After a month off for… some reason, American Vampire: Second Cycle is back to bring you the thrilling conclusion to its first arc. It’s been a brutal ride so far, easily being one of the most horrifying arcs the series has ever had. Can it go out with a terrifying bang? Is it good?
American Vampire: Second Cycle #4 (Vertigo Comics)
Pearl Jones and the vampire kids are under attack by Gray Trader and whatever powers it possesses. This looks to be the end for her and for everyone in this dark time. How will they survive this?
Overall, I would have to say that this felt like a good conclusion to the first arc. It’s far freakier and creepier than the last issue (though not as much as the second issue), bringing in lots of good and foreboding imagery. It’s surprisingly a much more action-packed issue, with over 75% of it being a rather tense action sequence where Pearl struggles against the Trader and his forces. It also goes by very quick and you’ll get through it in no time (was rather surprised by that honestly). Still, the arc closes out on a good note and a clear direction with lots of potential for where it will be going from here on in.
The writing here is good, with few minor nitpicks. Being a more action focused issue, except for the final quarter, characterization for the most part takes a backseat here. That’s not to say that there isn’t any, because there’s bit of it with Pearl as she watches her home and essentially her past and what she holds dear become destroyed. Just the images of her and the home are quite powerful. However, everyone else doesn’t get as much and that’s a little disappointing since the comic has been doing so good with the characterization and development recently.
Snyder’s story structure and pacing is solid, though the sudden and drastic change in pace towards the end is a bit surprising. The dialogue is decent, with some good lines and moments between the characters. There is some minor awkwardness in the final part of the story and sometimes characters talk about things they shouldn’t really know about or transitions into talking about them randomly. The tone and feel of the book is consistently nerve-racking throughout, leaving you feeling tensed and on the edge of your seat, even through the calmer parts. All in all, some problems but the writing here is still good.
Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork is good here, again with some minor problems like with the backgrounds being quite bare and boring at times. The imagery can look very creepy and downright horrifying at some points, even invoking some other strong emotions with some of the panels and shots of the scene. Going back to the book being a very quick read, that can be contributed to the artwork. Pages can often feel a little decompressed with giant, albeit cool, panels with very little in them. They often take up a lot of space and help stretch the issue out more. For instance, the third page has three panels on it, with the third panel being half the size of the page itself and just shows Pearl charging towards her house. It looks good and a lot of these panels have some power to them, but they do artificially stretch the book out in a sense. It’s a minor nitpick, but it’s worth mentioning.
Is It Good?
American Vampire: Second Cycle #4 is a solid finale to the first arc of the series. It’s a rather quick read, but an enjoyable one nonetheless, delivering on some enjoyable action and a terrific ending. I highly look forward to where the comic is going in the next arc and I hope it can keep it up.