Vampirella/Dejah Thoris #1
Erik Burnham (Writer), Dinei Ribeiro (Colourist), Troy Peteri (Letterer), Ediano Silva (Artist)
A copy of this issue was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“The encounter that was destined to happen!” reads the description on Dynamite Entertainment’s website. Surprisingly, this is, apparently, the first time that Dejah Thoris and Vampirella have actually teamed up in their long lives with the publisher, outside of the “Swords of Sorrow” event back in 2015 that WWAC covered here.
Vampirella/Dejah Thoris #1 opens like so many of the other Dejah Thoris stories I have read. The jeddak sits on his throne, faced with the constant prospect of war from the other tribes of Barsoom. This time, the catalyst may be a strange object hurtling through space. The jeddak’s generals fear danger and want to shoot first and ask questions later, but, once again, Dejah Thoris steps in with alternatives.
For some reason, despite her being the princess and the jeddak’s granddaughter, she—the lone woman in the court—always seems to have to explain why she deserves a place there before going on to provide her much more logical approach to the situation. But I was particularly thrilled by this introduction because it perfectly sums up who Dejah Thoris is. Yes, she’s a buxom, barely clothed babe, but she’s also a brilliant scientist and strategist. She is well aware that her status as princess of Barsoom makes her desirable as both a bride and a prisoner of war, and she is not afraid to use that status to protect her people, no matter the personal cost. She is also a warrior woman who is unafraid of walking into danger and perfectly capable of taking care of herself should she find herself therein. Again, true to form, Dejah Thoris wanders off alone to deal with the potential threat or potential ally. But so focused is she on the incoming UFO that she forgets about the vicious white apes that roam the land. Add to that menace a blood-thirsty Vampirella and our princess may have walked into a situation that none of her skills are strong enough to survive.
Based on the covers, I expected there to be conflict between the two women, but what I didn’t expect was … hugging? I definitely appreciate a book that doesn’t feel the need to focus on pitting two women against each other when they can instead work together to deal with their now shared issues. I’m not familiar with Vampirella at all, and wasn’t expecting a characterization that was so gentle, fun, and accommodating. I was really excited to discover that, like Dejah, Vampi is also a science-type, so I look forward to seeing as much of their brilliant minds as their battle prowess as they figure out how to survive what comes next.
Dynamite went to a lot of effort to attract a different demographic with the the all-women creative teams behind the “Swords of Sorrow” event, and followed up with a revamp of its main ladies that included fresh new, mostly covered designs for Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris, and Vampirella. But that was clearly just a gimmick. The fact that J. Scott Campbell provided the main cover art for the “Swords of Sorrow” event more or less confirms that Dynamite never intended to give up their cheesecake status. But we appreciated the momentary reprieve.
“She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.” —A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs
To be honest, I’m quite fond of Dejah Thoris’ limited attire, tassels and crotch curtain and all. It’s quite hot on Mars and I’m sure itty bits of metal are quite effective heat deterrents. While the princess does get to wear more armour and clothing in general inside the book, the multitude of covers for the series don’t shy away from keeping her scantily clad, while Vampirella’s outfit remains the same wonder of fabric ingenuity it’s always been. The six main covers below offer variations of boobs and butt angles, some doing their best to have as many of both front facing as inhumanly possible. There are several retailer exclusive covers that feature exquisitely painted renders reminiscent of the pulp comics of yesteryear.
The inside of the book is a different story. Silva mostly refrains from subjecting Vampi and Dejah to spine defying poses or gratuitously angled butt shots, focusing instead on their character interactions and the foreground action.
Backgrounds are relegated to loosely sketched buildings that range from majestic, to rubble, with bright or muted colours respectively. During action sequences, the backgrounds disappear completely, replaced by a series of lines presumably meant to depict movement and/or imminent danger, but instead come across as lazy and unnecessary.
Vampirella/Dejah Thoris #1 successfully serves as an introduction to both characters, making it a useful place for a new reader to jump in and discover what these two are all about, with a plot that promises to be a lot bloody, and hopefully, a lot of fun, too.