In Review: Vampirella #5

The first arc wraps up well with some appropriately scary visuals.

The covers: This issue has two covers that I’m aware, and it states on the inside cover that there are two covers, but on Dynamite’s website it shows a third cover. Anyhow, for sure, the A cover is by Chrissie Zullo and it’s a fun one. This shows Vampirella and Slade back to back at a party. The title character is flashing a smile, showing off her fangs, as she holds a glass containing a familiar crimson colored liquid. Slade isn’t smiling, instead considering the reader with a bit of dismissal; she holding a glass containing an emerald liquid. Behind them are silhouettes of party goers and a smattering of confetti falls upon them. Good illustration and the colors are terrific. For a book full of monsters, this is a fun frontpiece. Now, according to the inside cover it states that the B cover is by Sergio Davila and Ivan Nunes. I found an image of this online, and it’s really good, but it’s not on the Dynamite website. This cover shows Vampirella standing/learning onto a mound of skulls, with several having candles on them. She stands before a circular golden window, with the sunrise (sunset?) seen through the panes. She looks incredible and the coloring on this makes every element of it pop. I love this. The website shows a “Virgin Art” Variant cover which is exactly the same as the A cover, though all the text has been taken away. It, too, is tops. All three will quench your unnatural craving of alternate covers. Overall grades: A A, B A+, and “Virgin Art” A+

The story:  This is the conclusion to the relaunch’s first arc, and Kate Leth addresses all the story elements well. In the basement of evil Arabella Slade’s mansion, the villain has Vampirella by the throat. Genevieve demands the antagonist release the heroine. She’s answered with, “…you’re painfully stupid. I can’t die. Did you forget what I am?” Vampirella is barely able to squeek out, “Get — her — >HLK!< — off — me!” The first monster rushes in to help, but is cast aside by Slade. She pulls Vampirella’s arms back to put her wrists in shackles and is promptly bitten. “Do I need to get you a muzzle, too?” she asks, pushing the vampire’s head to the ground. That’s when an arrow pierces her voicebox. Trustworthy Colderidge has entered the fray, using his mistress’s crossbow. Slade pulls the shaft out and lunges forward, taking out two of the title character’s allies. Anabella’s next move is unexpected, especially for two characters, but given what she’s just endured, though it’s a wise decision. There’s a lot of action in this issue, which is necessary since Slade is impervious to every form of death. Several characters take a shot at her and end up on the floor. Naturally, Vampirella gets into the fight changing the tone of the battle, and Leth gives Vampirella gets some excellent lines on Pages 10 and 11. A fan will want Vampirella to be verbally taking down her opponent, as well as physically. The solution for besting Slade is the most obvious one and it’s utterly fantastic. I always enjoy having the most obvious solution to a problem used in a comic, and that’s what Leth does and I cannot emphasize enough how perfect the moment is. The villain is defeated (and be honest, that’s not a spoiler), but Leth is far from done. Something happens on 14 that’s really cool and then there’s a reaffirmation of a couple’s relationship and it’s awesome. Another couple has a good moment just after this. I loved what’s done with Arabella, because what else can be done with a villain that can’t die? The story still isn’t done after this, with a major change in the power structure of the underworld, and, again, Leth does something outstanding. The book concludes with Vampirella knowing where she fits in her new surroundings. Leth wraps things up in exciting fashion, but goes on to set up the direction of this series. This how a story arc should conclude. Overall grade: A     

The art: The book opens with a full page splash that shows all the characters and how they relate to one another. Eman Casallos then gets to create a major monster and show it trying to best Slade, who in the fourth panel on Page 2 shows her not to be a frail creature. Arabella is not looking her best after the events of last issue and Casallos does a really sweet job in making her arms and the side of her face grotesque as she’s trying to take down all her attackers; the fifth panel on 3 shows the fine details of her icky arm. When she goes into a rage on 4 she’s a wonderful out of control monster. Two characters, who have fleeting appearances, get some nice sympathy for their positions on 5 due to Casallos’s rendering of them. Pages 9 and 10 have Casallos using crooked panels that overlap one another at times, making the fight that’s occurring seem more frantic; 9 also contains one of my favorite images of Slade in the third panel — this is the panel to see her at her frightening best. The silhouette that ends 10 is a great way to compliment the three words of dialogue that Vampirella has. And speaking of the title character, she is so in command of the situation on 12. Take a look at those first two panels: she starts as a tease and morphs into full bloodsucker mode. Just awesome! The flame/energy effect on 14 is beautiful. This is an important moment for the reader to see and if it hadn’t been illustrated correctly, it would have lost a tremendous amount of its power. Casallos makes this moment sings. The device on 18 that’s containing Slade is sick and funny. I expect to see these sold at comic book conventions from now on: it’s such a simple design, but it looks fantastic. The final page shows Vampirella springing into action to see what her future holds and Casallos doesn’t go for the expected front view of the character, instead choosing to go with a three quarters view. It’s a nice change from the expected and the background behind her looks great. Good illustrations on every page of this issue. Overall grade: A  

The colors: Valentina Pinto takes advantage of characters’ clothing to have them take focus in this fracas. Vampirella’s red outfit and Slade’s white dress makes this pair stand out whenever they appear in the panel. I was pleasantly surprised to see Arabella’s energy blast on 2 using the colors that Pinto employs: I was expecting something showier, but she’s holding those colors back for later scenes. Reds are employed a lot, starting with the wonderful eyes of the brute on 2. This color is also used for all the blood that’s emptied. Page 7 really has colors exploding with great oranges, blues, and the final panel’s terrific violets. Some of the dialogue is outlined in a extra ring in the characters’ balloons, and Pinto colors this ring in red to make the exclamations explode. 14 has the most beautiful use of orange and yellow I’ve seen in a comic in quite a while. Combined with the faded violet background, this is a beautiful page. The yellows used on 18 are sickening, which are a perfect match for what they’re used for. I was a bit surprised to see this yellow change to a putrid lime green on 19: I don’t know why the color changed, but it still works. Vampirella’s narration is colored in a fiery red, orange, and yellow to match the nature of the character. Good colors throughout. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Erica Schultz provides scene settings, dialogue, whispered lines, sounds, screams, and yells. All look fine, with the yells the strongest contribution she makes. I like the sounds, but I thought they could have been bigger during the fight sequences. Overall grade: A-

The final line: The first arc wraps up well with some appropriately scary visuals. This shows the famous heroine at her best, taking out a foe with glee. Overall grade: A-

To order this issue or other books featuring the exploits of Vampirella go to http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/

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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