Skinner Sweet, former hellion on horseback, is now hellion on wheels as he hunts down bad guys along the border. Pearl Jones, former aspiring actress, is now acting like a mother hen, gathering up orphaned vampire children. She lives in a comfy homestead, he lives in a train car buried in the desert. He also talks to a skeleton named Kitty. It's been a long haul since Sweet stopped being so sour and turned nice, so he's entitled to a few eccentricities.
Issue one of American Vampire, Second Cycle, starts off with a hint at dangerous things doing a lot of killing in the Mexican territory of Arizona in 1811, and leaves off with another hint that those things are still around in 1965, and have moved into the vicinity of Juarez. Pearl's newly-found orphan, May, has a large bite mark not even Pearl has seen before. When asked about it, May says cryptically "The Gray Trader." I hate prescient kids mouthing cryptic words. They're creepy little bastards who know and don't tell, but they're quick to tell you you're going to die, but don't press for any more useful information because this is only the first issue.
I expect Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque to reveal more in the upcoming issues, but this first one ably delivers the mystery and the menace to set up the coming action, flowing them across great-looking panels and well-balanced talk versus silence. Snyder has a knack for concise writing that blends expositive and persuasive words easily with well-placed cussing, making his vampire lore a compelling mix between the classic Gothic overbite, a 30 Days of Night viciousness, and an American Gothic mood sweeping across his time-periods. Albuquerque captures it, embellishes it, and refines it. His art isn't very detailed, but he energetically zooms in and out and creates a tense forward motion linking through every panel from first to last. He's one artist who zings with the right colorist because he leaves room for its vibrancy and shadowing. Dave McCaig knows how to take advantage of that room.
DC Comics provided a courtesy copy for this review.
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