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American Vampire: Vol. 1



I suspect many Stephen King fans eagerly awaited the collected edition of "American Vampire," his comic book series co-authored with Scott Snyder, rather than picking it up issue by issue. Well, the first five are here in one handsome hardback, and it's dynamic, and I hope it sells a ton of copies. And King, despite being the name draw, isn't the best thing about it.

But while you await his next release, November's "Full Dark, No Stars," tide yourself over with this.

It's a two-fisted tale of ... well, vampires in America. Snyder's half takes place in 1925 Hollywood; King's, somewhat earlier, over a span of years in the Southwestern states. The pair intertwine, with the continuing thread being Skinner Sweet, the fang-toothed, spike-fingered, bad-ass "wampyr" who can be hurt, yet not killed.

King treads the Old West, having Skinner lay waste to so many pioneers, whereas Snyder plays amid a backdrop of Jazz Age glitz, through the innocent eyes of Pearl, a wannabe starlet who gets mixed up in the wrong crowd "? you know, the vampire clan kind.

With both illustrated more than ably by the deliriously good Rafael Albuquerque, the halves stand on their own, yet come together as a whole in the clever end. As good as King is at vampires (his "Salem's Lot" remains a modern classic), Snyder's story actually one-ups the master of horror.

Vertigo's collection comes complete with a drool-worthy selection of variant covers, gorgeous one and all in their own way. That so many guests wanted to part of this ambitious illustrated epic is a testament to the title's storytelling prowess. Finally, vampires are vampires again, trading the sparkles for the sanguine. "?Rod Lott


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