribute to the overall process as well.
“American Vampire” has been a disturbingly delightful book since it first hit the stands. Almost three years later, Snyder and Albuquerque revisit some familiar geography for Skinner and Pearl, and through the lens of time and place, the creative duo shows just how much everyone and everything has evolved — some for the better, some not so much, all forever altered. This is the second installment of “The Blacklist,” and the twenty-ninth issue of the series, but the adventures are still fresh, electric and exciting.