Going on with your life without the person you love is tough. Whether it's them not knowing how you really feel, you being afraid to tell them, or just out right rejection; it's hard. But what is harder is seeing the one you love grow older right before your eyes, and you could end that by simply making them like you. With each breath that they take, it's as if they are inviting death into their lungs, into their heart, into their whole being. And with each day that passes, you have to watch them leave you.
Now reverse the coin and imagine you are the one who can't make time go slower. Imagine being so in love, so whole and complete yet knowing you will never get to spend an eternity with them. You would be thinking an array of things. Will they ever love someone as much as they have loved you? Will they be okay? Will your eventual demise break their heart, the way it breaks yours slowly with each day that passes?
American Vampire Volume 2, has two stories that are very different and overlap in such a smooth and subtle way. Yet it's the story of the love and inevitable heart break between Pearl and Henry that really stands out.
Our first story, entitled Devil in the Sand set in 1936, revolves around the young police chief Cashel Morgan and his ongoing battle to rid the Las Vegas streets of all it's filth. And who is behind a lot of the debauchery of 'Sin City'...you guessed it Skinner Sweet. All Morgan wants to do is live up to his fathers name(who by the way was also a cop), and go home to his neglected, pregnant wife; but things don't always work out as planned. A darkness looms over Las Vegas and a lot of Morgan's battle comes with not knowing whether or not he should believe things that are deemed 'supernatural' because his character is a realist and he has seen far too much shit to believe something that can never be fully explained to him.
And in comes our second story The Way Out, which is following the events of Devil in the Sand, so there is no major lapse in time unlike the first instalment of American Vampire. The Way Out is very much a Pearl and Henry story, and how they are adapting as a married couple while also kicking some serious ass. They make a great team but even so, there is one difference between them that will change their course at some point; Pearl is a vampire. The passion they share for one another is something that is so unlike anything written in previous vampire literature. How is it different? Well in most vampire literature, our protagonists are very selfish, while they are brooding characters and so are are their counterparts, they can never be alone no matter what their words say. They always have to turn someone to being like them, which usually ends bad...unless it's written for dopey teenagers. However in American Vampire, Pearl and Henry live together knowing full well what is going to happen. Their love is so normal, this is a mirror reflection on ourselves, and our relationships, this isn't some drawn our epic drama which is over the top. Pearl and Henry are just like us. When you are born, you are born complete, and then as you grow up and work things out for yourself along the way, shards of you go missing, and someone picks them up, and it's up to you to let that person who has picked them up inside. And that is exactly what has happened to Pearl and Henry. And even though Pearl needs him a part of her life always, she hates a part of herself, she hates how being a vampire makes her feel at times; she loves Henry too much to put any kind of hate inside of him.
Again Volume 2 doesn't use a ton of red to symbolise the 'darkness' of this story, instead it's the cold blues and crushed velvet looking purples which add to the mood. You can tell that artists Rafael Albuquerque and Mateus Santolouco and colourist Dave McCaig really gave Volume 2 a warmer feel and a different approach to the art work. While it does capture the essence of the original it has a new outlook, which is perfect for the era that is set, which keeps it fresh and alive. The panels are created in such a way that can only make you feel as if you have jumped inside the scene and are experiencing everything with our protagonists.
I loved American Vampire Volume 2 so much that I read it twice in one day, and became so attached so the characters of Pearl and Henry. It was that combination of beautiful art work, stunning colour and a subtle yet deep story which had me hooked. And while my own heart doesn't feel much, it was nice to know that a comic book could just for a little while make me encounter the treasures of real love.