Review by Ian Keogh
The Vampirella Masters Series began by showcasing the work of renowned writers who’d produced Vampirella stories, mainly in the 1990s. By the final couple of volumes Dynamite Entertainment were scraping the barrel, pulling together any tenuously linked combination of stories to fill a book, and this is the final selection to date.
Vampirella’s mission is to destroy all vampires on Earth. For story purposes they occur in significant numbers and some have survived her attacks. They occupy the short opener, after which Mike Carey’s brief is to take what by this time was a dog’s dinner of tinkered with origins for Vampirella and supply something cohesive. He seems to be heading that way, and does indeed offer an explanation, but a rushed final chapter of a cancelled series is standard fare. Mike Lilly’s art (sample page) is a mixed blessing. He’s talented enough to convey the various forms of Vampirella that the story requires, supplies kinetic action sequences and both some great decorative backgrounds and horrific imagery of Hell. On the other hand, when it comes to the ‘real’ Vampirella he’s as exploitative as any artist in the series to date. You could hang your coat on her nipples, and her costume is depicted as the wispiest strips of red fabric. It’s all sordid.
Stephen Segovia on the following material is even more exploitative. Among his earliest panels are several focussing exclusively on Vampirella’s rear end, and most of his poses appear to have been copied from pornography. These are then saturated with blood. When he’s not drawing that Segovia’s pages are cluttered and confusing, with no natural flow from one panel to the next. The talent is obviously present, but it needed focussed when these stories were published in 2007. Noah Salonga takes over for the final chapter, and his Vampirella is toned down and his storytelling an improvement.
Joshua Hale Fialkov’s script continues in part from what Carey establishes, but somewhere in between Vampirella has begun working for an old enemy, the Blood Red Queen. There’s a viable reason for this, but the story is ultimately about associating as much near naked flesh as possible with blood and violence, and doing so extends a meagre plot far beyond its natural shelf life.