Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #4
Dave Avallone (Writer); Dave Acosta (Art); Andrew Covalt (Colors); Taylor Esposito (Letters); Joseph Michael Lisner, Craig Cermak, Robert Hack (Covers)
January 16, 2019
Here’s a little secret, dear bleeders; I feel like Dynamite’s Elvira series is a true hidden gem in the company’s line-up. It’s a perfect combination of the Mistress of the Dark’s well-meaning and cheeky cheesecake, combined with her tough independence and her fourth-wall breaking fearlessness. This fourth issue, though, tosses a couple of flawsome flies into the ointment.
For those who haven’t been following the story, in the first issue Elvira fell face-first into a prop coffin on the set of her latest movie, which sent her on a wild trip through time, during which she met various creators of legendary horror properties. After a fateful encounter with Dracula and Bram Stoker, she’s at least made it back to Hollywood in this issue. But she’s also still unstuck in time — eighty years too early to make her screen debut, and on the quasi-set of 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff are, naturally, renamed to avoid pursuit by their estate). While she tries to orientate herself, Vlad the Impaler follows her, and the puns fly thick and swift as she tries to keep her soul in her body together.
If you like Elvira at all you’re going to love this series (and hey, she even shouts them out as “totally awesome pervs”) — that’s a given. Rollicking and funny, the short page length means that we rush from madcap chase scene to madcap chase scene. Acosta, while shattering the fourth wall, manages to boil Our Heroine’s ethos down to a syrup of truth — Elvira is who she says she is, and she’s no one’s fool. The action and chase scenes are, in reflection of this, properly madcap and work just fine.
But this issue suffers from being the final part of a long arc — there’s too much wrap-up and not enough meat in between. The setting doesn’t quite take enough advantage of its ‘30s-era Hollywood underpinnings, and while some of the surface jokes work they cry out for more insider winks and nudges. And as tough as Elvira is, she doesn’t get to kick a lot of butt in this issue. Sure, she goes get to knee a certain someone in a certain place, but most of the swashes that get buckled are by an Errol Flynn stand-in Neville Sinclair (a very clever reference to The Rocketeer), and aside from some fisticuffs from Neville and not!Boris Karloff, none of these new characters influence the plot. When you have cameos by a fake Ginger Rogers and not-quite Myrna Loy, I expect them to DO something! That’s such a huge come-down from issue one, where Elvira and Mary Shelley got to do some amazingly cool stuff together to save the day.
On the other hand, the art remains perfect, even though there’s one panel in particular where the queen of the ghouls looks like the queen of blow-up-dolls. As a bonus, there are some funny visual cameos (my favorite: the police officers who eventually show up to try and save the day look like the leads from Car 54 Where Are You?).
Sadly, new readers won’t be able to jump into this particular issue with ease. Waiting for next month, when the series’ new arc is set to begin, might be a better idea.