Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton are getting the chance to build Vampirella from the ground up in a brand new ongoing series. With the character having been asleep for over a thousand years and waking up as a mostly blank slate, how will the creative team redefine the hero in a brand new culture? Will they be able to transcend genre tropes and deliver something worth your time and attention in this all-new “Vampirella” ongoing?
Written by Paul Cornell
Illustrated by Jimmy Broxton
After a sleep of over a thousand years, Vampirella finds herself back among the land of the living, but in a world far different than the one she remembers, where hope is laced with fear and blood has a far different taste. And speaking of taste, finding an appropriate outfit for the era leads our fanged fatale to a chance encounter that will garner her not one but two potential allies.
I’m not exactly sure where to start with this bizarre debut issue. Solicits and press for the comic pointed to Cornell having had some sort of midlife crisis and exploring it through the lens of “Vampirella” as the hero spends the bulk of the issue deciding what she is going to wear in the new series. The story explores what the character is like when she is able to essentially redefine herself. That topic is such an odd place for a superhero comic to be based around and is loosely the goal for the character. This all-new volume of the series could have definitely used a more focused goal to bring the plot forward. There are lots of superhero comics published today that have a loose issue-to-issue goal rather than a huge bombastic mission to embark on. After reading this issue I don’t have a sense of what this new volume of “Vampirella” is even about.
Cornell seems to have some fun with the story, utilizing some insane speech patterns and toying with the medium. Comics writers rarely have such a strong command of language, but actually trying to read this book can be exhausting without a very open mind. When “Vampirella” changes settings, the book ultimately ends up feeling too strongly detached from itself. The second half of the series is all about what the new version of a society would look like while the first is a loosely conventional action plot of a hero waking up from a deep sleep. The language and speech patterns also change, with Cornell infusing some dialogue in the negative space in the first half that is gone in the second. While taking the additional narrative away was the right call, this transition is jarring and caused the issue to lack cohesion.
When Cornell starts to explore the context of the new society that he builds, he begins including some interesting aspects of his personal politics and explores themes of what it would be like to wear anything and have it generally be accepted by society. The world by Cornell isn’t the most innovative futuristic world ever created in fiction, but the surroundings are just weird enough to give this issue a strong science fiction flavor with a progressive message at the heart of the narrative about expressing yourself.
Broxton’s art in this comic really gives this issue a strong noir-influence. The backgrounds are draped in shadow and even normal conversations feel slightly sinister. Broxton nails the exciting beat on the final page that brings the issue home. Broxton’s color scheme layers the issue incredibly well as the artist seems to have a strong command of the medium. The futuristic world has such a strong palette that could define the issue, but the first half is drawn in a different style with a different palette of color, attributing to the two halves of the comic feeling so disconnected. Broxton is able to really show off multiple styles of pencils when Broxton pulls out all the stabs for an incredible splash page. That happens right in the middle of the issue.
Cornell and Broxton have placed so many genres into this cultural melting pot that I am surprised this installment event bears the “Vampirella” name. The interesting characterization of Vampirella starts to even out after the oddly-paced first half of this issue when readers are able to get the slightest hint at her personality. The two shortly-paced action sequences show that Vampirella is also effective in combat which is important as every issue could be a new reader’s first.Continued below
“Vampirella” #1 is not a pulse-pounding action adventure story but an issue centered around a character trying to find her place in a new society. Cornell’s campy script brings the weirdness right away as Broxton includes visual elements from several decades to seemingly disorient readers but “Vampirella” #1’s lack of focus is impossible to overlook.
Final Verdict:7.0: With an unbalanced first half and an interesting take on futuristic politics, Broxton and Cornell kick off a wild story in “Vampirella” #1.