American Vampire Second Cycle #3
Review by Paul Bowler
The threat of the Grey Trader grows ever nearer in American Vampire Second Cycle #3 as evil forces begin to rise. Having enlisted Calvin’s help to investigate the mystery surrounding the Grey Trader, Pearl Jones learns some horrifying truths about this ancient evil. When Pearl receives a dire warning from Calvin before he is attacked, Pearl is shocked when the newest arrival at her sanctuary for Vampires, a young girl called May, undergoes a horrific transformation. After his experience on a rain swept night near the Texas / Mexico border, Skinner Sweet must now confront his demons, figuratively and literally, a horror unlike anything he has ever faced before.
The smash hit Vertigo series American Vampire Second Cycle continues as Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque heighten the mystery surrounding the Grey Trader. Ancient, powerful, and steeped in the history of the world itself, the Trader has his own nefarious agenda, one that will encompass this blood soaked Vampire sagas move into the 1960’s, as fate conspires to bring Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones together again.
These are dark times for the Vassals, the Signal Man has issued his warning, even the merest mention of the Grey Trader was enough to strike Calvin with fear last issue, and his subsequent investigation saw him attacked in his hotel room as he called Pearl to warn her. If you thought the blood curdling terror of that brief telephone call was nerve jangling, with its tantalising mention of the original infection, then what follows that conversation in the pages of American Vampire #3 will enhance the brooding atmosphere further still as it hacks and slashes its way into the darkest recesses of your imagination.
Now dark forces are coming that threaten them all, and Pearl must do everything in her power to protect her young charges after young May succumbs to her infected bite and metamorphoses into a hulking abomination. Scott Snyder masterfully builds the tension from scene to scene, as the creatures devastating strength proves too much for even Pearl to handle. Her flight from the farmhouse with the children is nail biting stuff, leading to a frenetic chase to the fields that culminates with brutal violence and heartbreaking tragedy.
American Vampire Second Cycle #3 is a fantastic looking book, the art by Rafael Albuquerque is absolutely stunning, and instantly transports you into the nightmarish situations that Calvin and Pearl have to face. Albuquerque delivers one of his most terrifying creations yet; a lumbering monstrosity with gaping maws of teeth, and the sheer power and ferocity of the creature Pearl is confronted with in her own home genuinely unnerving. Dave McCaig’s colors are a perfect complement to Albuquerque’s art, with moody shadowy tones to accentuate the suspense and vivid splashes of crimson and orange to punctuate the horror and violence.
Skinner Sweet’s return is fittingly blood soaked, however, it is the fantastic splash pages which reveals the events that transpired after Skinner stumbled upon the bus full of Vampire refugees, and the terrible things he witnessed, that will stay with you long after you’ve finished this issue. Rafael Albuquerque’s art in these scenes will simply blow you away, as we follow Skinner’s journey , plummeting into the screaming depths of a place so unimaginable it will claw against the inside of your skull like gnarled fingers down a blackboard.
American Vampire Second Cycle #3 is a master class in horror and suspense from Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, this issue is packed with standout moments, it delivers the long awaited, if brief, reunion we’ve been waiting for, and the closing moments will send a chill down you spine with its sublime twist of terror.