Strange Communion: Priest's Vampirella a Therapy Patient

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Vampirella 1

Vampirella has gone through a number of origins through the years. She's been an alien from Drakulon, an escapee from a realm of Hell, a daughter of Lilith. Through it all, she has been a force for good, standing against the agents of Chaos. And she has become an icon.

The creation of Forrest J. Ackerman, Trina Robbins and Tom Sutton, Vampi first came Drakulon to survive the blood drought on her planet. Attempting to blend in to human society, she caught a flight to take her to a television contest. The plane crashed, and she survived by drinking the blood of all the victims.

This origin gets revisited in VAMPIRELLA #1 by Christopher Priest, but with a completely new variation: Vampirella has come to our world, but she has come to our world -- the real one, where vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural phenomena are not real (or, at least, are denied by reason). She's still the survivor of a plane crash, and we see the devastation of that across the first several pages, along with an enigmatic parade of undead and talking creatures. The girl on the bicycle turns the whole thing into a scene out of STRANGER THINGS. (Note: The logo of Affirm Airlines has been changed from that seen in the original previews so that it is no longer the "Okay" hand symbol that triggered some readers.)

The confusion sets in after Vampirella sprouts her wings and flies off from the scene of the carnage. That's when we discover the whole thing is a story that she is telling from a therapist's couch. She is relating the events of the crash, and how they are tied to an immortal German agent of Chaos who was aboard the plane. Each flashback is apparently being told word for word by Vampirella, including the German phrases uttered by her opponent. We know this because her therapist is smart enough to know German and provide the English translations. This is a strange dichotomy because the therapist speaks in a grammar and patois that belies his education. He's also a rationalist, who listens to Vampirella -- named Ella Normandy here -- then adamantly reminds her: "There ain't no devil. No witches, no werewuff, no vampires. You, half-nekkid Canadian bitch, are not no alien from Pluto. You are exhibiting symptoms of a dissociative disorder in response to major emotional trauma."

That dialogue right there sort of condenses the many layers of this therapist. He goes from lowbrow and insulting to quoting DSM-V. He's either a very unreliable narrator character, or a study in dichotomy.

VAMPIRELLA #1 features a gorgeous wrap-around cover from Frank Cho that is going to make a fantastic desktop background as well as art print. And the interiors by Ergun Gunduz are nothing short of exquisite. Some of the splash pages have an almost watercolor look to them that transcends the panel.

It's not quite the groundbreaking new start for Vampirella I was expecting, but it's something fresh and new enough that I'm willing to follow along, just to see if this is some false reality being forced on our heroine or if she's truly delusional. Although the best option would really be that she's the supernatural thing she says she is, with her existence clashing with a mundane world that is forced to rethink reality. But whatever the path, I'm sure Priest has things well in hand.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0