COMIC BOOK REVIEW: ALTERED STATES: VAMPIRELLA / AUTHOR: NANCY A. COLLINS / ARTIST: FRANCESCO MANNA / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 4TH
Making up one of four titles in the first wave of Dynamite’s alternate reality vehicle, Altered States: Vampirella sees writer Nancy A. Collins putting an intriguing spin on that most iconic vamp. The one-shot ditches the usual campy horror associated with the character for a heady sci-fi spin ala Edgar Rice Burroughs instead.
Collins weaves a tale of an interplanetary craft lovingly named Arthur Clarke (and looking like Enterprise cast-offs) halfway through a six month mission to Venus. Time and space split and the craft and crew are sucked through and spat out light years away before crashing on Drakulon. Ella Normandy, surviving with other two crewmembers, crawls form the wreckage and is quickly descended on by Drakkar - giant bat-like creatures. She accompanies two folks (Drakulonian versions of vampire hunter Adam Van Helsing and his father) to a nearby city, where she soon learns the truth of the strange planet; their rivers run with blood and their veins with water. Desperate to quench her thirst, Ella is mistaken for a vampire herself.
Francesco Manna adopts a pulpy sci-fi aesthetic which makes Vampirella seem like a contemporary of Buck Rogers (wouldn’t that be a dreamy crossover?). It encapsulates the low-tech Drakulonians following a great war, and the glitzy 2069 gear of Ella and her ship without looking like straight-up homage.
Given Collins’ work on Dynamite’s ongoing Vampirella series, it’s paramount that she knows the character through and through, but it’s an idea better suited across a series of issues rather than just a one-shot. It may be pure fan service, but it proves to be an intricate and cunning retelling of Vampirella’s backstory.
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