Vampirella, Vol 5, #1, Writer: Christopher Priest, Artist & Colorist: Ergün Gündüz, Letterer: Willie Schubert, Cover B Artist: Alex Ross
It may be hard to believe, but Vampirella has been around for half a century now, created as a racy sci-fi take on vampires at a time when monster and horror comics and magazines were extremely popular. The scantily clad alien vampire’s popularity has risen and fallen over the decades, and Dynamite Comics, the current holders of publication rights, have decided to celebrate her 50th anniversary by restarting Vampirella at #1. Because, that’s just what comic publishers do these days to get attention and try to attract new readers: start over at #1 every few years (Vampirella was last restarted at #1 by Dynamite in 2014, with an additional 6-issue miniseries in 2016).
This version of Vampirella is unlike any previous one, at least in the first issue. Yes, she is still an extraterrestrial vampire who wears what is pretty much red dental floss and black patent leather boots, but this Vampirella has a secret identity, Ella, who just “died” in an airplane crash.
The story is narrated by Vampirella, as she relates over the course of the entire issue the events leading up to and including the recent disaster to her therapist. She borrows a page from Mr. Spock’s Star Trek dialogue about her true alien name being unpronounceable, and confides to him her alien nature, and the supernatural being she encounters (with the issue’s single, very brief action sequence). The very entertaining and colorful Atlanta therapist, of course, doesn’t believe a word of it. I am not sure if the therapy sessions will be a continuing feature in future issues, but it certainly is a very curious way to reintroduce Vampirella to new readers.
It’s unusual to have an artist handle all the art duties, including their own inking and coloring, but Ergün Gündüz (the man of three umlauts) does it all here, and does it all well. His very airbrush-like backgrounds and atmospheric effects for clouds, smoke or grit, gradated colors in flames, and even the vivid splashes of blood are realistically depicted in the opening air disaster sequence. The rest of his visual style and coloring is very anime-like, with people and foreground objects colored in flat tones, and shaded with a single hard-edged tone. A very different look for a Vampirella comic.
Dynamite is rolling out more cover variants than I have ever seen before, a whopping 86 different covers! There should be plenty to choose from at your local comic shop to celebrate Vampirella’s 50th.
Vampirella #1 is in comics shops July 17, 2019