I’ll admit, I’ve been rather harsh on writer Scott Snyder as of late. My reviews of Swamp Thing and Batman #12 have been less glowing than usual. The reason is simple, I expect a lot from Mr. Snyder. New as he may be, I put his contributions, past, present and future in the same league as Frank Miller, Denis O’Neal, Stan Lee, Alan Moore and all the giants who transformed the comic book medium. For that reason my scalpel is sharper and my look more specific. So imagine how glad I was to crack open American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares.
I am not a vampire fan with the exception of Dracula. Whenever a modern vampire tale attempts to involve the iconic character, I usually tune out. Not so with Lord of Nightmares, as Snyder once again uses his knack for taking the source material and expanding it as opposed to changing it to deepen a mythology. The opening scene in LON #3 is amongst the more chilling comic artwork in recent memory. Snyder pitches a lot at us here, multiple things happening within a few pages but he never loses control of it.
Felicia and Agent Hobbes are in search of an ancient tribe of Vampires who are powerful enough to stop the Carpathian Prince, aka Dracula, and his line of Vampire Superior (imagine the Professor X and X-Men of the Vampire world - the next evolution). Naturally, this tribe isn’t very happy to help members of the Vassal Of The Morning Star, but Felicia and Hobbes can’t worry about that because Gus, Felicia’s son, has fallen under the spell of Dracula. Meanwhile, Drac and his creepy cohort Agent Glass are readying their forces for the return of the most powerful vampire in history. Much like the beginning, the end of LON #3 is extremely chilling.
Snyder’s natural ability with storytelling crackles here unlike it has in other AV tales. It’s faster and has more happening in a controlled space. The Dracula element is historically respectful and adds a new and brutal element to the story. I love how Snyder explained Renfield - it’s probably the most original idea for Dracula’s human assistant I’ve ever come across. Within the page of LON #3, we learn about this other tribe of vampires, we learn more on the big bad and we also get a touch of mystery through words Gus says to Hobbes during the initial attack. Issue #3 is the catapult, Snyder has lined up his story and he’s now launching it into full speed.
Dustin Nguyen kicks the art duties and I was much more into his work here than the first two issues. I won’t lie, Rafael Albuquerque is the jam in my book, and I miss when he and Snyder don’t work together. That being said, Nguyen’s lighter approach mixed with the watercolors via John Kalisz gives the book and old school horror feel. The winter scenes especially moved me. Nguyen and Kalisz excel at giving the landscape a bleak and hopeless look, something that mirrors Snyder’s story.
American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares is not only incredibly entertaining, it also expands the already massive scope of the entire series.
(5 Story, 4 Art)