by Nevs Coleman

‘Bondage Scene, Also’ . A Review of Vampirella 1

Vampi Dodson 1     Personal circumstances have recently led me to becoming almost a scholar in cheesecake comics from the last 20 years odd. While I’m a fan of the concept of such things, and would happily use my clout in the industry, such as it is, to commission William Stout, Adam Hughes, Daniel Acuna and Frank Cho to do a series of Russ Meyer adaptations for Humanoids, the worrying and tragic reality is that most of these things are, well, trash.

High End Trash. You kids don't know what you missed, I tell ya. and get off my lawn.

High End Trash. You kids don’t know what you missed, I tell ya. And get off my lawn.

Not trash in a fun way that recollects the likes of Femme Fatales magazine, Monique Gabrielle, Heavy Metal, read under cover of nightfall, inside the den of night and sheets, armed with a torch while The Cramps or The Gun Club play in the background, squinting in, drinking in the lurid and eye-straining work of Jose Gonzales or Esteban Maroto. No, a cynical trash. A high ticket item, published by no end of fly by night companies, with a strong cover (probably photo, or more likely traced.). Some kind of incentive, like a print, a signature or in the most extreme case, a pair of pants. A pair of pants purporting to have been worn by the protagonist herself. The sad reality of these low-end products of the trash scale is that they were usually drawn by people who were still cutting their teeth learning to draw anything, let alone sensuous women in various states of languid repose. While they were certainly far from the worst offender, who I know naming will encourage you to go search out such things, Harris in the 90’s were almost the pinnacle of the combination of running utterly beautiful and sinful though inducing covers and not having much to back that standard up with once you got past the Adam Hughes, the Dave Stevens, the Michael Kaluta. Very rarely you’d get someone as talented as Becky Cloonan doing the interiors. Later on you’d get the likes of Gary Frank, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale and equally talented artists doing the story pages, but there are a lot of very painful Vampirella comics that are shoo ins for inclusion on Escher Girls. The following image is taken from Vampirella Magazine and is way, way out of the norm for most 90’s Vampirella art.

Because Becky is teh awesums

Because Becky is teh awesums

So, onto Dynamite’s latest foray into everyone’s favourite Drakulon immigrant, Vampirella Vol 2 #1.  Written by Nancy A. Collins, of Red Sonja fame of late and pencilled by Patrick Berkenkotter, no stranger to Vampirella himself and also a veteran of the Dynamite/Ales Ross/Marvel project from a few years back. Your reviewer plonks down his £2:50 for the super deluxe Comixology exclusive edition, which is worrying still cheaper than buying a copy from your friendly neighbourhood comic shop and cheaper than buying all the variant covers individually, as you get them all as part of the package. Well, here’s the thing. I know very little about Vampirella herself. I know she sometimes has a beef going on with Dracula, that she’s from a planet called Drakulon, which I presume is incredibly warm judging by her costume, she’s prone to losing her temper and is constantly trying to find ways around that whole ‘having to drink blood to stay alive’ thing and that her adventures tend to towards big castles and evil schemes. There was a time where she ran about being Manga but everyone seems to have just forgotten that. At one point Mark Millar wrote in a pair of detectives into her comic called Mulligan & O’ Hare, for the 20 odd of us who were both into Vic N Bob and Vampirella. She’s a bit like a more fun to look at and 100% less emo Morbius. I’ve not sat down and read any run of her stories beyond when someone I liked was writing her, like a Grant Morrison or Alan Moore. With that in mind, I’m into this book and her obviously long history and totally understand what’s going on. It’s a first issue that understands that it’s job is to introduce and engage new readers, and does so very well. Yeah, it’s good. Really good. Intriguing opening, everyone is written as people rather than numbers that have to react in prescribed ways in order to get the story from point A to Point B. The art is solid, reminding me of Gary Frank and indeed, Esteban Maroto in places, and it’s nice to see someone drawing a book like Vampirella that doesn’t treat the script like a vehicle to get the female lead into as many awkward pin -ups poses as possible, although Vamps is apparently quite cold throughout her confrontation with Ethan Shroud and that costume is always going to lend itself to..ahem..intriguing poses. Bondage scene, also,   It’s a strong opening issue for a franchise that even the most die-hard fan must have thought ‘Vampirella 1. Again?’ and I’m lured in for issue 2. Buying the digital exclusive version also gets you, beyond the variant covers, a look at some of the original script and pencils contrasted with the final printing. More fun that Vampirella has a right o be in 2014, and certainly the best thing Dynamite is published by bloody miles. Just because I’m nice, here’s a look at the Stephanie Buscema variant: Steph Vampi The digital version is available to purchase here

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