American Vampire Volume II Review

The all American vampire returns in this blood-soaked instalment, but is it just as sweet as its predecessor?

The city that never sleeps is going to need some rest after he's through with it

American Vampire Volume I was the perfect resurrection of the vampire genre. It mixed equal parts lore with intrigue and a great historical backdrop. After devouring the first instalment I wondered how Scott Snyder would develop this series moving forward. With Stephen King helping for only the first five issues, Snyder would be working solo — a daunting task especially after such a strong beginning. However, I should not have worried for Volume II is just as action packed and bloody as the first one.

American Vampire Volume II picks up approximately eleven years after the events in part one. Moving from sunny Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Nevada, readers are introduced to Cash McCogan, a tough as nails cop sent to clean up the city that never sleeps. When individuals behind the construction of the Hoover Dam start dying, it is up to Cash to discover who, or what is responsible. This leads him into a world of corruption, violence, and a centuries old feud between an ancient race of vampire and the vampire with a sweet tooth- the American vampire.

A wonderfully written instalment, Snyder continues the intrigue and sheer expansion of lore in this volume.  Through expanding on vampire mythology by introducing new races, Snyder is able to blend some of the old with the new, which benefits the instalment overall. However, far more intriguing is both his examination and deconstruction of American history, and the introduction of an organisation in which hunts down  vampires — The Vassals of the Morning Star. By centering the plot on an actual historical event, the construction of the Hoover Dam, Snyder adds a sense of realism to the epic. The dirty and gritty time period perfectly reflects the subject matter Snyder delves into, through showing how humanity has not changed since Skinner’s or the European vampire’s time. We are still violent, corrupt, and self involved individuals which Skinner Sweet comes to summarise perfectly in one line: “I always, always, got to be the last man standing”.

The Vassals of the Morning Star are another vital aspect to the story in which expands on vampire lore. The Vassals are essentially a joining of multiple Van Helsing’s- only they are not as ridiculous as Hugh Jackman, and carry guns. They aim at the complete extinction of the vampire race, including good old Sweet. However, in order to get to him they need the help of someone who knows him best — Pearl Jones.  The introduction of an organisation bent on killing vampires makes a great deal of sense. It is a natural fit to the story and allows readers to view vampires from a more typical angle, unlike in the first volume which glorified them.  Ultimately, it is a smart decision on Snyder’s part to include such an organisation, plus the name just sounds awesome.

While the main series follows Cash and his confrontation with vampires, Snyder also offers up a mini arc, entitled “The Way Out”. Without going into much detail, this mini-series explains what happened to Pearl Jones in between volumes one and two.  To summarise, it involves lots of killing and an interesting turn of events in which a character readers believed to be dead actually is not and is looking for revenge. As cheesy as it may sound, Snyder manages to make it work, and leaves open a future plot line for readers to look forward too.

As per usual, a final note must be made the art work. While Rafael Albuquerque and Dave McCaig return for the main series, newcomer Mateus Santolouco perfectly depicts the dark world of vampires in “The Way Out”. In some ways I actually prefer Santoloco’s work. It is shaded darker, and the lines are drawn much thicker, making everything from fangs and claws to characters eyes pop.  Never the less, both instalments are magnificently drawn and coloured, and are just as beautifully laid out as in the first instalment.

Equally as captivating and exciting as its predecessor, American Vampire Volume II continues to re-invent vampire lore by mixing the old with the new. With a blend of historical pieces, dazzling visuals, and blood soaked pages, American Vampire Volume II continues to sink new life into one of the greatest mythological beings to ever exist.