Wonderfully entertaining and amazingly action-packed, American Vampire Vol. 4 is the same gripping roller-coaster ride we’ve all come to expect from Scott Snyder. “American Vampire” offers all the action, suspense, and thrills you could ever hope for in a vampire tale. Snyder forgoes all vampirism cliches, yet he manages to keep the story deeply rooted in American history and traditional vampire lore. With “American Vampire” Vol. 4, Snyder and Albuquerque continue to bring bad boy vampire, Skinner Sweet, through various time periods. Rockabilly era skinner is one of Snyder’s best renditions yet.
WRITTEN BY: Scott Snyder
ART BY: Rafael Albuquerque, Jordi Bernet, Roger Cruz, Riccardo Burchielli
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
RELEASE: September 26th, 2012
“The Beast In The Cave” is an interesting prequel to Skinner Sweet, the immortal antihero. If you thought Skinner was dangerous and deadly as a vampire, wait till you see what he was like as a regular human being. To foreshadow an epic tragic collision, Scott Snyder focuses on the sibling rivalry between Skinner and Jim Book. Since they were children, Jim truly cared for Skinner as if he were his own blood brother. Joining the U.S. Army in the 1870s, they suddenly find themselves clashing against a Native American tribe. Even as he commits such horrible crimes, Skinner’s loyalty to Jim is unbreakable and boundless. Jim blindly believes in the goodness of his brother, even as he comes face to face with a genuine monster.
In Jordi Bernet’s artwork, there is incredibly gorgeous detail to the American Western landscape. At this point in the 1870s, America has just gone through the Civil War. Referencing historical pictures, Bernet displays tremendous attention in the ruggedness of the war-torn clothing. In the midst of a classic Western shootout, Bernet fantastically portrays Skinner as a two-gun shooter. As Skinner walks away from the aftermath of a bloodbath, Bernet surrounds this notorious figure of chaos with vultures.
The most exciting chapter in this volume is “Death Race.” The violent tale follows Travis Kidd, a vampire hunter obsessed with killing Skinner. With a leather jacket and a rock n’ roll attitude, Travis risks an innocent life just to get to his most hated enemy. Though Pearl Jones is in the sidelines in “The Nocturnes,” the shocking ending will definitely leave you breathless. As a way to kill a bloodsucker, Travis uses wooden teeth to bite back at the vampires. The sheer creativity of this concept shows Snyder is still able to keep the story fresh and exciting even for the most die-hard fans of vampire fiction. Travis slaughters vampires by biting into their necks for reversal of roles. In the 1950s, Travis and Skinner crash into each other’s vehicles as they race across the over-stretched streets. Snyder clearly has a love for the era depicted in the “Death Race” arc (if you follow him on twitter, you know this) and it shines through with the utmost passion.
Albuquerque captures the look of two musical icons in the character designs of Travis and Skinner. From top to bottom, Skinner comes across like a grungy and hyper Kurt Cobain. Travis is depicted as a young Elvis Presley with his slick hairstyle and sideburns. It almost looks like Cobain and Presley are beating the crap out of each other on the hood of a car. During the car chases, the panels just breathe excitement as the cars swerve and speed across the desert.
Without a doubt, “American Vampire Vol. 4” is a genuine masterpiece of sequential storytelling. Snyder’s narrative are second to none in the current comics industry, always tying together the images and the text flawlessly. Snyder and Albuquerque bring you back i time for a unique alternate horror history lesson. If you haven’t started reading “American Vampire,” you are missing out.
Rating: 4.5/5 skulls
Reviewed by Jorge Solis