REVIEW: Vampirella Vol. 3 #1

Dynamite’s final heroine revamp (no pun intended), hits your LCS this week, with the ubiquitous variants covers.  Bur how does it stack up against its preceding volumes and its stable mates alike?

This issue serves as an abbreviated introduction to Vampirella, with a couple of elements carried over from the last series.  There is a mystery of sorts that kind of dovetails into her life, with a coincidence that only seems to apply to comic books.  Social media rear’s its head and a costume change ensures.  In between all this, Vampi seems to be along for the ride as much as the reader.  The mystery villains are pretty standard and at this point, so is the main antagonist.  But time will tell.

Kath Leth has been involved in comics for a number of years, working on books like Adventure Time, Locke and Key and Luthor Strode.  On paper, that seems like an eclectic bunch of books.  Here, with an easy introduction to the series, the book flows well, with dialogue that sounds like Vampi, but somehow feels forced between Tristan and Coleridge, with the latter coming across like a mix of Alfred and a voyeur. Still the book is pacy so that cracks can be missed.

Art is supplied by Eman Casallos, a Dynamite veteran, whose work in this issue seems a tad inconsistent.  Looking at the panels, it seems that the supporting cast doesn’t seem to get the same attention as Vampi and the big bad.  Faces also seem to be an issue for the majority of the book, going from cartoony to a seemingly Neal Adams approach.  For me, this serves to distract my eye to the point where I nearly gave up.  There are a couple of fantastic panels in the book, so why is this quality of work not carried through?  Casallos provides the inks for his pencils, which only adds to the confusion of consistency.  Colors by Valentina Pinto look great, keeping the horror vibe alive.  Erica Schultz does a great job with lettering, giving the book an easy to read feel and flow.

There are a couple of elephants in the room when looking at this book.  First, Vampi has an outfit change.  Now this isn’t the first time she has had her classic look changed, going from calf boots in the 70’s to thigh highs over the last few years. Here though, this is more than footwear.  The powers that be have moved from the swimsuit look to a more functional jumpsuit.  I am totally on board with the idea that comic books need to feature strong women but please can someone explain why the need to change a classic look to me.  I get that the argument will be that the swimsuit depicts Vampi as a sex symbol rather than a strong character, but really, does clothes make the woman?  Is she really a strong character if strength of character is judged by her outfit?  This change just seems knee jerk to me.  The second elephant is the main cover by Chrisse Zullo, giving Vampi the dreaded “Batgirl-ing”.  Again, I now that there are a lot of vocal comments about how cool, sales notwithstanding, “Batgirl-ing” is, but surely there is enough room on the comic racks for both this and a sexy strong feisty style.  Surely, those differences serve the idea of diversity.

Back to the book, on first glance, I wanted to really dislike this book.  Thanks to the fun element of the writing  and in parts some quality art, I was pleasantly surprised.  Off the three restarts, Dejah Thoris, Red Sonja and Vampirella, this is weakest of the bunch, which may seem harsh as the others have had the opportunity to embed their stories and style with a second issue.  Still, I am curious to see the second issue.

Vampirella Vol. 3 #1
writer: Kate Leth
artist: Eman Casallos


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