By: Scott Snyder (writer), Rafael Albuquerque (art), Dave McCaig (colors), Jared Fletcher (letters), Gregory Lockard (assistant editor) & Mark Doyle (editor)

The Story: This 50’s era arc wraps up with a big battle between Skinner & Travis.

A Few Things: 

Everything ties up nicely. – The last time it seemed like Scott Snyder was taking us in a brand new direction was the Las Vegas arc (roughly #6-#10).  At the time, it seemed only loosely connected to the first arc of AV and I wondered if AV was going to be a series of loosely connected arcs. This arc again seemed quite different as we had a new protagonist and only the loosest of ties to the previous material, until this issue where (again) Snyder has tied all the action up nicely.  It’s just so damn clever.  By writing this way, Snyder is keeping each arc very accessible to the new reader but THEN making it pay off for the long-timers.  What can I say? Month after month Snyder shows how he’s more talented and more devoted than the typical comic writer.  No wonder all the cool artists want to work with him! [As an aside, let me say how annoying the naysayers are who say, “Yeah?  Well, Snyder’s comics are great, but he DOES work with nothing but the best artists!”  That makes it sound as if Snyder has either (a) hit the lottery of artist assignment over and over again or (b) that artists have no choice in who they choose to work with.  It’s a virtuous cycle: Snyder and great artists want to work together because they want a partner of comparable skill and level of devotion.  I guarantee you that if I started to write a comic, I would have exactly ZERO A-list artists wanting to work on the project because I’m not that good of a writer.]

Two or three cool twists at the end. –  SPOILERS…  Three… Two… One… Okay, how cool was it that Skinner is working with the Vassals?  Talk about strange bedfellows!  But then, history is FULL of stories of kinda-enemies coming together to deal with a greater threat.  It happened in WWII when the USA, Great Britain teamed up with the Soviet Union to fight the Axis.  Heck, it happened in The Hunger Games.  Nevertheless, I never saw this twist coming.  I wonder what Pearl’s role in this was (if anything) since the Vassals know about her?  Or is it just leftover from the Vassals/Skinner team up in WWII?  Of less import was the double cross on Travis by the young girl.  I guess it really doesn’t matter to the AV story longer term, but it was still really unexpected and the way Travis sniffed it out shows that he isn’t distracted by a pretty girl.  And the final twist was in the Epilogue….  Let’s just say that I doubt this long-term, well-developed character will go out in an Epilogue.  Will he become a vampire and if so, will he be an old-school vampire or an American Vampire?  It’d be kinda cool from a dramatic standpoint if he were old-school, right?

Great art (again). -What I LOVE about Albuquerque’s art is how raw he makes the vampires when they shift: elongated fingers, distorted faces, etc.  All these grotesque touches he adds to human anatomy really sell how monstrous the vampires are.  I know I’d run if one were after me.  Albuquerque also nails all the little storytelling elements too.  I’m so glad he’s doing a comic like this instead of having to water down his style to draw something like Avengers.

Digital vs. Print. – There must have been some shipping fiasco this week because my LCS didn’t have AV and I didn’t see it on the Diamond list when I made my pull list for the week.  So, I bought this title digitally.  I still like to get my Vertigo series in paper form because I enjoy having them in custom-bound hardcovers, but it was interesting to see how much better the art looked digitally than on the cheap paper that Vertigo has started to use for some titles.  Digitally, everything is just clear, crisp and tight.  The colors POP!  I don’t know how paper stock choices are made at Vertigo, but I’d much rather see this title printed on something better because the digital product looks so much better.

Conclusion: The AV team brings this arc to a rousing conclusion that is fun and adds to the AV mythos.  Nice job (again).

Grade: A

-Dean Stell

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