Review by Ian Keogh
To all intents and purposes the appeal of Vampirella has rested purely in her costume, or lack of it, for many, many years. In the interview pages Grant Morrison admits as much as far as his interest is concerned. Beyond providing prurient entertainment for teenage boys, her secondary purpose is as unique form of vampire protecting humanity from others of her kind.
It might be assumed a writing team of Morrison and Mark Millar with Amanda Conner providing the art would result in a spectacular Vampirella story, but that’s not the case for the opener here. The writers are coasting, throwing a couple of good ideas into what’s otherwise a deliberately sordid stringing together of horror movie clichés, and while having an appealing style, in the 1990s Conner (sample art) hadn’t yet developed the clarity that characterised later artwork.
That, however is Watchmen compared to the following story. Any subtlety there was to Conner’s art is completely absent in Louis Small Jr’s pages in which no nipple is left flaccid and no chance of a crotch shot is missed. Morrison and Millar decamp after the first chapter, leaving Steven Grant taking their nonsense seriously, although seeing as he’s not cover credited he’s obviously not a Vampirella Master. ‘Holy War’ is hardly sparkling when presented as tongue in cheek, but the humourless version is deadweight.
Offerings produced separately by Morrison and Millar are even more exploitative than the previous content, but also better. Morrison’s is overtly erotic, drawn by Michael Bair, and deals with obsession, providing a clever reflection of the character’s relationship with her audience. At ten pages it’s the shortest strip presented, but also the only one to which much thought has been applied. Millar’s is another pulp plot, but a little more cohesive than his collaborative work. The intended lurid content is diminished considerably by Small Jr’s poor concept of human anatomy, from which there’s barely a page that could be used as a sample without causing offence.
An earlier collection of the same material was published in 2006 under the title Vampirella: The Morrison Millar Collection. Different cover, same poor content. It’s to be presumed that the widespread availability of sex online has considerably lessened the number of teenage boys needing to buy Vampirella, and if not, this isn’t the book to start with. Volume two features the writing of Warren Ellis.