By Levi Remington
No, it wasn't the umpteenth revamp that captured my attention, nor was it the creative team. Instead, what finally led me to read a Vampirella title was the character herself. I had many questions. Why has she persisted for so long? What's her story? Is this title fueled by schlock, or has it succeeded because it's founded on a beloved, complex character? Well, after getting three issues deep into Dynamite's most recent run (don't forget the zero issue), I can safely say – with a tinge of sadness and regret – that this book does little to justify Vampirella's longevity. "You can't take the vampire out of the girl," the titular character so wisely observes, but at least you can take Vampirella off your pull list.
Vampirella is the swiss army knife of scantily-clad comic book women. The titillating scarlet exterior gives way to a multitude of convenient uses, none of which stand out on their own, but put them together and you might end up with something special. At least, that was the idea over 40 years ago. Vampirella started as a gothic hostess of anthology horror who would star in the very stories she presented. Basically, what if Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie had sex appeal? The result was silly, pulpy scares with a side of cheesecake. Her early years featured the incredible writing talents of Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, and Warren Ellis, who were likely drawn to the character for her diverse storytelling potential in the campy realms of horror, sci-fi, action, and romance. From space vampire to daughter of demons, Vampirella's genre-restrictions were about as thin as her costume.
Since acquiring the publishing rights back in 2010, Dynamite Entertainment has relaunched the title four times. Their last attempt included a complete redesign from Nicola Scott, part of a line-wide rebranding that has been abandoned here. Time has not been kind to Vampirella.
From what I could gather, this book takes place in the distant future of Los Angeles. This is of course where cars can fly, angel-men swarm the outskirts, everybody purchases their apparel from the Wacky Shenanigan factory, citizens aren't averse to casually sporting a strap-on if they themselves have no phallic limbs to publicly display, and the police are tyrannical clowns who wield pies that can rip a vortex through time and space. Surprised? So was I.
It sounds like a total blast of nonsensical madness, but the end result isn't fun in the slightest. The story is a mess, the dialogue is rough, and the characters are dull. The violent and perverted dystopia comes off as completely unoriginal, and it doesn't feel like the creators know what they want to do with it. Perhaps I'm not the target audience for this book, but I see nothing about the story that's worth recommending. It's humorless and hollow, there are no successful attempts at horror, or drama of any kind really, and the world is so flippantly bonkers that besides serving as a dry, conceptual surprise, there's nothing of substance here.
The art dabbles in greatness, with a grainy style that's occasionally very nice, especially in its depictions of people, but compared to previous issues it feels rushed. There is a significant lack of location-awareness and environment detail. Most of this week's story appears to take place in a void, with only the slightest suggestion of place, and there is an unnecessary over-reliance on silhouettes. These factors along with the uninspired panel layouts make for a lifeless and sterile aesthetic.
Emotionally barren, lacking in excitement, and struggling artistically, Vampirella continues its everlasting stumble through mediocrity in issue #2 of Dynamite's 2017 relaunch.
Vampirella (2017) #2
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Jimmy Broxton
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Published by Dynamite Entertainment