Thursday, January 3, 2013

American Vampire #34

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Rafael Albuquerque

When I heard that American Vampire was going to be going on hiatus following this issue, it didn't bother me one bit.  I'd really enjoyed the early days of this Vertigo series, but I'd felt that it was starting to lose its way a little bit, amid the spin-off mini-series, the arcs that introduced new characters who were never seen again, and the general decompression of the last story arc, which was wrapping up the arcs for many of the main characters.  I'd also felt that the book had kind of lost the edge that made it Vertigo in the first place.  I wasn't surprised by that - since this book debuted, writer Scott Snyder has become a bit of a golden boy at DC, and I wondered if among all his New 52 projects, he still had time for this title.

Then I read this issue, which I expected to be an epilogue, and now I really want more.  Where the last ten issues have felt a little bloated, this one is lean, mysterious, and dark, just like the early days of this series.  Gene Bunting, the new Bookkeeper for the Vassals of the Morning Star (the vampire- and monster-hunting organization that has featured prominently in this title) has travelled out to the middle of nowhere to find Abilena Book, the mother of Felicia Book, the new director of the VMS.  He believes that Abilena has some limited prophetic abilities, and he wants her to peer into the future to discover if the VMS needs to be concerned about someone called The Gray Trader.

It's been ages since we've seen Book in this series, and Bunting is a new character, but Snyder manages to develop them both very well in a short amount of space.  He also establishes this new threat very effectively, and reveals another secret about Book right at the very end that can be open to a few different interpretations.

Albuquerque has always done a wonderful job on this title, and this issue is no exception.  He also seems a little reinvigorated by the prospect of a new, darker storyline.  It's very nice to see that this book is getting back on track, and now I hope that the hiatus is not going to be a very long one.

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