Vampirella writer Christopher Priest is making the rounds with the comics press, talking about his upcoming series from Dynamite Comics. He’s done a new interview with Comic Book Resources and Bleeding Cool has an open letter from Mr. Priest detailing his vision for the character. You can check both of them out in full by using the links at the end of this post. The information in both is pretty much the same. For the purposes of discussion here, I’m going to focus on the CBR interview because their website is slightly better about not crashing my browser than BC.
I still have some of the same concerns that I mentioned about the previous Priest interview, but I also see a lot here that I like. I want to pull out two quotes from the CBR interview that sound very promising.
Vampirella is the costume. If you change the costume, she’s no longer Vampirella. The costume is, frankly, the only controversial thing about the character. No one really cares about how many people she kills or how many demon hordes she slaughters. All of that violence seems to be just fine with most people. But whoo-boy, that outfit. Shame. Shame!
As I see her, Vampirella comes from a society that is, in large measure, much better adjusted than ours. No racism. No homophobia. Clothing optional. If anything, Vampi looks at us primitive and clearly uncivilized people and wonders about our self-loathing and why we choose to smother ourselves in fabric.
Boy is this refreshing! Finally somebody who can just accept the costume and work with it. He seems to be acknowledging what I’ve always said about it – she’s an alien, so it shouldn’t be so shocking that her wardrobe is drastically different from ours. Where I differ from Priest, is that he is committed to also acknowledging that the costume is a problem and addressing that problem in the book. Clearly I don’t think the costume should be a problem, but I’m also skeptical that it’s really as big of a problem as people seem to think it is. I also don’t like it when a story feels like it’s crafted around a political or social message. I feel like it limits the storytelling options when you start with a message or an agenda and have to mold the story around that. Hopefully that won’t be a problem with this story because it does sound like a very interesting direction he’s taking.
As with Deathstroke, I wanted to downsize the premise a bit. With all due respect to the Legion Of Much Better Writers (TM) who’ve handled the character, the book was less appealing to me as a reader when it had Vampirella kind of off-book, behaving more like Conan The Barbarian in a thong. I didn’t enjoy her fighting hordes of vampires and battling all these demons and the Mad God and so forth. I thought the scale was becoming too large and impersonal, the franchise too immersed in and dependent upon the occult when, as I see it, Vampirella was a work of satirical science fiction.
Vampirella was created as a science fiction satire—Barbarella with fangs. Somehow, over the years, the property has just become so dug into this devil stuff that the opportunity missed becomes obvious: Vampirella is not, in fact, a vampire. A least not a vampire as we know them from our mythology. She is not “undead” and resents being labeled as such.
One of the things I’ve wanted to see a return to in Vampirella comics was the science fiction element. I love the combination of sci-fi and horror and Vampirella is the perfect character for that. Unfortunately we haven’t seen that as much as I would like (although we got a healthy dose of it in the Dejah Thoris series). It sounds like Priest is going to bring that back. The horror element won’t be going away – von Kriest was featured briefly in the Free Comic Book Day issue. Science fiction is at the character’s core so it will be a very welcome change to get some that back. I only hope that when he mentions “science fiction satire” he isn’t planning to give Vampirella any of the early Warren treatment when she was basically just a joke character. That’s what I consider satire, but based on what we’ve seen I don’t think it will be anything like that – thankfully!
Be sure to let me know what you think about all of this and check out the full features using the links below.