My comrades in reviewing have been enjoying this book, giving it a four-star review for the first issue and a four-and-a-half for the second. I've been reading it, as well, and decided to chime in with this third issue, which is a turning point for both Pearl and Skinner Sweet in their respective stories.
Pearl follows her instincts, as Sweet advised her last issue, but she tempers her urges with intelligence, and that intelligence makes her a force to be reckoned with. This is a tale with no boundaries, but Snyder finds new ways to shock and surprise. The differences between the American vampires and the elder European bloodsuckers begin to crystallize, but new questions also rise as Pearl decides to seek vengeance for her current lot.
Sweet's portion of this issue focuses on his reawakening in 1909. Stephen King's tale of Skinner Sweet's discovery of what he has become is a tale filled with grudges and old scores to be settled. While Sweet is depicted as bloodthirsty and cruel, King makes Sweet a conniving monster. After all, in the words of Will Bunting, "Monsters sell." Bunting still narrates the tale of Skinner Sweet, and the rationale behind Bunting's presentation seems to be coming to a head.
Sweet's tale – the latter half of the book, but the first half of the story – as told by Stephen King is done in a less-polished form than Pearl's story. The colors are more painterly, as though viewed through a foggy glass, or hazy memories pieced together. Albuquerque is recognizable as the same artist throughout the book, but is given some freedom to stretch creatively, which works to great effect.
Albuquerque and McCaig shine up the front half of this issue, as the tale is clean, crisp, and soaked in shadow The color scheme is muted in browns and blues, but the reds are deep and soak the entirety of the page when used. Albuquerque appears to be living the dream here, able to draw two stories, in two styles, under one cover.
"American Vampire" had surefire hit written all over it with the name "Stephen King" emblazoned on the cover of issue #1, but this story is a team effort, and every member of this team is turning in amazing work. The concept is brilliant -- a study in the evolution of evil -- and the execution is as near to flawless as I've seen in comic form of late. Vertigo has been on a tear with its newer titles for some time now, and this title is the best of the best.
The American vampires –- Pearl and her benefactor, Skinner Sweet –- are the type of characters you don't want to embrace, but cannot help but be intrigued by. Their tale is brutal and gory, and the visual presentation of it is remarkable. The creators of "American Vampire" are collaborating –- truly working together –- to deliver one of the best comics on the stands today.