To be clear, I’ve never liked Vampirella. I’ve generally found the character dull, one dimensional and completely uninteresting. However, I have given Vampi a chance with each reboot, restart and relaunch that has been attempted over the years, but still found her lacking in anything but the titillation factor. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t make for great comics to me. When Dynamite Comics announced they were bringing the character out of limbo with a new take by one of my favorite writers, I once again readied myself for exploitative disappointment. This time, I was pleasantly surprised. Writer Eric Trautmann has crafted a fully three-dimensional and interesting character and a very engaging book as a result. For the first time in over forty years Trautmann managed to finally elevate the character above Playboy-pinup status and make her a real woman. Oh, and he put some clothes on her.
The announcement of a new Vampirella series was met by yells of triumph from her legion of fans, which quickly turned to cries for the head of Trautmann because he thought that maybe she should wear pants. And a shirt. Sensible shoes seemed reasonable as well. Yes, people were actually pissed off because Trautmann had the common decency to make the book about story and character and less about softcore porn. The fact that this is a writer who writes some of the best female characters around seemed to matter not, for fans would no longer be able to almost see her nipples. For my part, I was instantly interested in reading this book. Sure, call me a prude, but it’s sometimes nice to have a comic the cover of which I don’t have to hide from my kids like it was a skin mag. Thankfully, Dynamite Comics is well aware of the costume issue so has continued to feature the original costume on the cover. “No, son, the lady on that cover isn’t flashing the moon. If she was facing us you’d see she has clothes on…” Progress is achieved in baby steps, apparently.
So, what about this vaunted story that I think redeems a character I’ve previously hated? Is it all that and a bag of chips, as the kids would have said back in the day? Actually, yes. “Crown of Worms” is actually one the better comic book storylines I’ve read in a long while. Basically, it involves Dracula attempting to lure Vampirella into what appears to be a very dangerous and dark trap, but it could be that ol’ Vlad is up against something that even he fears and he needs Vampi’s help. I’m going to leave it to you to read the issues to see how it all goes down, but it is a great read and well thought out. And, yes, the original costume does re-appear, in both a dream sequence and in Dracula’s view of the ideal Vampirella. I sort of see Vlad Dracula as the embodiment of all the nay-sayers as, despite whatever scheming he may have going on, it’s obvious he just wants Vampirella back to the way she was. He may not have moved on in the past few decades, but our girl sure has.
Apart from giving the character of Vampirella some much needed, well, character, “Crown of Worms” does something else of significance; Trautmann gives Vampirella and new BFF, Sofia. Again, much like the title character, Sofia and a well-written character, once again playing to Trautmann’s strengths. What is most interesting is that Sofia begins as victim rescued by Vampirella in issue three and grows into the life-saving by the end of the story. We get to know more about this character in the denouement in issue seven where we also find out Sofia’s last name. That one’s going to raise your eyebrows and add a cool new layer to the book. This series has now become as much about Sofia’s journey as it is about Vampirella and if ever things sour between the two I vote for a Sofia solo series. In the end, Vampirella finally sheds her old costume and persona and gains a new ally and friend. And comic book fans gain two new awesome female characters and a great comic book series.
“Crown of Worms” is now available in one handy collection from Dynamite Entertainment along with issue eight of the ongoing series. You should head to your local comics shop right now and pick up both. Eric Trautmann writes a terrific Vampirella and one of the best comic book series on the stands today. You’ll show up for the scantily clad vampires, but stick around for the awesome story and kick-ass characters.