Vampirella #18 (1972)

I seem to be stuck on the magazine format comics when I look at older things lately. I’ve been filling in some holes in my collection with the Warren mags and such, and thus they’ve been at the top of my list. There’s a lot of good stuff in these mags, and this stuff is extremely hard to find anymore due to its odd format, so it’s always a treat to read an old school b&w.
This issue features work by several great Warren writers. T. Casey Brennan was a very popular writer for the mags, cited by no less than Dave Sim as a big influence on him at the time. My man Don McGregor also has a story in this issue, as do solid mainstays Don Glut and Doug Moench. Unfortunately, this issue isn’t as good as I’d like it to be.
The first story, naturally, features Vampirella, the sultry vampiress from the planet Drakulon, who in this issue seems to be in a running battle with Dracula. Drac is from the same planet as Vampi, and in this issue falls under the influence on a woman from their planet who can save his soul. It’s an extremely odd take on Drac, from writer Brennan. In this story, Dracula is looking to redeem his immortal soul, and seems more tormented than evil. This is tremendously at odds with the way that Dracula is usually portrayed, and that makes this a hard piece to get through. Dracula is such an archetype that such a dramatic movement out of his normal portrayal is hard to get into.
Also, unfortunately, Don Mcgregor’s "Song of a Sad-Eyed Sorceress" is also oddly hard to get into. This may have been one of McGregor’s first professional sales, so it’s easy to forgive. But this story is verbose even for McGregor. It seems almost overwhelmed by the number of words used. And unlike usual, the words don’t intensify the story but instead feel like a man fumbling around trying to find the right words for his story. And it is a very odd story. It’s really two stories in one: the tale of a jerk of a man who loves ’em and leaves ’em, and at the same time a story of that man tortured by a goddess for his jerkitude. Frankly it all feels a bit over the top, a bit much of a reaction to a simple every day relationship gone sour. Luis Garcia’s beautifully rendered art doesn’t quite redeem the story. But it sure is pretty.
Doug Moench’s "Won’t Get Fooled Again" is a simple little revenge tale. It has its clever moments, and some nice art by Aureleon, but it’s shallow and obvious.
And Don Glut’s "The ‘Dorian Gray’ Syndrome" is a clever idea ruined by an idiotic ending.
So not primo Warren stuff. I feel especially disappointed that I didn’t like the McGregor piece. I’m quickly running out of comics that feature Don’s writing, and I want each one of them to be even better than the one before. Oh well.

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