Tuesday, December 8, 2020

American Vampire: 1976 #3 Review


The Great Vampire Train Robbery

Written By: Scott Snyder
Art By: Rafael Albuquerque
Colors By: Dave McCaig
Lettering By: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 9, 2020

REVIEW BY:  Gabriel Hernandez

Two teams hunt for their own special prize - one robs a train for a Colonial-era artifact that contains a secret map. The other hunts down the king of vampires, Dracula, before he can make a deal with the demon hordes about to invade the surface.

It’s National Treasure meets Legion set in the era of bell-bottoms and mutton chops. And it 100% works like a bloody, gonzo, vampire action story set in the ’70s.

Welcome, my intrepid readers, to my first review for Weird Science. I hope you enjoy your journey with me.

Back to the story…

Cal and Travis realized in issue #2 that Dracula is hiding out under the streets of Times Square in NYC (not a family-friendly place at that time in history) in an abandoned Vassals of the Morning Star (VMS) research facility. Why? Because the remnant stink of blood and gore hides the vampire king from detection by other unsavory creatures of the night.

This portion of the issue harkens back to the urban vampire hunter films of the period, giving off a distinctly Blade vibe with the duo tracking Dracula in the NY subway systems. The art team forces the duo to wade through long shadows and dank, dripping concrete to get to the hidden lab, only lit by harsh red safety lights to imply danger and blood. This is the moodiest section of the book that screams retro vampire horror with every panel saturated in red tones.

As a bonus, Dracula’s appearance is possibly the most inhumanly monstrous version I’ve seen in a very long time. He’s more bestial bat-monster than man, and he knows how to hurt the hunters with his taunts just as much as with his claws and fangs. I’m a sucker for ‘70s horror, and this part of the issue hits all the right notes.

Meanwhile, Sweet, Skinner, and Dolly engage in the subtle art of hijacking a train - an expert trade Skinner learned when he was a regular mortal back in the Old West - that contains the secret map they’ve been searching for. All goes according to plan until the Tongue turns the tables in a horrific fashion.

Scott Snyder pulls off a train heist that pays strong homage to Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid in grand Western style. All the piece parts are there - from the mountainside train tunnel to the impossibly high train trestle. And when the plan goes south, the escape turns into a car chase straight out of The French Connection. If it seems like I’m making a lot of film references, it’s because Snyder went the whole hog taking the best examples of film from that time period and weaving them into a violent, kinetic, and rowdy monster story.

The art team carries the mood and intent of Snyder’s story beautifully, and I especially like McCaig’s renderings of shocked faces. There are a lot of shocked faces in this issue. The coloring sets the mood perfectly, particularly in the darkened tunnels, and the lettering blends seamlessly into the art.

Finally, there’s a little twist cliffhanger at the end of the issue with the arrival of a new character [No Spoiler] arrives to put a stop to the shenanigans in a brutally bloody fashion.

Bits and Pieces

American Vampire 1976 #3 is wall-to-wall action that pays homage to the best of 70s cinema. The story moves at breakneck speed, sometimes literally breaking a few necks in the process. The monsters are brutal and terrifying as each team’s mission goes more than sideways, and the twist cliffhanger sets up more fun and games in the next issue. I was thoroughly entertained by this issue.


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