Comic Rewind: American Vampire Vol. 1

A notorious American outlaw, Skinner Sweet, becomes a vampire and turns the vampire world on its head in American Vampire Vol. 1.

The story is told during two different eras.  One is the origin of Sweet in 1880 and how he became a vampire.  The second story is of Pearl in 1925 and how she became a vampire.  

Sweet’s story is told by Will Bunting who wrote a fictional book on Sweet’s life as a vampire.  On the anniversary of the book’s release Bunting reveals it is a real story.  Bunting is reading his book to a crowd and adding personal stories to it and this constitutes Sweets half of the comic.

There are many different ways to become a vampire in vampire lore stories.  In this story the blood of a vampire entering a person’s bloodstream makes them become a vampire.  

Sweet is a special vampire for two reasons.  First is that he is the first American to become a vampire and the second is he is the next step in vampire evolution.  He is able to go out in direct sunlight and is stronger than the European vampires he fights against in the book.

Pearl is an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.  One night she is invited to a big party with all the movers and shakers of showbiz. However, this wasn’t her first big break as she had hoped she was invited to the party to be fed to the European vampires.

In the period between 1880 and 1925 Sweet was the only American Vampire, but that changed when he turned Pearl into a vampire.  Pearl inherited Sweet’s evolutionary adaptations and plotted her revenge.

American Vampire Vol. 1 was written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King.  Art for the comic was done by Rafael Albuquerque and was published by Vertigo in 2013.

I was yet again let down by a comic which was supposed to be amazing.  

I want to know what are all of Sweet’s new abilities and his discovery of them.  There was nothing on him trying to figure out what he had become.  Do the American vampires need blood to live or do they just drink it as a refreshment?  

There are a bunch of scenes with vampires looking into mirrors and seeing their reflection.  However, in vampire lore they have no reflection.  Do the American vampires have a reflection and Europeans do not?  If new lore is established it needs to be explained, but it never is and left me confused.  They seemed to follow traditional lore with sunlight and wood stakes, but not all lore.  What are the new rules for American vampires?

When Pearl was turned into a vampire she was not really freaked out, but that isn’t even the worst part.  She could use her full vampire powers within a few minutes.  She should have been freaking out, but accepted it right away.  These new vampire powers should have needed to be learned, but she was a master within minutes.  However, I don’t even know if she was a master because they never explain what powers American vampires have.  I wanted to see her learn about her powers and how to use them.

Sweet is a main character of the comic, but I don’t know if I am supposed to like him.  He is a terrible person and I hoped he died the whole volume.  However, Pearl is a little more likable in the volume.  She seemed like a cheerful eager young actress, but who knows because she isn’t really explored that much before she turns into a vampire.

This comic failed to hit any of the genres I wanted.  It was not scary, not a good noir revenge story, not a good wild west story and not a good vampire story.

Sometimes I feel like I’m taking crazy pills with these supposedly great comics which turn out disappointing.  I liked Snyder’s work on Batman and The Wake, but this just seemed rushed or something.  If more things were explained I would have enjoyed it much more.


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