Last year, fans were treated to the shocking conclusion of the fifth volume of acclaimed Vertigo title American Vampire. Unfortunately, the conclusion of Volume 5 was also met with a certain degree of sadness, as Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque revealed that they would be taking a year-long hiatus from the title in order to work on other projects.
Fortunately, Vertigo has provided us with American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell, a one-shot story to tide us over as we wait for the return of Pearl Jones and Skinner Sweet in the fall.
The Long Road to Hell, unlike previous entries in the series, is co-written by the book’s artist, Rafael Albuquerque. While the general outline of the story was handled by Snyder, it’s Albuquerque who provides most of the dialogue for the issue. While the prospect of Albuquerque filling in for the hugely popular Scott Snyder may leave some feeling uneasy, there’s no need to worry, as Albuquerque writes incredibly well, and the story moves along just as you would expect from an American Vampire story. While the dialogue isn’t always as smooth as it could be, the story is as gripping as ever, and each character is given a very distinct, personal voice. The issue is primarily a love story, focusing on two vampires on the run from fan-favorite vampire hunter Travis Kidd. While the prospect of a vampire love story may feel very stale and uninteresting to some, given the overwhelming number of such stories released over the past few years, The Long Road to Hell tackles the story with a very unconventional, horror centric feel, making the issue fresh and surprising.
There isn’t much to say as far as the art goes for this issue. Rafael Albuquerque is at the top of his game, as usual, providing some of the most stunning artwork in comics today. Albuquerque handles each panel masterfully, presenting strong visual storytelling and a very stylistic interpretation of the time period. American Vampire’s story spans many decades, and The Long Road to Hell is no exception. The story takes place in the 1950’s, and it’s fascinating to see how Albuquerque handles the art differently with each story in the series, styling each to the time period in which it takes place.
The only real negative to this issue is the fact that, well, it’s only an issue. We’ve been missing American Vampire dearly since it went on hiatus last fall, and while this self contained story was certainly entertaining, it only whet my appetite for the return of Skinner Sweet in the fall.
With American Vampire on hiatus until later this year, fans have been desperate for any bit of the series they can get their hands on. Thankfully, The Long Road to Hell is here, giving readers an incredible, if short, story in the American Vampire universe to help ease the suffering while we wait desperately for the fall.