COMIC BOOK REVIEW: VAMPIRELLA: OUR LADY OF SHADOWS / AUTHOR: NANCY A. COLLINS / ARTWORK: PATRICK BERKENKOTTER / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 24TH
A young girl is abducted, to be used in a ritual sacrifice. When Vampirella goes searching for the girl and is almost killed by Vatican-authorised hitmen who have been sent to destroy her (the aptly named Malleus Maleficarum: The Witch-Hammer) she reluctantly has to join forces with an old enemy to find out what’s going on – and to defeat the Queen of Shadows. But to be strong enough to do that, she will have to travel the world, kill the rarest vampires and steal their strength by drinking their blood. The bigger danger is, Vampirella may lose her own soul in the process.
A second, shorter story, revolves around a Nun who discovers some nasty things happening in her convent. Vampirella has to go undercover to rescue her and take on the Devil and his mistress. It’s formula stuff, and the writer could have done a lot more with the set-up (it would have been great to see the convent’s possessed Nuns go full-on-Ken Russell’s-The-Devils-batshit-crazy) but, hey, at heart this is a PG comic book with an X-rated sensibility so there’s a lot that isn’t in these panels that could be left to the imagination.
The bottom line is, Vampirella’s been around for a long time but the beauty of her character is she always stays the same – gorgeous, sexy, and timeless, and no matter how many demons she tears apart she never gets a stain on her figure hugging halter-neck. It doesn’t matter how long you take between trips back into the Vampirella universe, you always know the kind of sassy, bloody, smart-mouthed action you’re going to get.
Vampirella: Our Lady of Shadows is no exception. In fact, with its evocation of legendary vampire species rarely mentioned in the West (the myth of the Krasue, an Asian vampire demon with the head of a woman attached to its own bloody entrails used to give us nightmares as kids but this is the first time we’ve ever seen her depicted in a modern story) it’s also a cool little side trip into long-forgotten vampire lore. And if the Krasue isn’t horrific enough, check out the Leptirica, a butterfly vampiress that would make the Mothman’s heart skip a beat.
But what we enjoyed most was the appearance of Drago, a Nosferatu straight out of the Count Orlock mould, complete with pointy ears and rats incisors for teeth. His species of vamp doesn’t get nearly enough coverage and it’s good to see him making a comeback.
Ironically, the only place Vampirella: Our Lady of Shadows falls down is in some of the artwork of Vampi herself. Don’t get us wrong, she still looks hot and the figure drawing is spot-on but there are variable results when it comes to Vampi’s face. There’s something generic and mechanical about her look that made us miss the fine detail of some of her previous artists and it’s a flaw that extends to most of the supporting characters (except Drago). But that’s a minor criticism. Vampirella: Our Lady of Shadows is a great addition to the franchise and fans will lap it up as quickly as blood gushing from a severed artery.