July 24, 2014

Getting Graphic: "American Vampire Vol. 3" by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque

American Vampire Vol. 3
written by Scott Snyder
illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque
Vertigo Comics (2012)
ISBN 9781401233334


As I've spent the last few years winnowing through the morass of graphic novels out there, looking for some real gems, American Vampire has stood out from the others as a remarkable piece of writing and artistry. Its third volume, through some damned miracle, might be my favorite so far. I only say miracle because the first two volumes were so bloody good to defy being outdone.


Volume Three offers up two different stories, both set during World War II. The first, collecting issues 12-18 in the series, features Henry Preston and Skinner Sweet lumped together on a secret mission to a coveted island off the coast of Japan that's reportedly infested with vampires. Henry, leaves behind the vampire he fell in love with and ultimately made his wife, Pearl, who upon word that Skinner is on the island too tries to find a way to save the love of her life.


My god, the tension achieved in this story, not to mention the action and everything else about the story, was a sight to behold. Henry's mortality becomes more of an issue for him and Pearl as the years pass on, and it's hard to imagine their love story being anything but tragic, so as you read this book you can't help but wonder if Henry will meet his end by Skinner or the other vampires on the island, or maybe something else. Skinner, to that end, is rapidly becoming one of my favorite villains in literature. Period.


Then there's the mini-series, "Survival of the Fittest," which had a five-issue run. The grown daughter of one of Skinner's victims, Felicia Book, has turned into one of the most effective vampire killing machines at the Allies disposal, and so she and Cash (another supporting player from the series) go behind enemy lines in Germany to meet with a scientist who claims to have the cure for vampirism. You know Nazis, though. Those pesky buggers are everywhere, and Felicia and Cash, wind up leaping from the frying pan into the fire in order to get the intel they need--and thwart the conspiring Nazis and vampires. Some might say F. Paul Wilson's The Keep is the best fusion of vampires and Nazis in a book, but I think Snyder and Albuquerque might have themselves a contender for the crown here.


Look, I could sing this book's praises to the point of nausea. Sufficed to say that the blend of horror, romance, intrigue, action, and a half-dozen other meaty ingredients make American Vampire one of the best reading experiences a fella like me could ask for. If your reading tastes line up with mine, you need to be reading this series, too.

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