Story: David Avallone
Art: David T. Cabrera (art), Robby Bevard (colours) and Dave Lanphear (letters)
This series picks up from the world that writer Bill Willingham created in his 7-issue mini series Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure, in which he re-imagined heroes and villains we know (largely from older, pulpier favourites) and built a steampunk world out of whole cloth.
Vampirella, or Lady Pendragon as we know her in this world, is a dubiously respectable lady who is also a known “special” or someone… extraordinary. She has a friend or two in the Constabulary (police) as well as in the press and owns a club/restaurant which is run by her employee Mercy.
Ever since her return home after the events of the parent series, Vampirella has been chasing down a secret cabal called The Council that includes people like Dr. Moreau, a deposed king and a man named Kurtz who is running for Lord Mayor of the city and is like a terrifying mix of Citizen Kane and the Godfather.
I was a big fan of the parent series that spawned this comic, though admittedly I was the least inclined to this particular mini simply because I’ve never been that huge a fan of the Vampirella character and franchise. That changed with these comics because writer David Avallone has taken the wonderful world that Willingham built and made our heroine someone I’m enjoying following on her adventures. She has a certain style, flair, class and a fluid, yet clear morality that is quite engaging in a lead character.
The story has been remarkably well constructed right from the first issue and a lot of things come to fruition in this latest one: Madam Pendragon has recently found a love interest (of sorts) with the mysterious but amusing adventurer Rudolf Rassendyll and she finally confronts The Council, where she is forced to face a new threat of their creation after she obviously turns them down.
Besides my enjoyment of the story in a larger sense, the little details that they have built this steampunk world on, the limited but specific gadgets that we get to see, the fantastic designs for nearly everything – it all looks quite amazing and for that I have to give the whole art team credit.
In terms of bad, the main thing I’m a little ho-hum on for now is the supernatural, shady life-leeching villain that has been teased thus far in previous issues – I feel like that thread takes up a lot of space and is not as exciting or interesting as the rest of the story. Hopefully Avallone has some solid plans on how to flesh that out as something more than just a big supernatural evil that Vampirella has to battle with, it would feel like a step-down for an otherwise good series.
It’s hard to follow up on a hit, especially one crafted by someone else, but not only have the individual series in general been pretty solid, this one was remarkable to me because it made me interested in a character that I had previous been at best indifferent to – and to be honest, iconic or not, the loss of her bikini actually is a nice change as I’ve never been too crazy about them beyond their titillation factor which gets old sooner or later.
For fans of the original series, fans of steampunk and even fans of Vampirella, I would say do give this comic and this series a chance. With the world of Legenderry, the folks at Dynamite took a big chance and have really lucked out and so have readers like me who largely enjoy more non-superhero fare.
Story Score: 8.5 / 10
Art Score: 8 / 10
Overall Score: 8.3 / 10