AMERICAN VAMPIRE VOL. 5 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dustin Nguyen – a Review

Like the last volume, the latest installment of the American Vampire series is broken into two parts. The first, Lord of Nightmares, involves Linden Hobbes and Felicia Book going after Dracula. The second involves Pearl Preston (nee Jones) and Skinner Sweet taking out a L.A.-based coven of vampires. While the first part is not without its moments, it is the weaker of the two. On the other hand, the second part, and the epilogue (“The Gray Trader”), not only shine, but also set the stage for the next wave in the American Vampire series. Given that the series is going on hiatus (unfortunately), it makes sense to think of Volume 5 as a season finale.

REVIEW IS SPOILER-FREE. PERHAPS VAGUE, BUT SPOILER-FREE.

Regarding the Lord of Nightmares issues, bringing in Dracula is always going to be a tricky scenario, if not a no-win one. Much time is spent building Dracula up into this all-powerful, mega-vampire capable of destroying the world. And yet, the conclusion doesn’t live up to hype, so that’s a little disappointing. However, the story arc does have good moments. First, Felicia Book comes back into the story in a big way. Second, readers are introduced to The Council–a group of vampires (most the last of their kind) who live in hiding, but work together to fight a specific kind of vampires. The future relationship between the Vassals of the Morning Star could have big consequences in the next “season” of American Vampire.

As for the second part, Pearl is back with the VMS after vampires attack her husband, Henry. This time, she’s teamed up with Skinner Sweet, who’s joined up with the VMS after being tamed/neutered/blackmailed. I am always excited to see Pearl back in action, so I’m glad she’s more of a presence in this volume. I’m also a big fan of Sweet, when he’s the remorseless, badass killer. Thanks to the VMS’s control, Sweet isn’t that same killer. And speaking of that device, not only is it a little cheesy, but it also doesn’t live up its own rules. However, all that being said, this volume leaves both Pearl and Sweet in very interesting positions. I’ll be excited to catch up with them after the hiatus.

Lastly, the epilogue brings back an important character–Abilena Book–and introduces a new character, “The Gray Trader,” who looks very intriguing and creepy. It also gives readers a few glimpses into the future of the series as well as a brief hint about someone special hiding out with Book.

I also want to highlight the artwork of Albuquerque and Nguyen. Even just flipping rapidly through the book, you get a sense of the wide-ranging palette they used in these issues. Watching the colors change from cool to warm, and seeing the characters change from ink sketches to softer water color is impressive. the fight scenes are violent and vicious. And Albuquerque and Nguyen have a knack for creating powerful, sexy monsters.

Once again, Snyder and crew have put together a volume that shouldn’t be missed. This is a fun, exciting, dynamic series, despite the faults I mentioned above. I can’t wait for the hiatus to end.