Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 10.12.2011 – American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #5

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.8
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 11.0%
Users who pulled this comic:
Art and cover by SEAN MURPHY

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

If Sean Murphy isn’t nominated for an Eisner for the work he did on this series, the entire affair is a sham.

I can say that, of course, because Scott Snyder has already won his. Not that others shouldn’t be forthcoming.

I picked up this issue, and noticed that it was the last of what has been a very good mini-series, and while I was sad to see it end, I was very excited to see if Snyder and his team could continue spinning those plates. I love a good ending, and for some reason, history mostly, I had a good feeling about this one. For a reader like me, this comic book had everything I could ask for. It took place in Europe during World War II. It has truckloads of Nazis and the variant Nazi vampires, and they’re all slaughtered. It’s got a tough guy hero just trying to do the best for his son, also a vampire, and a tough, smart, and quite frankly very sexy heroine who is also just a little bit vampire. In the end though, this series, and this issue in particular was a hell of a lot of fun. It had sci-fi action, using the sun gun to clear a path through the mountain shows while atop a motorcycle with a side car. It had a very noble sacrifice, by a character who chanted the Star Spangled Banner while marching head on towards his probably death. It strode the line of goofy and pulp and action all at once, and did so perfectly. It left me wanting more and glad to see a conclusion.

All of that stuff, the story, the writing, the characters, the pacing, and the moments were all wonderful. But the real story here was Sean Murphy.

I’m not kidding you when I say that this is one of the best drawn books I’ve seen in recent memory. Over and over through the pages, I saw panels and depictions that just floored me with delight. Even now, I’m looking at spreads of giant ancient vampires wreaking havoc at a Nazi castle, while a motorcycle flies through the air in the foreground, and I’m shaking my head the same way you do when you hear your favorite guitarist playing something beautiful. It doesn’t hurt one bit to have Dave Stewart on rhythm, providing what are consistently the best colors in the industry. Every page is a little masterpiece, bustling with energy and excitement. There’s no one else out there doing art that looks like this, but at the same time, it feels familiar, and classic, and just right. I can’t wait to see what Murphy does next, because so far, I haven’t seen something he can’t do. But if he wants to stick with castles and motorcycles and airships in the 40s, I’m OK with that too.

There was just one moment though, where this pick was cemented. When Book makes her escape, and she’s been rescued from the side of a mountain, you flip the page, and it’s a mostly black, one-panel page with no dialog. It’s a cinematic quiet moment, and it was so perfectly executed that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it done so well. It’s a little capstone on the whole mini-series before we hit a brief, but necessary epilogue.  I’m not kidding you. I gasped, as if I’d just tasted something wonderful.

So, like I said, Eisner. Seriously.

I’m guessing that many of you, particularly folks who don’t read this series, saw the Pick of the Week, and thought, “Snyder again?” You’re not alone. Normally, at this point, it gets harder to write about the work of one guy over and over. And yet, that’s not happening. What I’m reading in Batman and Swamp Thing is not what I’m reading in American Vampire or Severed. All of it is good. Actually, it’s a little bit eery. You start to doubt yourself as a reviewer, and think, “well, maybe I’m just missing some fault here,” but I don’t think that’s it. I think we’re seeing the birth of one of the better comic writers we’ve seen in some time, and we expect him to drop some balls, and he just won’t. Enthusiasm and talent will get you very far indeed. I could try to question it, but for now, I’m going to enjoy it, and make sure others know as well.

When Scalped is gone soon, American Vampire will be carrying the torch for Vertigo comics as far as I’m concerned, until the next great series comes along. I imagine that a lot of people who read Snyder’s new series for DC will be introduced to his work for the first time. In that case, I say, go get this book. I can’t offer a higher recommendation. For five issues, Snyder and Murphy worked up a little bit of comic book heaven, in the form of undead Nazis, some explosions, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Josh Flanagan
There’s a little Han Solo in Cash McCogan, or am I just putting it there?


  1. Good pick.

  2. Does this count as snapping the DC streak?

  3. glad i picked this up even though I hadn’t read american vampire. really excited to read it now.

    good job by sean murphy on the cover to depict in a sexy way without having her showing off T&A

  4. I really need to get myself caught up on this series. Woefully behind. Woefully.

  5. Yeah, that one page in question was storytelling perfection. Called up every war movie I’ve ever seen & still was so emotionally impactful at that page turn. Sean Murphy, man…

  6. This series started out well and end very badly, the artwork was almost lazily thrown together and the story just got real boring and very long winded! Pick of the Week I say NAY!

    Just Sayin’,


  7. Cash Solo or Han McCogan? I prefer Cash Solo. Cause I agree with that last bit either way.

  8. Word. This was the first thing I read from my stack. Perfect!

  9. Missed out on this
    TRADE WAIT! That’s how I’ve been collecting the series anyway.

  10. Guys! Guys!

    Sean Murphy. For real.

  11. Sean Murphy is one of those guys who has an art style that completely takes me out of a story. I understand people like his style but it doesn’t work for me. Kinda cool to see something outside of The New 52 getting some POTW love.

  12. It is a really hard trade wait but I can’t stray away from how I am used to reading this series. So pumped for the next heft collection on hardcover, which I think includes this mini-series as well as the regular title, too?

  13. I loved this series. One of the ones I’ve been eagrly waiting last to read. This issue was no different, and Sean Murphy’s art, damn it, so good. I can see what some people may not like about it, but the story telling was really strong, the characterization was fantastic, and there is just enough of cartooning in their to give some of the grityness he has some extra life. Definently my PoTW.

    and Josh, I am thinking Cash is more Indy than Han.

  14. How far into American Vampire do you need to be to get the most out of this mini?

    • None at all. Snyder let’s you know the crux of these character’s goings on in the regular AV Series, but this series is really about two character’s who want to fix what has happened to them, and their mission towards this goal and the obstacles that get in their way. its a simple premesis with some great twists and turns and some moments that make you think and question the nature of evil; at least to me.

    • I would liken it to “X-Men: First Class”. You can check it out with no prior knowledge of the franchise, and completely enjoy it, but there are subtleties you’ll pick up on, and have a better overall experience if you check out what came before it.

  15. Great book. This whole series has been a masterpiece, like most American Vampire. Snyder has really learned how to invest readers over the course of his work on AV. It started as good fun with a little bit off kilter premise, and at this point has potently invested me in the future of these characters. Murphy’s art and visual storytelling is quick, smart and exciting to look at. All angles and jars to start us up. If this book came up in every conversation about comics it wouldn’t be often enough.

  16. Great week for art. JHW3, Sean Murphy, Dustin Weaver, Jerome Opena etc…

    I read American Vamp. in HC and I’m REALLY looking forward to this, but I’m sure Uncanny X-Force would still be my POTW either way.

  17. It really is a good time to be a DC/Vertigo fanboy. Not that I don’t love me some Marvel books, but outside of USM and X-Men they haven’t been doing anything to excite me.

  18. That panel is perfect

  19. What was with the not sharing of the cure?
    That was literally my only problem across 5 episodes but it was especially detrimental to come so late in the game. Last issue: 3/4 for story. 4/4 for art.

  20. I just finished the second volume HC, great series – looking forward to catching up with this one.

  21. Sean Murphy is a beast! This was one great looking book in a great looking series. I’m really excited to see what’s next from him.

  22. Is there anything Scott Snyder can’t make awesome?

  23. when is the POW podcast going up?

  24. I’ve gleefully picked up each issue of this, and I will definitely be double dipping for the hardcover.

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