"American Vampire" #34 from Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque is the final scene before intermission as the creators of this burgeoning legend catch their breath, pad their lead and recharge for the grand finale. Set in New Mexico in 1954, this issue dials in on Abilena (Camillo) Book, widow of Jim Book and mother of soon-to-be Vassals of the Morning Star leader Felicia Book.
Abilena is a character Snyder introduced in the first arc of "American Vampire" and in this issue he re-introduces the character through the latest field agent of the Vassals of the Morning Star: Gene Bunting, a character with roots in this series who serves as a fine steward for the reader. The visit between Book and Bunting provides a nice reprieve for readers while reminding them just how deep a cast Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque have created.
Celebrating the mystery and uncertainty of this series, Albuquerque's art is stark and rough, but in the most refined way. The pages are littered with sparse backgrounds, but with Albuquerque's typical detailed sketchiness that eases the lack of setting into imagination and emotion thanks largely to Dave McCaig's colors. The pair of artists truly makes "American Vampire" #34 another beautiful comic in this series: timeless and real, but filled with fancy and dread. The warm, disturbing spread towards the end of the story demands study and attention as the pair melt one into the other to provide a collage of imagery that teases what is yet to come when "American Vampire" returns from hiatus. I would have preferred to see some sort of treatment applied to the visions, separating them from the rest of the story, but if that were so, those visions may not have been as impactful.
This issue might not provide a complete summarization for new and lapsed readers, but there are plenty of hints, clues, returning threads and continued notions to hold "American Vampire" #34 up as an example of what a zero issue could and should look like. The mystery lurking in the shadows of Abilena Book's house is captivating, certain to spark speculation and the double-page vision-filled spread of future story details is enticing to long-term readers of this title. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque pulled no punches in this issue, giving readers every reason to wish them a relaxing and recharging sabbatical from this modern myth. Personally, if this is what they leave us with to take a break, I cannot wait to see what they come back with.