Author: Scott Snyder
Illustrators: Rafael Albuquerque
Sometimes it’s just not a good idea to do business with vampires. At least that’s what Chief Cash McCogan and the FBI begin to realize when two of the consortium partners of the Boulder Dam end up suffering violent deaths.
Volume 2 of the American Vampire series contains two story arcs. The first is “Devil in the Sand,” a detective story that turns into a mafia-style gun fight. Cash doesn’t like that the FBI is treading on his territory, but he deals with it in a no-holds-barred, smart-ass sort of way. After all, the city is now rife with prostitution, gambling, and lawlessness. Together, Cash and the FBI pursue the recent Boulder Dam killings to discover that vampires are involved in the venture. And of course, no bad business deal can go down without the meddling of Skinner Sweet, the superpowered American Vampire.
The second story arc is “The Way Out,” which features Pearl and her human boyfriend, Henry. Pearl was featured in the first volume as an aspiring actress who was later turned by Sweet (rather than suffering death at the hand of another). She and Henry are seeking a private life together, one that doesn’t involve Vampire politics. But her old life will not leave her alone. The European vampires are on her trail and after a decade have finally caught up with her. Pearl must let herself go and unleash her violent powers to keep her and Henry alive. In the background of the story, we also learn that Hattie Hargrove, Pearl’s former friend, has broken free from captivity and is bent on seeking revenge. Hattie begins a killing spree with an ultimate goal to find and murder Pearl.
The second volume of American Vampire is darker than the first, but it is superior in its storytelling. We really are beginning to understand the complexity of Pearl — who remains morally good at heart, but is conflicted with the tainted blood that gives her destructive urges. Hattie has turned a bit one-dimensional. Once a selfish, aspiring actress of her own, it seems the vampire blood has filled her with even greater jealousy and self-serving motivation. Skinner Sweet remains a bit of an enigma, not wanting to consort with the European vampires, but I am still uncertain what his overall mission is.
I am curious to see where the subsequent issues of American Vampire take us. Pearl still has her past coming after her like a freight train, perhaps one that will eventually catch up with her. Cash McCogan, on the other hand, fearlessly fights the threatening vampires head-on to restore Las Vegas to prosperity. Then there is Sweet — wreaking havoc in his own struggle for power against the vampires of old.