Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig’s American Vampire 1976 kicked itself off with one of the best first issues of last year. The series has mixed horror, fantasy, adventure, and its deep history expertly. Last month, we hit the midway point on the series and it ended on a major cliffhanger. Today, the latest issue is an interlude as it peers behind the curtain with three different artists in three different stories. Set in different times and places, Scott Snyder is fleshing a few things out before we hit the ground running with the last half of the book.
This book opens with a story drawn and colored by Tula Lotay called “Root”, which features George Washington a few days before his death. Snyder uses this story not only to remind us of its historical roots, but also a recently revealed deal American leaders agreed upon. This story ties heavily into the lore that’s building towards the finish of this maxiseries.
The art is without a doubt gorgeously rendered and at once dark and macabre, but also striking and vivid. You can literally see the streaks of color that make up the characters, which gives it a dreamlike quality. This allows the dark twisted visuals to come alive, but also give it a coldness you can feel in your bones.
Next up, Francesco Francavilla draws and colors “Trunk”, which tells a tale set in 1973. Francavilla’s style suits the ’70s with striking colors that contrast in dramatic ways. Using mostly blues and yellows, the story gives the tale a pulp feel. It’s a short look at a side machine in a very familiar location. This story does well to show us how adventures have been ongoing and likely many more have taken place in this universe we’ll never know.
Finally, Ricardo López Ortiz and color artist Dave McCaig wrap up the book with “Limb”. Set in 1970, this story is for the fans of Travis Kidd. It’s a nice reminder of past stories and even has a homey family vibe. The art uses nice textures to bring out the elements and give it a distinctly comic book feel. This tale reads like it’s there for the super-fans and doesn’t tie into the main plot so much, or at least not in a way that’s obvious. It certainly reads like a fun aside rather than a major chapter in the narrative.
American Vampire is a series that has always argued that our history is important, especially by way of vampires who live forever. This issue plays into three different times important to the characters and the larger narrative. For that, it’s required reading and it might just bring out the fans who read this series in the past and haven’t yet picked this up. If you’ve liked previous collections in this series but have been waiting to try American Vampire 1976, give this issue a read to remind yourself why the historical underpinnings of the series make it so good.
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