After a very long break and two specials in between, American Vampire is back. It also has a spiffy new subtitle, “Second Cycle”, as well! Of all the books coming out this month, this was my most anticipated book and I am very excited to see what Scott Snyder has in store for us with the second half of the series. It is good?
American Vampire: Second Cycle #1 (Vertigo Comics)
After a flashback to the 1800’s, we begin our tale in 1965. Pearl Jones has returned to her family farm after the events that happened at the end of The Blacklist. There, she is taking in runaway kids and offering them a home there where they can be safe, but these kids have secrets of their own. Over on the Texas/Mexico Border, Skinner Sweet has taken a sort of bandit role, robbing illegal shipments of weapons and drugs as they cross the border. Some things have changed and some have not, but both of their lives will be changing again very soon.
For Pearl, it’ll all start with this little girl.
While American Vampire: Second Cycle #1 is really the continuation of the series, it works as a good entry point as well. It does what a first issue should do: it introduces the main characters of the series and gives us a feel of what kind of individuals they are. We’re given a brief history of both (Pearl and Skinner) and setup for what this arc will be about. The story hits all the right points, being accessible for the new and a good return for the old.
Scott Snyder’s writing is ultimately strong, if a bit wordy at points (though that makes sense since much of the narration is to catch everyone up and set up the new story). The character work is good and the new roles the old characters have taken on fits them very well and feels natural. The new characters have some definite potential. Dialogue is decent for the most parts, but the opening bit the Native Americans have some slang in it that doesn’t sound reminiscent of the times. Everything’s well-paced and structured, giving every scene and character enough time to make their impression. The only oddity with storytelling is the scene where the townsfolk are hunting down the little girl. The way the scene goes, it seems like they realize that Pearl and the girl are vampires, but it also could seem like they just trying to kill the girl because she’s black. It’s hard to tell with the vagueness in it and also considering the time period as well.
Did people talk like this back then? Anyone care to shed some light on this?
The artwork by Rafael Albuquerque is as good looking as always. The characters are well drawn and easily identifiable, with a good range of facial expressions and emotions. The horror elements and action bits are effective and look great, conveying a good sense of tension and excitement. Layouts are bit average looking, but the double page spreads that convey the history of the characters are strong and effective. The colors by Dave McCaig are especially strong here, helping to convey the mood and eeriness of the scenes, like the opening scene in the snow. This is a fantastic and great looking book overall.
Is It Good?
American Vampire: Second Cycle #1 is a wonderful and near perfect start that welcomes us back to its blood thirsty world. The setup is intriguing, the characters are presented well, the artwork is perfect, and it is also easily accessible for new readers to jump aboard. If you haven’t read this series before, there is no excuse now to not give this a shot. This comic is highly recommended.