While American Vampire is prepared to come back in late Winter, in the meantime two special books were released to make the wait a bit more bearable. We first had the special one-shot called The Long Road to Hell, and now we have the Anthology, made by tons of different writers and artists. With such a collection, is it good?
American Vampire Anthology (Vertigo Comics)
There are nine stories in total, with writers from Scott Snyder to Greg Rucka to even Gail Simone. There are artists from Rafael Albuquerque to Becky Cloonan (hey, her talent was put into something great). The stories range from simple tales that expand on characters and their tales during or before certain story arcs or even stories about different vampire incidents all over the country and beyond. There’s so much here that there is not enough time to go into full detail about everyone, but let’s do a quick rundown them all and my thoughts on each:
The Man Comes Around Part 1 & 2
Both are written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque and it’s basically a simple story about Skinner Sweet going to get some peppermint cake and trouble happening. There’s really not much to it, other than a hint for something happening in the future. It basically opens and ends the comic.
This was written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Declan Shalvey. The story is simply about a tribe discovering the sinister nature behind a local settlement camp. It’s a pretty good story that gets us set for the rest of the vampire stuff to happen and the artwork is overall nice to look at.
This one was written by Rafael Albuquerque and drawn by Ivo Milazzo. The story is about a couple who moves to the Kansas territory during the 1800s and…vampires appear. This one easily the worst of the short stories, with rather uninteresting characters with vague motivations and vampires just randomly appearing out of nowhere with no rhyme or reason. It didn’t help that artwork was rather ugly and the whole thing looked dull.
I get the feeling the writer wanted to talk about something else.
Written this time by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Ray Fawkes. Jack Warnhammer is sent to check on a camp of German businessmen that went to Canada to get involved in the fur trade, running into something rather unexpected. Despite the lack of Canadian vampires (just German, which is boring!), it is a pretty solid story with an interesting character (wish we got more time to flesh out his backstory) and tale. The artwork is very different from what I usually get, but it does make the story stand out more, especially the use of color. This or “Lost Colony” could be the best story in the anthology.
This was one drawn and written by Becky Cloonan and it is about Skinner Sweet running into movie crew in the middle of Death Valley, a little bit before Pearl’s story began. It’s rather dull little story and mostly is just setup for why Skinner ends up going to California. The art is certainly nice to look at, but there is not much else to this one in general.
Written and drawn by Francesco Francavilla, it looks Chase Hamilton, the movie star that originally ended up sending Pearl Jones to be feasted on by the vampire coven at the beginning of the series, and is an origin story. It’s a pretty neat story and helps fill in some background to why Chase wasn’t a vampire. Plus, the artwork is very nice to look and visually appealing.
Essence of Life
Written by Gail Simone and drawn by Tula Lotay, it tells the origin of Hattie, formerly Pearl’s friend before she betrayed Pearl. Hattie is narrating some sort of apology to Pearl, explaining her motivations for what she did and why she did it. It’s interesting to be sure, but can be hard to fully understand what Pearl is talking about at points. Normally the artist does a good job of presenting what is happening, but sometimes you are left a bit confused.
This one was written and drawn by the duo of Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. In the story, a female singer is telling a reporter about the events that happened to her the previous night when a bloodbath occurred at a theater. There’s a twist to the story, but you can probably guess it easily. Despite that, it was good and the art looked great. I especially liked the use of colors and shades on this one.
Written by Greg Rucka and drawn by JP Leon, where in… Portland, a man is brought into a bar where he collapses and dies. The barkeep and the man who brought the guy in have certain plans for the body, but are not expecting what happens next. I’m really not sure what the overall motivations were of the barkeep and his buddy, but the twist and how this story connects back to a previous story arc did put a smile on my face. Overall, the artwork was great, but the storytelling was rather weak in general.
- A very good and decent variety of stories.
- Great for the fans of the series.
- Some stories are rather dull or uninteresting.
- Non-fans or newbies are not going to get much from this.
- Hefty price point at $7.99 may deter you away.
So, in overall conclusions, we have a smattering of good, average, and mediocre tales in the collection. The plus side is that not one of them is genuinely bad, but the bad side is the quality tends to fluctuate throughout the book. Also, this isn’t really good for newcomers to jump in on if they want to check out American Vampire.
Is It Good?
I would say so. Fans of American Vampire, especially ones who are also fans of these artists and writers, are going to get a kick out of this book. Not for newbies and has some mediocre stories, but overall still worth a read.