Vampirella regales her therapist with the story of the time that she and a group of killer nuns crashed a Satanic rite and fought all kinds of beasts. It doesn’t go quite the way you’d expect.
The thing is, Satanists aren’t at all the way they’re usually portrayed in various forms of mass media. At the very least, they’re not plotting to take over the world and participating in murderous blood orgies. So to have this issue lean into the idea of that being a stereotype and to see Vampirella call out all of these old posers was a blast. It not only ridicules the enemy, but it also gives Vampirella more of a reason to be on the scene to break up this gross party. This is just one of the smart storytelling decisions in this issue.
What was entirely unexpected was the philosophical angle from which Vampirella approached this battle. It’s something that doesn’t come up that often, but she’s ostensibly working for a church that worships a deity she doesn’t believe in or even have on her home planet. This makes her dividing lines between good and evil slightly more skewed, almost on a sliding scale. Furthermore, she knows that the way she gets her sustenance could be construed as evil on Earth.
In other words, Vampirella is making it up as she goes along. She knows wickedness when she sees it, but can occasionally have trouble discerning which brands of wickedness should be punished. It’s a really interesting read on the character that I have to commend. Vampirella has always been a bit of a plucky action hero, so to see her not entirely sure which direction she’s going in is such a cool take from Christopher Priest. It’s the kind of indecision and uncertainty that could send an ancient being to therapy, which is where we have of course found Vampirella in this series.
The framing device of the therapy sessions is a brilliant move. By allowing the therapist to comment on Vampirella’s story and her subsequent explanations of her behavior, we get into the minutiae of Vampirella’s everyday life. This is a lot more fun and interesting than you’d expect. It also allows our characters to comment on how bonkers Vampirella’s entire premise is, only without running into the problem of invalidating the story. It never feels like the character is being treated as a joke, even though her therapist clearly doesn’t take her seriously.
The artwork and colors from Ergün Gündüz continue to be exquisite and gnarly at the same time. A battle in a pool full of blood is visceral and hilarious, with limbs being lopped off and organs flying everywhere. Vampirella’s relaxed poses during the battle show her confidence and ferocity in ways that don’t need to be addressed through dialogue. It’s a joy to see her go to work on the baddies.
Still, there are a few points where the book feels a little harder to follow. The introduction of the character named Benny, for instance, felt somewhat jarring. Like last month, this issue jumps around a bit in time, playing with Vampirella’s insecurities in the form of flashbacks. However, it occasionally feels somewhat muddled with interjections from the therapist and side-steps to check in on other characters we haven’t exactly met yet. It’s starting to come together in interesting ways, but there are moments here that will likely depend on future issues to make more sense.
Priest is simultaneously deconstructing and reinvigorating everything that works about Vampirella as a character. The absurdity is embraced in ways that don’t ridicule the material, but instead allow more realistic characters to inhabit this heightened world.