American Vampire: Second Cycle #5 (DC/Vertigo)

American Vampire Second Cycle #5

CREDIT: DC/Vertigo

Rating: 3/5 – A Flashback Issue That Lacked a Crisp Payoff.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

One of the great things about American Vampire is that every so often the main narrative takes a break and the series focuses on a short tale that doesn’t always seem relevant at the time, but ultimately fleshes out character motives and the central plot. They are part of what has so richly built the world in which the series is set. Often, these interludes leave me with a surprised moment of realization and a greater appreciation of the series. Less frequently, as in American Vampire: Second Cycle #5, the pause in the main act leaves me puzzled more than anything else and wondering about the relevance of the interlude to the series as a whole.

The current thrust of the series, in which an ancient and foreboding figure seeks to dominate all vampires, was introduced at the end of the first volume by a character named Gene Bunting. Mr. Bunting returns this issue in a flashback tale that I believe attempts to expand on this mythology, but instead feels incomplete. I was waiting for a definitive “aha” moment where it all clicked together, but instead the issue built up to a cliffhanger that I assume writer Scott Snyder will revisit some issues down the line. That’s not to say that I didn’t see hints of this particular tale’s relation to the overarching narrative, only that it wasn’t close to being clear and thus felt unsatisfying. Still, Snyder has a way of tying everything together over the long haul, so I remain hopeful that at some point he’ll truly bring this story into the American Vampire fold.

Regular series artist and co-creator Rafael Albuquerque also takes a break this issue and hands the artistic reigns over to Matias Bergara. Bergara does a decent job illustrating this issue, but I don’t think he was given anything particularly interesting to draw. Also, a third of the issue was devoted to straight journal entries that were mostly text, thereby cutting into the number of pages Matias had to illustrate. Ultimately, I think narration over illustrations would have worked better, but it was an interesting idea. The font used in the journal was difficult for me to read at times, but Steve Wand had his work cut out for him and I commend him for all the pages he had to letter.

It could be that with future issues I’ll come to understand and appreciate this particular side story, but for right now it lacked a crisp and satisfying conclusion. It had an intriguing buildup that didn’t pay off in any way that I could see and by the end I was weary of reading the rather verbose journal entries. I’ll be excited to get back to the main narrative next issue, so for right now I’ll file this issue away to be revisited some time in the future. I’m sure Snyder has a plan, even if I cannot yet see it, and I look forward to uncovering it as the series progresses.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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