This is a sizable volume containing three parts. New artists draw the first and last stories making characters look slightly different. This is most notable in the opening story. With the different time periods there is a little leeway in such matters and the spirit of American Vampire ultimately shines through.
We begin with is a single issue tale concerning Skinner’s early years. Whist it doesn’t contribute too much to the details of Snyder’s world it is a wonderfully poignant tale of nostalgia and mortality. It has a lot to say and is most eloquent about it.
Next is an odd concept indeed. Vampire and vampire hunters join forces to combat an unholy menace in wartime Japan. It is a massive gumbo of every war story you can think of with elements of Band of Brothers, Dirty Dozen, Predator and more. Real places and events (Unit 731, the atomic bomb) are here but given the Vampire spin. At first sight it could easily be mistaken for a war story or ensemble buddy movie, but underneath is a beating emotional heart about the lives and loves of real people (some of whom are vampires). The art is great with regular artist Albuquerque doing the whole story. The signature bold mono-palettes and murky tones do a great job of translating from wild west to jungle warfare.
Finally you have Vampire Nazis. Or should that be Nazi Vampires. This alone should be enough to convince you get hold of this book. The tale is homage to Where Eagles Dare complete with snowy mountain castles, sleeper agents and daring rescues. And Motorbikes! But this isn’t an action-fest, or just an action-fest, I should say. We learn a lot about Snyder’s Vampire mythos and their ethnic cleansing agenda. We have some previous characters returning and doing a great job of telling an emotional and riveting tale. Sean Murphy steps in as artist and does sterling work maintaining a seamless style. Look for a great take on the familiar red eyes in the darkness. This is the best of three great tales.
There was a small blunder of the type Americans make when writing about Britain but you probably won’t notice it. Overall this is very good indeed. You aren’t quite sure where – or more accurately when – Snyder is going take you next and even though the choices might seem to be unlikely at first they all prove to be winners. Absolutely a Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Hero 9 to 5 – Ian Sharman