Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1
David Avallone (Writer), Dave Acosta (Artist), Andrew Covalt (Colorist), Taylor Esposito (Letterer)
July 4, 2018
Hello, darlings! Welcome to the review! This is Slayleigh, here with another EX-PLOSIVE #1 issue–and, ugh, no, it’s not another X-Force relaunch from Rob Liefeld. This little firecracker from Dynamite stars none other than that VHS vixen, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! *cartoon wolf howl* This hostess with the most-est has been doing the Transylvania Twist across pop culture for over three decades now, with nationally-syndicated television shows, feature films, video games, and now a comic book bearing (baring?) her name. Does the new Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1 bring that B-movie bliss, or does it go *sad slide whistle* straight to the dollar bin? Read on, boo believers!
Okay, don’t worry, I’m not doing this shtick for the whole review. Better leave that to the master–er, mistress. Speaking as a former goth kid lurking in the aisles of Blockbuster Video, Elvira has always been my favorite horror movie host–she’s campy, she’s sexy, she’s, well, terminally delightful. Her return to comic books feels overdue; not only did Elvira have her own House of Mystery title at DC, but the previous Mistress of the Dark series published by Claypool Comics ran a gargantuan 166 (!) issues. Fortunately, the creative team of David Avallone and Dave Acosta absolutely do justice to Cassandra Peterson’s classic character. Elvira #1 is a sweet surprise, like finding that last piece of Halloween candy in your pumpkin basket.
Our mysterious miniseries begins with Elvira filming the kind of cheesy, low-budget vampire flick she’d roll her eyes at on Movie Macabre. Retiring to her trailer, Elvira finds an open coffin radiating a strange energy. No sooner does she pop off a quick zinger than a pair of hands push her into the coffin, which is actually a portal through space and time. Elvira emerges in 1800s Lake Geneva, surrounded by none other than Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Godwin, on the night said to have inspired Frankenstein. But this is no book club, there’s a monster on the loose. It’s not Frankenstein, but if you remember who else was in Geneva and what fantasy genre he inspired, go ahead and give yourself … nothing! Hey, this ain’t bar trivia!
Elvira Quantum Leap-ing through history to help (or hinder?) the masters of horror fiction is a pretty charming conceit for a comic book, and David Avallone nails the cadence of the vampiric valley girl. The jokes come fast and loose, and if they’re occasionally so corny you expect to see some demonic Stephen King children pop out, that’s all part of the fun. Crushed under the weight of hundreds of Deadpool comics, I’m surprised that main characters breaking the fourth wall can still bring a smile to my face, like when Elvira turns to us while fleeing for her life: “With all this running, I bet you pervs wish this was a slo-mo video instead of a comic book. By-the-by, which one of the variant covers did you pick up?”
Avallone also recognizes that Elvira is more than a bunch of randy one-liners hiding under a
trenchcoat slinky dress and captures the playful personality that’s made the character so endearing. Imagine my delight when Elvira fangirls over meeting the future Mary Shelley, not giving her supposedly genius male counterparts the time of day. Like, of course! There’s no way Elvira would be impressed by Lord Byron! When Byron and Shelley inevitably fuck up, leaving Elvira and Mary as the Final Girls of the comic, Elvira delivers one of the most devastatingly true comments ever said about the Romantic poets: “They’re pretty, but they aren’t much help, are they?” Hey, can you put that Instagram “SAVAGE” sticker on an entire comic book?
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1 is so dang fun to read largely thanks to Dave Acosta’s delightful artwork. There’s a touch of Elsa Lanchester in Acosta’s Mary Shelley and Frank Langella in Elvira’s Drac-y co-star, but it’s so deft that it never distracts from the story and instead feels welcomingly familiar. The artwork balances the tonal shifts between the cheap-looking B-movie set and the haunted villa where beautiful women carry candelabras down dark stairways. His Elvira is Elvira–sexy and silly and always recognizable. While Elvira’s cleavage always looked like it popped right out of a comic book, Acosta’s art is the right amount of cheesecake without becoming crass.It would have been so easy to make an Elvira comic that only appealed to the fans who, uh, like to breathe heavily into telephones, and I’m relieved Avallone and Acosta didn’t.
So, Elvira fans, rejoice, because Halloween comes early this year. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1 is a spooky little confection with a fun premise and winking sense of humor. Read it under the bed with a flashlight. Until next time … unpleasant dreams.