Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Ergün Gündüz
Letterer: Willie Schubert
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Vampirella has a long publication history dating back to 1969. That’s 50 years of writers and artists tackling her bloodsucking, alien mythos while keeping her famous red leotard strategically in place. For some, the in-your-face cheesecake may be off-putting, and storytelling and mythology usually get pushed way behind pinup covers and cosplay models. But reading the first issue of Christopher Priest’s new ongoing series with Dynamite was surprisingly refreshing.
Priest and artist Ergün Gündüz have taken the “Daughter of Draculon” in a much more real world (and more clothed, at least in issue #1) direction. The issue focuses on Vampi’s therapy session after a devastating plane crash in which she’s involved. She shares her encounter with Von Kriest, a 122-year-old who made a deal with the Devil so he’d never die. The decomposing immortal is there to deliver a message to Vampirella that she’s on warning. Apparently she’s pissed off a few unsavory types in her adventures on our humble planet.
Her therapist, Dr. Chary, is not convinced that any of this supernatural nonsense is actually real and tries to keep her rooted in reality. He repeatedly reminds “Ella Normandy” (her human name) that aliens, vampires, immortals, and werewolves are purely fiction. She’s just suffering from trauma, and he can help her. His delivery throughout her therapy session is quite amusing, and his references to her half-naked, dental floss-type wardrobe lovingly pokes fun at the very thing the character is famous for.
While the red slingshot outfit does appear in the issue, the story is strong enough to steal the show. With Dr. Chary’s humorous dialogue, the mystery behind Von Kriest’s words, and the devastation of the crash (and the appearance of someone close to Vampirella at the end of the issue), I was left curious about what comes next and why. I also felt for the character and the turmoil she feels. She’s a fish out of water, trying to make a home on a planet that is not hers, but the demons and liches like Von Kriest just won’t leave her be. She’s quite alone, and any connections she may have had have been ripped away. The issue also introduces the character of Benny, who seemingly dies in the plane crash but can now jump into different forms, like a spider in the therapist’s office.
Priest’s writing is fresh and funny. Along with Gündüz’s clean, vibrant art style and Willie Schubert’s letters, the book comes together seamlessly, making it a strong start for a new ongoing series starring a character that has seen decades of stories.
Old fans may feel the changes more than newer ones, but once you dive in, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and wondering what else Priest has in store.
Vampirella #1 hits stores on July 17. It is also available for purchase online.