COMIC BOOK REVIEW: VAMPIRELLA ARCHIVES VOL 11 / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In the ongoing collection of preserving Vampi’s good name and early exploits, Dynamite have gathered up Vampirella Magazine #72-79 for Volume 11. The magazine continues her ongoing story in amongst pulpy sci-fi and wonderfully weird horror tales. Given that most of the strips are in black and white, the whole collection is steeped in gothic scuzz, even the brighter sci-fi stories have a grubby newsprint quality to them which only makes them more endearing.
There’s plenty of stories not worth reading let alone remembering, and this isn’t a collection you’ll want to read cover to cover, instead it’s one to cherry pick the best. It’s those involving Vampi herself which are sure to hold fans attention, old and new. Bill DuBay, several time editor and writer for Warren Publishing, lent some of his best work to Vampirella Magazine. Decades later, his stories still prove to be among the best the character has been given. One highlight is the book-length story Gathering of Demons in issue 73. With art from Gonzalo Mayo, it brings all the familiar components of Vampi comics together: the vampire hunters Adam and Conrad Van Helsing, the bumbling Pendragon, and the gal herself in full detective, take-no-shit mode years before Angel and the notion of vampire do-gooders hit our screens.
Another superb story from DuBay and Mayo is the fabulous Kiss of the Dragon Queen from issue 78. You quickly get a sense of his importance in the development of the character and the rich exploration of his storytelling, reverberating even in Nancy A. Collins’ run today. Another DuBay highlight is The Beauty and The Behemoth; it’s great fun and features Vampi’s quirky buddy Pantha, with archetypal art from Jose Gonzalez.
Many of the stories are surprisingly progressive and plenty that aren’t, as it seems a prerequisite to have bare breasts in every strip. The occasional racial stereotype will probably make you cringe, but it was the ‘70s after all and we’d like to think things have gotten a bit better.
Each issue is presented as they were published, with the wonderful vintage ads, Scarlet Letters column, and Vampi’s Vault included. It’s a great annual chronicling a time when comic readers wanted something harder and darker for their buck. Some of the stories were perhaps better left unread, but it’s worth the cover price for the DuBay stories alone.
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