The biggest problem readers are going to have with “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #10 is the fact it’s a morsel and not a meal. Writer Scott Snyder, artist Rafael Albuquerque, colorist Dave McCaig and letterer Steve Wands have done such a fine job crafting this story that the wait between issues is simply painful, not unlike true hunger pangs. Nonetheless, these creators continue to do a fine job crafting an addictive story.
In this issue, the Vassals of the Morning Star fight their war on two fronts and seem to be desperately losing both. Pitched towards a fateful conclusion, both the vampires in space and the hellspawn on Earth fill the issue with fire and hope, but every hopeful note is struck down by an even larger complication. Readers familiar with the cast present in this issue will certainly find themselves on the edge of their chairs, hoping their favorite characters — Skinner Sweet, Pearl Jones, Calvin Poole and Felicia Book — can find the strength to continue and triumph. This is the magic of the partnership between Snyder and Albuquerque. The creative duo has crafted a world so full and tangible that readers cannot help but escape to it, despite the sheer horror present there.
With his distinctive style, Albuquerque tells the story in the way “American Vampire” deserves to be told. His characters leap from their “normal” appearances to grotesque caricatures, barely clinging to their tenuous claim to humanity. It adds a dramatic scope to a story already steeped in action, adventure and horror.
Snyder and Albuquerque are on target throughout, giving readers the comic book equivalent of a couple finishing one another’s sentences.
This collaboration expands to the rest of the creative team, as Skinner drifts in front of a pale moon, given ghastly life through McCaig’s color work. Wands’ word balloons and caption boxes merge the two storylines in an almost effortless manner. One panel brilliantly sums up this collaboration and cements this creative team as a comic book equivalent of the Beatles, at least in my mind. Each has their specialty, each has outside interests, but — when they come together — everything else just fades away.
The painful gap between issues and the virtual impenetrability of this issue might be tough for newer readers going into “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #10, but it shows just how much work this creative team has poured into this series and these characters. “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #10 knocks down a couple plot threads, but it doesn’t wrap anything up. Instead, it ramps up the intensity and teases readers for what’s to come. Snyder, Albuquerque, McCaig and Wands have paced this story out, and this issue is that last jaunt before the final, full-out sprint to the finish line.