It’s the 1954 and Henry the human lover of Pearl one of only three American vampires is dying, after been attacked and left for dead by a vampire from a nest of European vampires.
The surviving coven of European vampires that Pearl decimated in the first story arc is looking for revenge, and if they cant get Pearl they will strike at those closest to her. Now given that the European vampires are not as strong as their American counterparts, and given the simple fact that the American vampires can survive in the daylight with no ill effects. You would think the European vamps would keep their heads down and try not to draw attention to themselves, but I guess that’s just not their way.
At the start of the issue Pearl has already hunted down and is interrogating Henry’s attacker, unfortunately without much success so she leaves him to the mercy of the sun (I usually use factor 20 or above).
Mean while Calvin an American vampire himself is protecting Henry as he lies in hospital on the brink of death, but even there he is not safe as a bogus doctor and 2 nurses try to finish poor old Henry off. Unfortunately for them Pearl is back and full of rage and vengeance, having Calvin as back up just adds to her advantage and the fake doctor and nurses are quickly dispatched back to vamp heaven.
Realising that nowhere is safe for her beloved Henry Calvin suggests she contacts the vampire hunting organisation The Vassals of the Morning Star for help, the Vassals who see the European vampires as more of a threat and are to keen to help provided Pearl will do them a favour in return.
The LA branch of The Vassals is ran by Agent Bixby and reference is made to Linden Hobbes who you would normally see in any dealings with the American vampires. The casual remark that he is dealing with something in Europe, is a nice pointer to the mini running at the same time as this story line, (American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares) which features the Vassals pitted against Dracula himself.
Bixby explains that a coven in LA has aligned itself with the elite stars and directors of Hollywood, and in return for keeping the coven hidden they put pressure on high ranking film members to keep the stars and directors in work. The Vassels have a Black List, a list of all the people in Hollywood they suspect are hiding vampires, in return for Henry's safety they want her to investigate the names and eliminate any vampires she finds.
Pearl agrees to help destroy them in return for Henry's protection and it’s at this point she is introduced to her partner, none other than Skinner Sweet the first American Vampire, the vampire that turned Pearl.
The shock on her face is understandable given that she thought Skinner was dead, and we see both Pearl and Skinner guns in hand ready for battle in the final page.
It’s a testimony to the brilliance of Scott Snyder’s writing that Pearl still comes over a sympathetic character; in the early issues it was born from her desperation to be in films and her subsequent victimisation from the vampires who abused her. Now it’s her desperation to keep the love of her life alive without resorting to turning him, which would be the simple solution, had she not promised Henry she would never do that.
So now Pearl is torn between breaking her promise or possibly loosing him to death, either way she cannot truly win even if Henry survives this time his mortality will begin to play a part in all her decision making.
Henry is Pearls last connection to her humanity, with out him she will be left alone to succumb to the demons that are clearly inside her. In truth who among us would not give eternal life to the person we loved if we had the ability to do so, even if it went against all their wishes just to save us from the pain of loosing them forever.
A long time ago I learnt that Vertigo has a good habit of putting out brilliant books, and American Vampire is as good as anything that Vertigo has put out in the past. Scott Snyder is in the writing form of his life at the moment and all his books can only be described as must reads, Rafael Albuquerque art on this book can be summed up in two words simply stunning.
If you’re not reading this book then hang your head in shame, or quickly redeem yourself and get out there and buy the trades or back issues.