Pullbox Reviews: Vampirella vs Reanimator (trade paperback) – Needles, Ancient death gods, & Go-Go Boots…

 Dr. Herbert West, has been chasing his own white whale for quite some time, and remains dedicated to breaking down the barriers between life and death. His formula reanimates dead tissue, but he knows that it can go much farther, do much more. Having reached the limits of what science alone can accomplish, West turns to ancient mysticism for his next step. By combining science and sorcery, Dr. Herbert West- the Reanimator- will unleash unspeakable horrors on an unsuspecting world.

When the Aztec god and goddess of death are free to bring their own brand of hell to the land of the living, only one person- one immortal alien vampire from the planet Drakulon- can hope to prevent the apocalypse. Again.

Gonna confess that when I cracked into this one, I really wasn’t expecting much more than a fun and easy read. I was probably reading Vampirella before I really should have, back when she was just getting her start as the hostess of a horror anthology magazine published by Warren Publishing back in 1969, and I was a fan of the Stuart Gordon adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic story. Grabbing this title for some light reading, I didn’t know that it was written by Cullen Bunn, a guy who’s really got some chops for writing outstanding horror comics (The Sixth Gun, The Damned, Bone Parrish, just to name a few).

This could have very easily taken a header into the realm of camp, and to be fair I was expecting that and would’ve been perfectly fine with it. Bunn had other ideas as he steered his story straight into the realm of otherworldly horror embraced by Lovecraft. It’s a fine line, as the campy specter of the movie will forever haunt Herbert West’s quest, but Cullen Bunn is nothing if not dogged in his pursuit of all things creepifying and queasy. His narrative, told largely from the perspective of Herbert West, digs into concepts of results over consequences, and he mines it for some downright uneasy imagery.

Bunn’s work would lack much of its impact if not for the artwork of Blacky Shepherd. Done mostly in black and white, with highlights of red (yeah, mostly red), yellow, and purple serving as the only chromatic break, Shepherd manages to serve up some truly horrific pictures- seriously, wait for the spiders. He also strays away from the norm for Vampi’s traditional character design. The totally impractical red swimsuit is present and accounted for, but this is a leaner, less glamorous version of our favorite immortal defender of Earth. Blacky Shepherd takes her classic design and tweaks it just a bit without actually changing anything, and is able to put a different spin on an old character.

Dynamite Entertainment has taken dips into the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft before, and they’ve certainly been diligent in their efforts to keep Vampirella out there in the public eye. Now with this collected edition, graced with a plethora of extra artwork in a gi-hugic cover gallery, they’ve combined two great tastes into something fans might not have known that they needed.

Final Score: 8 (a bloody, messy, eviscerating 8…)

(Article edited to correctly credit the director of Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon… a sincere thank you for pointing out my error, Blacky Shepherd)

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