Blood on the Streets

American Vampire #2

Both of our linked stories in this issue focus on our heroes’ transitions from humans to the undead. In 1926, Pearl Jones dies in the hospital after getting attacked by a bunch of Hollywood vamps and wakes up only to learn from Skinner Sweet that she is, like him, a new kind of vampire, an evolutionary step up from the ones who created her. What can she do? Other than survive in the sunlight, Skinner keeps that a secret from Pearl — but he does leave her a gift — the handsome Hollywood actor who lured her to the vampires in the first place. The second story, written by Stephen King, is set in the last years of the Wild West. Notorious outlaw Skinner Sweet has been gunned down by the law — but only after contact with a vampire’s blood. Now Skinner’s in an uncomfortable spot for a vampire — buried underground, unable to get out — and a few years later, after the vampire businessmen dam up the river, under an extra 60 feet of water. How can even the undead survive a couple decades in those conditions?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh mercy, thumbs up. Both of the stories are wonderful horror romps, and as much fun as the first issue was, this second issue makes it clear that this series is gonna be a must-buy. Let’s talk art — Rafael Albuquerque adapts his familiar superhero style very well to the world of vampires — our first glimpses of Pearl and Skinner in full bloodsucker glory are just awesome. And the look of the artwork actually changes from the story in the ’20s to the one in the Old West, credit to both Albuquerque and colorist Dave McCaig.

B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #4

The King of Fear, a skull-faced, semi-mechanical, black-glowing wannabe-world conqueror, has Abe Sapien, Andrew Devon, and their team of B.P.R.D. operatives trapped underground, surrounded by frogs and proto-humans and giant robots, as the King makes his plans to destroy the world and present it, wrapped up in a bow, to Abe, who he sees as the next stage in the evolution of life. Meanwhile, Liz Sherman has been taken into a vision of the apocalyptic future by the ghost of Memnan Saa. Is there anyone left who can save everyone?

Verdict: I’m gonna have to thumbs this one down — and for a second issue in a row! As I’ve said before, this series has gone on for so long now that we need a lot more detailed recaps of what’s happening and who all the players are — and not just the heroes, but the villains, too. Other than that, the story seems straightforward and credible… or at least as far as I know, since I can’t remember who all the villains are…

Crossed: Family Values #1

Here’s a new series set in the “Crossed” universe, this time starting at the same time as the initial outbreak of the insanely homicidal super-virus. Our lead character now is Adaline Pratt, eldest daughter of a very large and very wealthy horse-ranching family. It seems like a fairly happy life — except that dad is an authoritarian rageoholic with a fondness for child abuse and molestation. So, ya know, not so much of an idyllic existence and more of a barely-suppressed domestic hell on the verge of exploding. And that’s even before the army of virus-driven psycho killers show up and try to kill everyone at the ranch…

Verdict: Ya know, I’m really not sure yet. I like Adaline as a character, but when the leader of the survivors is a moral monster like Joe Pratt, you’ve got the potential for a really deeply unpleasant story ahead of you. I’ll need another issue or two before I’ll be able to decide whether or not I want to deal with it.

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