American Vampire #22 - Death Race, Part One' - Snyder and Albuquerque
Story - The word 'epic' is used way too often these days, any comic, TV show or movie that has a cast of more than 5 people is described as 'epic'. That is not epic, but American Vampire may actually deserve the descriptor, simply because Snyder is telling a story that is taking place over centuries. We started off in the Wild West and 1920s Hollywood, then we headed to 1930s Las Vegas, then to WW2 and then back to the West. And now Snyder has taken us somewhere new, to the 1950s, and boy, is it fun.
Snyder introduces us to a new character here, Travis Kidd, a young Teddy Boy who moonlights as an independent Vampire Hunter and it says a lot about the quality of Snyder's writing that Travis is immediately as interesting a protagonist as the likes of Skinner Sweet and Pearl, characters we've been following for 20 or so issues. I especially liked his use of wooden fangs to bite the Vampires, it was a nice new twist. It's also great stuff for new readers, they can come in here and not be lost, but for existing fans, there are enough connections here to the previous stories that it all feels part of one, epic whole, Kidd says he's from Las Vegas, which was the setting for the book's second story arc. Does Travis have any connection to Cash McCogan or any of the supporting characters from that story? There's also the appearance of the seemingly-immortal Agent Hobbes which likes Travis to the Vassals Of The Morning Star.
One of the best things about this book is how it filters American History through the warped lens of Vampirism, and to my mind at least, Snyder gets the 1950s trappings spot on, there's the drag races which of course bring to mind James Dean, there's wayward teenagers necking in a cool car, there's a Diner and a Malted Milk, the cover has a Jukebox on it, all we need now is some Nuclear Paranoia. Of course there's more to be scared of in the world of this book than Commies, and Snyder melds all of this 50s paraphernalia to the world of Vampires, so that the over-protective 1950s parents are actually Vamps who use their 'daughter' as bait for food, and one of the drag-racers is a Vampire, it's really cool stuff to see, and it shows just how flexible and wide-ranging this book can be, Snyder is adept at bending the Vampire Genre to any time period and it sets this book apart as one of the best in the market.
This was another fantastic issue of American Vampire, and one that takes the book into exciting new places and with a very cool new character, since this book can reinvent itself so easily, there's no worries about it losing steam, and each story provides something new. How many other comics can say that? In a medium that too often repeats itself, American Vampire is an infusion of fresh new blood.
Art - Rafael Albuquerque is just awesome, the man can draw pretty much anything and make it look good. His style is perfect for this book, and he draws Travis Kidd as pretty much the coolest guy alive, I can't wait to see what he does next, and how he adapts his style for yet more time periods.
Best Line - 'Free from these goddam bloodsuckers!'