This month’s issue of American Vampire opens with a touching scene of a boy looking for a home. In a fascinating glimpse into history, an orphan train rolls into Las Vegas all the way from New York City. The children still on the train are the ones who have not been selected in any other city in between. When Cash, the lead character as a child, is finally selected for adoption, you empathize with him and cheer for him.
Cash’s poignant memory makes the consequences of the rest of the issue all the more horrifying. Great horror stories give you someone to care about, and those stories then put those beloved characters in awful situations. It’s fairly simple to create a unique form of torture for the hero or to allow a character’s house to burn down with his or her family inside. The question is, do you, the reader, care? Sure we all want to seem like we’re decent people with basic compassion, but we simply do not feel the sorrow of a character we have not emotionally invested in.
Writer Scott Snyder knows how to make you care for his characters before he unravels them, and he carries the threats of harm to family throughout this issue. As a father, I had that sinking feeling in my gut when Cash asks his pregnant wife, “Are you okay?” She replies, “No… something’s wrong!” I’ve faced those moments, and they are scary enough in a world without vampires. Snyder translates that fear onto the page and amps it up in a world with literal monsters.
Rafael Albuquerque’s art continues to be a showcase of raw action and emotion. The loose, jagged lines are dynamic enough to make the gory fight scenes jump off the page. The combination of ink and color splatters creates a visceral reading experience.
American Vampire has become one of my “can’t miss” series on the shelves now, and the “Devil in the Sand” storyline is going to be a fantastic read in trade.