We all know how most exposition dumps go. They’re inoffensive at best, dull at worst. I think that’s part of the reason why “American Vampire” #32 was such a pleasant surprise. After last month’s surprise reveal of Hattie, there needed to be an explanation of how she survived her death in “American Vampire” #5 and what she’s been up to since then. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque not only deliver that, but in such an entertaining manner that it’s hard to not get more excited with each passing page.
It helps that Hattie’s story is more than just explaining how she’s survived; it’s a little mini-saga in its own right, starting with her capture and rolling from there. The further into Hattie’s story we get, the more we see it connecting with other storylines, most notably Skinner’s working for the VMS. That helps a lot too; this isn’t just, “Here’s what I’ve been up to” but rather, “Here’s what it means for you.”
With only two issues left before the series goes on temporary hiatus, the pace is picking up more and more with each issue. You can almost feel the characters scrambling at this point to try and keep up, and that adds to the excitement level. Snyder’s pacing of “The Blacklist” has felt good up until now, but now it’s clear that he was saving the big bursts of energy for the last chapters. If this is how all exposition sequences were handled, I don’t think they’d be getting a bad reputation.
Albuquerque’s art looks as strong as ever; still full of raw energy that explodes across the page. Hattie’s dead eyes as she stares at Pearl are disturbing and predatory, a perfect contrast to Pearl’s struggle as she’s held down and chained. And when Hattie attacks someone, that slashing motion is so fluid you can almost see the character move. Towards the end of the issue (the scene at the VMS in particular) his lines get a little thinner and it reminds me a bit of artists like Jordi Bernet and Joe Kubert. Needless to say, that’s a great thing. Albuquerque is reliably strong on “American Vampire” but I think it’s safe to say that he’s just been getting stronger and stronger over the past couple of years. He was good from the beginning, but these big double-page spreads of action are so smooth and well-rendered that you can see how much better he’s gotten since then.
“American Vampire” is going to be missed during its (hopefully brief!) hiatus but issues like this will just make its return that much more welcome. Snyder and Albuquerque, as always, don’t disappoint. Until the book returns, “The Blacklist” is a great way to leave the series on a high.