Alongside a capsule retrieval crew, writer Scott Snyder and artist Rafael Albuquerque bring readers a taste of the space race in “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #6, as the title continues to drive through the mid-1960s. Naturally, Skinner Sweet, Pearl Jones and Calvin Poole make their presence known in these pages as well, as the legend of the Gray Trader continues to grow and Snyder supplies some clarification in this very issue.
As Snyder has done from the first panel of “American Vampire” #1, his world building continues in “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #6 by adding to the legend of the supernatural in America. This involves the Vassals of the Morning Star returning and steps beyond that. The writer dips into the origins of evil and ties in mythologies from across the globe as well as historical events for the new “American Vampire” mythology he is building in every issue of this series. Space exploration, the primary competitor to the Ringling Brothers, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the assassination of John F. Kennedy all tie into the events of this issue, showcasing the grandiose planning Snyder has put into every issue of this series. Once the adventures of Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones are complete, I would hope that Vertigo would publish a series of notebooks that contain Snyder’s scheming for this series.
As for the characters in “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #6, Snyder doesn’t play favorites, but that doesn’t keep his characters from crawling into your lap and becoming your darlings. Sure, the usual characters showcase their personalities, but Felicia Book makes a great presentation in this comic. For now, following her attitude and dialogue in this book, she’s quick to become a favorite. Of course, that can all shift with the next issue, should Snyder decide to give a snappy bit of banter to Calvin instead.
As is always the case when Albuquerque is drawing the contents of an “American Vampire” comic, the art is phenomenal. Albuquerque is spot on with his character design and storytelling but, in “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #6, Snyder gives his collaborator room to tinker a bit more, and the artist obliges, crafting a few different flashback scenes into magnificent collage-filled pages. Albuquerque handles sunny splashdowns with just as much ambient energy as he does the vicious attack of a Gorgon, and every page of the opening installment of “Dark Moon” has plenty for readers to absorb and study.
Dave McCaig’s colors are harsh and toxic, filling the panels with yellows and sickly green tones that bring uneasiness and fear to the story. Steve Wands accomplishes the same with the letters, setting mood, tone and volume. In the past, whispered tones would possibly have dotted lines around their word balloons, but Wands uses gray text instead, hinting to the reader that the speech is lighter than the standard-issue black text.
Never short on shockers, Snyder and company ensure that readers are going to finish “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #6 and demand to have #7 in hand immediately. The writer mixes the fun and unpredictability of a 1960s adventure film with the expected levels (and so much more) of horror and surprise. Topping it all off, the characters in these pages are so familiar to long-time “American Vampire” readers that every appearance is like catching up with old friends and regaling in the stories of their adventures. If only “American Vampire: Second Cycle” stuck around longer or, at least, happened by more often.