American Vampire 1976 #2 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Rafael Albuquerque, Artist; Dave McCaig, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: As American Vampire returns for its final act, one of the things that stands out is just how brilliant it is at juggling multiple genres in one book. Scott Snyder has three main plot threads here, starting with the main characters of Skinner Sweet, Pearl Jones, and Jim Book. This story feels a lot like a western, and not just because it’s grounded in the old west Cain and Abel story of Skinner and Book. It’s been a while, so I’m not sure how much of this story has been told before, but the narrative of Skinner’s betrayal of his adoptive brother is very compelling. Jim Book is a character who has been much more present in spirit than in body for much of the run, so his return here is a welcome twist. The conflict between him and Pearl over whether Skinner can be trusted is great, and the action in this segment has the feel of a pulp western adventure—especially a great segment involving catching a train from the air.
Meanwhile, monster-hunters Cal and Travis star in a narrative that has the tone of a 1970s grindhouse thriller, with the most grotesque violence of the issue and some interesting clues towards the identity of the true villain of the series. This odd-couple vampire hunter duo is a lot of fun and adds some nice diversity to the series. The best segment, to my eye, is probably the one that focuses on Government agent Bixby, now a trusted secret service agent under President Gerald Ford. As someone who has a secret connection to the Gray Trader, Bixby is vulnerable to corruption—and this issue makes clear how vulnerable in graphic and disturbing ways. American Vampire has never really been a hard-boiled horror book, instead coming off more like a thriller. That means that when it dials up the horror, it’s rarely more effective. We’re headed towards a classic ending to a masterpiece of a book here.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.