In Review: Vampirella #1

I'll gladly empty my wallet for more Vampirella like this.

The covers: I read a digital copy for this review and searched the Internet for all the variants, so this review will not match the listing order that the physical book may contain. I was able to find seventy-three covers for this opening issue. I’m sure there are more that I’ve missed.

The AOD Collectibles Variant is by Oliver Castaneda and features a bust shot of the character in black and white biting into an apple with the moon and a colony of bats behind her. Neat, but I would have liked to have seen this colored.

The Variant cover by Artgerm features Vampirella from the waist up in gray tones. Blood is leaking out of both corners of her mouth, running down her chin and neck, before going down her chest to create her iconic skimpy top. White smoke is behind the character and overlaps her, making it seem she’s appearing out of the fog. There’s also a Virgin Variant of this cover.

The Authentix Blank Variant cover features only the title so a collector can get their favorite artist to create a unique image on it or have the book’s creators sign it. I always am in favor of covers like this, but on their own they’re not much to look at. The Authentix Signature cover features the color artwork of Alex Ross, that’s discussed below, but features a blank line at its bottom so a contributor to this issue may sign it. I like this.

Black Flag Comics has a major score with the Ingrid Gala Variant cover. Vampirella sits on an ornate marble throne in semi-darkness as a bat flits to her hand to give her information. There are several skulls around the throne and the red cushion she sits upon makes her pop. This is incredible!

The Blank Variant cover which has the title, states it’s a Blank Comic Cover, the publisher’s name, and the logo for Vampy’s 50th Anniversary. It’s okay, but will be better when it has something on it.

The J. Scott Campbell cover is surrounded in an ornate golden border that contains an amazing amount of foliage, angels, and a skull. This uses a previously image from 2010 by Campbell. It looked great then and it looks great now.

A wraparound cover is by Frank Cho with the heroine siting on a pink sheet, stretching her right leg onto the back of this cover done on white. There’s also a Virgin Variant of this cover. You can’t go wrong with anything by Cho.

Ron Learly Jr. has created the Variant for Clan McDonald Comics. This has Vampirella with her wings spread out as she flies over some trees in the night sky, accompanied by some bats and a glowing moon. I like the fulfilled look on her face.

Not to be outdone, Monte Michael Moore has a different take on the throne themed cover for Collector’s Choice. This is a much more threatening throne, resembling something by H.R. Giger, with the title character having her legs crossed and holding a sword downwards in her right hand. A black panther obscures part of the sword as it roars at the reader. Blood is splattered at the base of the chair.

Comic Kingdom of Canada has five covers to choose among. The first is by Mike Krome and Ula Mos. It’s a Virgin Variant that features Vampirella with two female vamps behind her. Both women are blonde and dressed in white. They are biting down on both sides of her neck, allowing the blood to streak down the title character’s chest to create her iconic clothing. Vampirella doesn’t look as if she’s hating what they’re doing. There are some beautiful rose bushes framing this picture set under moonlight. Very nice. Tyler Kirkham does the next cover and it echoes a model’s pose on Sports Illustrated. Coming out of the water — which is colored like an ocean of blood — in her famous next-to-nothing outfit, Vampirella looks at the reader with passion, her hair slicked back and the fluids dripping down her body. Yeah, it’s good. The third cover is by Kael Ngu, also listed as a Virgin Variant. This has Vampy facing the reader, yet slightly turned to the left. She’s on a white background with an explosion of red behind her which culminates into a colony of bats flying up and toward the reader. She’s striking a strong pose with her hands partially clenched to reveal her nails. Really cool. Next up is Sorah Suhng and Kate Colors’s cover. This features Vampirella on a tomb with light coming in from the heavens. She is sitting on one leg surrounded by several statues of weeping angels. This is one I would seek out. If you want horror, you want Anna Zhou’s Variant. Floating in the air with her arms happily raised, black wings have sprouted from Vampirella’s back as blood rains down upon her from a skull up high. She is pinned to her position by bloody tendrils attached to marble columns that have pierced her thighs. Her legs are constrained by similar tendrils that are attached to a ring of candles below her. Skulls litter the background. This has a very Clive Barker vibe.

Laying in a pool of blood, the title character looks to be emerging from a wall of red liquid. She looks good and the colors are really great. Shannon Maer did this Variant for The Comic Mint.

Comics Elite also has more than one cover to score — twelve in all! The talented Ale Garza is first. Stroking the heads of two seated black panthers, Vampirella looks completely innocent facing the reader. She’s flanked by two large lights in yellow glass with a red curtain behind all. You can never go wrong with work by Garza. The cover by Paul Green is going to be one to find! It has the character on her knees in a vast ocean of skulls with red eyes. She looks innocently at the reader as she holds one of the grinning bones in her left hand. A monstrous moon is behind her with bats flying about its upper edges. Simply stunning work from Green once again. Cory Hamscher and Sanju Nivangune show Vampirella going Moses. In an ocean of blood that’s rising about on either side of her, the title characters stands with her brows down in anger. Several skeletons are seen in the receding red liquid and the moon is visible behind her. I also like the howling faces in the waves. Very cool! Flashing a smile and holding her hands up to show the blood that covers them, the title character looks as happy as a clam against a dark crimson cover by Ryan Kincaid. Nice. On the branch of tree with the majority of her backside to the reader, Vampirella turns to consider the reader. There are several skulls in the tree, each held down by a blade through the center of their heads. It’s night and there’s a spectacular moon behind her. You need to get this cover by Inhyuk Lee! Dawn McTeigue has created a wowzer of a cover! Vampirella is sitting on a gravestone shaped like a cross. She’s reaching up to wrap her arms around the top of the cross. The background is a foggy red revealing distant pointed structures and the three moons in the sky. A slight trickle of blood is making its way down her chest. Outstanding. A very stylized cover is done by Dan Mendoza on his Variant. This has the character showing a lot of backside as she stands in a lake of blood that curves up on both sides. Her eyes are as big as the moon behind her. Four bats fly between her and the Earth’s satellite. A stand out illustration on a cosmic violet background. In a graveyard at twilight, Vampirella has her right hip jutted out and her left hand on her other hip. She has a small smile on her lips as she holds a bat on her right hand whose wings are open. This is a somewhat cartoony take on the character by Bill McKay and Sanju Nivangune and I like it. Very beautiful background and colors on this as well. An elaborate gravestone cross is on a white background with bones of every kind at its base. Sitting on it, with her back to the reader, is Vampirella. Looking at her hand, one can see it covered in gore and dripping onto her leg. Good atmosphere on this by Marat Mychaels. The penultimate cover from this comic seller is by Sabine Rich and it’s spectacular. A full figure of the title character is sitting on a pointy chair of skulls. behind her is a circular motif holding several skulls and a bat at its apex. Two pillars of night sky and branches are on either side of her with skulls at their bases. Yeah, this is another to get. On her knees, her chest planted to the ground, and her rear in the air, Vampirella is still able to raise her left hand to reach out at the reader. Behind her are a pair of bats in the sky and a wolf on a rocky outcropping howling at the moon. I like this, but I’m wondering how she’s able to twist herself into this position. This cover was created by Mark Sparacio. Emerging from a misty blue-green graveyard, Vampirella takes a moment to pause and delight in a recent meal. She’s nude, save all the blood that’s on her, creating her famous outfit. Beautifully twisted work by Nathan Szerdy.

A classic image by Dave Stevens is used on the ComicXposure cover. Vampirella is shown from the left leaning in on a pedestal. She looks fantastic and the basin on the pedestal is emitting a gray vapor that’s causing a small bat some distress. There’s also a Virgin Variant cover that’s equally gorgeous.

The Cosplay Variant cover has a cosplayer turned slightly to the right with rose colored smoke swirling about her on a black background. This captures the sexuality and the mystery of the character very well. There’s also a Virgin Variant cover that has the same photograph but lacks any text. This is also one to pick up.

Den of the Damned has two covers from Michael Crutchfield. The first features the vampire from the hips up with her hands to the side of her head, partially hiding her hands in her hair. This image is entirely in black and white, looking almost as if it’s just pencils. There’s a Virgin Variant featuring just the artwork, but her hair and costume have been colored.

Alex Ross returns for the Dynamic Forces Blood Red Pencils Variant which is the same as his other covers, except this pencil version is done in red to give it a blood effect. Nice.

A very haughty Vampirella graces the El Quinto Mundo cover by Warren Louw. Laying in a red cushioned black chair and holding a glass of wine (Yeah, right). Vampirella has her left hand at her temple. Seductive, beautiful, and perfect!

The Frank Frazetta Variant features a classic image of Vampirella (from the very first issue) surrounded in an ornate golden border. Outstanding!

Jay Ferguson does the Frankie’s Comics cover. Sitting on her knees in a pool of blood that fills a skull walled chamber, Vampirella looks up at the reader. Blood is on her chin and chest. Ghastly gruesome goodness!

Jose Gonzalez’s classic art used for a Vampirella poster back in the day can be found on this Variant cover. Having the character on a white cover really makes her stand out!

Adam Hughes has three different covers. His Regular cover features Vampirella in the lower left hand corner on her hands and knees leaning into the reader. Behind her is a large head shot of her in light pastels sucking the blood off her thumb. The colors are fantastic with violet and blue dominating. There’s also a Virgin Variant cover that features the same illustration without text. There’s a Black and White cover without and colors that’s also great, with the demonic details in her hair really standing out.

I really like everything about Joe Jusko’s Variant. Against a strong orange skyline, a wooden guillotine stands before the reader. Vampirella has her back on the platform, rather than than on her stomach as victims were placed. Her arms are spread wide, touching the base of the device, while her legs are in the air holding the blade up with her heels. This is sexy Gothic perfection. And, naturally, there’s a Virgin Variant of this, as well.

You’ve got to love the KRS Comics cover by David Nakayama. On a red cover that’s been distressed to make it seem old, Vampirella turns to look at the reader, showing the upper half of her body in profile, as well as a generous helping of her backside. Bats flit about around her. I cannot get enough of Nakayama’s work! He needs to do interiors of a comic!

Kwan Chang Comics has Derrick Chew create a fabulous cover. Looking up at the title character, Vampirella has a red cape splaying about her under the bright rays of the moon. She smiles as she puts her hands behind her head and bats dart about her from both sides. There’s also a Virgin Variant and both are absolutely beautiful.

Cocking a hip out and leaning slightly back, Vampirella points at the reader with her right hand against a tarnished bronze background of circular shapes that contain supernatural images. This Variant by Joseph Michael Linsner is also available as a Virgin Variant and as a Black and White Variant. The latter is especially neat to see as there are no background elements on the pencil rough. Even neater, there’s a Black and White Virgin Variant with no text, which I heartily recommend.

David Finch does both the Mega Gaming and Comics Variants. Both have the title character striking a pose similar to Frazetta’s classic cover. She stands before a moon with her right hand on her hip and her left to the side of her mouth considering what should be done with the reader. The Blood Moon Variant of this image is the same as the Variant, though the moon is now red and dripping blood. The latter is a much more striking cover.

Guillem March’s piece looks down upon Vampirella as she stands in a Gothic pool of blood that flows from several dragon gargoyles, the title character catches some of the blood in her hands and sweetly raises it to her lips. Ghastly and cute. There’s also a Virgin Variant cover that contains no text.

Mike Mayhew has two covers. The first has the title character on her back, shown from the waist up. Her iconic clothes are gold as is the sheet she’s on. Her right hand is in her hair. This is very much a classic Hollywood pose does superbly. There’s also a Blood Variant that’s the same image, but with blood on her mouth, chest, collar, and the lower sheet. This one is beautiful and creepy.

Carla Cohen has created a cover for Midtown Comics that features the character not only in her classic red outfit and white color, but sporting a shaggy brown coat hanging off her shoulders. She has her right hand on her lower lip. The background is composed of foggy gray skulls and a single bat. Decent.

Port City Comics has Jenevieve Broomall and Ula Mos create a ghastly frontpiece. With her arms up at her sides dripping copious amounts of blood, Vampirella stares slightly up with a giant moon behind her that features several bats. The background is crimson and her legs are swallowed in gore made up of skulls awash in red. Wow! Memorable cover, to be sure.

Looking up at the title character who is arching her back and stroking one shoulder as she stands before a massive Gothic mansion, the hands of the dead reach for Vampirella on the Alex Ross cover. There’s also a Virgin Variant cover for this frontpiece and a Black and White Variant cover.

The detail on John Gallagher’s cover for Sad Lemon Comics has got to be seen! In an incredible winter graveyard, featuring stairs in the background leading to a Gothic castle, Vampirella drops her red cape to the ground. A white wolf is in the foreground emitting a puff of hot breath. This is amazing and is definitely poster and print worthy!

The first cover from Sanctum Sanctorum Comics and Oddities is by Elias Chatzoudis. On her knees with her hands to her head, Vampirella is bathed in violet light from the chapel she’s in. She’s also surrounded by several skulls, lit candles, and a lot of blood. This is okay. Asia Ladowska’s cover is almost a Disney Princess take on the title character. Surrounded by roses, Vampirella is shown from the waist up, turned to the right, pulling her hair aside. This certainly is pretty.

Sanjulian has done a Variant that features a full figure of the vampire with her arms crossed. At her knees a gigantic bat is flying forward. To her left is a red cloth falling off a mirror that reveals an image of a castle in a downpour. A skull sits behind her right foot. Against a white background every element of this frontpiece shines.

The most Gothic cover would be the Scorpion Comics frontpiece by Gabriele Dell Otto. Emerging partially from the darkness, next to a Mayan-like column with snake designs, a gray skinned Vampirella, whose mouth and hand are red, trails behind the bats that lead her into the light. Creepy to be sure! The second cover from Scorpion Comics is by Tim Sale and has Vampirella on her stomach on a red ledge. Blood is pouring from where she lies and covers her hand and upper arm. A skull sits blocking most of her hips. Moody and neat!

Joshua Middleton does the first cover for Scotts S Collectables. On a white background with a moon and several bats in orange watercolor, Vampirella strides confidently toward the reader with her hands down, but open and in orange as well. She looks gorgeous! Lucio Parrillo also contributed a cover for Scotts S Collectables. A monstrous horned demon with spikes sticking out of its body lovingly caresses Vampirella who stands before it. She returns the embrace while looking at the reader. The pair stand in a smokey bog, with a tentacle emerging in the lower right to wrap around the vampire’s upper right leg. Blasphemously beautiful.

Sitting on a rocky outcropping, surrounded in a sea of blood, including several skulls dripping the fluid of life, Vampirella is up her knees in red. She has a hand behind her head and the other at her chest as she turns to the reader. Very cool work done by Kendrick Lim for Silent Partner Comics.

Stargoddess Cosplay & Comics features Alyssa Stargoddess as the title character standing before a Gothic house. The photo has been tinted blue to make it night and it looks great. If you like cosplay covers, you’ll like this.

Unknown Comics has two covers by Jay Anacleto and both are worth picking up. Both have Vampirella sitting on a tilted stone ledge the leads into a pool of blood. A matching tilted column of Mayan design is behind her, spilling blood from one of its faces’ mouths into a cup she holds. She has a violet cape that splays behind her. The background is white, making everything pop and the window behind her stand out. There’s also a Black and White Virgin Variant that has no colors. I prefer the colored version.

Vampirella is standing naked in a graveyard that’s colored as red as the moon filled sky. Blood is streaked all over the character’s body to cover most of her private places. Beautiful work by Nathan Szerdy, but not for the kiddies, to be sure. This cover graces the Vault Collectibles Variant.

Overall grades: AOD Collectables C+, Artgerm Variant A, Artgerm Virgin Variant A, Authentix Blank C, Authentix Signature B-, Black Flag Comics Variant A+, Blank Sketch Variant C, Campbell Variant A, Cho Regular A+, Cho Virgin Variant A+, Clan McDonald Comics Variant A, Collectors Choice Variant B+, Comic Kingdom of Canada Variant Krome A+, Comic Kingdom of Canada Variant Kirkham A+, Comic Kingdom of Canada Variant Ngu A+,Comic Kingdom of Canada Variant Suhng A, Comic Kingdom of Canada Variant Zhuo A+, Comics Elite Variant Garza A+, Comics Elite Variant Green A+, Comics Elite Variant Hamscher A, Comics Elite Variant Kincaid A-, Comics Elite Variant Lee A+, Comics Elite Variant McTeigue A, Comics Elite Variant Mendoza B, Comics Elite Variant McKay B+, Comics Elite Variant Mychaels B, Comics Elite Variant Rich A+, Comics Elite Variant Sparacio C+, ComicXposure Variant A+ and ComicXposure Virgin Variant A+, Cosplayer Variant A, Cosplayer Virgin Variant A, Den of the Damned Variant B- and Virgin Variant B+, Dynamic Forces Blood Red Pencils Variant B+, El Quinto Mundo A+, Frank Frazetta Variant A+, Frankie’s Comics Variant A-, Jose Gonzalez’s Variant A+, Hughes Regular A+, Hughes Virgin Variant A+, Hughes Black and White Variant A+, Jusko Variant A+, Jusko Virgin Variant A+, KRS Comics Variant A+, Kwang Chang Comics Variant A+, Kwang Chang Comics Virgin Variant A+, Linsner Variant A, Linsner Virgin Variant A+, Linsner Black and White Variant A, Linsner Black and White Virgin Variant A, Mega Gaming and Comics Variant B, Mega Gaming and Comics Blood Moon Variant A, March A, March Virgin Variant A+, Mayhew Variant A+, Mayhew Blood Variant A, Midtown Comics Variant B, Port City Comics A, Ross Regular A+, Ross Virgin Variant A+, Ross Black and White Variant A+, Sad Lemon Comics A+, Sanctum Sanctorum Comics and Oddities Variant Chatzoudis B+, Sanctum Sanctorum Comics and Oddities Variant Ladowska A, Sanjulian Variant A+, Scorpion Comics Variant Dell Otto A+, Scorpion Comics Sale A, Scott S Collectables Variant Middleton A+, Scott S Collectables Variant Purrillo A+, Silent Partner Comics A+, Unknown Comics A+, Unknown Comics Black and White Virgin Variant A, and Vault Collectables Variant A+

The story: “Seduction of the Innocent Book 1: Yellow Brick Road” by Christopher Priest begins with the aftermath of a passenger plane crash. Unseen in the carnage, Vampirella narrates, ‘The journey home is the most basic story in America. The path, to truth, enlightenment…the way to FIND yourself. There was even a SONG about it. Something about yellow bricks…Yes…the Yellow Brick Road. You need only the courage…to FOLLOW it…’ Among the destruction a headless corpse staggers up, catching the eye of a teen on a bicycle. The walking corpse finds its head and picks it up. A rat at the teen’s feet urges her to move along, “Yeah, kid. Party’s thataway.” The girl rides off until she stops seeing the sight that’s a double-paged spread on Pages 8 and 9. The book transitions to the present on 10 after revealing this crash occurred six weeks ago in Los Angeles. In the present, Vampirella is having a conversation with a very unique character who wants her to tell him what she remembers of the crash. She recounts her meeting with Baron Gustar Von Kreist on the plane. Her tale doesn’t ring true to her inquisitor, who offers other justifications for what occurred. The action in the past is fantastic and the dialogue from the present that narrates and interrupts it is excellent. The reveal on 16 is a huge surprise. A new character is briefly introduced on 18 and I’m hoping to see more of this individual. On the next page Vampirella’s questioner has a close encounter with one of her acquaintances, leading to a humorous final page tease that introduces another character. Heaven only knows where Priest will go with this person. I love the action, the questions in Atlanta, and the surprise reveal at the end. This is a great start to this Vampirella saga. Overall grade: A+

The art and colors: Both the artist and the colorist, Ergün Gündüz does an exceptional job on this premiere. The first page is a full-paged splash showing the path of the downed plane at ground level. Pages 2 and 3 changes the point of view to look down upon the devastation, showing a train that derailed due to the crash. There are six panels atop this double-paged splash focusing on specific elements: an open suitcase, a broken laptop, etc. Not a body is shown. Page 4 has six equal sized squares that reveal more destruction and how wide a swath it covers. Charred bodies are shown still strapped into their seats. In the sixth panel the walking headless corpse appears. The last panel shows the girl on her bike observing the supernatural spectacle. Pages 6 and 7 are a true double-paged spread showing a large portion of the plane’s carcass, with Vampirella standing on the far right in her iconic costume covered in blood. The introduction of the character at the bottom of 8 is a dramatic shift from the action that preceded it. His design is great and his hair utterly wonderful. The four panels that top 9 increase the shocking action and their rounded corners identify them as flashbacks. The action on 12 – 15 is spectacular due to the positioning of the characters and their graphic scenes. Page 16 is a powerful, amazing, beautiful, majestic, perfect full-paged splash. The final page is another full-paged splash but its sole character creates much humor in her pose and demeanor. Notice how the colors give this individual an ancient feel. Gündüz is creating graphic gold. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, music, dialogue, the book’s credits, scene settings, chapter titles, a scream, sounds, broadcasts in an airport, and the tease for next issue all hail from Willie Schubert. I always applaud letterers who use a font that differs from dialogue and Schubert does that and employs lower case letters to make the title character’s thoughts more intimate. The scene settings and chapter titles formally introduce scenes like a novel. The scream on Page 5 is spectacular. The sounds are outstanding in the action scenes and enhance them considerably. The tease for next issue gloriously recalls the infamous film it’s referencing. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is everything I could have hoped for in this debut. Shocks, horror, the undead, humor, thrills, and one heck of a mystery. I’ll gladly empty my wallet for more Vampirella like this. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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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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