Author: Scott Snyder
Illustrators: Rafael Albuquerque, Sean Murphy, Danijel Zezelj
The third volume of American Vampire collects three story arcs: “Strange Frontier,” “Ghost War,” and “Survival of the Fittest.”
I won’t mention much about “Strange Frontier.” It is a single-issue filler piece, taking place in 1919 Idaho. It tells of an outdoor skit, bringing Wild West vampire stories to life in a way that the show’s producers never expected. The story is bland and the artwork was really not my style.
So let’s move onto the meat of the collection. Both “Ghost War” and “Survival of the Fittest” take place during World War II. In “Ghost War,” Pearl’s human boyfriend, Henry Preston, is enlisted for a covert assignment on an island near Japan. His mission — to protect American troops from an infestation of vampires. Pearl is unaware of the true nature of this assignment, but when Skinner leaves her a note saying that Henry is lying to her, she travels to the island to save her boyfriend from none other than Skinner Sweet.
“Ghost War” had an interesting story line and we are further exposed to the diverse populations of vampires. Each region of the world has different creatures with different strengths and weaknesses. This is one of the greatest attributes of the American Vampire series. Rafael Albuquerque illustrated this story arc and the images were up to their usual standards. The secondary characters were also interesting. In particular, I liked Vicar Row, the covert team’s leader. The bearded, one-armed man plays a prominent role in the story and we are given some back story to his gritty, but heroic character.
“Survival of the Fittest” also takes place during World War II. Felicia Book and Cash McCogan are sent to Romania, seeking a supposed cure for vampirism. When they arrive, they discover that the Nazi regime has assembled an army of vampires to assist in their war efforts. Despite being imprisoned in a Romanian castle, Book and Cash continue to seek a cure and hope to foil the army’s plot at world domination.
Even though “Ghost War” was the feature story, I found “Survival of the Fittest” to be the best in the collection. Snyder continues to add greater complexity and depth to the vampire mythos and his storytelling throughout American history is a unique take on the legendary creature. I was surprised at the twist “Survival of the Fittest” took, proving that anything can happen in Snyder’s world. Snyder creates a likable character in Felicia Book and Sean Murphy’s illustrations, while different from Albuquerque’s pen, are rich with detail and emotion.
The third volume of American Vampire is my favorite thus far. It has great character depth, stories that are well-integrated into history, and increasing diversity in the legendary vampires. I hope Snyder continues to explore the series in the context of history and further develops the different relationships between the various vampires. If you have enjoyed the series so far, you will not be disappointed with this volume.