Vampirella: The Dark Powers Turns Vampire to Superhero -- and Editor to Sleeper

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Vampirella The Dark Powers 1

Vampirella has gone through a number of iterations over the decades, but it seems that over at Dynamite Entertainment she's going through them at a rapid clip. You never know which Vampirella you're going to get when you pick up one of her titles. Unlike the Warren years, when Vampi's tales were an ongoing series of adventures with Pendragon, Pantha, and her other friends, every other Dynamite incarnation of Vampi tends to recreate her, whole cloth.

Such it is in this most recent adventure arc, VAMPIRELLA: THE DARK POWERS #1 by Dan Abnett and Paul Davidson, packaged and edited by Nate Cosby. Yes, I know, I seldom mention the editors when going over a book's credits, but trust me -- there's a method to my meanness... er... madness.

The issue opens with Vampirella, in a new uniform, taking on a terrorist ring known as the Anticlan. Right away we are notified that this is happening within a multiverse, and that Vampirella has been dispatched with "Team Red" to "Plural World 4437" to confront the enemy. Her methods of attack are brutal and fatal -- so much so that they are considered abhorrent to the rest of Team Red, which turns out to be another version of Project: Superpowers, with its various members hailing from different universes and consisting of Fighting Yank, Black Terror, The Liberator, The Woman in Red, and Rocketgirl. Vampirella is uncomfortable working with a team, and doesn't understand their reaction to her assymetrical attack on the Anticlan -- until she learns that the Anticlan is headed up by an Artificial Intelligence that analyzes each defeat and evolves to meet and defeat it the next time. A goal of containment would have limited the A.I.s escalation, but Vampirella's brutality is a signifier that the next encounter with Anticlan is going to be that much more difficult to overcome. And that encounter comes swiftly, and with consequence.

As far as the story goes, I'm up for it. As much as I might not think that joining a super-team is in line with Vampirella's character, I've already mentioned that she gets reinvented frequently to fit story needs; as such, I can accept this Vampirella as yet another edition of the character. And the story presents a doomsday quandary, the resolution of which will determine whether or not the story is truly memorable or forgettable -- but for now, it's at least followable.

I'm not familiar much with Paul Davidson's career as an artist. in VAMPIRELLA: THE DARK POWERS, I will say that the characters are distinct and recognizable. However, they are also sketchy and decidedly unattractive -- not a quality that readers want in a Vampirella comic book, sexist or not. Some of the facial grimaces are, in fact, downright ugly, whether on Vampi or any of the other cast members.

Finally, there's the irksomeness in the plot that has a reader turning back pages, turning them forward, and not getting the point being made in the dialogue. I'm talking specifically here of an after-battle sequence when Team Red catches up to Vampi, and after being dressed down, The Lady in Red asks Vampi, "What happened to your uniform?" Vampirella responds that the costume was restrictive and she didn't like the fabric. This apparently goes against Team Red's designs for "brand-appropriate modesty." The issue with this confrontation? Well, let's see. Here's Vampirella after the photo shoot with the team for her debut.

And here she is, after the battle, moments before The Lady in Red asks the question.

The implication of the story is that the costume has changed, no doubt to the more traditional and extremely skimpy monokini. The cover by Jae Lee and June Chung would also seem to bear this out, as we see Vampi flying about in the skimpier outfit, holding the superhero costume aloft. But it seems the script didn't communicate to Davidson that there was a costume change and, what's more, the entire thing went unnoticed by Nate Cosby while he was editing (see, I told you there I had a reason in mind). It doesn't hurt the story all that much, but it's a large enough of a distraction to pull the reader out of it to wonder what's going on when there's been no visual cue to explain the dialogue.

I'll be curious to see where the second issue takes things, but overall this isn't a version of Vampirella about which I'm overly enthused. I can get behind the idea of putting her on the Project: Superpowers team, but the execution here and the characterizations are just too off to want to see as an ongoing series.

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0