Even without familiarity with her character, Vampirella always feels like one of those characters who’s just always been around. With her ubiquitous red bathing suit costume that puts Carol Danvers’ old black one to shame and a wildly complicated and retconned backstory, Vampi is just one of those characters that feels like she’s been there forever and will always be there. Despite this fact though, she hasn’t had a major story come out in years. The closest was probably the 2014 miniseries that crossed her over with fellow cult character and hostess Dawn, but that one was plagued by delays and mixed to negative reviews. Ironic, considering the fact writer and artist Joseph Michael Linsner once claimed he could have gotten rich doing Vampirella comics in the 90s.
The newest Vampirella series by Kate Leth, Eman Casallos, and Valentina Pinto doesn’t focus on her backstory, but rather updating her character for 2016 while focusing on her history as a monster hunter over her status as a sex symbol.
This isn’t to say that the book isn’t sexy though. It’s plenty sexy, in fact. While the new costume created by Nicola Scott takes centerstage on the cover and on Vampirella’s first excursion in Hollywood, there is one appearance of the old costume in a masterfully use scene as Vampi prepares to “settle in” for the night with her boyfriend Tristan but is soon attacked by a monster in her new home, which prompts her to shout “Didn’t you see the sock on the door?!” Leth has always been a writer with a great sense of humor, and it’s nice to see that humor at work still in a book that is decidedly not all-ages. Casallos is a good balance for Leth in this case, giving the book an appropriately gothic and sexy look without it slipping into T&A territory. In fact, the best panels he draws of Vampi are actually when she’s just woken up, looking rather annoyed at her butler Coleridge and when she delicately slips a martini olive into her mouth. It’s these moments that make her less of a Sex Symbol™ and more of a character who owns her sexiness, which might just make her all the more alluring.
Of course, it isn’t all fun and sexy games after Vampi gets her picture taken by someone in the bushes of her own home and becomes a viral sensation overnight. Now along with hunting monsters and trying to find a woman named Slade who is killing off innocent actors, she now has to deal with unwanted fame. Enter Juliette Court, a “spooky and strange and altogether too alluring” social media manager interested in representing Vampi. It seems as if her intentions are not completely altruistic, but between her character design from Casallos, her deliberate shades of purple given by Pinto, and the way Leth writes her, she might just be the breakout character of the issue.
Deciding to keep it simple in story and cast, the first issue of the new Vampirella series from Dynamite Entertainment is a fun and sexy story that introduces a classic character to a new, modern audience. It’ll be interesting to see where the story of Vampirella as a viral media sensation goes, but the groundwork laid by Leth, Casallos and Pinto in this first issue make sure that it will not be boring in the least.
Story: Kate Leth Art: Eman Casallos and Valentina Pinto
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy
Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review