cover image American Vampire, Vol. 1

American Vampire, Vol. 1

Scott Snyder, Stephen King, and Raphael Albuquerque, DC/Vertigo, $24.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4012-2830-9

Early 20th-century America is a fitting setting for this horror drama about confronting old traditions. Two linked stories follow a woman and a man. Snyder's tale centers on Pearl Jones, an aspiring actress in 1925 Los Angeles. When Pearl chases what she believes could be her big break, it results in her being left for dead in the desert. King's piece involves antihero Skinner Sweet, a notorious outlaw in 1880 Colorado. Under arrest and en route to his execution, Skinner's escape attempt is foiled by the unexpected presence of a vampire robber baron. Both Pearl and Skinner find themselves afflicted with a vampiric curse, but one that's been altered by their native soil. The two make quick enemies of the older, jealous European bloodlines of vampires that have carved up the spoils of the American west. Violent retribution follows as each refuses to be a pawn of the established order. Albuquerque's art holds back the horror and grotesque elements until the moments when they're most needed, making those scenes shocking and effective. The pacing is slowed by presenting two simultaneous introductory stories. But seeing how Pearl and Skinner deal differently with the monsters they've become and the monsters out to destroy them makes compelling reading. (Oct.)