AMERICAN VAMPIRE VOL. 4 isn’t the best in the series, but it gives fans plenty of meaty material to sink their teeth into (terrible pun completely intended). This volume of American Vampire is divided into two portions. The first takes place in the 1800s during the Indian Wars, and the second portion takes place during the 1950s. It’s a Skinner Sweet-heavy volume, which is great, because Skinner is such a fun character (and by fun, I mean evil and terrible. But the worst villains make the best characters). Pearl barely makes an appearance, which is a fault in my opinion, but that speaks to the quality of Snyder’s and Albuquerque’s work–I get upset because they have not given me enough awesomeness.
The first story takes place before Skinner was turned into a vampire. He’s in the US Army, fighting the Indian Wars, along side his best friend, James Book. This portion gives readers some great backstory on Skinner and how he has always been a monster of one sort or another, even as a boy. It also hints at other types of vampires running around the American West.
The second portion has two protagonists. The first is Travis Kidd: teenager, greaser, vampire hunter. Another badass in a world that seems to be lousy with them, Travis is obsessed with killing vampires because they killed his family. But Travis has a sense of style. He has to do it his own way, outside of the Vassals of the Morning Star, as much as they would love to have him as a new recruit. He’s a smart, vicious, and capable guy. I hope this isn’t the last time we see him. Oh, and Travis’s story offers readers just a hint about the big things that happened between the Vassals and Skinner after Volume 3. I hope we get to learn more about that.
The second protagonist is Calvin Poole, last seen as part of the secret group the Vassals sent to the Pacific during WW2 (i.e., Volume 3). While investigating rumors of new vampires, he was infected with Pearl’s vampiric blood. 10 years later, he’s now a vampire, but working for the Vassals, still searching for new strains of vampires, while also learning what it means to sacrifice everything to be a member of the Vassals. But what’s great about the one-two punch that is the stories of Kidd and Poole is that people–just everyday, non-Vassal people–are fighting back against the vampires. They are learning, adapting, and maybe even scoring a win here and there.
Like I said earlier, this wasn’t my favorite volume in the American Vampire series, but that’s really because the other volumes set such a high bar. I wasn’t as engaged by the plots as I was in earlier American Vampire volumes. They were good, but not great. And even as I write that, I feel like I’m splitting hairs. Kidd’s story was the best in this volume, and there was a big reveal and some hints at great things to come. I just wish a couple of those big moments could have happened in Volume 4.
That being said, I love Snyder’s writing as well as Albuquerque’s and Bernet’s artwork. I’ll be a fan of their across all their projects. I can’t wait to see what they do next, in the American Vampire series and beyond.