Friday, July 29, 2011

American Vampire Vol. 1 - Review


If there's one genre of science fiction and horror that's been overdone in the past few years it's vampires. Modern pop culture has tried to make them the anti-heroes of young adult fiction and the romantic equivalent of knights to young women. Scott Snyder, who has done an incredible run on Detective Comics, decided that he was sick of the way that vampires were being portrayed in the media and wanted to make them scary again. Ladies and gentlemen, he has done exactly that with the help of Vertigo publishing.

Jumping back and forth between the Old West and 1925, American Vampire Vol. 1 tells the story of Skinner Sweet, a notorious bank robber who crossed the wrong bank and train lines after making a group of powerful vampires angry at their losses. When the authorities can't take him down, one of the vampires decides to take the opportunity and rid himself of Sweet once and for all. He doesn't expect Sweet to survive the attack, and no one expects him to become something that has never been seen before -- an American vampire. What's the difference you ask? For starters, he can walk in the daytime. In fact, he's strong in sunlight. He also can't be killed by any of the traditional methods of vampire slaying. Instead of getting rid of the biggest thorn in their sides, the vampires of old instead put the nails in their coffins.

I picked this hardcover collection up on a whim and ended up being engrossed in it. I had been wanting a writer to make vampires scary and unattractive again and Snyder, along with Stephen King, have done just that. Skinner Sweet is the kind of villain that you love to hate and hate to love. Though he doesn't have very many morals, you can somewhat side with him in his decisions. That is until he opens someone's throat for a snack. Though he does prefer to satisfy his cravings with candy.

The artwork by Rafael Albuquerque is very powerful and stunning. It can easily switch from the 1920's to the 1800's, and the pacing on the panels is top notch. Paired with Snyder and King's writing, the story really makes you feel nervous every time someone's fangs drop.

I would usually say stay away from vampire fiction, but this book has happily made me remember to stay away from vampires in general. It takes it back to what vampires are supposed to be -- bloodthirsty monsters who don't see normal people as anything but food and resources. Like Bram Stoker's Dracula, Snyder and King have made me make sure my windows are locked at night.

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