Interview: Meet The Superhero World's Newest Recruit...Vampirella?!
Nov 13, 2020
"What happens when you ask a vampire to save the universe?" I don't know either, but with writer Dan Abnett (Annihilation, Guardians of the Galaxy) and artist Paul Davidson (Magneto) on deck, you better believe you can expect the unexpected. Courtesy of the dynamic people at Dynamite Entertainment, PREVIEWSworld was able to ask Abnett, Davidson, and letterer Hassan Ostmane Elhaou all about their upcoming book Vampirella: Dark Powers, and...yes,what do you get when you ask Vampi to save us all? Keep reading.
Dan, you've done these kinds of interweaving crossovers before in your career, such as when you were head honcho of the acclaimed revival of Marvel's cosmic franchises. Or further back with the Legion of Super-Heroes or even Marvel UK. How do you manage all these spinning plates? And then can you expand on the premise of this specific project a bit?
Abnett: With anything like this, there are obvious logistical problems to overcome - such as maintaining visual continuity between artists (or writers, but that’s not an issue with this one), keeping all the plates spinning, keeping things meshed, etc. But overall, they are immense fun to create, and - I hope - to read. Crossing series gives you extra real estate to explore, and bigger world-building to do, plus there is the story scope of the longer form and the delight in seeing unexpected encounters between characters.
Abnett: This one will be an absolute blast. For a start, we take two icons - Vampirella and Red Sonja - and plunge them into a story together. Now, Dynamite has mixed them up before, very successfully, but it’s always a challenge to make it work - they are very different characters, from very different "worlds," usually found in very different story types. This takes them both out of their home territories and their comfort zones - literally - and makes them outsiders in an entirely different world. The extra secret ingredient is Project Superpowers, Dynamite’s wonderful, classic, and underused stable of costumed heroes.
Abnett: The hook is simply - what if Vampirella and Red Sonja were recruited to a superhero team, and had to deal with superheroes? How would they fit (quick answer - they wouldn’t), and how badly wrong could it all go wrong? This is high concept, pan-cosmic superheroes (developing, along the way, some great concepts and some really appealing Project heroes) with two quite savage and dangerous characters tied up in the heart of it. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be different, it’s going to be a head-on genre clash… and it’s going to turn into an epic story.
To clarify for all the fans, another series starring Red Sonja will be following this next month and the two will be connected and build to even more [more news coming soon!]. How are you writing these to work in parallel?
Abnett: They are their own stories, entirely separate, but linked by common ideas and a common framework (The Project). The fun in both of them is exploring iconic characters in very unfamiliar circumstances. There’s a drama and adventure, but also quite a lot of humour and culture clash. And as the two series develop, they start to link up more and more. I’m literally writing them side by side, trying to keep them consistent, trying to ensure each series has its own, satisfying story - so each can be read and enjoyed on its own, but reading both will definitely amplify the fun. And I’m trying to keep the "essence” of each character’s strip and "voice" intact, so the Vampirella series has a very “Vampi” feel, and the Red Sonja series maintains a true taste of Hyborian adventure.
Vampirella has been many things, but she's rarely presented in a traditional superheroic lens. Without spoiling the developments of the series, what's your take on how she does and does not fit the bill?
Abnett: It actually applies to both of them - Vampi and Red both qualify as heroes: they have the abilities and courage and determination. The problems (and fun) arise because they are both outsiders. They are not team players, they are not orthodox. They do not play well with "clean-cut" superheroes, because they have their own - quite-brutal, quite-savage - codes. They do things that costumed heroes would not. That’s where the joy of these stories begins. It’s not a joke story or a dream… we’re trying to explore the idea that - if this really happened - what would it be like? Genuinely, how would it work? Can these disparate genres mash-up and remain authentic? Quick answer - they really can, so join us and find out!
Paul, you're tasked on this series with drawing a wide range of characters and a ton of action. Even with all that, is Vampi your favorite to draw?
Davidson: Vampirella obviously! I've been a Frank Frazetta fan from being a boy. His 1969 painting of her blew my mind when I first saw it in the 80's and drawing Vampirella has always been on my bucket listI t's a thrill to be drawing comic book royalty. I'm all set for the party, and ready to dance with these lovely ladies :)
Hassan, many Dynamite fans should know your work as one of the best letterers in the biz on Red Sonja, As you're lettering both titles for this project, can you speak to developing a shared look and how they may differ?
Ostmane-Elhaou: Like Dan said, they do operate in completely different worlds, and so much of a letterer's job is marrying style to artwork, so the plan is to have these feel like distinct titles and worlds, but with a few unifying features through the lettering. Ultimately they're going to look and feel different, but be connected by story, so the lettering should try and balance that same thing, too, without wiping out any character between the two. I think of something like Red Sonja and Killing Red Sonja, which were totally different art styles, and so demanded different lettering styles, too. But there are things that unify the series in the caption approach, and the way location titles are handled as objects in the space. I hope that there's still enough between those two very distinct series and styles that brings them together as one, so my intention is to think of this in a not-dissimilar way.
Vampirella: Dark Powers (OCT200728) is available on December 9, 2020 at your local comic shop. Be sure to keep an eye out for Dark Powers' sister series, Red Sonja: Superpowers, when it hits comic shops in January. Available to pre-order now.
Welcome to THE PROJECT, an interdimensional collective of superheroes, tasked with recruiting members from across infinite worlds. And their newest recruit is...VAMPIRELLA!?
Superstar writer DAN ABNETT and artist PAUL DAVIDSON bring you the first chapter in an epic tale that will affect thousands of planets, billions of lives, and will answer the question: "What happens when you ask a vampire to save the universe?"
Sword-and-sandal meets glittering superhero sci-fi, courtesy of superstar DAN ABNETT (Legion Of Superheroes) and JONATHAN LAU (Red Sonja)!
...and be sure to pick up Sonja's sister series, VAMPIRELLA: THE DARK POWERS also on sale this month!