Vertigo’s American Vampire continues to be the preeminent monster book coming out from any publisher right now. Working in beautiful tandem, writers Scott Snyder and Stephen King up the ante in issue #4, pumping both of their separate narratives full of surprises that opens the series up to a slightly larger world.
Snyder’s story of Pearl continues along the same solid path it’s been going since issue #1, but King’s origin tale of Skinner Sweet really kicks it up a notch here. In past issues, I’ve been entertained if relatively unimpressed with King’s presentation. But in issue #4, he devises a way to add a little less straight forward progression from event to event and throw in a bit of mystery and intrigue. Up to this point, we’ve only been introduced to a small sect of vampires; the vampiric Euro-trash, and the next "evolution" of vamps like Skinner and Pearl. In King’s narrative, without running the risk of spoiling anything for you, he manages to add a new element.
As far as Snyder’s story goes, Pearl continues to grow as a character at exponential rates. Though there is a brief moment of betrayal that is somewhat telegraphed, Pearl’s relationship with the flirty Henry becomes a new focus that readers can latch on to. As we watch her struggle to deal with betrayal and the fact that she’s now a vampire, we watch her toil in regular "human" emotion as well. The interplay between these characters adds a nice dimension to Snyder’s narrative in an issue that otherwise would’ve been the weakest to date.
In terms of art, I’m not sure there’s much else I can say about the Rafael Albuquerque’s work. Or for that matter, the entire art team. In fact, I’ll go on record: as it stands for my money (yes, even at $3.99), American Vampire has the best collaborative art team for any ongoing Vertigo comic book. Issue after issue, Albuquerque, colorist Dave McCaig, and letterer Steve Wands have been consistently churning out top notch, period-relevant artwork. Only four issues in, and I can’t wait to see their work in an oversized hardcover.
So I know most of you will be getting dragged along to go see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse next week with your significant other, but rest assured that waiting for you at your local comic shop is a vampire tale that doesn’t completely suck. So once your obligatory Eclipse suffering is over, man up and go pick up American Vampire #4.