Review: American Vampire #22

Let's start the new year off with some of Scott Snyder's sinister suckheads in a flashback to the '50s.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

American Vampire #22

In my 2011 Best Of Indie Comics article, I rave on Scott Snyder’s American Vampire, and now I get to explain why. I was late to the game with this book for sure. Why? Well, because I hate vampires, or at least what they’ve become. Having read the trades of the original work, I have once again fallen under the spell of Snyder’s magical ability with the written word. American Vampire #22 launches a new storyline, one that is a great example of why I chose Scott Snyder as the best comic book writer of the year.

California. 1954.  A greaser rockets down the road, drag racing an unknown rival. It’s an intense race but the greaser, named Travis Kidd, is confident. According to him, he’s never lost. The opening monologue is one of Snyder’s best. It eloquently sets up who our character is and does it with an attitude and voice reflecting the era. The race continues as Travis flashes back to earlier that morning, sitting in his cherry ride, smoking butts and dealing with his overly emotional girlfriend. She wants to run away with him, but Travis squashes that dream.

The girl’s family interrupts the two. They’re an ugly pair of suburban philistines who engage in an exchange with Travis that’s way off the normal bad boy/protective parent conversation. That’s when Snyder lays the bait and switch. Turns out our greaser hero is a vampire hunter and these two protective parents are really bloodsuckers. The girl is their protector, forced into serving them for fear she’d be ripped apart. Travis disposes of the parents quickly and frees the girl.

The rest of American Vampire #22 sets up the meat of the arc. Travis’s past comes to light and the drag race takes on a much deeper and more menacing reality. All of what works here comes from Snyder’s writing.  The idea of vampire hunters, vengeance against vampires, a secret society of vampire destroyers, even vampires in history has all been seen before. Snyder’s writing keeps things fresh. Travis Kidd is so likeably and funny that him being a hunter isn’t what you focus on. Snyder is all about character, plot and dialog. He takes these classic ideas and makes them fresh with his personal viewpoint on the entire genre.  Even if you hate vampires (which I do) you’ll dig American Vampire.

The art from Rafael Albuquerque is really wonderful. Until I read this series I was unfamiliar with his work but I’m now a fan. Albuquerque knows how to draw the human form, he knows how to give faces the right reactions and emotional impact. Taking that knowledge he stylizes the art to give it a look the combines early EC horror and modern superhero books. He’s also great with action and clearly has a love of penciling violence. Albuquerque gets Scott Snyder’s vision and draws accordingly. Between the story and the art, American Vampire is another notch in the belt of a writer who seems to be unstoppable.