While I’ve always enjoyed “American Vampire," I found this issue to be a little jarring due to the large amount of content between the covers that was not actually part of the “Ghost War” story. Sure, part of the “bonus” content is a fast-paced, exciting preview of “American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest,” but the story in this issue almost gets lost between that piece, the letters pages, and the excessive “Super 8” advertising insert. Almost.
Thankfully, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque are able to deliver the goods on this story, advancing the adventures of Henry Preston and his compatriots in the Vassals of the Morning Star as they attempt to exterminate the vampires based on Taipan during the throes of the Pacific Theater. The Taipanese vampires are unlike anything we’ve seen to this point in this series. “Blind with hunger,” these vampires – or “diwas” - are tailor-made for horror movies and splendidly designed by Albuquerque.
Albuquerque plays up the scattered, tattered, frayed existence of the human condition during wartime and has altered his art style once again for this storyline. Using a scratchier line quality and filling his panels with more tonal differences that ink wash allows, this arc is a very different looking arc than what Albuquerque has already brought to this book. All the same, however, there is no question whatsoever that this art is definitely that of Albuquerque. He continues to find new ways to frame and finish the story, and I have yet to disagree with any of his choices. Very few artists can claim to have more than one style, but rarer still is the artist who can render a myriad of styles successfully.
This issue of “American Vampire,” like many of the issues before it, continues to expand the world of Pearl Jones, Henry Preston, and Skinner Sweet. That expansion, however, just makes the world that much scarier, especially in the dark. Additions like these “diwas” profess the passion, imagination, and collaboration that Snyder and Albuquerque bring to “American Vampire.”
This is a fantastic book that almost seems to reinvent itself with each new story arc, but upon further reflection doesn’t reinvent itself so much as it visibly evolves. The roles and interactions of the main characters shift, just as your own role and interactions with your own supporting cast shifts with every new situation you encounter. Snyder has done a great job making these characters believable and human, so much so that when the fangs and claws are unleashed, they are that much more intensely satisfying and shockingly impressive.