Would I prefer that Scott Snyder had done American Vampire #34, and had that instead of this this week? Yes, a thousand times yes. This one-shot is really, really great, just as everyone expected. I mean, it is the same creative team as that of the main series, so I had high expectations, and they were meant. I can see this actually leading into the next issue of American Vampire, when that returns from hiatus, especially with the kid, Jasper. However, I could see it also being a done in one story, and that’s fine as well. The absence of the big characters is felt in the book, but the absence of Henry Preston, Pearl Jones, and Skinner Sweet is felt. They are the big characters, and it’s their dynamic that really carried the series, especially seeing that Scott Snyder did such an amazing job with their characters.
The two leads in this book – Billy and Jolene – do take the place of Pearl and Henry, but it’s not the same since (spoilers) they’re dead by the end of the book. Both of them become vampires, and spend the entire issue going after a “cure” that they heard might be in Las Vegas. They go through the same process Pearl did in the first one or two American Vampire story arcs, but. Instead of coming to terms with it, they are horrified with what they’re forced to do, simply in order to survive in their new vampire forms. That is, until they meet a kid named Jasper, who’s an orphan that ran away from the orphanage. He’s a very interesting character, and we do get to see a little bit of his back story in this issue, with his time at the orphanage. The new characters are fleshed out well enough in this one shot, to the point where you actually care about them by the end, which is part of what makes this creative team so great. Scott Snyder did not script this issue though, in fact, it was Rafael Albuquerque pulling double duty, though Snyder is credited with the story.
By the end, Travis Kidd (the awesome vampire hunter!) has joined the cast, making his first appearance about halfway through in which he slaughters the vampires that turned Billy and Jolene, and, at the end, kills them in an extremely bittersweet moment. You see, the couple just wants to get married, and so, before he kills the, Travis takes them to a Church, where they do end up getting married, before he kills both of them. It’s a really great, tragic moment, for all the characters, though I doubt that this is the last we’ll see of the kid. Snyder and Vertigo really seem to know how to do a hiatus, as this books is just enough to tide me over until the next one shot and the return to the main AV title. The Long Road to Hell was a great, fun done in one story that allows the creative team to give us a little something while we wait.