When Vampirella #1 hit the stands in 1969, the scantily-clad, uber-sexy vampire hosted various horror stories, including one per issue that she starred in. As a sister magazine to Warren Publishing’s Creepy and Eerie, Vampirella doled out tales of the macabre, but did it in a tight red outfit. After Warren Publishing went bust, the rights to Vampirella went back and forth before landing with Dynamite in 2010.
Originally, Vampirella was an inhabitant of the planet Drakulon, a vampire world where blood ran like rivers. The twin suns of Drakulon began to cause a drought, cementing the assured destruction of the race. A spaceship from Earth crashes on Drakulon, allowing Vampirella to escape to Earth to try and save her race with our blood. Arriving on Earth, Vampirella instead wages a war against “evil” vampires.
Later on, Kurt Busiek penned the miniseries Morning In America. Busiek’s story altered the origin by establishing that Vampirella’s brother and sister brainwashed her into believing that Drakulon was a planet. Turns out it’s really a part of Hell where Lilith, Adam’s first wife, ruled. Lilith was cast out of Eden by God when she wouldn’t bow to Adam’s will. In retaliation, Lilith mated with demons to create a race of hellspawn that would destroy the children of Adam and Eve - namely humanity. Later, Lilith sought redemption with God and gave birth to Vampirella, who was trained to kill the aforementioned demons.
I bring all this up because Dynamite’s Vampirella Strikes #1 stems more from the latter origin than the former. In this series, Vampirella is still a demon hunter, though gone is the stripper outfit. Issue one opens with Vampirella sitting in a sleazy bar surrounded by slaughtered demons. As she regales the shocked barkeep with a brief description of her life and mission, we’re treated to a visual recap of the demon’s bloody demise. Cut to a meeting between demons and an underground mystical relics dealer selling them angel body parts. Cue Janus, an angel of the lord looking to put a serious smite-down on the dealer and his clients. Vampirella Strikes #1 ends with our heroine arriving home to find angels requesting her assistance that have been sent by God him/herself.
Writer Tom Sneigoski is playing with some heady mystical works in this issue. It’s clear he wants to establish Vampirella Strikes as something totally different than the campy original character. Taking story cues from old Bible stories, Sneigoski has brought our voluptuous demon killer into a war between Heaven and Hell. He’s also kept this initial issue fast paced by covering any exposition with non-stop action. Ending the series with a request by angels pretty much guarantees that those who read issue #1 will pick up #2. All around, Vampirella Strikes is a smartly written reboot of the character.
The art from Johnny Desjardins is fairly typical of what Dynamite puts out. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the art - it just doesn’t pop off the page. Desjardins does have a great way with gore, and he seems to really shine when drawing decaying demons. The rest of the art is fine, as it does the job of telling the story, but with something this interesting I expect the art to rival the story.
(4 Story, 3 Art)