Monday, October 19, 2009

"Vampirella of Draculon" (September, 1969)

A lovely young woman was taking a shower-- but something was amiss. There were strange protrusions from her shoulder blades, and a bat-shaped birthmark on her right breast. Also, it seems that, rather than water, the liquid she bathed in was closer to the consistency of blood!

On the planet Draculon, "by a strange quirk of nature," the primary life-sustaining fluid was remarkably similar to hemoglobin. Vast, glassy cities had emerged on this planet of blood, as well as a vampire-like race whose sole sustenance was derived from the substance. "But, the blazing twin suns of Drakulon have caused a drought in the Rivers of Blood... Vampirella, like the rest of her race, is weak from loss of-- food!"

As Vampi writhed and moaned on her plush shag carpet, a pale man announced from a video screen "Vampirella! A spaceship from another world has crashed on the outskirts of Gosi-Bram!" She exclaimed, "Od's Bodkins! I'll check it out with wings on!"

Unsure she had energy enough to maintain altitude with the large, leathery, bat-like wings on her back, Vampirella barely made it to "The Arthur Clark Geosurvey Expedition No.3." As a pair of shaken astronauts exited their ravaged craft, Vampirella thought it best to conserve her strength and approach in the form of a large bat. The astronauts fired a laser at the shapeshifter, winging her. "I'll fix them for that!"

Vampirella turned invisible for a sneak attack, but weak from days without food, reverted to her very visible female form prior to making contact. Mistaken for an interplanetary ghost, Vampirella dive-bombed an astronaut, going straight for his throat. "My Drakarate Jab means business!!" The second astronaut met a similar end. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorched!" Vampirella was shocked to find sustenance in the lifeforce of these "Men-things," and upon learning there were many more inside the spacecraft in suspended animation, cried "SMORGASBLOOD!!" Going from cylinder to cylinder in the "hibernation system," she gorged herself and dropped painful puns. A next issue blurb then warned, "Beware Earth! Vampirella is coming!"

The very first Vampirella story, written by Forrest J. Ackerman, set the standard for the titillating if somewhat embarrassing post-Silver Age anti-heroine. The plot is simple, silly, and dotted with atrocious dialogue. Hell, Vampirella performed a two page near-nude tease in a blood shower before complaining of a severe lack of the food-stuff. It isn't suppose to be high art, clearly. Good thing Tom Sutton starts things off right with the aforementioned Bill Ward-style strip tease, then follows up with some pretty zip tones and a strong Wally Wood vibe. The only thing sweeter than the art are Vampi's skintight hip huggers, a welcome deviation from the now quite familiar one-piece bathing suit/costume that was premiered on the cover (but not yet in the interiors.) The brief story originally appeared in Warren Publishing's Vampirella #1.

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