American Vampire (Volume #4) Comic Book Review

American Vampire flashes back to two very distinct points in American history. The first tale comes from the early 1800's with the "The Beast in the Cave" featuring art by the legendary Jordi Bernet (Torpedo, Jonah Hex). Learn about the original American Vampire, Skinner Sweet, and his involvement in the brutal Indian Wars, and an ancient evil hidden in the heart of the Old West. Plus, more about the man Skinner used to call his best friend - James Book!

The second tale comes straight from 1950s America, where American Vampire is terrorizing the suburbs with hot rods, teenyboppers and fangs! "Death Race" focuses on ferocious new vampire hunter Travis Kidd - but what is his connection to Skinner Sweet? As the story comes to a violent end, a sworn enemy's identity is finally revealed, and lots of blood is spilled!

Writer Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing) and artist Rafael Albuquerque bring together even more threads to the complex tapestry that is the world of American Vampire.

We've hit the 50s but not before we flash back to the days before Skinner was a Vampire. This volume covers a few different stories, starting with Skinner and Book fighting Native Americans, followed by Travis' story of being a teenager in the 50s before finishing with two issues of Calvin Poole's story, a black Vampire in a world of prejudice.

The main reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 was due to the very first story. It could have been really interesting to see Skinner and Book together as young men and I guess the idea was to flesh out Skinner's character more. However I'm not sure how seeing a white dude killing lots of Native Americans was supposed to achieve this.

I didn't like the portrayal of Native Americans. They just seemed like the same cardboard cut out versions of themselves that Hollywood has portrayed them as for years. On top of that there is a pretty bizarre story of a Native American girl who becomes a vampire and then decides she doesn't like clothes any more after developing humongous bazungas.

I love, love loved Travis' story. He was a fully realised character for once and the story was so much better for it. I would read a whole spin off about him. Raised in a psychiatric facility after witnessing the death of his parents he escapes and vows revenge on the Vampire that killed them. A self taught Vampire Hunter, he's very much a Winchester brothers type of character, full of snark (and a whole lot of sass). It wouldn't be the 50's without a drag race and that's basically the whole story, with flashbacks inbetween. Surprisingly this really works well alongside Travis' musings about what it means to be a teenager in any age.

Calvin Poole's story finishes off the story and is told in just two issues, with emphasis on the realities of life for a black person in 50s America, with far too much use of the N word for my taste. It was interesting seeing that after the cardboard cut-out versions of Native Americans earlier in the book. There's not much to this story, he's black and a Vampire and has to deal with a lot of crap. However there's a glimpse of Pearl and Henry, with an event that will change Pearl's life forever.

This was so much better than the mess that was Volume 3, so I'm hopeful that Volume 5 will continue to improve (I'd like to rate at least one of these books 5 stars). The artwork has really improved and I can actually tell who's who for once. However I still don't care for Skinner Sweet.

4/5

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