A while back I read the first volume of this graphic novel horror/historical fiction series, which, as you may recall, was co-authored by Stephen King. Creator Scott Snyder is on his own this time, and I think the book is better for it. The parallel storylines that King and Snyder came up with for the first volume were a little bit confusing. AMERICAN VAMPIRE, VOLUME 2 offers two separate stories that are more straightforward but just as entertaining.
The first one, “Devil in the Sand”, is set in Las Vegas in 1936 and is as much a hardboiled crime story as it is a vampire yarn. The protagonist is the tough local chief of police, who is trying to live up to the legacy of his father, who was the previous chief. When several rich local businessmen are murdered and some mysterious people who claim to be federal agents but maybe aren’t show up in town, he’s got his hands full trying to stay alive and straighten everything out. Skinner Sweet, the so-called American Vampire who is a new breed of bloodsucker not bothered by the sun, is on hand, too, and is still really evil. The four-part “Devil in the Sand” is a spectacular tale that would make a great, if bloody, movie. “The Way Out”, the two-parter that fills up the rest of the volume, is a fairly minor piece concerning the back-story of some of the characters, but it’s also entertaining and does a good job of capturing the Depression-era atmosphere. It also serves to set up some storylines that will probably be important in the next volume, which is set during World War II.
Snyder’s scripts are tough and well-written, blending introspection, gory action, and historical backgrounds. I’m not as fond of the art by Rafael Albuquerque and Mateos Santolouco, but it’s okay. I had to look back at too many panels to figure out what was going on, which always bothers me. But the art is atmospheric and creepy as all get-out at times, so I’ll give it credit for that.
These are really nice volumes, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Snyder comes up with next. If you’re a fan of vampire fiction, you really should check out AMERICAN VAMPIRE.