Archive for American Vampire

Lady Sings the Blues


The Wicked + the Divine #13

We finally get to meet the elusive and mysterious Tara. So far, she has the most detailed — and ironic — backstory of any of the gods. She was once a beautiful college student, frustrated that her true talents as a musician and fashion designer were ignored because she was so attractive. Tired of getting unearned accolades based solely on her looks, she took to performing her music in mostly empty bars while wearing a mask. And then, once she’s turned into a god, she’s stuck in the same trap. She’s beloved for her looks and for her magical concerts — but the minute she brings out her mask and acoustic guitar to play the songs she wrote when she was in college, the crowds turn on her. She doesn’t even know which of the various divine Taras from different world cultures she may be. She’s frustrated with her divine life, frustrated with her fellow gods, frustrated with the hate heaped on her in social media for not being the right kind of celebrity. But Inanke has a way out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tara is a thoroughly wonderful character, and her story is a great study on unwelcomed celebrity. And Inanke is getting more and more dislikeable by the second, if that’s possible. The guest artist in this issue is Tula Lotay — her art has a high-fashion look about it, which makes it very appropriate for a comic about appearance and celebrity culture.


American Vampire: Second Cycle #9

It’s 1965, and Skinner Sweet and Calvin Poole are traveling on a secret mission to space, trying to keep the Gray Trader from ending the world, all while Skinner tries to fight off the Trader’s control. Meanwhile, Pearl Jones and Felicia Book are imprisoned in Area 51, betrayed by their military contact in the Vassals of the Morning Star because he thinks the Trader is about to win, and he wants to be on the winning side for once. Is there any way for everyone to get out with their skins intact?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story, excellent art. Don’t know when the next issue of this one is coming out — but I hope they don’t delay too long.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

I Would Die 4 U


The Wicked + the Divine #12

The world is in turmoil because Baphomet has apparently killed Inanna — and then committed another murder of a family in London. (We know the second one isn’t true — but any more details would spoil last issue, and it was so good, I’m not willing to do that yet.) (And in fact, I’ve got my doubts about the first. Everyone assumes that Inanna is dead — but his look is based on Prince, and there ain’t no way His Purple Badness dies offscreen.)

Anyway, in this issue, we follow a filmmaker named Beth and her team of assistants — all similar to Cassandra, and in fact, Beth used to work for Cassandra before she got fired. Anyway, Beth is trying to make a film about the gods, but she’s got no documentary footage she’s happy with. While getting B-roll footage of mourning crowds at Inanna’s house, Beth encounters Baal and persuades him to give her an exclusive interview about Inanna in exchange for helping him find the Morrigan, who could lead him to Baphomet. There’s a huge fight that only ends when Woden makes the scene to drag the combatants away.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Although the main thing I dislike about the issue is a major turnoff — guest artist Kate Brown is an excellent artist, but she just doesn’t seem to fit this series. As if to play that up, there’s a brief one-page interlude inside the back cover that’s drawn by regular artist Jamie McKelvie — it’s a lot more resonant with the series than Brown’s more cartoony style.


American Vampire: Second Cycle #8

Skinner Sweet has been corrupted by the Gray Trader into one of his super-vampires — but his stubbornness and sheer cussedness lets him throw off his monsterizing influence and revert to normal. Now the only way to keep him from turning into a monster again is to keep him week by giving him an IV of gold — the only substance harmful to the American breed of vampires. And now he has to go up in the spacecraft to help sabotage Sputnik, because there’s no one left but him. Meanwhile, Pearl Jones and Felicia Book are traveling underground — literally — in an attempt to infiltrate the base before the Trader’s forces can get there.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Things ain’t quite as horror-tastic as they were back in the day, but it’s cool that Snyder and Albuquerque can still pop out a panel out of nowhere that’ll give you a nice little shiver of fear.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Hey, first things first — I won’t be posting again ’til this Friday. I’ve got a minor medical procedure to get taken care of this week, and I’m gonna give myself a few days to get over that before I try blogging on a schedule.
  • Comic cover artist Arthur Suydam appears to be a bit of a jackhole.
  • Legitimately sad article on delusional people who think they have pregnancies that no one else is able to detect.
  • Meet Killer Mike: rapper, community advocate, entrepreneur, and a man who scares the holy howling heck out of Fox News.

Comments off

Horror in Space


Nameless #1

Seems like it’s been a while since we saw Grant Morrison do a straight horror comic, and that’s what he’s got for us now, with Chris Burnham contributing the artwork. We’re looking at a pre-apocalyptic world, where cult symbols and dream horrors are bringing about murders and suicides as some people slowly grasp that something monstrous is on the way. Our lead character is a man called Nameless — he’s given up his real name so no one can get magical power over him. He specializes in invading dreams and stealing things inside — and he’s got his sights on a special Dream Key, which is guarded by the ominous Veiled Lady and her minions in anglerfish masks. He evades them, he gets captured, he evades them and gets recaptured, and when he finally gets away and turns in a 3d-printable design of the Dream Key, he meets his benefactor and learns what this is all about: Earth has one month to live, and Nameless has to become a mystic astronaut to help prevent it.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful, weird, disturbing, fun stuff. Burnham’s art is fantastic, and Morrison turns in one heck of a mind-tripping horror story…


American Vampire: Second Cycle #6

Pearl Jones, Skinner Sweet, and Calvin Poole head for the last known hideout of the Vassals of the Morning Star, but get ambushed and captured by a trio of exotic vampires who bring them to meet the Vassals. Our heroes tell them they’ve met the Gray Trader, and the Vassals reveal that the Trader used to be called the Great Traitor — a human hero who joined the most evil of the vampires to become its protector and agent. The Russians know the Trader’s master, the Beast, is about to emerge and make war on the living world, and they’re willing to start dropping nukes to get rid of him. Are the American vampires willing to go into space to save the world? Or has the Beast already infiltrated the Vassals?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Ahh, I had missed this series more than I expected. We’ve got excellent art and writing, fun action, seriously spooky backstories for the bad guys — and it’s gonna be fun to see our vamps riding a rocket into space, ain’t it?

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Down in the Dark


American Vampire: Second Cycle #5

We get a single-issue flashback 1954 in the Nevada desert. A researcher for the vampire-hunting Vassals of the Morning Star is searching for an old mining claim known as the Royal Forkes drift claim. He’d read an old journal written by a miner that referenced the claim. As the researcher looks for, finds, and descends into the old claim, we get to read the miner’s journal, as he and a friend sign on for a claim where they’re being paid a (for the time) very generous dollar per day. But the site is extremely odd. The other miners are unusually quiet, unlike the boisterous, noisy, drunken miners at other claims. The dig site is merely digging straight down into the earth, not bringing up any minerals — and in fact, bypassing veins of silver — and the foreman’s tent is tall and black, and terrible screams are heard from it every night. Did the miners ever manage to escape? And what will the researcher find at the bottom of the hole?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is the most frightening comic I’ve read in several years. I am not kidding. I am not kidding one bit. I really don’t remember the last time I was genuinely scared reading a comic book, but this one definitely did it for me. You want a little dose of pre-Halloween scares? Go get this comic. Go get it. Go get it.


Rat Queens #8

Hey, it’s another flashback issue, this time focusing on dwarven warrior Violet, back when she was a dutiful — and bearded — daughter, modeling her family’s armor at the annual trade show while her brother gets to take part in the battle tourney. But Violet discovers something new and exciting — a dwarven woman is participating in the tournament — a woman who’s shaved her beard off! And she even wins the tournament! How will her example inspire Violet?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a really fun issue, with lots of humor, action, drama, and fantastic characterization. Violet has always been kinda a background character in the series — not as loony or hipster as the other characters, and in a lot of ways the most traditional fantasy archetype in the series. It’s great to get a focus on her so we can see what sets her apart and makes her unique.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Rocket to Heaven


Rocket Girl #5

The cops are closing in on Dayoung Johansson, but the citizens of 1986 New York help hide her by disguising her with contemporary fashions. Meanwhile, one of the ’86 cops meets up with one of the 2013 Quintum Mechanics security goons — and they’re exactly the same person. But why can’t the future version remember ever meeting himself in the past? Meanwhile, in the futuristic 2013, Quintum Mechanics is making its bid to take over everything by dispanding the Teen Police and ordering a city-wide curfew. Is there going to be a way to disrupt the power play from the past? And what will it mean for the future?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Amy Reeder and a cool ending (or maybe a sorta-maybe ending) from Brandon Montclare. I absolutely love Reeder’s facial expressions and body language, and I really hope this series will continue.


American Vampire: Second Cycle #3

Pearl’s new refugee recruit, May, is a vampire who’s been vampirized by the Gray Trader, and it’s turned her into a gigantic monster with vampiric mouths opening up all over her body. Pearl and the kids are rescued, barely, by Skinner Sweet, who’s had his own harrowing close encounter with the Trader. And Pearl also encounters her late beloved Henry — but of course, it’s not really Henry — it’s the Trader himself. What does he want? Can anything stop him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Deeply nerve-wracking horror coupled with Rafael Albuquerque’s always-amazing art. Anything that scares the crap out of Skinner Sweet has got to be uncommonly bad news.


Ghosted #10

Nina Blood Crow has been taken over by a monstrous bird spirit and is gonna kill the heck out of everyone except Jackson and Trick, who are going to sneak out — until Trick shames Jackson into trying to make things right. He releases the other possessed women from their prisons and throws the mad cult leader into the fire — but can he stop Nina from killing him? What kind of sacrifice will be made to see everything made right? And what new band of villains has Jackson in their sights now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice ending to this storyarc — maybe not as much spooky stuff, but plenty of action and betrayals and revelations. And the cliffhanger promises some more wonderful ghosty stuff to come.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Devil in Disguise


A Voice in the Dark #6

Zoey has decided that she really wants to kill someone again, and she’s settled on manipulative sorority queen Mandy Jenkins as the target, because she’d tried to expel her friend Ash and considered charging Zoey with assault. So Zoey has to start spying on Mandy, trying to discover a time when she’d be by herself for long enough to get the murder done. Unfortunately, Mandy is very rarely alone — and worse, Zoey doesn’t know the layout of her house, so she doesn’t know the best way in and out. She hits on the idea to disguise herself for Halloween and attend Mandy’s party to scope out the entrances and exits. She meets a mysterious friend in a hockey mask — and discovers a very good reason to add Mandy’s boyfriend to her hit list.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a bit of a tense story, with some great dialogue and some seriously no-fun situations. If you’ve got problems with depictions of an attempted rape, you may want to pass on this one.


American Vampire: Second Cycle #2

Calvin Poole offers Pearl a position in the Vassals of the Morning Star, warning her that serious crises are on the horizon. And he’s right — the Gray Trader, an impossibly powerful and evil vampire. It’s coming for Pearl’s neighbors, it’s coming for Calvin, and it’s coming for Pearl and her young charges, too.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The first serious look we get of the Gray Trader, after a fairly long period of buildup — and it definitely does not disappoint. It’s monstrous and creepy at the same time, which is a very nice trick.

Comments off

Back for More Blood


American Vampire: Second Cycle #1

American Vampire is back? Yes! American Vampire is back!

We quickly get re-acquainted with our main characters. It’s 1965, and Pearl Jones is running a secret underground railroad in Kansas for refugee children. And Skinner Sweet is hijacking illegal arms shipments on the Mexican border. Of course, they’ve got their own little vampire twists on their new vocations. Skinner uses his ability to survive stuff other people can’t to take out the competition. And Pearl’s refugees are all different species of vampires. But something big and scary is on the horizon — something scary even for vampires — the Gray Trader is coming.

Verdict: Thumbs up. So glad to see American Vampire back on the stands — and especially glad to see that it’s still absolutely glorious, non-glittery horror. If you ain’t been reading this title before, I gotta assume you just don’t enjoy horror. For the rest of you, time to get back aboard the train.


The Witcher #1

If any of y’all have played the “Witcher” computer game, you’re probably pretty familiar with our setting and main character. We’re in a generic European medieval fantasy setting, and our hero is Geralt, a witcher, or supernaturally-powered monster hunter. He encounters a lonely hunter named Jakob, who reveals that his wife is dead — but she watches him from a nearby hilltop. She’d been turned into a vampire, but had thus far been unwilling to attack her husband. Jakob is hoping to leave his old life — and his monstrous wife — behind, and Geralt agrees to help guide him through the Black Forest. But there are things much worse than vampires in the forest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not expecting much from a video game adaptation? Hah! It’s written by the always awesome Paul Tobin, fools! Of course it’s wonderful! Seriously, the mood is wonderfully grim and claustrophobic. Not a lot of outright scares yet, but the mood promises some really wonderful stuff ahead.


Ghosted #8

Jackson Winters has been captured by the Brotherhood of the Closed Book, but they realize he’s haunted by literal ghosts, which gets him special treatment beyond just torturing him or throwing him to monsters in the dark. Their leader shows him their operation — they bring in girls who’ve been possessed by ghosts and set them to work transcribing the spellbooks imprinted on their souls. Is there a way for Jackson to escape the Brotherhood’s clutches and liberate the girl he’s been sent to steal? And just how many ghosts is he going to have to fight his way through?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So wonderfully weird. The Brotherhood is amazingly creepy, from their eyeless priests, drooling ghost secretaries, and bird-headed demons. And as always, Jackson keeps finding himself in deeper and deeper trouble.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Anthologies of Interest

Two nice little anthologies came out this week. Let’s take a look at ’em.


American Vampire Anthology #1

Well, obviously, it’s a collection of short stories, all set in the “American Vampire” universe, focusing on characters like Skinner Sweet and Hattie Hargrove, along with plenty of new victims and monsters. The creators in this one include Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Jason Aaron, Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, Becky Cloonan, Francesco Francavilla, Greg Rucka, J.P. Leon, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Gail Simone, and plenty of others.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s not a single bad story in this entire anthology. That isn’t something you can say very often about anthologies. But everything in here works. Some of it is pretty gut-wrenching, even if the gore isn’t very heavy. But if you’re familiar with American Vampire, you knew that already. At any rate, this is definitely worth picking up.


Batman Inc. Special #1

Once again, a collection of stories, all focused on the members of Batman Inc. Batman Japan and Canary take on a metahuman organ harvester; the Squire slowly recovers from the death of the Knight and the end of Batman Inc.; Raven Red engages in a high-speed, high-rise pursuit and tries to talk down a man who may be contemplating suicide; Nightrunner, Dark Ranger, and el Gaucho battle a zombie master and a city full of his mind-controlled minions; and Bat-Cow stops some thrill-riding kidnappers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all pretty good. I really, really enjoyed the story with the Squire — Beryl is one of my favorite characters, and it’s a pity that she isn’t used more often. The story in Japan is pretty good, too. The only one that really falls down is the Bat-Cow story, which you’d think I’d love… but it was written by Dan DiDio, and there’s just no good reason to let that guy write comic books.

Comments off

Blood and Thunder


American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell

A new American Vampire comic! After much too many months since the hiatus began, too. I consider this a good thing, even if it’s just a one-shot.

It’s 1959. The guy on the cover is Travis Kidd, a vampire hunter who likes to wear a set of wooden fangs so he can “bite them back” before he kills vamps. But our main characters are Billy Bob Lee and Jolene Gibbons, a couple of hip kids who make their money going to dances in Nebraska and heisting wallets when no one’s looking. But they run into serious trouble one night when they both get attacked by the undead and turned into vampires. The local vamps want Billy Bob and Jolene to work for them as thieves, but they manage to escape, eventually picking up a little kid, an orphaned hitchhiker named Jasper who claims to be able to sense evil people. They bring him along so they can use him to find people they won’t mind killing, while racing to Las Vegas to find a rumor they’ve heard about a cure for vampirism. Can they manage to survive Travis Kidd? Will they make it to Vegas?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very nice. Yeah, it’s extra large and it costs seven dollars, but I think this one is worth it. It’s a great story by Scott Snyder with great art by Rafael Albuquerque. It’s got great characters and action and dialogue and mood and suspense and romance and horror. You want to go pick this up, kids. Don’t miss out on the fun.


Freelancers #6

The final issue of the series sees Val, Cass and Katherine Rushmore fighting against almost all the gangs in Los Angeles to try to bring Drachmann, one of their former teachers at the orphanage, to justice. Can they handle overwhelming odds, betrayals, torn clothing, and inadequate weaponry to come out on top?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mostly action, action, action, but it seems like the right ending for the series, which has worked really hard from the beginning to replicate your average high-octane action movie.


Worlds’ Finest #13

Huntress and Power Girl are on the run from Desaad’s minions, particularly his giant quasi-dog monster. Aaaaand that’s pretty much it.

Verdict: Thumbs down. So very not interesting.

Comments (2)

Blood Blooms


American Vampire #34

This is the final issue of this series… at least for a while. It’s going on a hiatus for a few months so writer Scott Snyder can work on a Superman comic. To which I say Bah. BAH! Right now, any American Vampire comic is more important than any Superman comic.

Anyway, this issue is set several years after the previous issue, as Abilena Book, former agent of the Vassals of the Morning Star, living incognito in New Mexico, gets a visit from Gene Hunting, nephew of Will Hunting, the bookkeeper (not an accountant, more of a historian) for the current Vassals group. They don’t particularly hit it off, at least not initially. Gene needs information about the future, and Abilena has become something of a fortuneteller after an encounter years ago with an exotic snake-like vampire. Gene needs to learn about someone ominously called the Gray Trader, but Abilena tells him she won’t be able to help him. And Gene may not survive to the end of the story anyway…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Obviously a place-saver and teaser for whatever will come after the comic’s hiatus. Still, it’s tantalizing, suspenseful, fairly action-packed, and pretty darn scary, too. I hope the next few months pass quickly so I can get back to enjoying this brilliant comic again.


The Hypernaturals #7

Much of our focus is on the galactic supervillain Sublime. Among other things, we learn his origin, which is suitably horrifying and tragic, and we begin to get some hints about how he thinks he can solve the question of what happened to the previous Hypernaturals team and how to fix the Chernovski situation. Can his plans be trusted? Do they dare recreate Chernovski? And is Sublime’s even more evil twin thinking several levels ahead of all of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wild, crazy, brain-expanding sci-fi superheroics with a heavy dose of action and characterization. These are all good things and something we should all want to see a lot more of. Keep your fingers crossed that this one enjoys a proper level of success.

Comments off