Review: American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #3

By | August 9th, 2012
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Last month’s installment of “American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares” brought chilling revelations and twist endings that both delivered and delighted. Does this months’ issue continue the trend of cleverly adapting the classic vampire tale of “Dracula” for the “American Vampire” universe?

Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Dustin Nguyen

Felicia and Hobbes are on the trail of the most dangerous vampire of all time. As they close in on their prey, their pursuit takes them behind the Iron Curtain where they enlist a very different kind of vampire to help them on their crusade…

The middle book of every miniseries always seems to be the weakest. Comics aren’t like movies, where arguably each installment has to stand on its own legs in order to be viable or no money will be made. Because comics are a medium of sequential, serialized storytelling, it can be a common practice to judge a story on the strengths of the arc as a whole, rather than individual issues. Writers and companies know this, and thus we have the terms ‘writing for the trade’ and ‘waiting for the trade’. Many comic fans are also ‘completists’ and will be willing to purchase some pretty mediocre or downright awful products to have the full story; I myself am guilty of this. So all this isn’t to say that this months’ issue is horrible – that should be impossible with a creative team this good – just that they merely are not running on all cylinders this month.

To be frank, the first thing that stands out as different is the art. It just feels sloppy. Certain pages, specifically the first few, feel sketchy and rushed. Then there are a few panels near the end that look as though drawn by an entirely different artist. The effect is jarring, and halts the entire process of enjoying the book. Now, a good artist is of course going to evolve; maybe he is expermenting with new techniques or something and that’s fine, but that’s assumedly something better left for new projects rather than right in the middle of a storyline.The storytelling factor is also a bit generic this go-round. The innovative layouts and what-not I praised last month are replaced by a pretty standard panel by panel story. It makes one wonder if Nguyen might be a tad over worked.

One good point is that all the vampires look top notch. That should be expected for a vampire-centric story, right? Everyone has seen a movie or show about vampires or werewolves where the featured creature misses the mark, but those movies or shows tend to suck (I’m looking at you every Howling movie after the first); nothing could be further from the truth this issue, as Nguyen delievers some very creepy Carpathian specimens and cooks up about three never-before-seen species of vampires for the world. With vampires showing up everywhere from your breakfast cereal to primetime TV, it is wonderful to see some original vampires.

There is good and bad to Scott Snyder’s writing this issue, too. The story moves along fairly well, and we are introduced to the aformentioned interesting vampires as a tantalizing plot point to be exploited further down the line. However, again, the elements of the storytelling fall flat. This issue was read three times before this review was written, and not a single point of dialogue stands out. That’s pretty unusual for the man who gave us the memorable “Not used to you being there when I look up” line from “Detective Comics”. Also, considering the relative ease with which characters in this world dispose of standard Carpathians, using a horde of them as an impending threat just doesn’t seem all that threatening.

Its understandable in some respects, I suppose. Publishers these days encourage writing for the trade, and both creators of this book have several other projects going. Scott Snyder himself has the ongoing titles ” Batman,” “American Vampire” and “Swamp Thing”, and that is just what we know of right now, so it is understandable that quality might suffer or fluctuate from title to title. Issue #3 here was bought on the strengths of the previous two issues, and the next two will be purchased as well –  if only because it would feel ridiculous to read only half of a five issue mini-series. They just better deliver a strong and unique ending.

Final Verdict: 7.0-­ Buy it if you’ve already been hooked in, wait for the trade if you haven’t.

Matthew Boren

Lover. Poet. Former educator. Now that he is here, he cannot be stopped. Matt's love affair with comics started with the Batman and X-Men animated series in the 90's and shows no sign of stopping. When not writing for Multiversity Comics, he enjoys Warhammer 40K, roleplaying games, reading just about anything, and cooking. Matt lives in San Antonio with his girlfriend and cat.