By: Scott Snyder (writer), Rafael Albuquerque (artist), Dave McCaig (colors), Jared Fletcher (letters), Joe Hughes (assistant editor) & Mark Doyle (editor)

The Story: We jump forward to the 1950’s for another vampire story from Snyder & Albuquerque

Five Things: [SPOILER WARNING]

1. Great to be back into the “ongoing” story” – I saw a few reviewers (not me) who expressed some displeasure with the last story arc featuring Jordi Bernet on art.  That story was a look at Skinner Sweet and John Book in the late 1860’s and it felt a little like a flashback because [SPOILERS] Skinner had died in the preceding arc and also just because it was in the past.  That’s probably not the proper way to look at this story given that the really isn’t a current timeframe to make that story “the past” and that there’s a decent chance that Snyder and Albuquerque are telling one BIG story in semi-non-linear fashion.  Still, this story felt like it had forward momentum and a sense of newness about it.

2. Nice bit of misdirection as to the identity of the vampire(s). – I love how this story opens with it being very unclear who the vampires are.  You start out thinking for SURE that it is the teenage guy driving the muscle car.  He even has a “Skinner Sweet look” about him.  So, you worry about what’s going to happen to this cute girl that he’s dating.  Thus, I loved the plot twist when it became clear that the parents of the girl were the vampires and the kid was a vampire hunter who was just using the girl to get to the parents (who were using the girl to bring them the boy, LOL).  There was just something about the way Albuquerque drew the parents coming out of the house, they kinda stick to the shadows and then McCaig gives the father a dot of a red eye in one panel.  It doesn’t conform that they’re vampires, but it’s enough to start your brain churning before the reveal a few pages later.  And there are lots of subtle clues in the dialog too (“they’ll chew you out.”).  It’s the kind of well-executed reveal that I wish more comics devoted themselves to because it shows that not only do the creators have a cool idea, they also understand the mechanics of a sequential storytelling well enough to pull off the reveal.

3. Neat new characters. – This new teenage, James Dean-esque guy named Travis Kidd sure is nifty.  Love his attitude.  Love that he’s a self-trained vampire hunter.  How’d he learn to do that?  How long has he been on the radar of the Vassals of the Morning Star, yet staying outside of their system?  Questions abound and they’re all juicy.  And the new girl is fun too.  In a way, they remind me of Pearl and Henry from the first few story arcs.  Not sure why that is given that neither of them is a vampire, but they have this same vibe of two people who are both “involved” in the vampire world, but a little outside of the “mainstream” vamp vs. Vassals conflict.

4. Wonderful art. – Albuquerque is just getting better and better as this series moves along.  The fight between Travis and the girl’s “parents” was brutal, especially the scene where he kicks the male vampire in the balls with a boot knife.  It’s a tribute to Albuquerque’s skill that I winced and reflexively put my knees together when looking at that panel.  I mean, that knife looked to be 3-4 inches long and it was buried in there.  YIPES!  It was also great to see McCaig get to toss in some brighter colors.  Have we had any pink in this series before this issue?  But here we get a lot of pastel colors and it looks great.

5. Look at that COVER! –  Just to show the world what a diverse artist he is, Albuquerque gives us this awesome cover.  I’d love to see his process on this, but it almost looks painted so I wonder if he actually got out some watercolors for this or if he painted it digitally.  Regardless, it looks great and really sets the tone for the issue and story arc.

Conclusion: A great issue that reestablishes the forward momentum for the series.  Fun story and great art.

Jumping on point?: Even though it’d be best to start AV at the beginning, this is the best jumping on point since the series began.  There are some minor links to the past story arcs and more might pop up over the next few issues, but this is very new reader friendly.  If you’ve been listening to the accolades, but were looking for a place to begin, this is it.

Grade: A

-Dean Stell

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