The intermittent schedule, while understandable, has been working against consistency for “American Vampire.” The upside is that writer Scott Snyder, artist Rafael Albuquerque, colorist Dave McCaig and letterer Steve Wands fill “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #8 so full of critical moments and developments that readers can’t help but be caught up in the tide.
Along the way, Snyder’s expository dialogue, filtered through characters like Felicia and Bixby, gives readers enough to work with. The Devil’s Tongue, an organization of concealed monsters, has worked their way into the personnel in Area 51. Felicia and Pearl are on the move against that, seeking to claim a mysterious weapon dubbed Iskakku, while Skinner Sweet fights against the infection to join the Tongue. Snyder lays out the basic plot points through dialogue, without being repetitive or forced.
Along the way, Snyder provides more taxonomy for the various beings that could be dubbed “supernatural.” Joel the mummy and Brun the gargoyle are present, helping the Vassals on their adventures, and Snyder explains some previous unshared knowledge about both species, including where gargoyles carry their unborn young and how dung beetles assist the mummies. Snyder also provides some insight to ghouls and, of course, sheds some more light on the American strain of vampirism. At points, Snyder provides so much information that it seems as though an “American Vampire Field Guide” should be in order, if one is not already being crafted.
On the art side of this issue, Albuquerque’s work is very light on the backgrounds, but the character conflict — emotional and physical — should be, and is, central to the success of this comic. Albuquerque’s drawings melt into McCaig’s colors, or maybe McCaig’s colors overlap the drawings. Whatever the case, the two collaborate nicely to affect the temperature and attitude of the tale. Skinner Sweet’s “outbreak” is red rage against hot orange backgrounds. There are washes to add depth but, if confronted with a gigantic hybrid-vampire-beast, most people aren’t going to notice anything except their demise coming straight at them, so why should the reader be any different. Yes, at points, the story aches for setting or detail, but even letterer Steve Wands holds back on labeling scenes or tampering with the looming sense of dread and trouble that permeates everything Albuquerque draws into this comic.
“American Vampire: Second Cycle” #8 is part three of the “Dark Moon” tale. The original evil has set events in motion, and Snyder, Albuquerque, McCaig and Wands give readers a behind-the-scenes peek at the calamities to come. The issue opens with action and ends with suspense, which makes everything in between all the more impactful. By the time readers reach that back cover, they’ll have forgotten about any delays and will almost certainly be itching to get the next issue to see what comes of Sweet, Poole, Pearl and Felicia.