14 Oct 2011


Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Sean Murphy & Dave Stewart
DC Vertigo $2.99

Stewart R: Having never really been a fan of blood-sucker fiction, Scott Snyder has convinced me, in the space of two short years, that stories set in a world containing vampires can truly work. The vision that he and Rafael Albuquerque have put across in American Vampire has been captivating and worth every plaudit that has been lavished upon it. They have managed to create a varied cast of characters who may only appear for a couple of issues before trundling off but their stories are, more often or not, likely to intersect again with the drive of the main plot that is pulling us through the pointy-toothed history of the 20th Century.

Upon hitting the 1940s and the dramatic background that is the history of World War II, Snyder knew he'd set enough wheels in motion with engaging fringe characters to allow for a spinoff book. Having reached the final page of the Survival of the Fittest miniseries I'm so very glad that he did as it's been a sublime adventure ride touched with glorious moments of sobering emotion.

In this grand finale, Felicia and Cash find themselves caught between the two terrifying extremes of the vampire world: ancient god-like monsters awakened from their slumber on one side and the disturbing ranks of the vampire filled, Nazi hordes on the other. Snyder takes this opportunity to engage the adventure boosters once more and allows the brilliant Murphy to deliver us a dramatic chase sequence worthy of the Bond and Indiana Jones movies as the two heroes attempt to make their bold escape from the carnage. The sense of urgency is amazing and the tension simply does not let up for an instant.

Regular visitors to the blog will be aware that on occasion a great comic will force an audible congratulation or indecipherable cry of excitement from my lips regardless of my setting or surrounding, and thanks to the illustrated awesomeness to be found within the pages of this comic that is once again the case. Towards the end of the chase sequence Murphy drops a single panel into the middle of the page that contains heroes, villains, a motorbike, a tank, high-flying skiers, a partial avalanche, an expression of grim determination and one of sheer terror. In that single half-page panel Murphy probably sums up just how exciting and enthralling this story has been from beginning to end and upon studying it for the third time in quick succession I declared quite loudly and to no-one in earshot "Now THAT is a nice panel!"

Of course this series hasn't just been about the exciting action and the Snyder/Murphy combo have really had a go at plucking the heartstrings from issue to issue. In Felicia and Cash they've had two individuals who seem to be constantly haunted by the cards that life has dealt them yet both trying to stay focused on any hope ahead, regardless of how dim the light and hopeless the situation. To say any more about what transpires would surely steal one of the reads of the year from those yet to indulge themselves in its wonder, so I will just state that Snyder has established himself to be a writer who likes to open one door when closing another and it wouldn't surprise me if that is what he has done here. Should we get any further spinoffs then I'll keep fingers crossed that these creators get to work on it together again!

If you’ve been missing out on any of the American Vampire comics up until now I say sort it out and get your teeth stuck in! 9/10

No comments: