Review: Vampirella Volume Four, Dynamite Publishing, $49.99


Dynamite's chronological reprints of Warren's Vampirella magazine are running a year or so ahead of Dark Horse's similar efforts with Warren's Creepy and Eerie, which redounds to the former's benefit. 

 

The issues collected in this volume (Vampirella #22-28, Mar-Nov 73, and the only original story from the 1972 Annual) are plainly superior to those from just a year or so earlier. Gone are the grammatical errors, misspellings, malapropisms and erroneous homonyms that marred the issues published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Also, it seems most of the writers -- which includes familiar names like Doug Moench and Steve Skeates -- had gotten the "relevancy" bug out of their systems, so we don't have to slog through stories hinging on overpopulation, pollution, Vietnam and other social ills of the 1970s. Sure, those things are important, but the strident sincerity of the era was hard for me to take then, and intolerable now. Those types of stories are still on display in 1972 Creepy and Eerie, but 1973 Vampirella has gotten back to basics on the short horror stories, with vampires, werewolves and other creatures of the night.

 

But as I've complained before, the lead feature borders on painful. Vampirella's origin is so incredibly lame that almost nothing can save it, although Archie Goodwin in previous volumes and Steve Englehart in this one give it their best shot. Goodwin in particular gave Vampi a supporting cast, a reasonable set of motivations and a sort-of status quo, and Englehart manages some clever stories here. But I just can't help snorting in derision at any mention of "Planet Draculon," and -- while I like semi-naked women as much as the next heterosexual guy -- Vampi's costume just screams "PANDER" to the point of embarrassment. And I'm a guy -- my wife read one of the stories, pronounced it "stupid," and refuses to hear any more on the subject. 

 

But, hey, I'm a professional, and I can force myself to look at a semi-naked woman if I must. That's made especially easy by the terrific art on Vampirella, mostly by Jose Gonzalez. Of all the Filipino artists that filled out the Warren bullpen in those days, he's the best, or at least in the top three.

 

In fact, I'm looking forward to Vampirella Archives Volume Five -- even if my wife isn't!

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I passed on this entire series, but you're making it harder for me to ignore!

I have to ignore it. Not only can't I afford it... I have ALMOST ALL of the originals!!

The big problem with VAMPIRELLA over the length of its run has been the wildly erratic quality (or lack thereof) in the writing. Goodwin was by a very wide margin the best writer who ever worked on the series.  Englehart & Gerry Bourreau are a close tie for 2nd or 3rd. After that, it kinda falls off the page. Most maddening is Bill DuBay, who alternated between wonderfully inspired, and some of the WORST DREK ever perpetuated on comics fans. (At one point, he started working under a pseudonym, "Will Richardson", in an attempt to rebuild his self-destroyed reputation!)

But what always gets me is the number of INCREDIBLE writers who continued to have their work appear in the magazine... on the "anthology" stories... just NOT on the lead feature. That, and the large number of 10-page episodes, when it deserved 20 OR MORE. (Rudy Nebres seemed one of the few who could knock out more than 20 pages every episode. But I HATED his style on the series! Give me Mayo, or Gonzales anyday.)

...How " complete " are these Warren reishes ? This and Uncles Creepy and Eerie...

  I get the impression that every issu, as included in these books , included the complete " Captain Company " mail-order house ads !!!!!!!!!

  Especially if so , would EVERYTHING else...house ads , contents , and the letters and the ama-art and stories pages that some Warrens included , be present and accounted for ?????????

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