New Reviews of Old Comics
Prior to reading this I’d heard the name Vampirella, but that was about it. Hadn’t read any comics or magazines so I had no idea what she was all about, though it seemed “female vampire” seemed a safe bet. So why did I buy this issue? Uh, have you seen the cover? It’s eye catching to say the least, and well worth a dollar. The big question then would be “is the rest of the issue worth a buck?”
Apart from the Arthur Adams cover Vampirella’s Summer Nights is also 48 pages of uninterrupted comic story telling in a square-bound format with the heavy card stock covers. Inside we have four stories; one by Steve Englehart and three by Kurt Busiek along with a slew of artists. It all kicks off with J.J. Birch and John Nyberg embellishing the Steve Englehart story “Vampirella Meets Creepy and Eerie” Poor Vampirella is walking down a city street by herself, dressed in her famous overly revealing dress dwelling on her lack of acceptance. A group of young hooligans are more than willing to accept her; well at least for 5-10 minutes. Of course that doesn’t work out so well for the hooligans who just wind up being a blood vending machine for Vampy. A helpful copy helps Vampirella make tracks out of town, but his junker of car breaks down in front of a shabby house that is occupied by Creepy and Eerie. The rest of the story is those guys trying to kill Vampirella. The art was better than the story, but it was all right.
Next is an Adam Van Helsing story with art by the legendary Dave Cockrum. In addition to being Vampirella’s true love (hence his inclusion in this book) and a US Senator, Adam is also the descendent of the famous monster hunting Van Helsing family . He has continued his grandfathers’ crusade to fight evil monsters and that is the gist of this story. It’s better than the first story and Dave Cockrum’s art speaks for itself.
Vampirella has a magician buddy named Pendragon, and he stars in the third story, also written by Busiek with art by James Fry and Steve Leialoha. Pendragon is a magician who has lost everything and is something of a drunk who has run afoul of the law and organized crime; this is usually a situation that is detrimental to one’s health and Pendragon is no exception. We get a little bit of Pendragon’s back-story before his literally thrown out of the bar by the organized crime thugs. He gets a pretty serious beating that is cut short by some surprising intervention.
The issue is wrapped up with “Restless Spirit” starring Chelsea penned by Busiek with some outstanding pencil work by Richard Howell. Again, I had no idea who Chelsea was, but the short story tells us she came about when Ethan Shroud (who?) tried to create a new Vampirella. Chelsea is a lot younger than Vampirella, but is almost as well developed, ifyouknowwhatImean, and wears a similarly skimpy outfit. The plot of the story is Chelsea meeting up with a little girl ghost and showing her how even the undead can have fun.
All of the stories here were enjoyable reads, with Pendragon being my favorite, then Chelsea, Adam Van Helsing and the titular star, Vampirella bringing up the rear. Actually after reading this I’m interested in finding more of the Vampirella titles from this time frame to see what else Kurt Busiek does with the characters.