You might think the cover and a comment from an Amazon review wishing Vampirella and Dejah Thoris had fallen in love by the end really tells you everything you need to know about Vampirella/Dejah Thoris. You be wrong, as Erik Burnham and Ediano Silva subvert the intention by attempting to make this far more than might have been expected from pairing the two women in comics who wear least clothes.

As ever, Vampirella’s problem is a need for blood, and she arrives on Mars, or Barsoom as it’s known to the inhabitants, as the advance guard for her people. Dejah considers Barsoomian ways with natural substances might help substitute for blood, and if it can’t the planet will soon be over-run by a population of hungry vampires from Drakulon. As Vampirella alone proves stronger than half a dozen guards that’s not ideal for Mars. The solution may lie with the help of the goddess Issus, but she’s not easily reached or convinced.

Burnham’s plot is credible, as is the friendship he develops between the two lead characters, never letting it slide into sleaze. They compare their cultures, the role of women in them, and Vampirella prods the still young Dejah to think beyond traditional ways. It’s interesting and unexpected. Silva also tones down lurid expectation. He’s not left with many options given Vampirella’s costume, but presents what it is as subtly as he can, while Dejah wears a form of armour, far more than in her regular series. From a fantastic scene near the start of a giant white gorilla attacking Dejah, it’s very apparent that Silva’s supplying artwork well above expectation. He draws several of the societies on Mars in assorted locations, giving them a classical elegance, and he works at convincing with numbers, showing groups from distance, not just resorting to close-ups.

If you can take the title characters seriously, and Burnham does his best to ensure you can, this is better than a considerable quantity of the solo Dejah Thoris material, believable fantasy rather than exploitation, and nothing like the cover would have you believe.