American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #5

Story by
Art by
Sean Murphy
Colors by
Dave Stewart
Letters by
Pat Brosseau
Cover by

Even though the issue has a bittersweet ending, brings about the demise of one of my favorite characters of the "American Vampire" saga, and features a war between giant vampires and Nazis, the best scene of the issue was by far the argument between Cash McCogan and the vampire Nazi Captain Clementine over the words of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Scott Snyder gave those two characters diametrically opposed points of view, but allowed for the two of them to share a moment -- as can only happen in a comic book -- that is at once funny, unnerving, tense, and terrific.

It precedes a jaw-dropping moment that changes the path of the book, the scope of the story, and the world surrounding the "American Vampire" mythos. Snyder's story is unreserved, unhampered by sentiment, and unexpected. This is the perfect end to a perfect story.

That perfect story is enabled by the wonderfully frenetic, exclamatory art of Sean Murphy. Murphy's style defies comparison, as he is equally adept at filling a page around the words of the story as he is filling a page from top to bottom in the emotion that escapes the words of the script. One page, rendered in two colors (props to Dave Stewart) with four characters heavily mired in shadow, tells much of what has happened in the previous fourteen pages -- no, the previous four-and-a-half issues -- of this story.

Murphy and Snyder have definitely found a common bond to create from, and this story is every bit as enjoyable because of their collaboration. While I have no doubt that Rafael Albuquerque would have drawn some spectacular versions of the Ancients (really old, giant vampires) Murphy makes the Ancients instantly threatening. Snyder returns the favor by giving Murphy the chance to draw an exploding tank and a rescue by dirigible.

It's almost like being dropped into an Indiana Jones adventure mid-stream. There's a lot going on: menacing villains, supernatural threats, confident heroes, strong characters, action, adventure, and military weaponry. Just like those films, we're left breathless, excited, but wanting to see what happens next.

At the end of this issue, after the loose ends are seemingly cleaned up, we're left wanting more, just like Snyder planned the whole way along. That, my friends, makes this the perfect book. The past five months have provided a very enjoyable double dose of "American Vampire." There's been talk of this being a semi-regular occurrence, and after completing this series, I would certainly be among the first to open up my wallet to buy the next one.

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