If you are a hardcore Vampi fan, this is a no brainer. The casual reader may be turned off by this opening salvo.
Death from above spreads over the outskirts of the city. A survivor, a young woman, is in therapy to deal with what happened. Ella Normandy tells her story to the therapist, but will he believe she is actually Vampirella, or will the white coats take her away. Vampirella #1 is on store shelves now, from Dynamite Entertainment.
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Ergun Gunduz
Cover: Frank Cho
Variant Covers: Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, Guillem March
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment,
Release Date: July 17, 2019
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in VAMPIRELLA: Vampirella has been through it all, battled the supernatural, traveled to other planets and fought beside warrior queens, visited Riverdale, but now we are getting a new beginning. This new issue number one, of the fifth volume, begins to set the stage for a new adventure for Vampirella, and it looks to be as different as anything she has done before.
DID IT HURT WHEN YOU FELL FROM…
Carnage reigns across the countryside. A plane fell from the sky, causing a train to be derailed and cars and trucks suffered in the aftermath. A lone girl riding her bike bears witness to a pale woman in a red bikini as she walks the breadth of the catastrophe. The scantily clad woman raises her eyes skyward and screams.
The therapist assigned to help the survivors and witnesses of the catastrophe sits and listens to Ella Normandy’s story. It is a story filled with tales of a plane that housed a one hundred and twenty-two year old man and of the girl’s battle against him which ultimately lead to the tragic plane crash. She tells him of how she is actually an alien from the planet Drakulon it which and how she has taken Earth as her adopted home and guardian. He listens and takes notes. When she is finished he tells her, in rather vulgar words, that she is crazy and there are no aliens, no werewolves, no vampires, no World Ward I generals who are on hundred and twenty-two years old. She is Ella Normandy of Canada, not Vampirella of Drakulon.
But what is the truth? Is this young girl who she says she is or is she what the psychiatrist says she is, a half-nekkid Canadian b!+c# with issues?
YOU SAY VAMPIRE, I SAY ALIEN TEMPTRESS
This new first issue is the beginning for the fifth volume of Dynamite Entertainment’s run of Vampirella comics. Writer Christopher Priest (The Crew, Black Panther) starts us off by dropping our title character into a situation which has her being questioned about her identity. Priest is a legendary writer. In my younger days I followed him religiously in Web of Spider-Man, Steel, Conan the Barbarian, The Ray and many more. I learned that where he starts the story is rarely where it ends up, and to make an assumption just gives credence to the old adage about making an a$$ out of you and me. That all said, Vampirella #1 is a hard read. The story itself is easy enough to follow as presented, and the premise is good but the character of the therapist/psychiatrist really made me want to just put the book down. He claims to be a therapist assigned to help the people who survived the accident deal with the situation, but his bedside manner comes off like a drunk Samuel L. Jackson who’s just carded while trying to by his fifth bottle of wine. His character is instantly dislikable. But maybe that is the point. Maybe you are supposed to feel that this guy is incompetent just so we can set up the ground work for the idea of Vampirella questioning herself and her situation. It makes you empathize more with her, but just feels like you are watching an adult beat their three year old in Wal-Mart for asking to get a candy bar. But again, maybe that is the point. Maybe you are wanted to feel uncomfortable with the characters to get ready for what is coming. If so, bravo. I feel, maybe, he is actually a representation of some other power, but will have to wait for future issues to find out.
Ergun Gunduz (Taxi Tales, Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica) is a relatively newcomer to American comics, but has been a figure in the European realm since his mid-teens. His art has a hint of that feeling. Very thin lines and nice detail mark his work, and there are good visuals to go along with it. My favorite here was the image of a winged Vampirella against a story sky, very dramatic and striking.
BOTTOM LINE: A SHAKY START, BUT STILL…
There is a tendency to write for the trade and this issue feels like one of those instances, on first read. I know that is usually my go to criticism for when I am not really drawn into a book, but it is what it is. However, a strange thing happened, writing this review made me take a deeper look than I would have initially, and my opinion of the writing presented by Mr. Priest changed even as I typed out the words. I gave the issue multiple reads, thinking I uncovered something new with each passing. That could be the point, to make you think and look for more to a Vampirella story. Many writers write Vampirella as sexy, or horrific, or vampish, or some strange combination of all the above. Those defaults are not the way I would expect a Christopher Priest book to go. I expect a Christopher Priest book to slap me in the face, yell at me for not paying attention and tease me with the story until I was ensnared by it.
I think he succeeded.
VAMPIRELLA #1 is a rough way to start this fifth volume of the title, but there are deeper undertones which make you want to explore more.