“American Vampire” is heading new places, know that. I don’t mean just to new eras of America, I mean to new haunted corners of both narrative and mythology. If this comic isn’t exciting you each and every month by now then you’re doing comics wrong. This issue continues ‘Ghost War,’ which sees vampirism and World War II clash in new and unusual ways. Snyder doesn’t just change a soldier into a vampire and consider his mash up complete, he strives to make this something new on all counts.
The opening beats of this issue are heavy with exposition and while it feels mildly out of place in this comic, it also feels purposeful. This is the start of the second year of the comic; As seems to be the trend in non-cape non-corporate comics, new readers are building up. The world, and the slew of new characters, are set up while still pushing this tale forward.
They say that war is hell and that descent into madness is only exacerbated by introducing denizens of hell into the fray. The landscape feels like an echoing chamber full of silence and the characters all tread lightly upon this stage that is rigged to explode at any moment. Yet the moment that stands out as the absolute strongest is simply Henry’s moment of truth. In a situation that could be made very uncomfortable for Henry if he exposes his true vampiric connection, he doesn’t hesitate to drop the truth. It’s a defining moment for a guy looking for definition in the world.
Violence is the key to this issue. It’s not completely gratuitous, but it is a heavy and thick fog over the events and tone of this issue. The vampire threat is little if not occasionally capitalized upon, and what better theater to show the brutally macabre than war. The final moment of this book promises blood next month; For a surprise cliffhanger, it shocks on many levels. This feels like the moment “American Vampire” turns a corner and faces a much wider landscape than we thought we knew.
Rafael Albuquerque continues to elevate this comic into something never seen before. His style and flow blend into moments of discussion as easily as depictions of aggression. There is one panel in particular, as a grenade goes off, that Albuquerque shows why he is one of the best in the game right now. The flow of the explosion through the characters — as well as utilizing the sound effect — are perfect. The composition of the one man prepared for the moment stands out against the others who instinctively cower. It’s a glorious panel that beautifully shows why this comic gives you something you aren’t getting elsewhere.
“American Vampire” continues with the quality while straying down a new path readers might not have thought to look for but will enjoy immensely. This book, both in scope of mythology and style of aesthetic, is going to become a definite cultural touchstone in comics for this period of history. It’s smart and smooth and always a treat.