The Blood is the Life

American Vampire #5

New vampire Pearl Jones and her non-vampire friend Henry bring the fight to the Euro-vamps who’ve taken over Hollywood and take ’em down without too much trouble. But Pearl has one last score to settle — Hattie Hargrove, her former friend who sold her out to become a movie star. But Pearl gets a rude surprise — Hattie used Pearl’s blood to turn herself into a vampire! Who wins out when American-born vampire fights American-born vampire? And in our Old West story, written, as always, by Stephen King, former Pinkerton agent James Book has been turned into a vampire by Skinner Sweet, and he’s trying to control his ever-growing bloodlust by sticking to eating sheep and prairie dogs. He finally convinces Abilena Camillo, daughter of his oldest friend, to kill him, but Abi’s fallen in love with him, and she wants something from him first.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent horror storytelling all around. Loved the reveal about Hattie, loved the hints about one of Pearl’s still-unrevealed weaknesses, loved every single appearance of Skinner Sweet, loved the reluctant and still a little creepy love story between James Book and Abi. Good stories, nice endings for the first storyarcs, and I’m definitely looking forward to more.

Madame Xanadu #25

I think Matt Wagner has been watching a lot of “Mad Men” lately. This latest issue is set in ’63 and focuses on a fast-talking Madison Avenue advertising salesman, pitching new ad campaigns to big companies in New York City. But he’s starting to hear voices. Specifically, he’s starting to hear people telling him terrible things, trying to goad him into attacking and killing them. He soon meets up with Madame Xanadu, who tells him that he’s being haunted by an evil spirit that exists to make people go mad and commit murders and other atrocities. She offers a magical rattle he can use to fend off the spirit, but he balks at the idea of waving a rattle around his office. Is there any way to help him if he won’t accept mystical aid?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Laurenn McCubbin‘s art works very well for the early ’60s setting. It doesn’t have the more upbeat ending that we often see in this series, but it has a realistic feel to it — in the modern, rational world, how many people would choose to be driven mad by a demon if the alternative was for their coworkers to think they were nuts for waving a rattle around the office…?

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