Beek's Books - an ongoing collection of comic book reviews
 Vampirella Lives (Harris)
by Warren Ellis, Amanda Conner, and Jimmy Palmiotti
uncolored preview of #1 (of 3)
Rating: OK, Content: [super]

 I hesitated before taking Harris up on their offer to preview this book. After all, Vampirella isn't exactly on my regular reading list, and something tells me that I'm not part of Harris' target demographic for the character's books. But I figured it would be only fair of me to give it a look. Also, I liked Amanda Conner's work on Soulsearchers & Co. And let's face it: I'm a slut who'll try anything. {grin}

 You can either blame Vampirella for the glut of scantily-dressed women with large breasts who trivialise comics (and the women who don't read them), or you can give the character credit for being one of the originals (and not just a cheap knock-off). I'll try to do neither.

 This issue does a decent job of explaining to new readers who Vampirella is, via the time-honoured method of having her explain it to another character. As she tells her story, it becomes apparent that Vampirella has had a few retcons over the years. For the record, she is not (as she originally believed) an alien from the planet Drakulon, where everyone is a benign vampire living off naturally-occurring rivers of blood. (This is so retro-cheesy, I'm guessing this was the original origin of the character.) Also for the record, she's on the side of the Good Guys, a vampire who only goes after the Bad Guys to help atone for the wrong-doing of her mother Lilith (Adam's rebellious-but-not-truly-evil first wife). I suppose that if you have to suck on human jugulars, you might as well suck people (such as other vampires) who harm others.

 (I found Lilith's speculation that she was created solely to embody the idea of gynephobia - fear of women - a bit ironic, since that's the role that Eve generally plays in fundamentalist christian thinking.)

 This book is not just an excuse to draw sexy babes and their hooters. In fact, some scenes are entirely without cleavage, including one with Vampirella wearing a trench coat, of all things. While there are a number of scenes showing off her butt, belly, and/or boobs (like the scene in which she drops the trench coat to fight), that would be hard to avoid, given her trademark ribbons-as-costume. And it's really no worse than most mainstream superheroine books in the amount of cheesecake, for what that's worth.

 So what about the story? Well, which one? There are several things happening in this issue, and it's hard to tell how (or if) they're related. Hopefully all will be made clearer by the end. Much of it the "introductory" material comes toward the end of the book, perhaps because it's more important to issue #2 than #1. I was a little confused by the differences between the living, the dead, the undead, and the really and truly gone, but you can attribute some of that to my unfamiliarity with the modern vampire genre.

 Individually, most of the scenes are pretty well done, so once there's a framework in place to hold them all together, it should work better. (It's one reason I feel that short mini-series like this should just be published in one volume rather than masquerading as monthlies.) There's a mixture of suspense, action, pathos, and humour... and a modicum of gore. There's blood and/or bones on about half of the pages, but like the sex, the violence is just part of the atmosphere, not the main reason for the book.

 Personally, I don't think I'll be picking up the rest of this series, but that's largely because it's simply not my cuppa. The cliffhanger set up on the last couple pages does pique my curiosity about the eventual outcome a bit, so if you think you might have a place in your heart (and reading) for the plight of an altruistic vampire, and a bit of blood and breasts doesn't bother you, you may want to give this one a look. She's not as Bad a Girl as you might fear.

For more info about Vampirella, visit Don Williams' Vampirella site.
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