Vampirella As The Femme Fatale: Talking `Vampirella Vs. The Superpowers’ With Writer Dan Abnett
by Tom Smithyman
Vampirella is back in a new series, and this time she is taking on the Legion of Heroes. Dan Abnett writes the upcoming series, Vampirella Vs. The Superpowers, which premieres in May, with artwork by Pasquale Qualano. In a Comicon exclusive, Abnett discusses placing the Daughter of Drakulon in a film noir setting, her new sidekick as well as his writing process.
Tom Smithyman: You’ve had quite a run on Vampirella lately. What is it about this character that makes her so interesting to write?
Dan Abnett: She’s a classic, iconic character, but also possesses a curious adaptability. She can fit into almost any genre setting seamlessly, be it horror, SF, hard-boiled crime, fantasy, etc. Having shifted her into the realm of cosmic superheroes with the previous series, we now send her off “undercover” to explore a 1940’s style film-noir version of Earth. She’s part of the Project superhero team, working undercover to try and save a version of Earth. And she fits into this genre perfectly.
Smithyman: What is the writing process like for you? Do you get into the characters’ heads and let them speak to you, or is it more plot-driven?
Abnett: A little of both. With a story like this, a complex mystery, I have to plan out the plot in detail to make sure it stands up. But executing that plot is where the characters begin to talk and breathe. Once this plot is underway, a lot of the best moments come from character interaction.
Smithyman: You’ve said you wanted a more retro feel this time around to balance the supernatural tales you’ve written. How does that approach mesh with Vampirella’s character?
Abnett: She’s still supernatural, and she’s still a superhero – an agent of the pan-dimensional Project. But this is a moody, retro, noir-ish crime story, and she’s very much delving into the areas of secret identity, mystery and crime. I find it amazing how it makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t Vampirella be an undercover agent of a superhero organization working on a hard-boiled, film-noir version of Earth?
Smithyman: Vampi has a sidekick, Dyna Might, this time around. What does she bring to the story, and how do the two of them play off of each other?
Abnett: Vampirella met Dyna in the previous Vampirella/Project series, and they became allies. Now Dyna is accompanying Vampirella on this mission, working undercover alongside her. I think they work very well as a combo: Vampirella has more experience, but is more reckless and volatile, while Dyna is young and eager. She’s inexperienced but determined to do things “right.” They balance each other, especially in this dangerous setting.
Smithyman: It seems appropriate that Pasquale Qualano, who drew DC vs. Vampires, is the artist on this series. Have you seen the pages yet? How do his drawings fit with the way you originally saw things in your head?
Abnett: I have, and they look great. Pasquale is perfectly capturing the moody, hard-boiled vibe of late ‘40s LA, with Vampirella as the femme fatale.
Smithyman: You’ve created a superhero team for the mysterious world that Vampi ends up on. How much fun did you have creating a Justice Society of your own?
Abnett: A lot of fun, not just with the characters and their powers, but also in their backstories and how they fit into the world and society of this alternate Earth, winding their way through 20th century history.
Smithyman: You’ve compared this story to the movie LA Confidential. I’m guessing Vampi must be Kim Basinger. But what about you? If you were casting yourself in that movie, which role would you want to play?
Abnett: It certainly has a deliberate LA Confidential (with superheroes!) vibe, and I guess Vampirella is Kim Basinger, though with a great deal more agency. As to who I’d be, well… it’s a dangerous, murky and cut-throat world, where no one is really who they seem to be, and death lurks behind every slatted blind and in every darkened corner of every nightclub. So it’s hardly a safe place to put yourself. Whoever I choose, I don’t think I’d last long… I just write the story! 🙂
Smithyman: OK, we’ll let you duck that one! Thanks for taking the time to chat about this new project.