I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting when I picked up Vampirella #1 (more appropriately, Vol. 2 No. 1). The legendary cheesecake star has been gracing covers for 45 years now, and in all that time, the formula has essentially remained unchanged: a mostly-naked vamp battles supernatural threats using an assortment of traditional vampire powers. As the franchise has gone along her motivations and background have changed, but the basic mechanical structure of the comics have never deviated much.
So as said, I'm not sure what I was expecting when I decided to read this newest #1. She's still a vampire, she's still ridiculously clad, and she's still battling supernatural evil. Maybe it's my own fault for expecting more, but I found the issue to be thoroughly lackluster. Plenty of older franchises have gotten significant reboots in the past few years which have aimed to keep the classic qualities while still bringing something new to the table, something to improve or augment the characters. Vampirella #1 has none of that, for better or worse. If you're already a fan and collector of the classic Vampirella books you'll probably find this to be a fitting continuation, but if you're looking to get into the franchise, I'd recommend caution.
The art is fairly dull to me, though, it's not exceptionally bad. Some awkward anatomy plagues the issue, and the inking is spotty and uncommitted. Coloring is sufficient but unremarkable, though, a later sequence in a grave yard shows some smart lighting choices made by the colorist. Page layouts are nothing exceptional but they do their job well enough. While it's not one of the worst looking books I've seen, the whole thing feels very "production line". There isn't a strong, forceful artistic vision at play here, not for me at least.
The writing has similar issues. It's a brief mystery regarding a young girl kidnapped by a demonic cult, and Vampirella has been sent in to investigate. There's an effective little twist towards the end and the whole book actually functions quite nicely as a set-up to a new bigger arc, but the actual story at play in this issue alone is nothing too interesting. The dialog feels especially flat. As with the art, it's not that it's really bad so much as it has very little personality.
Vampirella is a sort of cold, lifeless book. Pun mostly intended. I'm a great fan of horror comics, and while I can't say I'm a huge fan of cheesecake, I can understand some of the campy appeal. With neither the warm charm of of a fanservice book nor the poignant aesthetic thrust of a good classic horror tale, Vampirella #1 is forgettable. There's enough put in place by writers Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter that it could ultimately serve well as the introduction of a bigger arc, but as a standalone volume, it's just not working for me. But hey, if you already like Vampirella? You'll probably like this too.
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