I started reading Vampirella comics back in 2012, courtesy of some of the stuff that Dynamite Entertainment was putting out at the time, and I have to say that I found them quite enjoyable as far as both writing and artwork are concerned. Sure, the covers were often quite risque, but the internal artwork was almost always great, such as the case with Walter Geovani’s work on Ron Marz’s Prophecy or Johnny Desjardins’ work on Tom Sniegoski’s Vampirella Strikes. As with Red Sonja under Dynamite, Vampirella is definitely a favourite character to read, and with the new series launching last week, I figured it was time to properly get on that ride.
Vampirella #1, which I just finished reading, is a great entry-point to the character and her setting as far as I am concerned. Sure, some things are kept to the chest, but you get enough through Nancy A. Collins’ writing to see who Vampirella is, and just what she is as well. Plus, Nancy ties the story in with a seemingly old foe of the character, so that provides a lot of tension and direction to the narrative, with two really good twists that will surprise you for sure. And the artwork by Patrick Berkenkotter is also quite nice, which is another plus.
What stands out with Nancy’s writing is that this issue is a very good mix of noir-style detective story mixed in with the supernatural and the occult, though it can be a bit of a cliche at times. Still, that’s not surprising since the character has deep roots in pulp fiction and has been an enduring female character in comics and other medium for several long years now. Another way to look at it is that the stories are thus uncomplicated and therefore easy to grasp. That’s been my experience with the previous Vampirella comics I’ve read: they start out nice and easy, and then develop depth and complexity as they go on. And that is exactly what this issue is. It starts off with a young girl kidnapped by her cultist father, and it ends in quite a different direction altogether.
Nancy’s characterisation of Vampirella seems fairly spot-on with this issue, given my limited reading experience with the character and thus I had an easy time connecting with the character. I didn’t have to wade through a long origin story or anything since Nancy jumped right in to the whole thing and I welcomed that since I’m not sure that there needs to be an origin story. I mean, I don’t see how that would have been better than what we got here, though it would have been equally interesting, I grant.
You get the basics. You get the plot. You get the twists. And there’s that. Rest is up to your imagination and how you want that to play out. Nancy leads the reader along as far as she can, and she lets the reader figure some things out as well.
One thing that I really liked here was that the narration isn’t in the first person, and thus not a silent monologue by Vampirella. First person narration is becoming all too common in comics these days and pretty much 95% of the comics I read have first-person narration. It gets old after a while, so its nice to see that Nancy goes in the opposite direction in that regard. I found the experience to be much better this time, and it creates a whole different perspective of looking at the character herself as well, not to mention setting up a situation where she berates herself for speaking out loud, which was kind of fun to see.
Joining Patrick Berkenkotter on the art is inker Dennis Crisostomo, colourist Jorge Sutil and letterer Rob Steen, with that excellent and bloody cover provided by one of the industry’s best, Terry Dodson. What’s great about the art here is the absence of spinebreakers, and that’s a huge plus too, since these kinds of comics have spinebreakers all too often. Plus, Berkenkotter’s characterwork is almost always realistic, so that the characters don’t appear cartoonish or anything. The colours and the inks together form a bit of a subdued atmosphere and tone for the artwork, which echoes the noir/pulp feeling a little and I found that to be appropriate as well. Generally, the art could have been better, but not by much I don’t think, so that’s it for me.
If the second and then the third issues stay like this, then I’m sure that this series is going to be a long one!
More Vampirella: (Vampirella Strikes) #1.