Dynamite resurrects one of the most enduring femme fatales in comic history.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Writer : Eric Trautmann - Jeph Loeb
Artist : Wagner Reis - Tim Sale
"Dynamite Entertainment is pleased to reintroduce readers to the scourge of the undead: VAMPIRELLA, and she is all that stands between us and the end of the world! Vampi's back and hot on the corpse-strewn trail of her nemesis, Vlad Dracula. It's a darker world for Vampirella, and something more sinister than vampires lurks in the shadows, something even Dracula himself has cause to fear... Written by Eric Trautmann (THE SHIELD, ACTION COMICS) and illustrated by Wagner Reis (PROJECT SUPERPOWERS). AS A BONUS FEATURE-A rare story by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale!"
I've never read a Vampirella comic before. It came as quite a shock to the patrons in the shop the other night as one customer went through the painstaking process of deciding which scantily clad woman ladened cover was the one for them. Part of the reason for this is there hasn't been a particularly successful version of the comic since I came back to comics a little over six years ago. Part of it is I am a more full black dress, slinky with a slit up the thigh, low cut back kind of guy much more than I am a bikini that will burst if the girl takes a deep breath kind of guy. The covers of Vampirella books seem to be a little, well, designed to get that kind of guy to read the book...
So, Dynamite makes a big stink out of releasing the book and I have been happy with the Smith penned Green Hornet book, so I figure I should maybe finally get around to checking out this perennial comic property. The risk being that this storied character with a 41 year publishing history might not be penetrable for a newcomer. That fear was not realized.
Trautmann does a great job of establishing who the character is and hints at a history that one could assume will ingratiate the hardcore fan to this new book. Funny, given the fact that this somewhat cheese cakey character has been given a pant suit and a trench coat in this iteration. It's almost enough to make you wonder if this is some reworked Madame Mirage storyline.
That's not really what this is though. There's too much Buffy like action and Blade like intrigue in the vampire story being told to think that this is just some pulp heroine redux. No, this is an interesting horror noir hybrid. The narration from the title character is somewhere in between a Mike Hammer type cadence and the lavishness of a Stoker penned journal entry. It's literary pulp, almost... flowery and somewhat pompous, but still gritty and down to earth.
Evidently, the plot involves Vampirella searching out Vlad Dracula's son, who is credited with causing the vampire infestation that has led to uniformed police officers having fangs and wanting to eat what they think is a hot broad on the wrong side of town. These guys tell her where to find a favored pet of the alpha vamp and next thing you know, Vampirella is in some rave scene circa 1995.
Maybe Vampirella is an influence on those two other Vampire properties I mentioned. She certainly predates them both, but to this reader there was a certain been there done that kind of feel to the book. The mish mash of noir and horror and the weird take on heroism and the inner struggle of a character who should be keenly ready to act on base instinct never really feels fresh. It's not bad; I wouldn't even go so far as to say clichéd, just on the cusp of tired though.
The art is interesting. This Reis has a little ways to go. The men all pretty much look the same, and other than hair color and clothing, so do the busty framed women. There are some odd facial expressions, but the art has a certain allure to it and the story is conveyed nicely. Given the Top Cow reminiscent glow of the coloring, I would call the work just above competent.
As an added bonus, there is a back up feature. It is a 1999 story penned by Jeph Loeb with art from Tim Sale and tells a nifty little tale of Vampirella begging one Archie Goodwin to tell her tale. It is hammy in its narration and a hell of a lot of fun.
While the nature of the covers may lead some to be disappointed by the content of the book, I found myself curiously entertained by this otherwise non-assuming book. I guess I'm a sucker for a kind of storytelling sometimes.
Review by: Lee Newman