American Vampire #28: The Blacklist

Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque bring Skinner Sweet into 1950s Hollywood.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

American Vampire #28

American Vampire #28 kicks off another round in the life of Skinner Sweet. This time, the setting is Hollywood 1954. It’s a time of starlets, spies, skinny ties, cool suits and, of course, vampires. The last two story arcs for the series have been testosterone driven, so writer Scott Snyder has opted for this to be a lady’s tale. Granted, this lady is a vampire, but this tale is one of love and what people will do to protect it.

This issue starts with our heroine, a comely brunette named Pearl Preston. Driving her car to the Hollywood sign. Pearl waxes melancholy on what the sign has meant to her and to others, how the glimmers are really shards of glass from broken bottles smashed against the sign due to crushed dreams and hearts. It’s a touching scene; the kind Snyder is adept at writing. Then, to shatter the moment, we meet the vampire Pearl has tied up in her trunk. We witness him escape and the chase. Then the prisoner dying under the harsh sunlight as he screams “We will find you.”

Turns out Pearl and her human husband Henry have been attacked by a large group of vampires with a vendetta. What’s the beef? No idea, Snyder hasn’t brought that forth yet. What we do know is that before giving it up for domestic bliss, Pearl used to help hunt vampires and a certain Government agency wants her help again. In return, said agency will protect her ailing husband. The last attack on Henry and Pearl left her better half very close to death’s door. Pearl agrees to help weed out and kill a large nest of vampires who have wormed their way into the Hollywood elite. She’s also agreed to partner up with Skinner Sweet.

Vampire stories are told one of two ways – either with everything focused on the vampire aspect or as stories that involve vampires. Snyder chooses the second, and that makes all the difference. This story involves you because you’re interested in the characters. The vampire part is just something used as a backdrop for telling stories that are exciting to read. I also love how Snyder implies the Los Angeles vampires Pearl and Skinner are hunting as some kind of Scientology empire.

Rafael Albuquerque. What can you really say about this guy outside of he can draw his ass off? I adore the way he draws; I love the mix of pulp and comic book art. Everything is about motion with Albuquerque’s pencils. You feel Pearl’s car driving, when she sets out the motion of the wind captures the dire tone of the entire piece. His art sets the mood and captures the motion and heart of Snyder’s words.

One thing Albuquerque doesn’t do is spend a lot of time on huge splash pages. Every panel he draws is linked to the next; they all build off each other, so to throw in some random splashes would kill the vibe. When the last page comes and Albuquerque wants to makes a statement on what is to come, then he gives us a glorious full page of Skinner and Pearl ready to fight. These images are laid out more like a film than a comic book and it’s very effective. American Vampire #28 is just another notch in the belt of a team that is one of the best around.

8

(4 Art, 4 Story)