Vampirella Archives, Vol. 1
by various writers & artists (Dynamite, 2011)

The reason Vampirella seems a lot like Creepy and Eerie is because all of those titles were published under the Bill Warren label. Since she was launched in 1969, Vampirella has been one of the most iconic of iconic figures, easily recognizable after 40-plus years. Dynamite Entertainment's collection reproduces some of the earliest comics in their original form, along with the letter columns and ads that used to run in the comics.

It's best to emphasize up front that the early issues are for hardcore collectors or those who can step with ease into the way-back machine and appreciate the cheesy, dated tales and the sometimes fourth-grade level artwork that are intermingled with the more sophisticated, introspective and well-drawn stories. They are, to say the least, very representative of their time and need to be appreciated in that context in order to really get the best of what's being offered.

As such, it is an absolute treasure trove of a collection. Vampirella, inhabitant of the blood-drinking planet of Drakulon and a member of the Vampiri race -- which enables her to change her shape -- introduces each tale in Cryptkeeper style, mostly staying out of the action and returning to drop bon mots in the wrap-up of each tale, although she is the star of several tales that largely expand on her backstory.

Each story features the usual variety of paranormal treats: aliens, demons, werewolves and zombies, as well as urban legends, all wrapped around cautionary Grimm Brothers-style, self-contained sci-fi-mixed-with-gothic tale telling, featuring writers and artists from Frank Frazetta to Alan Moore. They end almost as quickly as they begin, and more than a few are dated, but for the most part it's an interesting look at the way horror comics used to be. They are nowhere near the quality of the later run, which explains the slipshod quality of the art and writing. It's quite obvious that the main reason Vampirella succeeded in the early stages was due to the extremely, erm, sensual nature of its narrative hostess. Later, of course, Vampirella was re-launched with better art and stories, evolving into the cultural force that she is today.

Good for collecting, perhaps not so good for the beginner as an introduction. For that the later volumes are perhaps best.

review by
Mary Harvey

27 July 2013

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