Review: ‘American Vampire: Second Cycle’ #1

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After a long hiatus, “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #1 returns stronger and bloodier than ever. The artwork bristles with raw energy and the sharp writing hits its mark every time. This installment of “Second Cycle” is a great recap for newcomers and serves as a fantastic reminder why “American Vampire” is easily one of the best horror comics out there.

WRITTEN B: Scott Snyder
ART BY: Rafael Albuquerque
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: March 19, 2014

The times keep changing for Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones, especially now that they are in the ‘60s. Though they are connected by blood, Pearl and Skinner have bitterly parted ways, hoping to never see each other again. Skinner belongs to the open road as a terror bandit but Pearl struggles to find herself a new life. She has just lost Henry and prefers to keep to herself. But, something ancient and more terrifying than Skinner is hunting after these two vampires. The Gray Trader is coming and there is nothing they can do to stop him.

Writer Scott Snyder splits the narrative into two short stories. We get a chance to see what has happened to Pearl and Skinner since their last confrontation. Because these vampires can survive the sunlight, they are able move to forward with the times. Skinner is more violent now that technology and transportation has modernized itself. In his introduction, we see Skinner riding in his motorcycle and holding an Uzi in his hand.

What’s interesting with Snyder’s writing is how he is able to present Pearl as a fighter and be motherly at the same time. In the opening pages, Pearl comes to the rescue of a screaming little girl. At first, you think Pearl is pointing her gun at a group of perverts. But then, Snyder twists the suspenseful shootout and surprises the readers with a shocking revelation.

Readers will not be able to look away from Rafael Albuquerque’s gritty and vibrant artwork. My favorite of his illustrations is the splash page of Pearl’s introduction. Albuquerque puts in tons of detail to the worn-out and tattered clothing Pearl is wearing. It’s the perfect pose of a gunfighter as Pearl holds the shotgun steady with one hand.

Albuquerque has done something new and different to the character design to Skinner. When the “American Vampire” series first started, I always thought Skinner was a slimmer and tall version of rockstar Kurt Cobain. Now, Albuquerque illustrates the muscles in Skinner’s arms and chest, especially since he is only wearing a sleeveless and unbuttoned jacket. Skinner has also let his hair grow long and the new digs suit him well.

An excellent read, “American Vampire: Second Cycle” #1 delivers tons of bloody thrills that horror fans have been craving for. I am very happy “American Vampire” is back and cannot wait for the next issue to get here.

4.5/5 Skulls

Review by Jorge Solis