American Vampire Anthology #1
Review by Patrick Brennan
“Alright then, go on, tell me about me and mine…”
You know those rainy days where you find yourself staring out a window, glass of brandy in hand and bubble pipe in mouth, imagining the day that all of your favorite artists and writers will converge upon a series that you love? Well friends, the future is now. American Vampire Anthology #1 has come to give us all a transfusion of the vampire action that has been missing from our lives since the beginning of its hiatus. Featuring an all-star cast of writers and artists as well as the return of series creators Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, this 80 page extravaganza is a must for fans of the series.
The collection opens with part one of a story by Snyder and Albuquerque that bookends the rest of the tales in the anthology. We find Skinner Sweet, the first American blood-sucker himself, reflecting on the nature of infamy and how far-reaching the legend of his breed has become. The brief introduction ends with a cliff-hanger as Sweet encounters some would-be assassins and then we are thrown into a set of tales that explore the growing myth throughout the world of the vampire, while visiting some familiar characters along the way.
There is no real weak link in this collection of stories, but there are some definite highlights. Becky Cloonan’s “Greed” is a fun romp as Skinner Sweet gets dragged into show business by some unknowing Hollywood types. “Essence of Life” by Gail Simone, with some beautiful art by Tula Lotay, is certainly the most heartbreaking piece of the anthology, outlining the tragic backstory of fan-favorite Hattie Hargrove. Finally, Jeff Lemire’s “Canadian Vampire” showcases the author’s uncanny ability to not only produce a character you can care about in the span of a few pages, but his gift of creating a fully realized tale in equally short a time.
Probably the only criticism to be had about these stories is their length. Some, like Rafael Albuquerque and Ivo Milazzo’s “Bleeding Kansas” and Francesco Francavilla’s “The Producers,” feel like much bigger stories than the glimpses we are given, leaving you wishing for more. It’s probably the best problem a collection like this could have, and certainly doesn’t take away from the experience of reading it.
If you have the money to spare, pick up this anthology. It’s the perfect addition to your American Vampire collection, showcasing some wonderful outings from a fantastic group of artists and writers. The stories are entertaining, moving, and horrific in all the best ways possible.