Friday, March 19, 2010

American Vampire #1

Vertigo certainly has a fondness for these American _______ series, after American Century and American Virgin, neither of which were all that successful. Generic title aside, American Vampire starts promisingly, even though it lacks as unique a narrative hook as other recent Vertigo series. It's a vampire story, a fairly traditional one, and you could argue that vampires are tired and played out in comics in particular and pop culture in general these days, and you wouldn't be wrong. But we can accept endless variations on superhero stories if they're told well and feature interesting characters, so why not vampires too?

And this is told well, with a double-feature format that gives a sense of scope to the history of vampires in America while offering enough space to tell specific stories about two related characters. It helps that these stories are set in two milieus that appeal to me, the first (written by series creator Scott Snyder) in 1920s Hollywood, and the second (written by Stephen King, aka the reason people care about this series) in the Old West. So the first is a bit of a vampire/noir mash-up, while the second is a vampire Western, and both are fun and fast-paced and star promising main characters. Rafael Albuquerque draws the whole thing, and his expressive style suits both stories well. Although the book is split in half, both stories feel complete on their own, and I'm curious to learn more about this world. Maybe it's not a radical new take on vampires, but it's very entertaining, and that's good enough for me.

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