Get Into American Vampire.
(AfroGamers.com) Vertigo Comics’ American Vampire puts the writing team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Rafael Albuquerque together for one hell of a vampire tale. The first issue dropped in 2010 and ran into 2012.
This story spans the ages starting around the Old West, bleeding into Golden Era Hollywood, and with part one ending with World War II. The comic introduces several characters such as Skinner Sweet, Pearl Jones, her husband Henry Preston, the twisted Hattie Hargrove, and Calvin Poole. It’s an easy to remember core cast with everyone but Hattie being central to the overall story.
About These “American Vampires”
The way the series explains vampirism is in strains based on geological location. European and Asiatic vampires are older strains and tend to be somewhat more beastial. The American vampires, popping up with Skinner Sweet being bitten and transformed are more reptilian.
As a matter of fact, they’re similar to the vampires in the From Dusk till Dawn franchise in appearance. These vampires are stronger in sunlight, weaker during a full moon, and can truly be killed with gold. Other than that, they have all the same traits and needs of folklore.
That brings us to how did the U.S. end up with its own strain of vampires? In American Vampire, rich Europeans came to the U.S. and headed to the West to invest in any number of ventures. They end up biting an outlaw by the name of Skinner Sweet, making him the first American vampire and causing the curse–or gift–of vampirism to evolve. This results in a stronger breed of vampire.
At the time the European vampires view American vampires as a mutts since the first was an outlaw. Skinner remains the only vampire of this breed until the 1920s when he meets Pearl Jones. When more than one American types pop, the European types begin to get worried as they are known to be a threat.
The Afro Gamers Reading Guide
So, if American Vampire seems interesting and you want to catch up, we’ve got a reading guide for the first half of part one. The first part runs for thirty-one issues and the series is pretty linear. It follows a chronological order from the 1920s for Pearl and the 1880s for Skinner then carries on into the 1950s or so.
Issues 1-5: Introductory issues with Skinner turning Pearl into a vampire. Pearl has to take out her former best friend who put her in a situation to be killed. Meanwhile Skinner Sweet is set for a showdown with his own former best friend Jim Booth who is aligning with Pearl’s best friend Hattie. Also introduced in the first five issues is Pearl’s future husband Henry Preston.
Issues 6-9: The “Devil In the Sand” arc with Skinner, Pearl, and Henry being in Arrowhead, California in 1936. Here, they run into a vampire hunting group called Vassels of the Morning Star. In Las Vegas, Skinner deals with a hunter of his own as well as a long-extinct vampire breed.
Issues 10-12: The first two is a side two-parter focused on round two of Pearl vs. Hattie. Henry is injured as Hattie tracks them down to destroy the life they’re trying to make. While Hattie is eventually defeated, there’s the long question between Pearl and Henry about him not drinking her blood to turn into a vampire. This little two-parter was actually very good. The twelfth issue is a standalone with Skinner set in 1924 and killing off a Wild West show of hasbeens.
Issues 13-18: The “Ghost War” story arc, American Vampire’s second “epic” storyline and third story arc. It takes place in the Pacific during World War II and has an aging Henry Preston in the same unit as Skinner Sweet and a new friend in Calvin Poole. Pearl is also stationed on base and the four of them would run into a fearsome threat in the Pacific vampires! This all overlaps with a big plan to win a major battle for the Allies. Of the story arcs, this was the best purely because of the scale of the story and what it would lead to in the next decade.
It seems like a lot in just eighteen issues but like I said, it’s a linear series. You won’t have to collect other books to keep up with stories interweaving in other series. Drop in next time when we finish off this first series in American Vampire.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.