Erik Burnham’s Writer’s Commentary for Vampirella/Dejah Thoris #5

Erik Burnham has a Writer’s Commentary for Vampirella/Dejah Thoris #5, out from Dynamite last week.

Hey, everybody. Erik Burnham here with the last commentary for Dynamite’s Vampirella/Dejah Thoris. It’s issue #5, it’s here, let’s talk about it.

First up, let’s run down the credits… Ediano Silva provided the linework and Dinei Ribeiro colored the bejeezus out of the thing. Troy Peteri lettered it all up, and the cats were wrangled by the one-two punch of our editorial team, Matt Idelson and Amy Jackson.

With special thanks, of course, to Christos Gage.

Covers? We got covers. Six of ’em! Covers E and F are cosplay variants — Vampi and Dejah Thoris, respectively, and I don’t have the cosplayer credits handy or I’d shout.

Cover D is by the incomparable Joe Jusko; Cover C is by Stephen Segovia and Elmer Santos; Jay Anacleto and Rain Berado provide Cover B; and Carlo Pagulayan and Wil Quintana bring you all Cover A.

There it is. On to the story!

The Vampires have arrived at last. Doesn’t look like as many ships, does it?

PAGES 03-04
And of course, Dejah didn’t destroy all the ships! She forced a landing to force the other races of Barsoom to work together towards a solution, and to do it faster.

That’s some blind faith in science, lady.

PAGES 05-06
Gur Tus and the soldiers of Helium are falling back on the old habit of attack and destroy; but it doesn’t go their way this time. The vampires grow wings and fly up to attack, which, you know, that sucks for Gur Tus!

Here’s some inside baseball; Gur Tus was supposed to be bitten and turned into a vampire himself in this scene. That is one of many changes we’ll talk about later!

Meet… THE APT! A bee-eyed, six-legged hippo monster. Initially, Ediano drew every single panel with the wide-open mouth. I asked for the first to be more closed-mouth, just for variety’s sake. Weird thing is — I think it looks meaner like THAT!

And yes, the directions in the script were for the apt to “smash Vampi like Hulk smashes Loki in the Avengers.”

PAGES 08-09
I bet you never thought we’d use that Thern amulet again, right? Well. Just goes to show.

And now Vampirella and Dejah Thoris are reunited, and can go to hold off the approaching vampires (keeping them away from a domed city full of sitting ducks!)

PAGES 10-11
The scientists of Barsoom discuss their options. The notion of what the best and brightest could accomplish if they had nothing holding them back — not religion, not race, not territory — it’s always an interesting thing to look at in a story. I wish there’d been more space to examine it, but that’s not the hook of the book!

Apts vs. Vampires. Lots of dead! I think the only thing I would’ve asked for different — and this is in retrospect — is soft blue lighting, bioluminescent algae on the walls or something, just to give it an eerier look. Nothing wrong with what’s here — that’s just the bummer about hindsight!

PAGES 13-16

As I said before, he was initially going to have been turned. The thing is, here’s your inside baseball, the book was at first going to be an out-of-continuity story! Anything could go! And anything was set UP to go! But midway through the series, the powers that be decided to go another way, so we had to change a few things. That only meant we had to remove a few bonkers elements — like turning Gur Tus into a vampire, giving Mars back its oceans, and sending Dejah Thoris to earth with Vampi!

But we still got a good fight in with Gur Tus and Vampirella (I mean, he’s no match for her, but he’s been such a tool to her these last few issues he really deserved a stomping.)

PAGES 17-20
And now we can wrap it up! The bulk of the vampires had made their way to earth, and the Barsoomian technology is able to provide a solution to the plight of Drakulon.

Vampi offers Dejah a chance to visit other worlds, specifically earth, but she declines.

And Dejah’s last line is absolutely a nod to John Carter.

It was a lot of fun playing in the ERB sandbox — I’ve said before, one of my first big (unpublished) gigs was an adaptation of A Princess of Mars back in 2008. Kind of funny that it only took a decade to finally get to do a story on Barsoom.

I enjoyed writing these two — I enjoyed writing two people who have stuff in common and don’t need to compete or quarrel. (That’s how you know it’s fiction!)

Hope you all had fun with Vampirella, Dejah Thoris, and the whole crew of Barsoom.

Thanks for reading!

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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