While the announcement of a redesign for Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris sounds like just a big PR stunt, the move to cover them up and bring on new female creators shows that this whole “comics are for everyone” is not just a sound bite. Artist Nicola Scott designed the new costumes, which are a but more modest than previous garb. All three characters have been in and out of the “bad Girl” comics tag the 90s; all have certainly been portrayed in sexualized situations in the past. but this is a new comics era and it’s better to have a wider audience, even for books about women who battle in skimpy clothes. Red Sonja has the most new coverage, with a costume much more like her original appearance by Barry Windsor Smith than the famous chainmail bikini.
The relaunches will be guided by Gail Simone, following the trail started in the Swords of Sorrows mini series. Red Sonja #1 will launch in January, helmed by writer Marguerite Bennett and artist Aneke. Dejah Thoris #1 and Vampirella #1 will debut in subsequent months, written by Frank J. Barbiere and Kate Leth.
Gotta admit, Vampirella’s biker shorts remind me of the 90s and Wonder Woman’s similar look, but hey, nice boots. Trina Robbins designed Vampi’s original costume and I suspect we’ll see that back at some point.
Here’s the PR:
Red Sonja #1, by the creative team of Marguerite Bennett (Bombshells, A-Force, Angela) and Aneke (Legenderry: Red Sonja, Damsels) and scheduled for release on January 13, 2016, will see its titular heroine return to her homeland of Hyrkania, only to find it changed into an almost unrecognizable landscape. As envisioned by Gail Simone, the new series sends Sonja on a mission of infiltration, sabotage, and assassination when she discovers that her native people have been conscripted into the service of a Nazi-like regime. ”It’s an honor and a pleasure to be the new writer on a book as crazy and colorful as Red Sonja,” says Bennett. “While I’ve never yet had the pleasure of working with Aneke, our phenomenal new artist, I cannot wait for us to make the big, bloody, sexy, sweeping splash in a universe this rich with story, history, and the contributions of the creators and creatives who came before us. I am particularly indebted to Gail Simone, who has always been one of my idols in comics, who first suggested that I follow her run on the title and was endlessly guiding and encouraging as I broke into this new level of the medium.” Dynamite will celebrate the new Red Sonja #1 with a variety of cover options, including Cover A by Marguerite Sauvage (Bombshells); Cover B by Jay Anacleto (Legends of Red Sonja) which will interconnect with the Cover B editions of Dejah Thoris #1 and Vampirella #1; and Cover C by Tula Lotay (Swords of Sorrow). A special Subscription Edition (Cover D) features the “cute” artwork of Tony Fleecs, intended for consumers who place preorders with their local comic shops and interconnecting with the Subscription Edition variants ofDejah Thoris #1 and Vampirella #1. Robert Hack (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) provides cover artwork for the Shared Retailer Exclusive, and a Blank Authentix cover variant is available, perfect for aspiring artists and convention commissions. Finally, Ming Doyle (New Avengers) provides a special incentive cover to encourage strong preorders from comic shop retailers, as does Nicola Scott with an image of her first redesign of the character.
Dejah Thoris, a royal warrior who has served as a major supporting cast member of Dynamite’s various Warlord of Mars series as well as the star of several solo Dejah Thoris series, will appear in a new #1 issue this coming February, courtesy of writer Frank J. Barbiere (Avengers World, Solar: Man of the Atom). As described by Gail Simone, Dejah Thoris would present a fall from grace for the Martian princess, as she embarks on a self-imposed exile, assuming a new identity and enlisting as a rookie soldier on the farthest, deadliest borders of her Barsoomian civilization. Barbiere says, “I am truly honored to be writing Dejah Thoris, a character with such a robust history and celebrated pulp pedigree. I’m a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and to be able to contribute to the canon of one of his most celebrated characters is really exciting. This is a new start for Dejah Thoris, and I think our story is going to reignite the spark of what makes her great. It’s a bold new take that really captures the spirit of Dejah as a dynamic, interesting, and capable character while exploring her past in a way that fans new and old won’t expect.”
Vampirella #1, debuting in March 2016, will feature the writing talents of Kate Leth (Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors), and see a return to the character’s roots as a horror hostess, as her costumed identity goes public… while privately, she uses her new celebrity status to uncover the links between silver screen killers and a real conspiracy of monsters. Kate Leth, writer of the new Vampirella, says, “Vampirella takes Hollywood! In this new and twisted take on the classic horror queen, Vampi moves to the City of Angels to find more than a few demons in the mix. Along with her paramour/werewolf Tristan and trusty butler Coleridge, she begins to investigate mysterious disappearances in the shadowy world of B-movies and the monsters who make them. All the while, she finds herself a sudden sensation after a video of her monster-hunting in her classic ensemble goes viral. Can Vampirella be both a cult icon on the rise and take down an empire of ghouls and ghosts? Signs point to: Hell yes!” Regarding the redesign of one of comics’ most iconic costumes, Nicola Scott says, “Vampirella was a lot of fun. We could actually make her modern, with some retro influence. I liked the idea of keeping her in a one-piece but making it a leather jumpsuit with her logo embroidered on the back. Part biker, part roller-derby. I hope to see cosplayers in this one ASAP!”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.