Writer: Christopher Priest
Art: Donny Hadiwidjaja, Mohan, Willie Schubert
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: December 15th, 2021
I’ve always felt Vampirella would have fit neatly in the Hammer Horror universe of brightly decorated castles, Christopher Lee’s towering Dracula and debonair Peter Cushing lurking about, driving stakes through vampires accompanied by a symphonic crash and a geyser of blood. Vampirella was created in 1969 when Hammer was in their prime, so it’s a shame Hammer didn’t drop her into one of their films. And of course, she would have had to be played by Caroline Munro (cue a heavenly chorus).
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Vampirella/ Dracula: Unholy #1 takes place firmly in modern times, though it starts with lots of action around a castle, and when one of the characters yells “Death to Vlad Drachul, to the blood curse of the House of Draculesti!”, it gave me those Hammer Horror feels. Vampirella continues her quest to heal Matt Krongqveist, who’s infected with the Dracula virus, and is doomed to eventually become a master vampire if Vampirella can’t cure him.
After the action-packed kick-off to the issue, things settle down a bit as we get to know Matt better, and he and Vampirella travel to Romania collecting items needed to cure him. There’s more of a “buddy cop” feel with the pair than a romantic feel, which is nice, and in a hilarious scene, the two stop off at a popular tourist destination that makes Walt Disney World look positively restrained by comparison.
Christopher Priest always injects a bit of light-hearted moments into his Vampirella stories, and it’s welcome here. As much as I love dark gothic fiction, it’s nice to get a dose of humor in what could have been a grim vampire tale.
Donny Hadiwidjaja’s art for Vampirella/ Dracula: Unholy #1 reminds me of Todd McFarlane’s work in places, with off-kilter angles and panels that meld into each other. Vampirella is drawn as an imposing figure, as she should be, but the art is a bit of a looser style, with good detail in close-ups but less detail in wide shots. Motorcycle and automobile shots convey a good sense of motion and speed.
Vampirella/ Dracula: Unholy #1 is a good start to the Dracula virus quest, with good action and humor peppered throughout an issue that promises more surprises to come.