THIS REVIEW OF ‘VENGEANCE OF VAMPIRELLA’ #1 CONTAINS SPOILERS.
by Lauren Fernandes. When something runs for fifty years, it’s safe to say there’s an established fan base that is not to be toyed with. Whether it’s a car model, a TV show, a Broadway play or a book series, for something to be so successful for so long there has to be a developed kind of loyalty. When that “something” is a comic book, your fan base becomes both more intensely loyal and oddly accepting of story deviations. Only in comics can a writer decide to wipe a character’s history and start anew, blaming amnesia, an alternate universe, a black hole, a magic rock, or maybe God. That “old” history is then accepted as a part of the canon, but readers are (almost) always on board for whatever wild twists and turns creators have for their favorite characters.
This trope in the revitalization of long-lived comic book characters is what made Tom Sniegoski’s choices with the new Vengeance of Vampirella so cool. Instead of creating a new universe with something obtuse or obscure, Sniegoski just picks up 25 years later. 25 years after Vampi died.
Oh yeah, the story starts with our heroine dead. This shouldn’t be a spoiler for Vampirella followers, but as this is my first dive into this bloody, grungy, boob-filled world, I was a little surprised. I was here for this badass, scantily-clad vampire lady, and she’s not there. That could be disappointing for some, but as a new reader it graces me with the opportunity to be introduced to the Chaos world in a great way. It fills in blanks, invests me in the bleakness and hopelessness of it all, and makes me yearn for the return of our Champion of Light, Vampirella. (The vampire chick is the Champion of Light? Again, unexpected information for me as a new reader. But very fun.)
As many first issues can often be, issue #1 of Vengeance of Vampirella is largely exposition. But Sniegoski strings all of it into a web that pulls you in with a frame story—an old woman tells a young girl the story of Vampirella’s downfall, a story that’s already legendary amongst the remaining scattered dregs of humanity. With this retelling, I’m given everything I need to know about Vampi. Later, the writer sneaks in a moment of comedy with the introduction to the nemesis, Nyx. Nyx, the Mistress of Chaos, is the type of villain who probably (literally) bathes in the blood of her enemies, and artist Michael Sta. Maria draws her a robe that genuinely made me do a double take. I want this robe for Halloween. And possibly daily living.
The hypersexualization of Vampirella and her foes are a longstanding trademark of this universe. After a few attempts to redo her costuming, this issue opts to use the classic swimsuit-esque one piece that could have easily graced the pages of a 1960s Playboy. I won’t lie—I don’t hate it. It seems appropriate for a supernatural demon-slaying alien vampire woman that doesn’t mind getting a little blood on her. Or a lot of blood.
(Besides, removing bloodstains is a pain in the ass, and I question the availability of a reliable dry cleaner in this world. So maybe this minimalistic costume is the truly practical choice for her?)
In addition, this world is built on more than T&A. Maria’s art shows a deeply layered, deeply disturbed setting for our horror story. From crisp, flowing modern lines to gritty, smog-filled cities and dank cemeteries filled with moldering corpses, Maria delivers it all with a classic style that still doles out the gore. You can almost smell the sulfur and decay.
Sniegoski and Maria have taken a long running comic with a ton of history and reopened it, and they have done it in a really warm, welcoming way. It’s as if they have opened the doors to this Chaos world (a seemingly overwhelming and possibly inaccessible world to a new reader like myself) and said, “Come on in! Welcome to Vampirella! The blood is just the right temperature, and don’t mind the dust. That’s been settling for the last 25 years. Let’s brush off this little horror story together. Join us!”
And I think I will join them.
Dynamite / $3.99
Written by Tom Sniegoski.
Art by Michael Sta. Maria.
Colors by Omi Remalante Jr.
Letters by Troy Peteri.
7 out of 10
Check out this 5-page, 5-cover preview of ‘Vengeance of Vampirella’ #1, courtesy of Dynamite!
Cover A by Joshua Middleton.
Cover B by Frank Cho.
Cover C by Ben Oliver.
Cover D by Lucio Parillo.
Cover E Photo Variant.