Review: Dark Shadows/Vampirella (Comic) #1 – #5

Dark Shadows VampWritten by Marc Andreyko

Illustrated by Patrick Berkenkotter and Jose Malaga

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

In which Barnabas and Quentin become embroiled in a series of events which leads them to join forces with Vampirella against a greater evil menacing Manhattan…

When news of this crossover first broke, a chorus of negativity greeted it, not to mention derisive comments and worse. I’ll admit that I had my reservations as well, but tried to approach it with as open a mind as possible – and I’m glad that I did.

One unexpected thing about this improbable mini-series is how much gosh-darned fun it is, particularly in comparison to the main Dark Shadows comic! Although both vampires, Barnabas and Vampirella couldn’t be more different, their constant clash in personalities is one of these comics’ highlights.

The story’s setting – New York City in the early 1970s in all its seedy splendour – helps enormously. Already a man-out-of-time, Barnabas is an appalled fish out of water amidst the Big Apple’s sleazy strip joints and bathhouses, whereas Quentin is right in his element and loving every moment of it!

Although on the cover artwork Barnabas tends to look more like True Blood’s Bill Compton than Jonathan Frid, the interior artwork is superior in just about every aspect to the main Dark Shadows comic’s as of late, and far more consistent to boot.

Story-wise, the plot is engaging, if a bit predictable in terms of the villains’ identities. Nevertheless, this crossover makes good use of them and their modus operandi. The mini-series is also rather mature in terms of content – lots of profanity, near-nudity, general adult themes, and gory violence that easily exceeds that of House of Dark Shadows – but wholly in keeping with Vampirella’s own graphic legacy.

VERDICT: A surprisingly enjoyable monster mash-up that revels in its kitschy premise, and is all the better for it. 8/10

John S. Hall


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