Monday, January 6, 2014

Review - Li'l Vampi One-Shot

"I'm a paranormal investigator. I know strange when I see it."

Vampirella has dealt with her fair share of evil and villain in her illustrious comic book history, but readers haven't really seen her tackle education. Until now. In Li'l Vampi One-Shot from Dynamite Comics, readers get to follow along with a decidedly younger Vampirella in a small town where she goes to school. "Li'l Vampi" is broken into two tales. The first is self-titled and is written by Eric Trautmann, illustrated by Agnes Garbowska and lettered by Joshua Cozine. The second is "Pantha," written by Brandon and Orion Jerwa, illustrated by Garbowska and lettered by Cozine.

Welcome to Stoker, Maine, the most normal, boring town in the world. Or is it? There are sea serpents roaming the docks, a mummy in the town hall. And a gaggle of ghouls and goblins just devoured the breakfast cereal aisle at the local Shop-O-Mart. Who is behind this monstrous rampage? And can it be stopped? When there are spooks afoot and arcane mysteries to be solved, it's time for Vampirella--teen scourge of the supernatural--to crack the case.

Vampirella is a character who need little to no introduction at this point and Trautmann doesn't really waste any time doing so. Instead, he spends time introducing the reader a slightly younger version of the famous undead queen, who trades more mature conversations and battles for homework and a city turning into monsters. He works in some of the bigger characters from the Vampirella universe, including Vlad, Adam Van Helsing and Pantha, even though they're all in slightly more PG roles. The dialogue is very easy to follow along with and doesn't require too much thought, which makes the book very accessible to a wide variety of readers.

Garbowska's work carries her signature style, with Li'l Vampi and her entourage illustrated with exaggerated, caricature style. She makes even the monsters feel cuddly, by no means attempting to infuse them with terror. Because the "Pantha" story plays out in strips at the bottom of each page, she's not really afforded much in the way of creativity when it comes to laying out the panels. Still though, the standard format and few insets make the book feel more like a collection of comic strips. It's an approach that works exceptionally well for the tone of the work and keeps things relatively lighthearted.

Li'l Vampi One-Shot is a book that won't necessarily attract die-hard Vampirella fans, but it is an amusing read that pitches the dark queen in a slightly more endearing light. The story feels like a toned down tale of what would be in an actual Vampirella story, helping to make it feel part of that universe despite the departure from the typically more graphic nature. The creative team does a great job, with Garbowska's art perfectly matching up with Trautmann's script and story. Definitely something to check out if you're looking for something a little lighter and even something that kids can read and enjoy. Think Powerpuff Girls, if a child Vampirella was a member.

Li'l Vampi One-Shot is in stores January 8.


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