The second installment about the mesmeric character Vampirella
The Costume: The most striking image of Vampirella is, of course, her costume. It first appeared on the cover of the "Vampirella" #1 by noted fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, but he wasn't the one who designed it. (Another artist had already created the cover art for the issue but editor Jim Warren wanted something more dramatic.) As Warren was trying to describe how the costume should look over phone to Frazetta, artist Trina Robbins, who happened to be in the room with Warren, began sketching out a design. Once it was done, she took over speaking on the phone, describing her design to Frazetta, who would later add the bat image and the armband.
The Novels: Six novel adaptations of the early stories were released, all adapted by SF author and comics fan and history expert Ron Goulart, although no credit is given the original script writers. The six novels are:
- "Bloodstalk" "Beautiful. Mysterious. Deadly. Lost in a world not her own. Thirsting for love … adventure … blood!"
- "On Alien Wings"
- "Deadwalk" "The beautiful but deadly siren form the stars battles the evil of Voodoo and the Undead of the Earth"
- "Blood Wedding" "Evil forces conspire to marry the beautiful alien to her most unspeakable enemy!"
- "Deathgame" "The beautiful alien plays at love with a stranger whose secret is more deadly than her own blood lust"
- "Snakegod" "In the jungle, the beautiful alien confronts an evil priestess who wants her lover — and her life!"
The Movie: In 1996, "Vampirella", a direct to video production was released, starring Talisa Soto as Vampirella and Roger Daltrey (of The Who) as the antagonist Vlad. The story generally followed Vampirella's origin story, complete with her travel to Earth, where she is now hunting Vlad, the person who murdered her father and the rest of the Drakulonians. It does feature two scenes of a sort of vampire mesmerism: one, during landing, when Vampirella emerges into the rocket control room and use her mesmeric powers to make the astronauts forget her, although here its more like telepathic mind control; and two, where Vlad uses his power to escape being imprisoned.
Unfortunately, despite her earlier agreement, Soto would not wear the original costume, even though it had been worn by a number of models over the years (on many magazine covers, among other places) so a modified version of the costume was used, being much less revealing.
The Harris Publication Era: When Harris Publications took over the rights and the publication of the character, they made significant changes to her. Most significantly was that she discovered her whole history was a lie: she was in fact the daughter of Lilith, the first wife of Adam from Hebrew legends. Lilith was ejected from the Garden of Eden for not submitting to Adam and so instead traveled to Hell and became the mother of vampires. Vampirella was her last child, conceived as a counter to the rest of her children as a means of seeking forgiveness, but her memories were altered by her siblings Madek and Magdalene to keep her from achieving her true power and completing her mission.
However, as the daughter of Lilith, Vampirella possesses the power of a succubus, meaning that she can be irresistible to any man if she chooses. As such, its actually not much different from her mesmerizing gaze as it appeared in the Warren stories, as there she only used it on men. However, she has used this ability even less than she did in her earlier incarnation, relying on almost exclusively her supernatural strength and fighting ability.
Other than that, Vampirella's mission is largely the same, fighting on the side of humanity against the other vampires.
The Dynamite Publication Era: In 2010, Dynamite Publications bought the rights to Vampirella. From what little they have published at this time, it appears they are keeping to the same storyline and origin.
Commentary: The parallels to the character of the Shadow are striking: both were created to be hosts of their respective publications but soon went on to be popular and productive characters in their own right, evolving and changing. Plus, in certain incarnations, they both had hypnotic powers. It would be interesting to see a cross-over between the two, but that's unlikely, if only for the fact they're of different eras. (Vampirella by Kaluta: that's a yummy image to consider, though.)
Also: given that all Drakulonians could mesmerize, how did their society function, if the more powerful mesmerists could enforce their will over the others? Certainly there had to be some power level difference between individuals. Were they ruled by the strongest mesmerists, or was there some societal restriction on using their power on others? If there was, could it be because of past misuse? The society of Marion Zimmer Bradley's world of Darkover comes to mind here: past misuse of their psychic abilities to create horrific weapons of mass destruction led to an unbreakable societal taboo against personal weapons with any range outside the wielder's physical reach.