Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review - Vampblade #1 (@ActionLabDanger)

"This is for sure the worst day this shop has ever seen."

Origin stories are part of the fabric of comic books. They set the stage for new characters to have an impact for a publisher in new ways, but sometimes it's hard to not stand on the shoulders of characters who have come before. Witchblade is one such character and Vampblade #1 stands on her shoulders in Vampblade #1 from Action Lab Danger Zone. The issue is written and colored by Jason Martin, illustrated by Winston Young and lettered by Adam Wollet.

When a young comic shop employee named Katie Carva is transformed by mystical blades into a walking talking (and slicing & dicing) 90s comic book bad girl, she must quickly learn how to survive the new grotesque world the blades reveal. Now, other-dimensional parasites hidden all around us resembling the "space vampires" from the 90s comic Vampblade are all too real and out for her blood!

It's pretty clear that Vampblade #1 is an homage (copy?) of one of Image Comics' more famous characters in Witchblade, but at the very least Martin is trying to infuse her with some new traits. Martin's take on the character is a little more self-deprecating than Sara Pezzini and her circumstances for becoming Vampblade are more of a nod to comic culture than anything else. The entire first issue takes place in one location, yet Martin still manages to fill out an issue with dialogue that really serves to advance Katie's role as the new Vampblade. He also manages to work in a bit of the universe surrounding the character in the form of the "space vampires," even if it's a little unclear exactly what they are and how they relate to Katie. And presenting the events through the eyes of Katie does give it more of a personal touch in a way, helping to create a bond between her and the reader.

Action Lab Danger Zone prides itself on its ability to be pretty gratuitous in many regards and Vampblade #1 is no exception. Young's approach doesn't excessively play up her sexuality, but there are some poses that are a little over-sexualized. Otherwise, there's no hesitation on Young's part to lay off violence and blood, using it to set the standard for the issue and the series as a whole. The panel layouts are pretty standard throughout the issue and the blackened gutters help reinforce the Venom-like substance flowing through here as Vampblade. Martin does the colors as well, mixing in blacks and reds throughout to various effect.

Vampirella #1 is an origin story at its heart. Also at the heart of the tale is Katie Carva, awkwardly pushed into action as the latest Vampblade thanks to an unfortunate series of events. Martin's take on the character is pretty lighthearted and her new role is the catalyst for things to come. Young's illustrations are effective at keeping up with the action without being too over the top. Vampblade #1 will appeal to readers familiar with Witchblade and looking for a more comedic take on the otherwise more dramatic character.

Vampblade #1 is in stores now.


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