I’ve long been a fan of the “American Vampire” series. Well, sure, it’s only been around for a little under two years, but the ferocity that the series grabbed me with at the onset was undeniable. I nabbed the first issue primarily for review purposes and also because Rafael Albuquerque was on art. Sure, Scott Snyder was writing it and I enjoyed his work over on “Iron Man: Noir,” but the real writing draw for many was Snyder’s co-writer: Stephen King. In the months that followed that first issue – and even the first storyline where King added background for the main vampire of the series – Snyder proved every bit as worthy to grab attention and more than equally capable to deliver a gripping story. For many fans, Scott Snyder’s name on the cover soon became synonymous with “must-read.”
The first arc of “American Vampire” was good, but the second arc – “Devil in the Sand” – really hooked me.
That story was set in the early days of Las Vegas, where we were introduced to Cash McCogan, a police chief who fought like a man possessed to ensure that the town he worked in would be worthy a worthy place to raise his unborn son. Snyder wove in the tale of Skinner Sweet and Felicia Book, adversaries and ancestors by blood, from the first storyline. Book and Sweet would have a large role to play in the fate of McCogan and his son.
That role plays out to an extent in this series. While Skinner Sweet is not present, Felicia Book and Cash McCogan are. They are on a quest behind the enemy lines in Nazi Germany where they encounter StandartenfÃ¼hrer Heitmeyer and his guests of the 77th Brigade. Naturally, the 77th Brigade turns out to be vampires and all hell breaks loose as Cash and Felicia have to figure out how to save Dr. Erik Pavel, humanity’s hope against the vampire menace.
Snyder gives the story itself a life that breathes in and exhales the movements of the characters on the page, their thoughts, and their voices. Not only does Snyder deliver a story that breathes and characters worth reading, but he seamlessly blends the two and then amps it up. This story moves and keeps moving, and this middle installment really sets up some exciting moments to come.
Sean Murphy’s art in this book – with colors by Dave Stewart – has won me over. Like Albuquerque, Murphy’s art is not slavishly beholden to reality, but he still manages to deliver real, living characters that have a vivaciousness that threatens to expand off of the printed page. The characters have astonishing exaggerations in their motions and anatomy, but in this context, it all works and it works well. Murphy tends to deliver the story as a straight-forward tale, allowing the natural spacing a perspective to help tell Snyder’s story.
The final page of the third installment of this series delivers a splash page that just demands more. Fast. In the theater of war, nothing is out of the question, and in this series, all things are possible. Nazi vampires may have seemed like enough to draw readers in, but Snyder and Murphy give a payoff worthy of the price of admission, and then some.