- Vampirella #1
- Paul Cornell
- Jimmy Broxton
- Philip Tan and Elmer Santos
Vampirella is one of those comic characters who tend to be instantly recognisable – due to her iconic, skimpy costume – but who people actually know little about. I confess I’m one of them. However, Vampirella #1, out this month, is intended to be a good jumping-on point for new readers.
Although not a straight reboot, the new book from Dynamite Comics is essentially the second fresh take on Vampirella in two years. It’s written by Paul Cornell, most famous for penning assorted Doctor Who spin-off media, and artist Jimmy Broxton.
As a sidenote, there’s already been controversy about transphobic alternate cover art for Issue #1, leading to a fallout between Cornell and Broxton. Comments suggest that the series won’t continue beyond Issue #6, or at least it won’t retain the same creative team beyond that point.
Anyway, behind-the-scenes scandal aside, Vampirella #1 sees the title character wake from a 1000 year slumber she doesn’t understand. She finds herself in a strange future where both morality and mortality are skewed. Robot angels roam the wastelands of America while the population lives happily in clean, high-tech cities. Vampirella quickly realises that something is “off” though. This is a Dystopian world where people don’t question, their only priority is fun and they have strange black blood in their veins, which allows them to regenerate.
That’s about it, really. The only other significant event in this set-up book is that Vampirella adopts a new look. In this sordid reality where people walk around in strap-ons, she chooses to go in the other direction, and shocks by appearing classy and demure.
Vampirella #1 is an effective introduction. Cornell and Broxton have spoken about Barbarella and Modesty Blaise being inspirations for the new arc, and those influences come through clearly. The art and colour palette have a gritty, grubby throwback feel – reminding of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One from the mid-80s.
The core mystery is intriguing, although personally I could see myself reading Issue 2 chiefly to spend more time with Vampirella herself. Smart and sexy, the character comes across as a playful bad girl, whose investigative style is to simply cause enough chaos that answers come to her. Readers receive a sense of Vampirella’s vampiric abilities – including flight, enhanced strength and the power to “fascinate” people. There’s also the inclusion of her inner monologue, which runs along the bottom of every page, and provides additional insight into her personality. In short, she makes a pleasant change from so many dour, too-serious superheroes.
Overall, Vampirella #1 is a decent start to a new series (or miniseries). It’s trashy but teen-safe, and avoids sinking the reader under almost 50 years of very convoluted character history. Most importantly, the book’s combination of appealing character and puzzling plot creates enough of a hook that you’re willing to come back and at least give the next issue a chance as well.
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