Kate’s Review: “American Vampire: Vol. 7”

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Book: “American Vampire: Vol. 7” by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque (Ill.), & Matías Bergara (Ill.)

Publishing Info: Vertigo, January 2015

Where Did I Get This Book: I own it.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: 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.

When we meet Pearl again, it is in 1960’s Kansas, an era fraught with fear of nuclear war, angry demonstrations and vast social change. But what has changed in the years since the V.M.S. attack? And where is Skinner Sweet?

Review: So we are now at the last volume of “American Vampire” that I read until I just kind of let it fall by the wayside. And as I was reading through it, I think I realized that I may not have actually finished “American Vampire: Volume 7” on my first read through, as I did not remember a lot of what I was reading beyond the first section. And I don’t really know why I didn’t keep going with it, because as I was reading this, I found myself really, really enjoying where the story was going. The new beginning was engaging, the stakes were raised, and what I thought was impossible actually came to pass: I. Actually. Liked. Skinner. Sweet.

I, too, was shocked. (source)

We have shifted into a new phase of “American Vampire”, and have entered the ending arc as well, and we start out very strong. It’s now the 1960s in America, about tenish-years after the Vassals of the Morning Star was dealt a big blow by Carpathians, after Pearl’s husband Henry’s death, and after Skinner disappeared after his betrayal. Pearl has returned to her family home in Kansas, and has started taking in runaway vampire children who are hiding from Carpathian vampires, and finds new, hidden homes for them with other vampires in hiding. She’s still connected with Cal, who is still working with VMS, and after getting hints of a man called The Gray Trader, they decide to look into what he is, and how it connects to the vampires. Meanwhile, Skinner has been making moves on the Mexican Border, but he, too, runs afoul something disturbing, so much so that he seeks out Pearl. So we have a new mystery, we have new trajectories for our favorite characters, and we have a new backdrop of the 1960s that was an incredibly restless and fraught era of change, violence, and social upheaval. Once again Snyder has managed to meld themes of America with his vampire mythology, and I was so here for it.

Pearl is still such a wonderful main character. Her grief for Henry still lingers, but she has persevered and has become a beacon of hope for vampire children, fighting off hostile neighbors and making a network of safety, and her reluctance to go back to the VMS is completely understandable. I like that she’s still close with Cal, and I love how she has been able to bring her warmth to the vampire children whilst also being VERY badass when the moment calls for it. And I think that it’s ultimately Pearl that makes Skinner Sweet work for me. It’s undeniable that they have some pretty heady chemistry, which I am always going to enjoy, but what’s interesting about Skinner is that he really does have an affection for Pearl that does seem to go beyond her resemblance to his old ladyfriend. It’s a bit cliché for the bad boy to be tamed by the love of a good woman, and by no means is Skinner redeemed in any way shape or form, but I do like seeing him recognize the help that Pearl can provide, and that he is actually being VULNERABLE and FALLIBLE and not just falling into old bullshit backstabbing that he has ALWAYS done up until now. We also leave him in an interesting state at the end here which raises a lot of questions about where his story is going to end.

And the new vampire lore is pretty interesting. We get some good body horror bits in this volume, some of which was pretty freaking squirm inducing for me and my various phobias/content I can’t handle too well hang ups. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but it’s an even bigger threat than the characters have dealt with, and it’s very imposing and, while a little ridiculous in some ways, is a fresh new villain for the final arc of this series that has gone to so many crazy places. There is a fair amount of set up to be done here, but it’s done quickly and by the end of the volume there’s a solid jumping off point to go forward from. I am a little nervous about the fact we only have two volumes left after this to wrap it all up. Where are Felicia and Gus? What about the reveal of James Book being a vampire hidden away from the world? Will all of this be wrapped up well on top of the new Gray Trader storyline? I guess we’ll have to see. I’m optimistic as of now.

“American Vampire: Vol. 7” is a good start to the end of a sometimes messy but always entertaining series. I regret not finishing it up on the initial run, but now I just have something to look forward to, I guess! Let’s see where Pearl and Skinner go next.

Rating 8: An enjoyable start to a new and final cycle of vampire lore in the heart of American history, “American Vampire: Vol. 7” jumps into the fraught times of the 1960s and shows how fraught its protagonists are.

Reader’s Advisory:

“American Vampire: Vol. 7” is included on the Goodreads list “Vertigo Titles” Must Read Comics A-E”.

Previously Reviewed:

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