Review: American Vampire Anthology #1

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american vampire coverThe first anthology for American Vampire from Scott Snyder hit comic book shops yesterday. Snyder assembled comics’ best and brightest to tell a few short stories in his American Vampire world. It’s a long list, but we’re going to give everyone their credit. The writers: Snyder, Jason Aaron, Rafael Albuquerque, Jeff Lemire, Becky Cloonan, Francesco Francavilla, Gail Simone, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, and Greg Rucka. The artists: Albuquerque, Declan Shalvey, Ivo Milazzo, Ray Fawkes, Cloonan, Francavilla, Tula Lotay, Ba and Moon, and JP Leon. Dave McCaig and Jordie Bellaire handled colors for the various stories. With 9 stories and an $8 price tag, is American Vampire Anthology #1 worth picking up?

Snyder and Albuquerque bookend the anthology with a story about Skinner Sweet stopping at a diner in New Mexico to get a licorice cake. Skinner is monologuing about the importance of stories and how there was a time when he wanted everyone to tell stories about him, to talk about how imposing of a figure he was. He wanted his reputation to precede him. When he’s attacked at the diner, he finishes by saying he’s listening now. This sets up the 8 stories that follow. I won’t give a blow-by-blow account of them all, but they span from 1588 to the 1940s. We have twisted vampire tales about the lost colony, a Canadian bounty hunter and vampire fur trappers, Skinner’s first brush with Hollywood, and the seedy underbelly of a Jazz club. Not only do we explore the history of Snyder’s vampires, but we get a look at some American historical events. It makes for some pulse-pounding entertainment from the undead as well as great commentary about America’s past. Each story is just as impressive as the last. With names like Aaron, Lemire, Cloonana, Francavilla, and Simone getting to play in Scott Snyder’s Vampire toy box, you know good things are bound to happen.

This anthology is the ultimate sampler platter. Each story is an independent look at the world Snyder has created, but each one could be expanded into its own miniseries and still feel perfectly natural. It’s rare that every story in an anthology is strong, but American Vampire pulls it off. There isn’t a run in the bunch, and each artists is perfectly paired with a writer to top it all off. The styles vary drastically from story to story, but each seems to fit flawlessly with the story being told.

This review is a little more vague than usual, but it’s because you deserve to go into the anthology completely fresh. Whether you’ve read every single issue of American Vampire or this is your first time stepping into the world, there’s something here for you. I’ve occasionally journeyed to this corner of the Vertigo universe, but this anthology featuring a murderers’ row of writers and artists make me want to go back and read it all. 5/5

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