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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