In Review: Vampirella #8

A trip to this dark side couldn't be better.

The covers: Once, twice, three times a lady on three different covers. The A is by Mike Mayhew with the title character standing on the roof of a church. Her arms are spread wide and her fingers grotesquely elongated to allow her wings to grow. Great combination of the beautiful (her face and body) and the disturbing (her hands and wings). The background also looks good with the familiar behind her and the bizarre to her left. The B cover is by Jenny Frison featuring a great image of Vampirella staring down readers. Her ashy flesh contrasts with the red in her iconic clothing and the book’s title. Her dead silvery eyes will hypnotize you. Stephanie Buscema does the C cover and it’s a deliciously fun with Vampirella sitting in a graveyard. A black cat brushes against her tombstone in joy. Love this! Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C A+

The story: The first four pages of this issue brilliantly introduce Dr. Faustus through flashback and present day settings. The first four panels of Page 1 make him a sympathetic character, while the fifth will make readers do a 180. The second page slowly rebuilds some of the sympathy, and then the third page, using the previous issue’s conflict, begins to tear it down again, with Page 4 absolutely devastating to the readers’ perceptions of “The Good Doctor.” Writer Nancy A. Collins has created a character with a full backstory that will instantly create a reaction in readers. Outstanding! Vampirella is given the task of finding Faustus by the Kabal to learn why he’s creating a rabies-like plague. She goes with a partner on this quest and his backstory is given, too. On Page 6 another character is introduced and he’s fantastic. His appearance is brief, so I’m hoping to see more of him in the future. This second chapter in The Accursed saga moves the story forward, allowing new readers to jump in without missing a beat. The focus is on every character, save Vampirella, which is fine in the big picture. Overall grade: A

The art: Patrick Berkenkotter provides the artwork on this issue and he’s tops. He can crate realistic characters side by side with the fantastic and make it believable. The opening four pages show him to be a master of this. Page 4 has a terrifying point of view showing a scene that is firmly grounded in reality and that makes it more frightening. Vampirella is gorgeous, naturally, and the story has her very subdued until Page 12. When she goes into action she doesn’t hold back and Berkenkotter has her beautiful and fierce. Page 14’s full page splash is a solid “Uh-oh!” moment and the antagonists look great. The art on this book is slick. Overall grade: A

The colors: Colorist Jorge Sutil does some impressive work. I like the opening narration being bordered in a bright red with white letters on a black background, making the story of the doctor intense. The sky in the fourth panel on Page 1 is lovely and stands out against the violets of the night. Crimson is a vivid color on 3, being used as a hallmark of the doctor’s disease. I also love how the color is made more vivid for the lights in the structure atop Page 5–Who would want to stop there? Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, dialogue, sounds, a digital clock, story title, scene settings, character narration, a yell, and screams come courtesy of Rob Steen. I am thrilled beyond measure that Steen uses two different fonts for the two different forms of narration. It denotes two different speakers to the readers and that they are two different forms of communication entirely. Steen’s work is a welcome exception to the rule. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Supernatural beings are trying to start the Apocalypse and only Vampirella can stop them. A trip to this dark side couldn’t be better. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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