Review: American Vampire #5

And so ends the first cycle of American Vampire. Both Scott Snyder and Stephen King were relatively new comic-scribes when this project began, so, naturally, this conclusion is the strongest issue from both of them. Each man has better control over their script, and greater knowledge on how these darn funnybooks are put together.

Snyder’s script is almost like a perfected version of his last issue. Like American Vampire #4, Snyder executes a major twist and asks artistic collaborator, Rafael Albuquerque, to render plenty of madcap action. But unlike last issue, the major twist is majorly effective, with no hints to give away the surprise, making it the twisted gut-punch Snyder was going for. I also mentioned that, in the last issue, Rafael adapted his style to meet Snyder’s chaotic action scenes, but in this issue, each scene is executed and drawn with beautiful imagery, complete with homemade scythes and gold stars getting shoved in mouths. Yeah, you’ll just have to read the issue.

King seems at the top of his game, too, wielding plenty of visually creative techniques that fit perfectly with this medium. We’ve become used to American Vampires being fun-loving-gore-hounds, what with Pearl and Skinner Sweet cutting up their victims with delightful glee. But in King’s installment, we get the first glimpse of a tortured American Vampire. And, using one of those aforementioned visually creative techniques, King writes a scene where he juxtaposes the tortured American Vampire, begging an innocent bystander to flee, while Skinner does the gleeful killing bit. It’s well-done.

As always, Rafael Albuquerque renders both stories beautifully, but I’ll take a break from him in order to give focus to the series’ colorist, Dave McCaig. McCaig’s a great choice for this book because, well, he’s generally great. He does the digital color bit, of course, but he pays homage to his medium’s roots. He doesn’t over-computerize anything, and keeps Albuquerque’s work intact. McCaig also has a penchant for primary colors, yellow specifically, which helps give this series its wholly American, especially Western, feel. Albuquerque used different styles to give both Snyder and King’s story a unique visual aesthetic, and McCaig did as well. Lastly, I’m not sure if McCaig upgraded his software or what, but the fourth and fifth issue looked especially beautiful, with the colors appearing dramatically sharper.

You may’ve gotten onboard for Stephen King, and this issue sees his departure. But, I think we can all agree that Scott Snyder held his own, with his segments often proving the better read in particular issues. If you love these characters, and how can you not love Skinner Sweet? You must realize that these are Snyder’s creations, and I have the utmost faith that Snyder will still write some hilariously gory scenes for ol’ Skinner soon enough. So, to use some of the vernacular incorporated in this book, “This here is Scott Snyder’s American Vampire. Sit a spell!

Grade: A-

-Bruce Castle

2 thoughts on “Review: American Vampire #5

  1. As someone who began reading for King, I can easily say that Snyder has been the best part of this series for me. I can’t wait to see him work with more pages now that King is gone.

    I have to agree with you about this being the best issue of the series. Snyder and King give their best stories this issue and Rafael turns in some of the best work in all of comics.

    Sorry Jason Aaron and Jeff Lemire, but AV continues to be Vertigo’s best series at the moment.

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Comics of July 2010 « read/RANT!

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