This issue is an in-depth look at three characters, featuring lengthy narrations from each of them as their stories progress. The three players are Pearl, Henry, and Hattie. Yes, Hattie’s back, with a disfiguring scar from that gold. She’s being held in captivity, continually poked and prodded by the Carpathian vampires in an attempt to discover the weaknesses of the American Vampire. Needless to say, Scott Snyder gives us more mythology to chew on, while allowing us a chance to get to know Hattie better. Both Henry and Hattie are characters we don’t know much about, so getting a peek at some of their thoughts in this issue is refreshing. While Hattie figures out how to turn the tables on her captors, Henry contemplates his relationship with Pearl. He’s getting older, and so he and Pearl are struggling with the age-old vampiric problem of “to turn or not to turn?”
Filling in for Rafael Albuquerque on this two-parter is fellow Brazilian artist Mateus Santolouco. In fact, I believe Mateus and Rafael share the same studio. And indeed, their styles are quite similar. Between that and the continued assistance from Dave McCaig on coloring and Steve Wands on letters, American Vampire maintains its unified visual aesthetic. The major difference between Mateus and Rafael seems to be their utensils. Rafael’s lines are much clearer, and he uses a lot more of them giving his visuals a “scratchy look”, but Mateus’ lines look rougher and he appears to be using a brush for most of his linework. At times, especially with McCaig’s great coloring, some of the panels look painted. This effect gives Mateus’ American Vampire its own distinct look.
Each arc has gotten shorter, with issue twelve serving as a done-in-one, I believe. It’s Snyder’s way of dabbling with the page count, and proving to us that he doesn’t need to rely on decompression or “writing for the trade”. This entire issue could’ve just been spent on Hattie struggling with her imprisonment, but we also get a Pearl & Henry adventure which further enriches our experience. It’ll be interesting to see how much Snyder packs into next issue’s conclusion.