The last time we took a look at American Vampire: Second Cycle was way back in July, and I don’t honestly get the wait, especially since there is a fill-in artist for this little one-shot. But whatever. Annoying wait aside, I’m curious what this issue will have for us. Is it good?
American Vampire: Second Cycle #5 (Vertigo Comics)
Somewhere in the Nevada Desert in 1954, Gene Bunting, an agent of the Vassals, is driving to some location in the middle of nowhere. It’s known as the Royal Forkes Drift Claim, an old mining area that never seems to produce anything or have anything to it. What brings him there? An old diary from a miner named William Dodgerman from over a hundred years ago details a rather strange and also horrifying tale about what happened there…
Get your reading glasses on, folks!
No seriously, I’m not kidding with that comment on the picture. This issue is very much a prose comic, which means it has a lot of text and reads like a novel at points. Now personally, I’m not much into prose comics, since if I wanted to read a novel, I’ll read a novel. And honestly, these comics kind of drag on and on or become rather visually unappealing (see The Clown at Midnight for what I’m talking about). However, this issue manages to get around that problem in a rather nice way. The issue is part prose, but also part regular comic. So having a mixture of the two is actually good here and keeps things from feeling like they drag or lose visual appeal. This issue is probably the best way to pull off this kind of comic.
Unfortauntely, the story doesn’t feel very much connected to the main series so far (hopefully we’ll see how this plays out later) and that can be a tad disappointing, but nevertheless it’s really engaging and thrilling to read. There are two stories, Gene’s and William’s (Gene is the regular comic and William’s the prose part) and they both read very well and are wonderfully intertwined in the issue. Each part of their stories are broken up and arranged perfectly, each one building up the tension and fear in the other so you never feel like the story ever slows down or loses its edge. You really get lost and wrapped up in the story, and personally, I feel my entire body getting on edge as I got closer and closer to the end. Really fantastic stuff here.
Yes that cash can you fool! Stop staring and make with cash giving!
I found the writing to be very solid and engaging. It’s great at building up tension and horror throughout the comic slowly and naturally, drawing you in and keeping you on edge the entire time. The payoff for it was exceptionally well done and really shocked me. The dialogue, narration, and narrative here are all very well done and equally engaging. There’s not much in the way of characterization or development, but you do at least get an idea of who everyone is and can understand their emotional states. The ending is fantastic and really creepy, though it raised a question that I’ll get into later. The pacing is great and the storytelling and structure are strong. There was only one minor hiccup with the comic and was that it repeatedly said at the beginning that the diary is over 150 years old, but the entries within it are from 1850 and the present date is 1954. The math just doesn’t add up.
The artwork is by Matias Bergara (with whom I’m not familiar) and his work here is pretty solid. The layouts are decent, the characters look good, when the horror parts do appear they look terrifying and ominous, and I especially like the sketchy designs and drawings that depict the illustrations in the diary. The coloring by Dave McCaig is nice and moody in the right spots, especially in the end scene. The only things I took umbrage with was that one page was sort of hard to tell what was going on, and that the lettering for the diary sections was problematic. While the lettering looks appropriate, it’s a bit hard to read unless you really get up close to it. It might be a bit awkward to read in the trades later.
Is It Good?
American Vampire: Second Cycle #5 is an enjoyable side story that is really creepy and thrilling to read. I’m not exactly sure how this will ultimately play into the main story and the prose part of the book may not be for everyone, but I can definitely say confidently that this was a fine issue for the series.