I have been an on-again off-again reader of comics for pretty much my whole life. One of those off-again periods happened to coincide with the explosion in the 1990s of the “bad girl” comics, of which there were many representatives, but of which Lady Death was among the most successful. The basic characteristics of most of these characters were pretty similar. They would have ridiculously sculpted feminine physiques, ridiculous even by the standards of the usual presentation of comic book women, and their clothing were usually equally ridiculous. The other commonality was their power, a lot stronger than they looked, and usually derived from some supernatural source. I didn’t know them though, by the time that I had regained an interest on comics I was too late to catch up.
After the popularity of the characters died off, they kind of scattered. Some ended up at the same publishers though with less focus, while others bounced around a fair bit. One of those that bounced was Lady Death, but strangely her entourage did not, at least not in all parts. One of the more popular supporting characters, Purgatori, was sold off separately and also could not find a home for a while. Eventually the character ended up at Dynamite. Generally speaking Dynamite has been an industry leader in terms of revamping public domain characters and making them modern and approachable, but they generally have stayed away from such characters with recent pasts elsewhere.
As a reader of Purgatori #1, I am a little bit in the middle of the experience. Any #1 is a good place to start off with a new character, as creators usually have the insight to make the characters a little more approachable. At the same time, the theme matter of Purgatori is a little bit outside of what I am used to. A trend which I avoided mostly was the vampire trend in pop culture, including in comics. That Purgatori is a demon/vampire blend doesn’t really connect with me as a reader that tends more towards science-fiction. As an aspiring writer of fiction myself, I recognize that stories require one of two things – engaging concepts or engaging characters, though preferably both. In the case of this series, the concept is a little mundane, as the setting of Hell is not really a new one when even the likes of Superman and Iron Man have been there. Contrasted against that is the character of Purgatori. While the writer, Aaron Gillespie, has been given a pre-established character and has limited ability within which to make her unique from the concept, he at least succeeds in the characterization.
Though she is potentially new to a lot of readers, the main character is still approachable. She is bad, but also a little good, serious but also sassy. It makes for the kind of character that can hold a series even if the setting is not very interesting. As this series stands for me, I will check out issue #2 to see where it goes, even if it is not my style, just because the writer has made the character compelling enough.
Story: Aaron Gillespie Art: Javier Garcia Miranda
Story: 7.8 Art: 8.2 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read
Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review