Writer’s Commentary: Dan Abnett On ‘Vampirella: Dark Powers’ #1 From Dynamite

by Olly MacNamee

[+++ WARNING: Potential Spoilers for Vampirella: Dark Powers #1! So, go buy and read the book, then come back here for the commentary +++] 

This is a new series and ultimately, though complete in itself, it will be part of a bigger project (no pun intended). It’s a Vampirella story — my first time writing this classic character, but it’s also a Project Superpowers story, and in it I’ll be developing and expanding the Project concept and reveling in the classic  characters it offers. 

It’s also, I’m very much aware, something of a “mash-up” — the sort of genre-combining thing that shouldn’t really work, or should only be attempted as a joke. Vampirella ….  And superheroes. Really? But she isn’t that at all, right?  This isn’t a case of shoe-horning two things together for the sake of doing it: the incongruity of the combination is the whole point. I intend to play into it. And Vampirella being a misfit, a bad fit, is our basic theme.

Page 1

Page 1

We went for a cold open, as though this was the start of a hard-edged, etch-savvy superhero story (which it is) … and let me say that in no way is this story meant to undermine ANY Vampirella continuity. This Vampirella is, in many ways, the 1970’s, fresh-out-of-the-box (tomb?) version. This is something that may have happened to her. It’s not what is sometimes called an “elseworld” either. Nor is it an attempt to take the piss out of Vampirella. It’s a credible possibility. 

Right from page one, Paul’s [Davidson] gorgeous graphic work is there to be enjoyed. 

Pages 2 to 8

So determined am I to establish Vampirella’s credentials, as a serious character, I have devoted the first significant sequence to her in action, along with the start of a wry (not comedic) narrative from her that will continue throughout, so we get her mindset. I’ve worked with Paul before, and I love his approach. This extended fight is brutal, blistering and savagely choreographed. It’s everything I wanted, and more besides.

Page 2

Page 9

If this issue has any “punchline” moments, it’s this page, I suppose. The arrival of the clean-cut and noble superheroes. Their disapproval and shock is palpable. They’ve walked into horror, and also into brutal military SF, neither of which is their comfort zone…

Page 9

Pages 10 to 13

Now we  flash back a little, to contextualize the crunchy “pre-credit” action. We properly introduce the heroes, we showcase their attitude towards Vampirella, and we set up the nature of the threat and what they’re doing. 

But more than anything, we learn about their characters. These are classic, and old, characters, the archetypes of modern superheroes. I didn’t want them to be ciphers. They all get their own “voice” and attitude, so they quickly – I hope – become identifiable and distinct. The key here is what they think about Vampi — and what she thinks about them.  This is where the focus on the genre-clash, the incongruity, starts to pay off. And yes, there are a few funny lines, but all are “in-character” and in-universe. None are there to diminish or ridicule. 

I know the Project characters aren’t (yet!) as well known or beloved as Vampirella, but I want the reader to like them… Or actively dislike them, that’s fine too… or at least find them intriguing. Questions about them, and the set-up, are answered, but not all of them. I hope the reader is now propelled by a momentum of wanting to know more. And I certainly don’t want the Project characters to be the “other” characters in this story. They’re not extras on a movie set. This is, in a way, their story, and Vampi has gate-crashed it (unwillingly). I think Paul, aided by Andrew’s [Dalhouse] gorgeous color work, really makes them pop and feel like characters we’ve known for a long time. And, of course, in our comic-reading DNA, we have.

Pages 14 to 18

As the recriminations fly, back in the story’s “now”,  we enter a sequence of body horror and nastiness that is definitely Vampirella’s milieu. Except it’s her fault, and she is horrified by it — not by the gore, but by the culpability. She wanted to do things “their” way, but it’s backfired. 

Pages 19 to 21

Gone to ground, our beleaguered heroes try to figure out their next move, and Vampirella, twisting the genres yet again, decides to make amends. She’s not right for this, it’s a bad fit, but she’s not going to leave things hanging and walk away. It’s her mess, and she’s going to fix it. Once again, with reckless determination, she sets out to put things right. And, in doing so, acts with as much courage and selfless heroism as any… superhero. 

Things are just getting started, and they are going to get WILD from here. – Dan Abnett

Vampirella: Dark Powers #1 is out now from Dynamite

You can read our exclusive and extended preview of the debut issue here and catch my review of this issue here, and catch me and fellow co-host Shane Chebsey of the ICE-Cast chatting with Dan all about Vampirella: Dark Powers #1 and more below. And, if you like what you see, do consider subscribing:

Olly MacNamee

A unashamed DC Comics fan and sometime teacher for over 20 years! I got lucky and found the escape hatch. Now, I just read and write about comics all day long. Co-host of the ICE-Cast podcast and one third of the brains behind Birmingham's street art and graffiti festival High Vis Fest.

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