In Review: Vampirella Strikes #1

The covers: Brace yourself: there are 14 covers–that’s right, 14! Collecting this many variations will truly separate the men from the boys! Cover A is by Michael Turner, and he is a go-to artist for sexy good girl artm, and he, as always, succeeds. Cover B is by David Finch and this sports a Vampirella whose clothes closely match what she’s wearing within this book. Sexy and, for Vampirella, sensible. Milo Manara does Cover C and his vision has Vampy striking a Batman-like pose, but in a much more attractive manner. Cover D is by interior artist Johnny Desjardins and it’s got Vamperilla looking just as she does within the book, and she’s accompanied on the cover by three characters from the story. Very nice! The “Cute” Exclusive Retailer Incentive Cover is by Chris Eliopolos which is a simple white cover with a “cute” kiddie version of Vampy chasing after a bawling Dracula. Funny and cute. The Exclusive Retailer Incentive Cover is an uninked pencil cover by Mike Mayhew showing our title character sitting down next to a skull. Also, very nice! The “Virgin Art” Exclusive Retailer Incentive Cover is Cover A sans logo and price. Nice. A “Black & White” Exclusive Retailer Incentive Cover is Cover B sans color in the art. Good. An Exclusive Subscription Variant Katana Baker Photo Cover was created using said model posing very successfully in the classic Vampirella garb. Why don’t more companies use models on the covers? And, yes, I’m including male models in this as well. A “Black & White” Comics Pro Exclusive Cover of 400 printed showcase the Michael Turner cover just as pencils. Only 50 copies were printed of the High-End “Blood Red” Ultra-Limited Cover which is the Mike Mayhew art printed in red. There’s also a High-End “Virgin Art” Ultra-Limited Cover of Milo Manara’s work, no logo, and it has a print run of 69. Michael Turner’s cover is employed one final time as a High-End “Blood Red” Ultra-Limited Cover where the line work is printed in read. This has a print run of 100. The final–whew!–cover is a High-End “Virgin” Ultra-Limited Photo Cover with a print run of 400, showcasing the Katana Baker photo, without any text. This is perfect for autographs at any convention appearance. I’ve got to applaud Dyanmite for showing their fans what’s available cover-wise. I wish every publisher was considerate enough to do this when printing variant covers. Overall grades: A A+, B A-, C A, D B+, “Cute” E.R.I. A, E.R.I. B+, “VA” E.R.I. A+, “B&W” E.R.I. B-, E.S.V.K.B.P. A, “B&W” C.P.E. B, H-E “B.R.” U-L B, H-E “VA” U-L A-, H-E “BR” U-L C, and H-E “V” U-L P. A+

The story: “On the Side of Angels” by Tom Sneigoski opens in a rainy ciy and moves into a bar where some very bad creatures have been taken out by Vampirella. Five pages recount the action that went down and then the story really begins. We see “something” happening involving the powers of darkness, but these plans go awry due to “someone” appearing. I was really impressed with this entire scene: who was involved, what happened, and how it ended. It was not a story I was expecting in a Vampirella story. The final five pages return to our heroine who has some unexpected guests with an equally unexpected demand. This story gave me much more than I was expecting, and the direction it’s goin in has me happily surprised. Overall grade: A

The art: I thought I would be getting a female vampire in the revealing red bikini and white colar slinking her way through every panel. That’s not in this book. Was I disappointed? At first, yes, but as I went through each page I realized that this story doesn’t need “that” Vampirella, and the one in this book is just as sharp looking. Having her dressed this way made the book feel more modern. Our title character looks great, as does every other part of this book illustrated by Johnny Desjardins. His demons are gross and scary, his settings are highly detailed, and he moves his panel focus well. The middle portion of the book had a very anime look to it and that helped it stick out a bit more since Vampirella wasn’t involved in this action. The second to last page could have gone a million different ways in design, but Desjardins went classical, and, since no one has done this, it makes the characters look all the impressive. A really solid art job. Overall grade: A

The colors: The coloring of this book is very sweet. The opening page’s cityscape is colored very specifically: each element of the art has its own color. By Page 2 red is used very judiciously to highlight the carnage of Vampirella’s battle. Everything is colored very cooly; toned down colors and elements that should be overshadowed by the violence. Thumbs up to Adriano Lucas for doing such a good job throughout. Overall grade: A

The letters: Marshall Dillon could have been let loose to really give a sound to Pages 7 and 8 but was not given that opportunity. He does a good job on the three sound effects he does, as well as the dialogue and narration, but I really wanted some noise from that opening melee. Overall grade: B+

The final line: The last time I read a new Vampirella book it was a black and white magazine in the 1980′s. I picked up this book because I made a New Year’s resolution I’d try one new book every week. Who knew I’d hit gold coming out of the gate? This is a story of extreme evil and good with poor little Vampirella in the middle. The art and the coloring are really good, too! I came into this book knowing only who this character was and I left it knowing I want to read more! Thank you, Dyanmite, for starting a new reader right in a new year! Overall grade: A

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