Sunday, February 06, 2011

American Vampire Vol.1 – review

Writers: Scott Snyder & Stephen King

Art: Rafael Aluquerque

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Cunning, ruthless, and rattlesnake mean, Skinner Sweet has a reputation for cussedness as long as he is ornery. As the first vampire conceived on American soil, however, he’s not your usual creature of the night. Stronger, fiercer and powered by the sun, Sweet is the first of a new breed of bloodsucker: the American Vampire.

Forty-five years after rising from his grave, Sweet finds himself in 1920s Los Angeles, where the young and the beautiful are drawn like moths to the burning lights of Hollywood. Something beyond simple human greed is at work here, however, as struggling young actress Pearl Jones is about to discover. When her movie-star dreams are transformed into a bloody nightmare, Sweet provides her only chance for survival as well as the power to take revenge.

The Review: American Vampire was Stephen King’s answer to the modern defanged vampire. Along with comic writer Scott Snyder he set out to create a new (or, in many respects, old) breed of vampire – vampires who were all claw and fang.

As I started reading this I wasn’t too sure. The volume has two parallel stories running. That of Pearl Jones in 1925 and a story recalled by Will Bunting of 1880’s Wild West about the outlaw Skinner Sweet. Bunting released a novel of the events that was depicted as fiction, now he tries to tell his audience that it was all true.

sample of artwork
I said I wasn’t sure, the first comic’s worth of story didn’t grab me too much and, despite loving the cover, I felt that the art was well executed but was a bit too ‘blocky’ for my taste. However, as the story continued I was drawn deeply into it and the art style grew on me more and more.

Skinner Sweet is an outlaw, as I said, and has been captured. However, during his escape from the train he’s being transported on he comes face to face with the man whose bank he robbed. Old money from Europe, Percy was able to travel during the day due to a sun-cream of his invention. However, as Skinner was finally killed, Percy’s blood splashed onto him and infected him.

Pearl is an aspiring actress who is set up as food for the Europeans who are bankrolling certain pictures. She manages to escape the pit she is dumped in, is found and taken to hospital but she is dying. Skinner, who has been watching the European vampires and thus has crossed paths with Pearl, decides that he will give her some of his blood.

The European vampires describe themselves as Vurderlak. They burn in the sun, they cannot rise from water and they can be staked with wood. Skinner is an evolutionary step forward, he can rise from water and he can walk in the sun. He casts a reflection but the reflection is distorted, as though he were looking in a funhouse mirror. The most interesting change is that the American Vampire has difficulty functioning in the dark of the moon, the vampire becomes languid and in need of rest and can be killed by anything lethal during that time.

By the end of the book I was longing for more, bring on Vol. 2. In the meantime I’ll give this 7.5 out of 10.


RoseOfTransylvania said...

Vampires in Wild West and 1920´s... but then, it is written by Stephen King, most overrated writer in history of literature. OK, Salem´s Lot had nicely chilling vampire stuff among all the sleazy human characters. Hm...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

don't let his involvement put you off, its really rather good