Dynamite’s ‘VAMPIRELLA’ Has All Of The Sass And A Bit Of The Bite — HEY, KIDS! COMICS!
By Scott Southard. Vampirella, our favorite alien vampire, has returned to us in fine fashion. Not that she’s been away, mind you, but with Kate Leth and Eman Casallos’ Vampirella #1, The Daughter of Lilith is sporting a brand-new (and far more agreeable) look. And with a high-profile shakeup such as this, she’s also — yup — embarking on a whole new direction. And while her new path has a bit of a CW-vibe to it (“Vampirella goes to Hollywood!”) — not that that’s inherently a bad thing — the book gets through the particulars by reconciling her new outfit, and introducing a cast of characters in order to set the stage for a polished adventure where Los Angeles days turn into blood-soaked LA nights.
The campy hype-text practically writes itself, as does most of the structure and dialogue of Vampirella #1, but instead of being the book’s biggest hindrance, it becomes its greatest asset. It works because it revels in its own silliness — the book mires itself in its titular character’s unrelenting infallibility and her hard-assed approach to everything she encounters. (Leth even addresses it when suggesting that Vampi doesn’t need to use her powers to get into a club without ID. Her response: “What’s the fun in that?”) The book is very aware of what it’s providing, and in lots of ways, that makes some of the rote aspects of the book forgivable (even praiseworthy). In our contemporary world, bourbon on the rocks implies a certain amount of projected gusto and strength, but Vampirella’s display of both is impossible to hate.
The events are presented with a level of shine that makes the action pop. Here, the artwork highlights the characterized features of the cast: both Casallos and Pinto do great work by keeping every panel sharp and dynamic without overloading the page with crowded action or too many characters. It looks like they took great pride in rendering Vampi’s old school garb (sexy bathing suit?), and I am grateful they did it for only one panel. While that (bikini-leotard-thong?) thing is iconic, it’s also terrifying, hideous, and totally messed up. Sometimes things can stay the same, and sometimes changes indisputably need to be made.
The comings and goings contained within the first issue are nothing to write home about. Considering that Vampirella has taken on a more contemporary, post-Buffy aesthetic, it would be safe to expect that as par for the course. I’m not looking to dig deep here — if Vampirella arrives to provide some wanton destruction and look terrific while doing it, that’s fine. And if some masked goons and eerie clues pop up, that’s just more to get excited about.
The series’ acceptance of camp and tradition is probably a smart move for a dated title that hasn’t gotten much rehab since its inception. If Dynamite isn’t going with a full revamp, embracing the cliches that come with hypersexuality and a whole lotta ass-kicking (provided with a wink) seems to be the way to go. Leth has boxed herself in a bit with this approach, but it’s turning out to be a pretty fun run. Maybe that’s what Vampirella is best at.
Written by Kate Leth.
Art by Eman Casallos.
Colors by Valentina Pinto.
Letters by Erica Schultz.
7 out of 10