Blood Types

American Vampire #3

In 1925 Los Angeles, recently-minted vampire Pearl Jones visits her old roommate Hattie, warns her that she’s likely in danger, and tells her to move somewhere safe. The European vampires hiding out in Hollywood send a few vamps out to investigate Pearl’s old apartment, but Pearl ambushes ’em on the way and effortlessly takes ’em all down. But she also falls prey to one of her breed’s few weaknesses — she has to sleep on nights of the new moon, and that gives the Euro-vamps an edge over her. Meanwhile, in our prequel from 1909 Colorado, Skinner Sweet revives from his decades underwater and gets hit with a dose of future-shock — he doesn’t know what a movie is, what a telephone is, he complains constantly that the nearest town elected a Hispanic man as the mayor. And he wipes out most of the town and wires a telegram to the lawmen who captured and killed him, taunting them into returning to face him again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m really, really enjoying Pearl’s story. She makes a very appealing protagonist, and it’s fun watching her discover what she can do. Skinner Sweet is also a lot of fun, but I got pretty irritated about all the anti-Hispanic slurs he kept dropping. Yeah, yeah, it’s probably historically accurate — or at least as accurate as a story with vampires in the Wild West is ever going to get — but it does run afoul of one of writer Stephen King’s weaknesses — the guy just doesn’t do subtlety. It woulda been easy to communicate racism in the West in a line or two — no need to keep going back to that well over and over and over. This is probably a case where an editor should’ve tweaked things down a bit. Still, on the whole, I enjoyed the story, and I’m still recommending it highly, especially for all the fun in Pearl’s story.

Zatanna #1

Zatanna’s first-ever ongoing series starts off with a visit from a San Francisco police detective after one of Zee’s magic shows. He asks her to help investigate a murder scene — numerous mobsters gruesomely killed by magic. After she hypnotizes the lone witness to the crime, she’s able to see what he saw — a meeting of San Francisco’s organized crime leaders was invaded by a bunch of sorcerous gangsters looking to expand their business into the mundane world. The bad guys all seem to be new characters — the constantly grinning Brother Night, Romalthi, who can make people change shape, Ember, a dragon in human form, and Teddy, a very bad little boy. Zatanna makes her way to Brother Night’s mystical nightclub and confronts the baddies — she handles the henchmen pretty easily and warns Night to stay away from San Francisco. But Night has some more powerful allies he’s willing to bring forth…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Probably a good thing this is being written by Paul Dini, as he seems to be the biggest Zatanna fanboy in the universe — I mean, the guy went and married a magician who’s a dead ringer for Zatanna. We get a decent amount of magical mayhem and some very nasty new magical villains. And the artwork by Stephanie Roux and Karl Story is entirely excellent as well — equal parts cheesecake and horror, which is a pretty good mix for this type of comic. Superhero comics about magic-based characters seem to have an uphill climb (Anyone remember the fast fade “Shadowpact” pulled?), but I hope they can keep this title running for a while…

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