Is the third time the charm with this instalment, or does this sweet tale fall victim to the fangs of its predecessors?
World War II rages in the Pacific. Lines are drawn and sides are taken. However, there is one war in which is not so easy to define- the war in which rages amongst the vampire races. In American Vampire Volume III writer Scott Snyder, along with fellow artists Rafael Albuquerque, Sean Murphy and Danijel Zezelj beautifully create two tales submeged in war and violence, and how each character must come to face these struggles, as well as the horror in which lies within themselves.
The first story is entitled Ghost War and follows Pearl Jones and her husband, Henry Preston, as they struggle to battle vampires amidst the harshness of World War II. When Henry is enlisted to aid the Vassals of the Morning Star to battle an age old vampire race on the island of Taipan in imperial Japan, he must do whatever he can to eliminate the threat. However, he is not alone in this struggle as a group of rag-tag vampire killers are sent with him, including one particular character with claws of his own and a love for the sweet red stuff. Together they must once and for all defeat this race of vampire, or die at their blood-stained fangs; that is unless they don’t kill each other first.
Once again the writing in this instalment is top notch. Not only does Snyder capture the horrors of war, but also manages to create some wonderful character pieces, and further expand upon the vampire lore in the process. The vampire race in which the Vassals are hunting are truly horrifying, and come to further expand upon the evolution of vampires. Furthermore, by centering the plot on an actual historical event, Snyder manages to not lose his touch upon reality, despite dealing with some truly outwardly creatures. This greatly benefits the plot overall, for it is the most action packed and bloody one so far. Every page is riddled in either cool colours or unnatural red and dark ones, depicting both the horrors of war and the more heroic aspects these characters must face. Once again Albequerque is at the top of his game equally displaying the calm with the gruesome. In fact it is quite easy to say that this is the best looking instalment yet, let alone the single best arc of the series. Together both Snyder and Alberquerque create one hell of a bloody mess, and appear to enjoy every minute of it.
The second arc is entitled “Survival of the Fittest”, and comes to focus on the inner workings of the Vassals of the Morning Star and their newest agents Felicia Book and Cash McCogan. When the Vassals discover a possible cure to vampirism it is up to Book and McCogan to seek it out. However, this is no easy task for the pair must venture into war torn Germany to find the cure, where Hitler’s reign is the least of their worries. Although they came for the cure, Book and McCogan discover much more, and come to unravel the mysteries behind Germany’s secret to world domination-vampires.
As ridiculous as this instalment may sound, Snyder writes it with such style and grace that it works remarkably well. By showing both sides of the die, being the war in Japan and Germany, Snyder is able to create two separate stories with a common theme- utter domination. This is more evidently seen in this instalment as Snyder seeks to show just how far individuals are willing to go to secure power, even if it means sacrificing ones humanity in the process.
Unlike the previous instalment, Survival of the Fittest is drawn and coloured by Sean Murphy and Dave Stewart respectively. Rather then focus on dark colouring and heavy lines, the characters and environments as thinly drawn and have elongated features. Although this makes this instalment look more cartoony it does not take away from the impact of the story, nor the sheer gore and fangs depicted in this issues. Overall this arc is just as exciting as the previous, and masterfully blends story with amazing set pieces and battles.
After two captivating volumes, American Vampire Volume III does not drop the ball. Instead it pushes off a cliff and opens up some exciting possibilities for the future of this franchise. With equal focus on a historical plot, characters, and wonderful action sequences, American Vampire Volume III successfully continues to feed fresh blood into a once dying breed of monster.