|Cover by Rafael Albuquerque|
American Vampire #22 (December 28, 2011)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Rafael Albuquerque
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Inker: Rafael Albuquerque
Letterer: Jared Fletcher
It’s kind of funny that I was randomly handed this issue by a co-worker because after stumbling across the second American Vampire graphic novel at work one day, I was thoroughly intrigued by this series. I only ever found the second volume, however, so I never read any of the American Vampire series. It was quite a stroke of luck that I was given this particular issue, therefore, since it’s the beginning of a new storyline.
Now, I’m not really into vampires; even as a kid and horror movie fan aficionado, vampires kind of bored me. It’s just hard to make them seem new and fresh (right now, zombies are suffering from the same sort of uninteresting malaise in pop culture) but Snyder managed to invigorate the vampire myth and catch my interest.
American Vampire #22 is one of the best comic book issues I’ve read in a long time. It has excellent writing, intriguing and believable characters, suspense and horror, and a thoroughly gripping cliffhanger of an ending. Now, like I said, I haven’t read anything else in the American Vampire series so I have absolutely no background in its universe and previous incarnations. Based on some other reviews I read, there’s obviously a lot more history to this world that what I read. Nonetheless, Snyder managed to craft a story with just enough exposition for a new reader and enough hints for those familiar with this universe. His talent is even more apparent here than in his fabulous work with Swamp Thing, which I also clearly love. He’s definitely ranking as my favorite writer right now.
I’d rather not give too much of the plot away as one of the joys of this issue was losing yourself in the story and experiencing the awesome “gotcha!” moments. Suffice it to say, American Vampire #22 takes place in 1950s Southwest America, starring a leather jacket wearing, pompadour sporting 19-year-old Travis Kidd. He’s a teenage smartass and he is definitely not at all that he seems to be. Snyder, if anything, excelled as injecting fresh ideas into what could have been stereotypical 1950s archetypes: the teenage rebel, the poodle skirt wearing good girl, her angry parents, etc. No one is what they appear to be and nothing is straightforward in this issue. America itself is a strange and dangerous place and Kidd must always stay on his toes in order to survive.
My one complaint with this issue was the use of Kidd’s “girlfriend,” Piper. Snyder unfortunately fell into Women in Refrigerators syndrome by having Piper as merely a spectating catalyst for the action and conflict in this issue. She never actually did anything and Snyder purposely portrays her as having absolutely no agency. She only serves as an object to push the plot in a certain direction and motivate Kidd towards action. I was sorely disappointed by this and am hoping that she develops much more as a character in this arc.
I did thoroughly enjoy the art by Albuquerque and McCaig’s coloring. Albuquerque’s art had a very fast and active feel to it, which definitely highlighted the plot and Kidd’s own “live fast die young” attitude. Meanwhile, McCaig’s coloring drew on 1950s advertising and illustrations by using bright, stark colors. He deftly used lighting in realistic ways to color the scenes that took place at night, as well.
Well, after just one issue I’m definitely hooked on American Vampire. Now I just have to run out and purchase the graphic novels, along with the rest of this four-part run.