It’s time for another Comic Bastard group review! Each of the participating reviewers will give a score and their thoughts on the issue. Up today is Vampirella #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. This is the third series in their recent reboot they’ve undergone.
I was suckered by the oldest trick in comics: the guest artist cover. I took one look at Chrissie Zullo's understated, beautiful (oddly modest) take on Vampirella and I knew I wanted to read a book about this character. And then I opened it up and found the Dynamite house style (which somehow makes Vampirella's new costume seem equally titillating as her old one). As with Dynamite's other reboots of their cheese-cake female characters (Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris), the comic itself feels blandly mediocre with a plot that felt perfunctory (and tray way too hard to be 'hip'). There are some monsters, some jokes, some clubs, and a lot of sex, but none of it is very interesting or original. Frankly, there is just nothing here to recommend the book over the far superior 'Black Magick' and 'Cry Havoc' which are exploring similar urban fantasy territory but with the virtues Vampirella lacks, namely charisma and creativity.
As I kept reading, I had to continue to lower my expectations of this comic, trying to find something positive about it other than the costume change. For many years Vampirella has been a campy character who is taken as seriously as Ash does in the Army of Darkness comic series. Although a wardrobe update was sorely needed, it was the most interesting thing that accompanied the main story which seemed more like a string of incredibly convenient clues handed to our heroine all wrapped around banter and jokes that fell as flat as the attempt to depict Los Angeles and Vampirella in the age of social media. As great as it was to make light of how terrible her outfit has been and somehow remained unchanged for almost 50 years, it’s overshadowed by the bad elements of the rest of this issue.
This book is cheese. It’s bad cheese though. The dialogue is bad even by the worst of comic book standards. It’s almost as if Leth felt that because it was a comic book that it could be that bad. Otherwise I don’t know how else to explain Vampirella telling her werewolf boyfriend (where the fuck did he come from? We’re never told), “I’ll get a howl out of you.” Clearly a sexual innuendo which I actually have no problem with. Vampirella wanting to have sex and taking charge in the initiation of sex is not the problem because I would read more of that. It’s that line of dialogue which made me cringe. We get it… he’s a werewolf. If the goal was to make Vampi and her boyfriend that couple, then mission accomplished. The problem being that no one likes that couple, so why would we want to read a comic book starring them?
The story itself does what the other three pointless Dynamite reboots don’t do and that’s address the costume change… which was also dumb. After having her photo released on the internet tabloids, Vampirella decides to go with something less conspicuous. I don’t actually dislike the new costume and it’s not the first time it’s changed, but to call it less conspicuous is strange because it’s really just a different kind of conspicuous.
The rest of the story is basically about Hollywood and introducing Vampirella to an agent and things that are so annoying and pulled from real life that they’re not interesting. I don’t want to see Vampirella famous and fighting for a table at Mr. Chows. I don’t want to see her agent getting her on talk shows and defending herself against whatever shit version of TMZ they come up with. That’s the shit in real life that I avoid like the plague and so for it to be the new world of Vampirella… not interested.
The art gets a pass because it wasn’t terrible even if the artist had never been “just outside Santa Clarita” because he wouldn’t have illustrated it so flat and Nevada looking. Just another detail that made this story annoying.
I won’t be back for more of this series. I personally don’t think there’s much to do with Vampirella anymore. She reminds me of the pulp characters that Dynamite also has in their library. They’ve had their time and they should be left to rest so that new characters and stories can fill our comic shops rather than people chasing nostalgia or in this case rebooting a property that no one asked for.
Vampirella #1 Writer: Kate Leth Artist: Eman Casallos Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/2/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital