‘Altered States Vampirella #1’ Comic Review
Dynamite Comics is doing a series of books that throw established characters into alternate realities called Altered States. Altered States Vampirella #1 attempts to flip the paradigm on the female vampire-from-space-come-to-earth and in doing so introduces an interesting premise, yet little else.
Ella Normandy is a lieutenant aboard the spaceship Arthur Clark. The ship goes through a dimensional portal and winds up crashing on the planet Drakulon where Ella discovers two races at war. One are humanoids while the other are bat-like creatures. At first, Ella believes she’s found friends in the humanoids until she realizes their “water” is blood and their blood is water. This causes the humanoids to exile her right when the Drakkar bat creatures attack them in midday. Ella decides to help the people who exiled her and they accept her in the end.
Nancy Collins writes this story about an Ella out of water. Unfortunately, there’s just not a lot here. The plot is pretty basic and there’s not a lot of room for characterization. Again, the premise set up by a human being stuck on a planet where her only source of water is inside its humanoid inhabitants is an interesting take on the view of vampirism. The problem is that there isn’t really any time in this one-shot to expand on it. This wouldn’t be such a big problem if the main plot offered more, but it also suffers from the brevity of the single issue. We get a very straightforward story where the good guys are the ones who look like us, and the monsters are the ones who look different, and there are no twists or depthy events to really spice things up.
Francesco Manna gives the book a varied look. His designs for Ella and her crew are nice and well-differentiated from those of Drakulon and its inhabitants. If you look closely, you’ll get winks to Princess of Mars and Star Trek here and there. He really seems to shine on facial expressions, finding just the right look for most any given situation. Some line work looks a little rushed, and I found myself wanting more detail in some places, but overall, I thought that his style was pretty well defined, he had a good sense and use of perspective, and kept the mood near the sci-fi tone it was striving for.
I really liked the central conceit for this book, but it also suffers from not being able to spend much time elaborating on it. It’s drawn well and provides some nods for genre fans, but honestly, I would wait and pick up the eventual trade of all of the Altered States books, or whatever collection this issue gets reprinted in if you want to check it out.