Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What You Should Have Read Special Edition #1

So I took a week off of comic book reviews. Why? ‘Cause sometimes I just can’t really enjoy the comics if I know I have to work with them. Sometimes I need to take a break and just read to enjoy. So that’s what I did this past week.

No reviews for last week’s comics, then. But why this Special Edition? Well, that’s a good question. The previous week I did a quick blurb about the first issue of the Vertigo comic, American Vampire. It’s a creator-owned comic written by Scott Snyder (Voodoo Heart, a collection of stories published in 2006) with art by Rafael Albuquerque. I initially picked it up because the first five issues have a back-up story written by Stephen King (art again by Albuquerque). I’d read a Maine phonebook on the off chance that it would have his name it. What I’m trying to say is that I generally like the guy’s work.

American Vampire is, SURPRISE!!, a vampire comic. Now, I’ve got nothing against vampires. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my top 10 shows of all time, and I do believe that the final season of Angel was the best season of television I’ve ever watched. I liked Interview with the Vampire (both the movie and book, but I couldn’t make it through Lestat and thus gave up on the series), John Carpenter’s Vampires, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, and the Blade trilogy.

Since my wife pretty much read my entire Stephen King library on my recommendation, I decided to give Twilight a try on her recommendation. It was one of the most horribly written pieces of garbage I’ve ever read. Seriously. I got through about half of it until I just couldn’t take any more. I attempted to watch the movie but only made it about 10 minutes in.

I recently acquired and watched the first two seasons of True Blood, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t anything all that new, but it was very entertaining…and I enjoyed the nudity. I’m thinking of getting Showtime so I can watch the new season in June, and I wouldn’t mind watching Californication if it’s coming back on. Dexter is on there too, so that’s a plus.

All that was to prove that I have nothing against vampires. And I just realized that’s exactly like somebody who claims not to be racist and then lists all of their black/Hispanic/Middle Eastern/etc. friends to prove that point. So I swear, I’m not vampire racist. But after somewhat recently finishing all seven seasons of Buffy and five season of Angel for the third or fourth time and just finishing up True Blood last week, I AM a little burned out on the blood suckers. And I said so in my little blurb and made no illusions that I was only in it for the Stephen King story. Here’s the original write up:

“I got American Vampire for the Stephen King story, and it was mediocre at best. I didn’t even bother with the main story (or is this an anthology?). I’m slightly burned out on vampires, or at least entertainment that’s focused on them. I’ve watched all seven seasons of Buffy about three times, same for Angel. I just finished the second season of True Blood and I’ve got the books, but I haven’t read them yet. I tried to read Twilight, but it was a horribly written book and I couldn’t get through a quarter of it. I think I only lasted about 10 minutes into the movie. So, yeah, I think I’m going to take a rest on vampires until this summer when True Blood returns.”

Wow, that’s an awful review. It’s not even a review. It’s just me saying, “Here’s a book that I’m not going to read.”

So you know what happened? Snyder called me out on it, and he suggested (check the comment section, it’s true) I give it a chance.

“Scott Snyder said: Aw, Rob - give us more of a try than that! The stories go together..”

Hey, if the writer of a book I’ve…perused…is going to take the time to check a rinky-dink blog that no one reads and tell me to actually read his book, then I’ll sack up and read the damn thing.

So, I’m assuming that the deadbeat sex fiend in the main story is Skinner Sweet from the back-up. If so, that means that Snyder is playing fast and loose with some of the accepted mythology of vampires. Apparently vampires can survive in the sun in Snyder’s world as long as they’ve got plenty of sunscreen on. Eh, I can live with that. And is it just me, or does Sweet somewhat come off like Sawyer from Lost? A scruffy blond that loves to get under your skin? Sure, that’s pretty basic, but it’s Tuesday and I may have Lost on the brain.

So, my initial take on the story is that it is fine. Nothing great…yet. I have a feeling that this could be something interesting. Since Sweet ties the two stories together, I’m going to assume that he’s going to be the focus of the series. If we bounce around history with him and learn about his shenanigans, then I can see this becoming an extremely entertaining book, possibly even a must-read each month. But we’re not there yet. This first issue hasn’t totally hooked me, but I can see where it might happen by end of the first arc. And I’ll stick around until then, if for no other reason than the book has got King for four more issues.

The art is a bit of a conundrum. As mentioned, Albuquerque provides the art in both stories, and his work is colored by Dave McCaig, also in both stories. But I’m finding myself enjoying the art in the second story more. Both Albuquerque and McCaig have done something different with their styles, and I like that. The second story is a bit…I don’t know, I’m not an artist and can’t find the words for it. It seems a bit softer, both in the coloring and Albuquerque’s line work. Since Rafael (I’m getting tired of typing his long last name) does the art for both stories, you can tell that Sweet is the same, and thus that the stories are tied together. But with the slight change in style, you can tell that one is not a direct continuation of the other.

I guess I should address King’s contribution, even though it’s not his book or his world; he’s just visiting. I’ve read ‘Salem’s Lot, but that was a LONG time ago, so I really don’t remember his take on vampires. This story, though, looks like the beginning of Sweet’s origin, and if it is, and if Sweet is the driving force of the series, then kudos to Snyder for letting somebody else (even if it is a giant like King) tackle this important part of his universe. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let somebody else tell a defining story about my main character. I guess I’m too selfish.

But what King does is good for the comic. Other than the affectation of King having a writer narrate the tale, it’s really hard to distinguish the writing style from Snyder’s. That’s extremely helpful with the flow and connecting the two stories. It’s kind of like when Joss Whedon directed an episode of The Office. He went out of his way to make sure you couldn’t tell it was a “Joss Whedon Episode,” and thus the show didn’t suffer or skip a beat by having an episode that was completely different from the rest (the bat and Jim pretending to be a vampire was a nice touch, though).

So, I guess I’ve got to apologize. I’m sorry Mr. Snyder for ignoring your story only to read the back-up, which was penned by my favorite author. If I were reading to read, I wouldn’t worry about it. But I’m not. I’m putting this up on a blog that maybe two people are reading, and I didn’t give the whole thing a fair shake. Now that I have, I found it enjoyable, although not mind blowing or genre shattering. It does have potential, though, so I will stick with it.

At least for four more issues. ;)

1 comment:

Scott Snyder said...

"enjoyable" - We'll take it! Thanks a lot for the read, Rob - and the thoughtful review and commentary. My wife got me to read Twilight too, btw. Wives...