This is a great comic that doesn’t feel the need to save up its good ideas. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque throw everything into the mix, and not in a ‘we’ve got too many villains’ way but rather a ‘we’ve got plenty of ideas and more coming down the line’ way. This is a World War II arc, but it’s also a jungle warfare situation unlike any war we’ve ever seen in history. Amidst this fog of violence is a clandestine group and a personal sacrifice that surely can’t work out well.
It’s nice to remember in a book of vampires -- and this arc has introduced some that are the true heart of a scary story -- that humans can still be just as terrible and horrific. It’s the black hearts of men that propel this issue forward, and we hope it’ll be the good deeds of one man that might redeem the situation. But you also kind of doubt it. The final actions of this comic will only make things even more convoluted.
Pearl is not in this issue enough. She occupies one short and still very good transitionary scene which only makes you want to see more. She continues to be such an intriguing character, but all hats must go off to Albuquerque in his depiction of her. She’s slowly, and subtly, evolved throughout the creation of this comic. Right now she stands as a great female character as well as the most gorgeous woman in the four colour world. I don’t mean gorgeous as in she shows more skin than Emma Frost, or gorgeous in the way most women on comic covers look. No, I mean Pearl is gorgeous in the way she simply looks at something. Albuquerque draws a set of eyes like most artists draw splash pages. Pearl is utterly mesmerising.
The only flaw you might pick on this issue is the fact the final scene actually takes up half the book. It’s a lot of time for men to talk, but once you actually read those pages you probably won’t have many complaints. It’s a great scene in which the dialogue builds up to one hell of a final splash. Snyder’s language choices are great, but it’s his creation of tone and meaning that really deserves the merit. He makes you believe every character name and every plot decision means something more to another aspect of this book.
Albuquerque’s art is always something to praise excessively. In this issue, he draws one hell of a sound effect panel. He also reminds us all that he’s the premiere horror artist on the stands right now. His vampires are varied, horrific, and completely hypnotic. Within that art, the colors of Dave McCaig are astoundingly perfect. He layers each panel with depth and the gore of war. It makes the story absolutely pop. This book wouldn’t look quite as good without the efforts of McCaig.
It’s a book people started to think they could pigeon hole, but with this issue it’s becoming abundantly clear this book isn’t just stranger than we know. It’s possibly stranger than we can know. “American Vampire” is becoming an epic story, yet it still keeps the many parts easily compartmentalized so readers can’t get confused. This is a masterpiece of how to use multiple times, characters, settings, and genres. If nothing else, based on the end of this issue you must be here next month to see what goes down. It’s going to get nasty. Beautifully nasty.