Vampirella #1

Is Hollywood ready for this creature of the night? I’m ready to see more.

The covers: Hold on to something if you’re a completist: there are sixteen covers for you to track down. Chrissie Zullo does the A cover and it’s very different for a Vampirella frontpiece. It’s drawn very much in the style of Babs Tarr’s Batgirl. A very youthful looking Vampirella is wearing a red jacket and matching gloves, holding a crossbow. She has her hair in a tall and long ponytail, with the hair winding behind her that would make Marvel’s Medusa envious. She’s framed by a full moon and there’s a graveyard behind her. It’s very cute, but that’s not a word I would associate with his character unless she were drawn by Tony Fleecs. The B is by Jay Anacleto and Ivan Nunes (and connects with the recently released Red Sonja #1 and Dejah Thoris #1). This has Vampy decked out in the same outfit as the Main cover, though looking much more mature and much more like the character fans are familiar with. She’s holding her crossbow in one hand and leaning on a piece of statuary with the other. This looks great! Tula Lotay does the C cover and it’s also really cool. This has Vampirella looking like a teenage bad girl from the 1950s on a motorcycle spray painting a familiar looking symbol on a wall. This would be great as a poster. The D is by Tony Fleecs and it connects with Red Sonja #1 and Dejah Thoris #1 that he created for those books. This continues the Li’l Rocker covers with Vampy rocking out on bass. I’m not fond of “cute” covers usually, but these are impossible not to like. A blank authentix cover is the E, allowing a collector to take this to a convention to get a sketch by their favorite artist. The F is by Ming Doyle and shows Vampirella in a misty valley, looking as though she’s about to crack her fingers in anticipation of a brawl. This is fine, but there’s not much in the visual to tell what’s occurring. Nicola Scott and Ivan Nunes do the G cover which is similar to the other character design covers that have been appearing on Dynamite covers for over a year. This is a good way for fans to completely see the title character and her new costume. I like it! The H is the same as the B cover, though it’s without any text, being labeled a “rare ‘virgin art’ cover.” The I is limited to 100 copies and it’s a black and white version of the F cover. This is neat to see because the background is completely different from the F. The J is the black and white version of the B cover. Nice. The K is the Fried Pie exclusive cover by Jenny Frison. This looks exactly how I picture this famous character, drawn in a style that seems reminiscent of Eerie covers. Outstanding and beautiful. The L cover is an exclusive to In Your Dreams Collectibles by Sergio Davila and Nunes. This, too, connects to Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris #1s that were available from this outlet. This is the darkest cover of all the covers, with Vampirella in a graveyard. What I can see of the visual is good, but it’s just too dark. The M is by Dennis Calero done for Jesse James Comics exclusively. It connects to the Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris issues that JJC provided. This has Vampy taking down a big green monster, looking like a Thark, on a vividly colored pink background. Interesting, but not enough of her is shown. The N is by Nei Ruffino, created for Midtown Comics. This, too, connects to the other two heroine books produced by Ruffino for this business. Vampirella looks sensational as she turns around to look at the reader, annoyed at her venture being interrupted. Ruffino is an exceptional artist and this is an exceptional cover. The O is “virgin art” cover version of the N, meaning there’s not text. The final cover is the P, which is the black and white version of the N. This is worth tracking down. Overall grades: A A, B A, C A+, D A+, E C, F C+, G A, H A, I C-, J A, K A+, L C, M C-, N A+, O A+, and P A+

The story: Just outside of Santa Clarita in California, early in the morning, Nancy Philips makes her way to a movie shoot. She’s greeted just outside the woods by Slade, a beautiful blonde woman dressed in a slinky white dress. She’s put with the other actors, but feels nervous because all of the crew is acting drunk. One man next to her says, “That’s nothing. You looked around at all? There’s no camera.” Action is called and a roaring belts out. The actors run, but Nancy turns around to see what’s causing the noise. What she sees causes her to scream and shield her face with her hands. Meanwhile, somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, Vampirella and Tristan are being chauffeured by Coleridge to their new home. Anxious to stretch out her legs, Vampirella exits the car first to look at the sprawling mansion which she instantly deems as perfect. A quick tour of the house and a return to her classic clothing is interrupted by the surprise entrance of a character that leaves the title character with several questions. A mystery is afoot, but first there’s a moment of pleasure. The next morning, Vampirella and Tristan try to learn who’s causing them trouble, but instead encounter a possible new ally. Kate Leth’s story acknowledges the previous Vampirella issues, which I was immensely happy about, and moves the world’s most famous female vampire to the west coast, where trouble seems to find her. This issue is setting up the pieces for the first arc, so there’s much introduced to plague her, though there are no answers. I’m most intrigued as to why someone is going TMZ on her. I’m happily waiting for more. Overall grade: B+

The art: I’m running hot and cold on the visuals by Eman Casallos. The first page has five panels, with the first and last used to establish the setting. Both are too far from the car carrying Nancy and the landscape so empty it doesn’t need to be the focus. The other three panels are close-ups of Nancy in the car and they look fine. This had me thinking that Casallos’s character work would be stronger than the settings. This is proven as untrue on the second page, as the setting looks good. Casallo’s work looks good for the remainder of the sequence with Nancy and only improves once Vampirella and her companions appear. Her new abode is really well done in an appropriately large panel on Page 5. When she puts on her iconic one piece on 7 she looks fantastic. The design of the intruder’s mask on 8 is very different and not explained in this issue, so I’m hoping the story addresses it in the next issue. I really liked the effect done for the character in the third panel on 10 – that brings some much needed supernatural visuals into the book. Beginning on Page 13 Casallos begins to use some creative layout with the panels, but leaves too much space empty. It doesn’t serve the story by making events more dramatic, nor does it increase the impact of the other visuals on the page. This happens a few times in this issue and it came off as very awkward. When Vampirella reveals her new outfit it’s a very cool moment and succeeded very well. The creature that appears in this book looks terrific and I’m eagerly awaiting seeing Vampy tangle with it. When Casallos is good, it’s fantastic work, but there are moments that leave me scratching my head. Overall grade: C

The colors: There are several panels that are too dark. Granted, this book is set primarily in the dark, given the supernatural nature of the characters, but it is possible to evoke a night feel without overusing dark colors. Valentina Pinto starts off things really darkly as readers follow Nancy’s path. Even the sound at the bottom of Page 3 blends in too much with the background, making it appear messy. Things improve when Vampirella appears, with her red outfit and porcelain skin creating an instant focus for the reader. The colors don’t help the scenes where the heroes meet with the possible ally, as they are too dark once again. Hopefully things lighten up a bit as this series progresses. Overall grade: C

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, sounds, narration, the intruder’s speech, a business card, computer screen text, and yells are brought to life by Erica Schultz. I’m very happy to see the wide variety of fonts in this book, as it makes the book more visually pleasing and resembles more of the reality that people encounter. Overall grade: A

The final line: This opening issue sets up several plot threads to explore in future issues. Is Hollywood ready for this creature of the night? Hell, yeah! I’m ready to see more. Overall grade: B-

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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