Hey there dear readers! I got that new Vampirella #1 everyone is talking about! No, not the Christopher Priest, and Ergun Gunduz relaunch, the 1969 Vampirella. What’s that? I’m fifty years late? Well shit. Okay, before you take out your wooden stakes and garlic, I know that was in bad blood and I should go back to the coffin. But, for the series 50th anniversary Dynamite Entertainment re-released the first issue of Vampirlla in a Facsimile Edition, down to the exact details. Which made me rise from my coffin like Dracula. They even kept the same exact ads, which is fangtastic! When the Vampirella Comic Magazine – yes comic magazine – first came out it was akin to other horror comic magazines with it not focusing on just one character but a multitude of stories. So for this review we will look at each story individually.
Let me first get this out of the way for younger readers, or readers that aren’t fans of wordy comics. Vampirella Facsimile Edition is heavy on words, inks, not much action, and it loves over explaining. This is a product of the times and this review will judge it as such. Personally I love older comics that were heavier on dialogue and explaining. Yeah, that’s just how I personally roll. Oh, and one last note, it’s all in black and white! Carry on.
Vampirella Of Drakulon
(w) Forrest J. Ackerman (a) Tom Sutton
Starting off strong we are introduced to our main fantastic female, Vampirella. Each story only has a few pages to tell they story and Forrest J. Ackerman does this perfectly in just six pages. It’s funny looking back at Vampirella’s quick origin story nowadays when each relaunch can take multiple issues just to retell it in some manner. Within six pages we are introduced to her character, motivations, home planet and the crisis it’s going through, all while ending in a manner that makes you want to read more of her. This story helps show the how and why Vampirella has lasted throughout the years, and why she became famous so fast.
It helps that Tom Sutton’s art is fangtastic! Drawing a drop dead gorgeous Vampirella that could easily kill you explains how so many became attracted to her since the beginning. The backgrounds are alien-like yet futuristic in a human manner that makes it seem realistic yet but still galaxies away. Having read a few Vampirella series before I think Sutton’s art may be my favorite for the character.
(w) Don Glut (a) Billy Graham
From a vampire planet to a human boat we have ourselves a whodunnit, but a vampire on a boat edition! For such a unique plot to tell Don Glut puts enough twists and turns on the shaky boat that by the end we think we know who did it, but we don’t. With each character suspicious in their own manner there could be a case against each of them for who could’ve been the real vampire, well except for the dead guy. For the page count the story is good, not great, but interesting enough, the problem with Death Boat comes in the form of Billy Graham’s art. His characters and their environments all look great, when you can see them. Sadly when a panel is ink heavy it becomes much to ink heavy killing the art by making it barely view able.
Two Silver Bullets
(w) Don Glut (a) Reed Crandall
Two Silver Bullets is another story by Don Glut, but this time the age old story of a father, a daughter, and a werewolf? No not like Twilight, more like a tragedy. Out on a hunting trip with her father Maria is bitten by what seems like just a wolf. Later we learn it is in fact the all terrifying werewolf. Knowing this, but not that his daughter has turned our loving father goes to a priest and receives two silver bullets. You see where this is going? Like most of Vampirella Facsimile Edition #1 the art follows a certain theme of being realistic yet fantasy esque. Reed Crandall’s art delivers on this theme with beautiful mountain backgrounds filled with trees and snow that seems like a few in Alaska.
Goddess From The Sea
(w) Don Glut (a) Neal Adams
Taking us to the ocean Don Glut introduces us to the Queen of Alantis and human Jim Judson. Like the last two stories by Don Glut Goddess From The Sea isn’t anything groundbreaking, but more of a way to show how stupid man can be. As is the case when Jim drowns himself trying to save the Queen, which turns out she was ‘testing’ surface men. When will the Alantians and surface dwellers get along? The huge drawing point in this story is Neal Adams on art! Yes that Neal Adams! Changing up the style Adams goes for a lighter pencil for lines, and light ink making this story look more like a sketch. This works out beautifully and shows how great Adams was fifty years back.
Last Act: October
(w) Don Glut (a) Mike Royer
Last Act: October plays out differently than the others by playing out as suspenseful, superstitious story rather then the classic monsters we have seen throughout. With a prologue from years past Don Glut introduces our main characters ancestor becoming cursed by the vile words of a burning witch. Cursing his further kin we hop back to the present as Miss Hortense Pilkington (damn what a name) is on her way to babysit on Halloween. Throughout Miss Pilkington has near death experiences on the way to the kids house and then at the house. With a few different twists Glut writes a stronger story than his others. Changing the art from the other Mike Royer goes for a more cartoonish feel for the characters, but keeps a heavy ink for the backgrounds and shadows to keep it terrifying.
(w) Don Glut (a) Tony Tallrico
As you may now have noticed all but two stories were written by Don Glut, with this being his final writing credit in Vampirella Facsimile Edition #1 but the by far the best. As the story states, “Kennie Barcroft had a way with women….”, which nowadays would be considered a womanizer. After having his advances rejected by a nameless lady Kennie leaves her house in the middle of the night. At that same moment a shining UFO lands, and out walks multiple beautiful women, you know every man’s dream. Looking for a male to repopulate their planet the aliens convince – easily I might add – Kennie to be their king and help their plight. Then per usual shit hits the fan and his dream becomes a nightmare.
The ending is easy to call from the very beginning, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun read. When so much of the media back then had this plot of one lucky man going to a planet or island of only woman and living out his fantasy it’s fantastic to see one go horribly wrong. It helps that Tony Tallrico’s art is great between his beautiful woman, ship interior, and how he is able to portray the starry skies with just black and white. Spaced-Out Girl rivals Vampirella Of Drakulon for my favorite story in this issue.
A Room Full Of Changes
(w) Nicola Cuti (a) Ernie Colon
This story is weird. Anytime I review a comic, or I plan an article I write notes in a handy dandy notebook. For A Room Full Of Changes I wrote a single “?”. The gist is Mr. Blaine buys a house and the previous owners youngest daughter visits him talking about The Room. No, not the movie, but equally as weird. Mr. Blaine chases after the girl and views the room full of toys, but when the older sister arrives the room is different. Weird right? Showing this off Mr. Blaine comes to the revelation that the room has the soul of an old man that died there who is trying to tell whoever enters who killed him. Again, weird. Well it gets even deeper as the story wraps up. Nicola Cuti follows Royer’s art with a cartoon style while keeping the serious backgrounds. In one panel Cuti has the homes reflection on the side of the car which looks great and realistic.
With each story having less than ten pages it can be hard to convey the full story, but for the most part Vampirella Facsimile Edition #1 is good. It’s fun to look back at a comic fifty year ago and see just how much has changed yet stayed the same. One other note I wanted to leave her at the end is Vampirella herself narrates the interludes for each story. For each story she has witty dialogue references of what you are about to read or have finished. This works perfectly and is hilarious to boot. I loved how they kept all the ads and would gladly buy more Vamperilla Facsimile Editions.
Favorite Quote: “MAN! Now that’s what I call an invader! I surrender! I surrender!” – Kennie Barcroft. Well I would say you sorta deserve what you got Kennie.
“There are two lousy lessons to learn from this!! Don’t trust chicks that are TOO FAR OUT! And don’t get SUCKED IN by marriage to the wrong girl, despite social position! Some Wives can be… POSSESSIVE!” – Vampirella. Thanks for the life lesson Vampirella!