By: Miguel Acedo
Sometimes we miss out on a good thing. And sometimes we’re just not given an opportunity. That’s life. So, this week DC/Vertigo grants one-and-all an opportunity to join the grim-goodness that is writer Scott Snyder and artist Rafael Albuquerque’s acclaimed ongoing, American Vampire.
This is simply the best vampire series in the medium of comics. It is not even up for debate. And starting with issue #22 a new story set in the 1950’s called “Death Race”, the series finds a new energy both in the book and art on the page. This shift demonstrates the talents of Snyder and Albuquerque, respectively.
For followers of the series, this issue showcases the legacy aspect so integral to the epic nature of the story being told. Thus, the introduction of Travis Kidd, a rockabilly teenage escapee from a psychiatric ward, serves as the creators’ version of Van Helsing.
With Kidd, the wooden-teeth-rocking rogue, untrained vampire killer who likes to “bite them back”, we’re given a strong lead character who could care less about his mortality. The overused characterization of the hell-bent vampire slayer unafraid of decimating the vampire population even if it results in death is cliché but the brilliance of the Snyder and Albuquerque reveals their competency as storytellers.
Travis Kidd is no cliché. The character speaks to and of an era where it was out with the old, and in with the new. Kidd personifies the youthful rebellion that not only questioned authority, but challenged it. This approach shows us the emotional core of this new storyline. More than just a nostalgic era, Snyder digs deep into the sea of change that was the 1950’s. Contextually, this story and its characters are birthed and grounded emotionally, psychologically, and most importantly, organically.
The writing and the art serve as a testament to the power of a well-crafted story stemming from and between great collaborators. Therefore, I would be remiss if I failed to mention Albuquerque’s changing his style for this storyline. Easily one of the great new comic artists of the last decade, Albuquerque’s attention to rendering details in the foreground and in the background is phenomenal.
Do yourself a favor. After you read this review go to your comic shop, look for this issue, note the exquisite 1950’s advertisement-influenced cover, page through the issue yourself and if it doesn’t sell you on the opportunity to experience a great story, then I am afraid you’ll just have to miss out on a good thing. Like I said, that’s life. Just don’t say you weren’t given an opportunity.