Vampirella — Part I

A true sur­vivor: cre­at­ed in 1969 as mere­ly the host of a War­ren Pub­lish­ing B&W hor­ror mag­a­zine, Vam­pirella evolved past her coun­ter­parts Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie into becom­ing a real char­ac­ter in her own right, one being pub­lished to this day.

His­to­ry: Vam­pirella start­ed at the host of her own B&W hor­ror mag­a­zine “Vam­pirella”, first pub­lished (dat­ed) in Sep­tem­ber, 1969. Well-known fan, agent and edi­tor For­rest J Ack­er­man cre­at­ed the char­ac­ter for the War­ren Pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. For the first eight issues, she was the host of the mag­a­zine, a role lim­it­ed to intro­duc­ing the var­i­ous sto­ries in the mag­a­zine and some­times mak­ing com­men­tary about the end­ings. How­ev­er, in issue #8, she was giv­en an ori­gin and a per­son­al­i­ty, as well as a poten­tial antag­o­nist and a friend.

Her Ori­gin: Vam­pirella is an alien from the plan­et Draku­lon, an idyl­lic world under twin suns where the basic source of life was found in the rivers of blood that flowed through the land­scape. As a Draku­lon­ian, she pos­sess­es alien abil­i­ties which strong­ly resem­ble vam­pire leg­ends (in fact, a rene­gade Draku­lon­ian was the source for those leg­ends) which include shapeshift­ing to a bat or bat-winged form, enhanced strength and speed, and, of most impor­tance here, an pow­er­ful mes­mer­ic stare. How­ev­er, she does not share the tra­di­tion­al vam­pire defects: she is immune to gar­lic and oth­er tra­di­tion­al defens­es, can­not be harmed by sun­light or holy water, and her bite can­not cause her vic­tim to become a vampire.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, those rivers of blood on Draku­lon were dry­ing up, doom­ing the world and its inhab­i­tants. Vam­pirella man­aged to escape by trav­el­ing to Earth by way of an rock­et probe. Once on Earth, she was pressed to keep her blood-thirst from tak­ing con­trol of her, final­ly resort­ing to a sub­sti­tute serum cre­at­ed by an ally. She found her­self act­ing in many bat­tles against occult threats, includ­ing the cultists and demon­ic ser­vants of the Mad God Chaos, Count Drac­u­la (a rene­gade Draku­lon­ian), among oth­ers, tak­ing on as allies includ­ing (and some­times a love inter­est) Adam van Hels­ing; his father, blind psy­chic Con­rad van Hels­ing; and, last but cer­tain­ly not least, Morde­cai “The Great” Pen­drag­on, a for­mer wiz­ard now turned stage magi­cian, with whom she would per­form on stage. Also from Dark­u­lon was Pan­tha, a sav­age shapeshifter who trans­forms into a black pan­ther and some­time lover of Adam.

Draku­lon­ian Mes­merism: Vam­pirella only sel­dom use her mes­mer­iz­ing gaze in the sto­ries, despite it being a pret­ty decent means of resolv­ing most conflicts.

#15: ‘The Res­ur­rec­tion of Papa Voudou’: Vam­pirella and Adam are in Coté del Soleil, hunt­ing for his father Con­rad. The ruler of the coun­try, who went by the name Papa Voudou, had recent­ly died, and his mis­tress used her pow­ers as a bocur — Voudoun priest­ess — to rean­i­mate his corpse. Through the even black­er spells of the Crim­son Chron­i­cles she plans to ful­ly revive him, but she need­ed some­one to cast the pro­tec­tive spells nec­es­sary to sur­vive the cer­e­mo­ny, and so had Con­rad kid­napped to assist her. Con­rad refus­es to help her until Adam was cap­tured and severe­ly injured: Con­rad was black­mailed into assist­ing with the mag­ick­al cer­e­mo­ny for the price of Adam’s life. How­ev­er, the dic­ta­tor’s right-hand strong man, Colonel Ramm, instruct­ed the doc­tor to let Adam die when it was learned that Adam had a rare blood type.

Vam­pirella mes­mer­ized the doc­tor into giv­ing Adam a trans­fu­sion of her blood instead, then instruct­ing the sur­geon to defend Adam at all costs. The cer­e­mo­ny takes place but with trag­ic results to all but Con­rad, and the reign of Papa Voudou is end­ed forever.

In the end, Pen­drag­on, search­ing for Vam­pirella in the fes­tive streets, runs across anoth­er vam­pire: Count Drac­u­la him­self, who uses his vaunt­ed hyp­not­ic pow­ers to make Pen­drag­on help him cap­ture Vam­pirella (in the next issue.)

#73: ‘A Gath­er­ing of Demons’: As part of their night­club act, Vam­pirella hyp­no­tizes an audi­ence to assist her employ­er, the Great Pen­drag­on, in cast­ing an illu­sion of mon­sters for the audi­ence. This is the splash page to the sto­ry and has noth­ing to do with the actu­al sto­ry itself.

#79: ‘Shang­haied’: While inves­ti­gat­ing the Drag­on Lady, a drug smug­gler with ties to the Cult of Chaos, Vam­pirella inter­cepts two of her couriers.

{Vam­pirella} “I’ve been wait­ing for you, Belasco.”

{Belas­co} “So you’ve final­ly suc­cumbed to my ines­timable charms!

{Vam­pirella} “No, my fat friend … but you are about to suc­cumb to mine!

{Bruce} “Very inter­est­ing. Had I known an accom­plished hyp­no­tist was aboard, this cruise would have been much more inter­est­ing.”

In response to Bruce hold­ing a gun on her, Vam­pirella uses her mes­mer­ic pow­ers to sum­mon the couri­ers’ night­mares into their con­scious minds.

“It is hideous, an impos­si­ble hellspawn culled from the depths of a mad­man’s mind. To Bruce Charmin and Belas­co, push­ers extra­or­di­naire, it is the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of their most deeply root­ed fears; a vile and fear­some crea­ture called form from long-for­got­ten child­hood night­mares by a girl with hyp­not­ic pow­ers beyond those of mor­tal men.”

{Vam­pirella} “Naughty Bruce! You’ve made Bows­er very angry. Bows­er does­n’t like you point­ing guns at his friend Vam­pirella!”

{Bruce} “Nooo! Noooo! Don’t … Don’t let it get me … ! Please!”

{Vam­pirella} “Maybe if you’re very still … and stay in that cor­ner until the nice police arrive … Bows­er won’t drool over Bruce … and Bruce can keep all his arms and legs, too!”

#89: ‘A Gath­er­ing of Wiz­ards’: In an ear­li­er sto­ry, Vam­pirella, Adam, and Pen­drag­on were instru­men­tal in break­ing up a Satan­ic rit­u­al that would have named a black wiz­ard as the Anti-Pope. Two of the sur­viv­ing wiz­ards cap­ture them and plan to offer them to their dark god, when they begin to argue and bat­tle over who should be named the Anti-Pope. Dur­ing the con­fu­sion, Vam­pirella is able to mes­mer­ize one of their acolytes into free­ing her.

{Con­rad} “Your hyp­not­ic pow­ers Vam­pirella! Use your hyp­not­ic abilities!”

{Vam­pirella} “Hyp­no­sis — !? What does Con­rad want me to do … cre­ate some sort of illu­sion … or —!”

“Of course! Hyp­no­sis! He wants me to hyp­no­tize one of the acolytes … into free­ing us!”
That junior grade war­lock is my tick­et to free­dom … pro­vid­ing he’s not immune to a healthy dose of Draku­lon­ian tele­path­ic sug­ges­tion … !”

“Look at my eyes! Deep! Deep­er! Your will is my will!”
“Free me!”
“Free me!”
“Free me!”

#98: ‘Army of the Dead’: Vam­pirella, Adam, and Pan­tha are lured into an ambush of an army of undead crea­tures, com­mand­ed by Stalk­ing Wolf, a Native Amer­i­can shaman. In an effort to make the shaman under­stand that he had been tricked by the Coun­cil of Wiz­ards, Vampi’s ene­mies, into attack­ing Vam­pirella and her friends, she uses her mes­mer­ic gaze to make him under­stand she is not his enemy.

“I sense he’s not total­ly bad … just embit­tered and mis­guid­ed. I can still sal­vage his soul … with Draku­lon­ian hypnosis!”

Her pow­er is suf­fi­cient to make the shaman hes­i­tate and recon­sid­er his actions, when Adam’s sil­ver bul­let stops his life. Vam­pirella vows vengeance against the Coun­cil of Wizards.

Oth­er Mes­merism and Sim­i­lar: Vam­pirella was not the only being with hyp­not­ic abil­i­ties: Drac­u­la also pos­sessed them, and there were oth­ers who demon­strat­ed (or faked) them.

#64 ‘The Manip­u­la­tors’: Vam­pirella is black­mailed into help­ing a shady intel­li­gence agent code-named Spec­trum. Lit­tle does she sus­pect that her couri­er mis­sion will expose her to a fac­tion of the Cult of Chaos and her friends to pos­si­ble death. Nor does she know that Spec­trum is the head of that faction!

One threat is to Pen­drag­on, who meets a pret­ty Eurasian woman per­form­ing mag­ic tricks in the street while walk­ing with Con­rad. While jug­gling, she catch­es Pen­drag­on’s eyes and mes­mer­izes him into obey­ing her.

{Woman} “You are Pen­drag­on … you are my ser­vant, my slave! You have no will but mine! No thoughts but those I implant! Come, my ser­vant … come with me!”

{Pen­drag­on} “I … am … yours … !”

Togeth­er they depart, leav­ing Con­rad as prey of anoth­er assas­sin, but Con­rad escapes cer­tain death. Lat­er, Pen­drag­on will appear at the door of Con­rad’s hotel room, hold­ing a gun, but instead of shoot­ing Con­rad, Pen­drag­on collapses.

{Con­rad} (Pen­drag­on was under hyp­not­ic com­mand to kill me, but his will rebelled. He could­n’t bring him­self to do it!)

But the effort may have proved too much for Pen­drag­on, who was in a coma and placed in the inten­sive care unit at the local hos­pi­tal, with lit­tle chance at sur­viv­ing the night. Con­rad vis­its the hos­pi­tal, and iden­ti­fies the voice of the nurse over­see­ing Pen­drag­on as the voice of the man who tried to kill him ear­li­er. Sud­den­ly, there is a scream, and some­one cries out that some­one had fell out the win­dow of Pen­drag­on’s room to their death.

Only it isn’t Pen­drag­on lying dead on the street, it was his sup­posed hit man. The hit man had not expect­ed that Pen­drag­on would be awake, but it was all part of a scheme to trap the hit man. The Eurasian woman (code named “Drag­on­fly”) was an FBI agent who had infil­trat­ed Spec­trum’s infil­tra­tion of the intel­li­gence ser­vices. The hit man had been con­tract­ed to elim­i­nate Con­rad, and Spec­trum had sent Drag­on­fly to hyp­no­tize Pen­drag­on into for­get­ting the whole affair. But the woman noti­fied the FBI, and they arranged for Pen­drag­on to fake being hyp­no­tized. When the attempt on Con­rad’s life failed, Spec­trum ordered that she hyp­no­tize Pen­drag­on into killing Con­rad. Instead, Pen­drag­on was hyp­no­tized into attempt­ing to kill Con­rad and into falling into a coma at the sight of him. Then, at the hos­pi­tal, he awoke from the trance in time to sur­prise the hit man, who was com­ing to fin­ish him off.

Con­rad, who had ear­li­er been anx­ious about the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Cult of Chaos had devel­oped the pow­er to mes­mer­ize through eye con­tact, is hap­py to dis­cov­er his fears were not fact.

#93 ‘Encore for Anu­bis’: Adam and Pan­tha make use of an amulet that con­tains the mem­o­ries of an inter­stel­lar hunter, who claims to have exter­mi­nat­ed Pan­tha’s race. Adam is locked in man­a­cles and then puts on the amulet, and then becomes pos­sessed by the alien’s mind. Dur­ing the ques­tion­ing, Anubus tests the strength of the man­a­cles and even­tu­al­ly pulls them out of the wall. Then he attempts to fin­ish his mis­sion of extermination.

Pan­tha, out of ideas, decides to try one of Vam­pirella’s tricks, mesmerism.

{Pan­tha} Vampi and I have got­ten out of tighter spots that his! Vampi! That’s it! She uses Draku­lon­ian hyp­no­sis. Maybe I can, too. I’m as good as dead if I don’t try it.”

Adam! Lis­ten to me! Fight this thing … for me and your­self. I know you can lover! Claw your way to the sur­face!

Fight it!
Fight it!

{Adam/Anubis} “No … don’t!

Stop!

Once Adam is able to win free from the pos­ses­sion, he strips off the amulet so that he can­not be pos­sessed again.

#95 ‘Plague of Vam­pires’: Some­one is imper­son­at­ing Vam­pirella, an imper­son­ation so com­plete that they even pos­sess her alien strength and thirst. They’re attack­ing at ran­dom, sav­age­ly, among the home­less of the city. Actu­al­ly, they’re her clones, man­u­fac­tured by a rich busi­ness­man who uses their alien blood to stave off his own impend­ing death.

When a clone is destroyed by Con­rad and Vam­pirella, the agents of the busi­ness­man gas them and remove the body. Vam­pirella caught a glimpse of the van’s license plate, but could not remem­ber it. Con­rad has Vam­pirella con­cen­trate on the reflec­tion of the flick­er­ing of the neon sign in his dark glass­es (which he could hear over­head) and induces a light trance in Vam­pirella, enabling her to remem­ber the license plate.

#102 ‘The Return of the Blood Red Queen’: The Blood Red Queen, a wor­shiper of the Cult of Chaos, needs sev­en hearts to sum­mon the mad god Chaos. In order to col­lect the hears, the Queen sum­mons Abelius, an incubus, a demon­ic spir­it with pow­er over women. She instructs him to bring her Vam­pirella, and his pow­er is suf­fi­cient to make Vam­pirella accom­pa­ny him, but the mem­o­ry of her love Adam breaks his pow­er over her. By that time, though, he had drugged her, and she awoke to find her­self at the altar of Chaos, where the Queen uses the heart of the incubus as the remain­ing heart for the rit­u­al. In revenge for Vam­pirella killing her sis­ter, the pre­vi­ous Queen, she plans on offer­ing Vam­pirella to Chaos as his bride! What the Queen does not know is that Vam­pirella has devel­oped an aller­gy to her blood serum, and the peri­od of uncon­scious­ness had made her almost insane with thirst. That thirst dri­ves her to break her bonds just as Chaos is sum­moned, and Vam­pirella drains the Queen’s blood before throw­ing her to the arms of Chaos.

Next: With the War­ren Pub­lish­ing bank­rupt­cy 1983, the rights to Vam­pirella are acquired by Har­ris Pub­li­ca­tions, although War­ren him­self lat­er recov­ered the rights to “Creepy” and “Eerie” and their respec­tive hosts. After addi­tion­al lit­i­ga­tion, Har­ris would rad­i­cal­ly re-“Vamp” Vam­pirella’s ori­gin: that will be the sub­ject of tomor­row’s Part II: Part II will also cov­er the addi­tion­al relat­ed mate­r­i­al includ­ing the movie, the six nov­els and any­thing  else asso­ci­at­ed with the character.

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