Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review - Altered States Vampirella #1

"Without warning, the very fabric of time and space has ripped itself asunder, pulling the Arthur Clark off course and into a yawning celestial void."

Vampirella is a formidable foe, capable of handling any and everything that comes her way. If there's one thing she may not be as ready to deal with though, it's traveling to different dimensions. In Altered States Vampirella #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, her fortitude in that regard is put to the test. The issue is written by Nancy A. Collins, illustrated by Francesco Manna, colored by Viviane Souza and lettered by Marshall Dillon.

Ella Normandy is one of three space explorers sent on an expedition to Venus. On the way to their destination, the interplanetary ship is sucked into a mysterious space-time portal and ends up crash-landing on the alien planet Drakulon, where the rivers run with blood. There she climbs from the wreckage to find herself the only human on a planet filled with vampires—and no way to get back home.

Dynamite trusted Collins with Altered States Vampirella #1 and her familiarity with the character is appreciated and adds an intimate knowledge to the story. Ella is the obvious parallel to Vampirella, even if her thirst is satisfied in a slightly different manner. That's where Altered States Vampirella #1 feels very original, in that not only is it a space-travel book, but it's also one that subverts the expectation that comes along with Vampirella and vampires. Collins writes the story with a grace that gives it a very smooth flow, not skipping a beat and paced perfectly. The setting is very intriguing for a character such as Ella/Vampirella as well; any instance where a character with a history behind them is thrown into the mix somewhere else always makes for a fascinating read.

As mentioned earlier, Ella is essentially Vampirella and Manna does a great job making her recognizable, even if she's not sporting her traditional red outfit. Much of the action is depicted with characters sporting plenty of kinetics, as Manna does an excellent job conveying the actions through character poses. The Drakkar come across as soulless opponents who are depicted as more than capable enough of wreaking havoc on the citizens of the Gobi-Bram. Souza manages to add a bright look to the work, despite the choice of darker colors throughout the book. The arrangement of panels keeps the reader on their toes, with insets largely dominating the pages for the entirety of the book.

Altered States Vampirella #1 takes a familiar character and setting to a different situation entirely. It's done in a way that works very well, as Vampirella has a certain pulp sensibility to her that fits in well with the John Carter From Mars dynamic. Collins is one of the best writers around and has spent enough time with Vampirella to craft a story that works on multiple levels. Manna's art is clean and effectively draws the reader into the new world alongside Ella, showcasing a new world with new inhabitants. Altered States Vampirella #1 is a one-shot, but it could easily be at least a mini-series as it gives a fresh look at a familiar character.

Altered States Vampirella #1 is available now with interiors below.


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