This week on Most Heroic, we’ll be continuing the theme of Halloween and horror stories by focusing on the protagonist of American Vampire, Skinner Sweet.
It seems as though the vampire craze that brought us True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and those stupid sparkling douche-bags in the Twilight saga might finally be starting to wind down. Of course, we’ll still be getting a new Dracula series, but it doesn’t seem that vampires are as popular as they were only a few years ago. That being said, vampires will never really go out of style. At this point, the vampire has become a cultural icon of some of our deepest fears, and our fears will always stay the same.
Over the centuries, the vampire has gone through many different transformations and incarnations. We’ve seen them as the suave and seductive tempters who slowly steal the life from you, we’ve seen them as brooding immortals who can’t stand the idea of living alone forever, we’ve seen them as tortured but honorable men and women who try to use their curse for good, and of course we’ve seen them as sparkling cardboard emotionally abusive and angsty bags of shit. (I apologize for digressing. I just really really really dislike Twilight.)
My point is we’ve seen several different breeds of vampires come and go across the decades, and I think that we need to see a different breed than the one type that we’ve been force-fed over the last five years. We need an American Vampire.
American Vampire is an Eisner Award-winning ongoing comic series that was created by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque back in 2010, and it is absolutely fantastic. The series chronicles the rise of a new breed of vampire that originates in the Old West. The first of this new breed is a legendary Western outlaw named Skinner Sweet, and I believe that he’s the next big thing when it comes to vampires.
There’s one aspect that is supposed to define vampires above all else. Stephen King said it best in the forward to American Vampire‘s first volume. (Side note: King actually co-wrote the first five issues of the series!)
There is no better way to describe Skinner Sweet than that. He is a killer, through and through, and he’ll make your blood run cold before he drinks it up. Even before he was a vampire, Sweet was a monster. In life he was a sociopathic criminal famed for his sadistic tendencies and methods as well his penchant for candy. During his exploits, he somehow wronged a newly immigrated European vampire, who hired the Pinkertons to apprehend him. Skinner wouldn’t go down without a fight though, and he nearly escaped captivity before being killed and infected by the vampire.
Since the “old blood” of the European vampire strain had never mixed with American blood before, Sweet was turned into an entirely new form of vampire upon his resurrection. He’s much faster and stronger than the traditional vampires, and he’s much harder to kill, since he doesn’t have the same kind of weaknesses. Sweet took to his new life like a duck to water, and he immediately sought vengeance at the people who wronged him in life, including his maker. He’s nigh-unstoppable, and terrifying to behold.
One of the scariest things about Skinner Sweet is that you never really know what he’s going to be doing next. He’s like a much more sinister version of Jack Sparrow. One minute he’s fighting with the good guys, the next minute against them. Sometimes he’s warring with the Carpathian vampires; sometimes they have a truce. It all depends on his mood and state of mind. There’s really only two things that you can predict about the cunning bastard; he’ll be doing what’s best for himself, and there will be a lot of blood wherever he goes.
I’ll go ahead and stop there before I say too much. I wouldn’t dare dream of spoiling anyone on a story this good. I can’t recommend American Vampire enough. It features a great fresh take on the the classic vampire mythology, and it’s just downright awesome in every which way.
I’d like nothing more than to see Showtime, FX, AMC or one of the other cable networks adapt American Vampire into a good television series. Sweet’s a character strong enough to anchor a series for several years and I’d love to see someone like Ben Foster in the role.