Review: Vampi Is The Chalk To The Old-School Super Heroes Cheese In ‘Vampirella: The Dark Powers’ #1
by Olly MacNamee
Vampirella is drawn into a crisis on infinite earths, whether she wanted to or not. In comparison to her straight-laced throwback colleagues, Vamprellai couldn’t be any more different. The action is great and slickly executed by artist Paul Davidson, while Dan Abnett’s dialogue will also win you over.
Vampirella: The Dark Powers #1 is Dan Abnett and Paul Davidson’s new take on an old favourite, the crises on infinite earths story that us comic book fans lap up. And, it’s a storyline much in favour today if you just cast your eyes around at the comic book landscape. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the return of the Captain Britain Corps at Marvel, the infinite remoulding of the DCU with the most current one playing out in Dark Nights: Death Metal and more. But, what makes this a fresh new take is that Vampirella clearly doesn’t really fit into this kind of story. She really is the proverbial duck out of water. Or, bat out or Hell to be more exact.
What’s more, her fellow team mates are all rather hokey throwbacks to a bygone era, as Abnett is only too aware of. The likes of Black Terror may add a sheen of validity to the group, but overall these out-of-copyright heroes of the Silver Age are knowingly out of time and out of touch. Something that Abnett does humorously draw our attention to through his witty dialogue that, while adding comedy to the book – and after a cold opening that certainly brings the requisite bloody and bone-breaking action to this title – doesn’t make these assembled heroes the butt of the joke.
These out-of-date heroes are all from various parallel worlds – or Plural Worlds, as Abnett puts it – and while we do not know yet why Vampirella would even consider joining such a team, that plain fact is that she has. Even though she is rather wonderfully acerbic throughout much of the first issue. Add this to the Bart Sears-like art of Paul Davidson and what you have is comic book that reminded me a great deal of the Justice League titles of the 80’s, especially Justice League Europe. And while Vampi isn’t the Guy Gardner of the group, she’s not too far off with her snarky remarks that are almost delivers straight to camera.
And so we have a book that smashes together modern day cyberpunk aesthetics with good old fashioned super heroics from a more innocent age. But, as our heroes are finding out, this naivety isn’t doing them any good against the more brutal villains of contemporary comics. And, the Anticlan – the big bad of this series – are very much that. High-tech and ruthless.
It’s all done very knowingly from veteran writer Abnett, who seems to be having great fun with this new book from Dynamite. Vampirella is the chalk to Project Superpowers cheese, but in speaking to Abnett recently he revealed he’s then going and thrown lime all over the whole thing too with the introduction of Red Sonja in the next issue! The conflict is already sown, but to throw oil onto the fire, well that’s a ballsy move, but should be a great inclusion for readers.*
An action-packed book that plays around with the tried-and-tested parallel worlds formula. With an extra dash of humour. Most of it coming from Vampirella herself, the central character readers will take to heart after reading this issue.
Vampirella: The Dark Powers #1 is available now from Dynamite
*to learn more about this new series do check out this week’s ICE-Cast podcast, which we will be posting this Saturday 12th December right here on comicon.com, in which we interview Dan Abnett on Vampirella: The Dark Powers and more.