Thomas E. Sniegoski's writer's commentary on Vengeance of Vampirella #1, on sale now from Dynamite. Do you have a writer or artist's commentary on your own work? Send it in…
I've known Nick Barrucci, CEO/Publisher of Dynamite Comics, for a long time and we've talked about me doing some more Vampirella stuff here and there over the years. Once the 50th Anniversary of the character rolled around, things got serious. He wanted me to come back to Vengeance of Vampirella, a book that I stopped writing close to 25 years ago. It was an interesting offer, but what really sold me was that he told me that I could come back to the continuity that I established with the series those 20 some odd years ago. I would be picking up exactly where I left off. There wasn't much convincing that needed to be done after that.
The brand new Vengeance of Vampirella story arc picks up twenty-five years after the final issue of Vampirella: Death & Destruction, which I wrote with my writing partner and best friend, Christopher Golden.
We find that the world has been totally overrun by evil; Mistress Nyx is ruling the planet under the watchful eyes of the Chaos Lords. Humanity is on the verge of extinction, with what little remains of the rebellion against the forces of darkness is slowly being whittled away.
And, oh yeah, Vampirella is dead.
I wanted to establish how truly screwed up the world was since Vampirella was killed, and Mistress Nyx took over. I had all kinds of ideas churning around in my head as to how to show this, but when writing the script for Issue #1 I didn't know who the artist would be. I had wanted somebody kind of specific, and they had shown interest, so their art style was in my brain when I was coming up with the look of the scenes and panel layouts. It ended up that the artist I wanted couldn't do the book, so we were left with the job of finding someone that could take the crazy crap inside my head and put it to paper. I talked with a few artists that would have been great, but most of them flaked, and never provided my editor over at Dynamite with any of the sample pages. And then, one day, I got these samples. To be honest, I was kind of dreading opening them. I had no idea who this Michael Sta. Maria was. By the time I was done looking at the samples—which were the first few pages of my script—I was freaking out. This guy was AMAZING! I quickly emailed Joe, my editor and said—"You've hired this guy right??!!!" And Joe said, "Yes." And all was right with the world.
Back to Page One. I wanted to show how awful things were since the coming of Nyx, and the death of Vampirella and decided to show it through shots of a major city, twisted and altered by the evil that now called the Earth home. I also wanted to show that hope still existed, no matter how small, in the survivors of the Chaos apocalypse. They remembered how things had been before, and how it was Vampirella that fought for them, before being killed in battle with Nyx.
Michael just kills it here, as does Omi Ramalate Jr.'s, colors. There is some serious dread and hopelessness that comes off these pages. My words are incredibly well served with this amazing art. P.S. That shot of the naked, blood covered Nyx is both incredibly sexy, and terrifying, which is exactly what I was going for with the character.
Here was some more emphasis on the small flicker of hope that these survivors have . . . a hope that someone, or something might be listening . . . that prayers could be answered.
On Page 6 is where I reintroduce one of the regulars from Vampirella's old cast . . . but boy, has he been changed! Page 6 introduces our readers to Vampirealla's old friend, and confidant, Pendragon. In the past, Pendragon was an alcoholic stage magician, who over the years has learned to use real magic to help Vampirella in her battle with the forces of darkness.
But this isn't any Pendragon we've ever seen before. This is a Pendragon whose skin is covered in the living, ectoplasmic life form known as Passion. Passion, who appeared in the original run of Vengeance of Vampirella, is a Tulpa. A living supernatural creature birthed from raw emotion—especially rage—and was shaped by supernatural energies into a being of vengeance. It has yet to be explained, but the Passion creature and Pendragon have merged as one and we have this really cool, new interpretation of Pendragon as this hooded, silver-skinned being. Once again, Michael knocks it out of the park. Due to the fact that Nyx has caused so much death and destruction, Passion has become quite powerful, and large—able to actually create a living craft in which Pendragon and she live just above the Earth's tainted atmosphere, plotting on how they might take back the planet from evil.
When we first meet Pen, he's on board the Passion craft, communicating with one of the last of the Danse Macabre agents on Earth. I love how Michael interprets the Passion ship, and funky organic microphone that grows up out of the floor.
Here I wanted to establish the relationship between Pen and the silver, intelligent skin that now covers him. They're quite the team, going back and fourth as they communicate with a Danse Macabre agent who is searching for something. Also, I wanted to kind of reintroduce the idea of the Danse Macabre—a secret organization that existed to police, and control the supernatural.
So, this agent, Danser Cobb, is about to find his way into an old, mausoleum searching for something of incredible importance. I wanted to get across here that quite a few people had died over the last years searching for this specific thing and that the survival of humanity might just hang on whether or not it is found. Again, Michael and Omi nail the look and feel of this place. Pen (and Passion) guide the agent to what appears to be a storage facility of some kind hidden inside the mausoleum. The Danse Macabre were like pack rats, finding and storing away items of supernatural power to aide them with their mission. Of note—on Page 8, in the last panel, there are two stone dogs that act as guardians into this storage place. A little foreshadowing of a fun bit coming up.
On Page 9, Pen (Passion) talk with Danser Cobb as he continues his search actually finding what they have been so desperately looking for in the top drawer of a file cabinet.
Earlier in this scene, security systems had been mentioned. On Pages 10-12 we see them in action as Danser Cobb attempts to escape the storage facility with his prize. Those two stone dogs seen earlier have come to life, attempting to stop Cobb from leaving. It's a fun yet tense action scene as Cobb communicates with Pen (Passion) demanding that he (they) do something to get him the hell out of there before the stone dogs finish him.
Back on board the Passion craft, Pendragon shows off some powerful magical skills, creating a passage between the Passion craft and the storage place, allowing Danser Cobb to escape with his prize. This entire scene was really fun to work up and dialogue, and Michael and Omi really made it sing.
This scene was one that I was really looking forward to writing. The introduction of Mistress Nyx, 25 years after she's won the war. We see the city, twisted and decayed by the years of being infested by the ways of Chaos, and then zero in on a skyscraper overrun with a green, cancerous growth. This is Mistress Nyx's home, and when we first see her she is on her balcony, sipping some wine (blood?) looking out over her kingdom. In this scene, we see that she has achieved everything her Chaos Lord Fathers had created her to do—she is the master of all she surveys, but here's the kicker—she is bored out of her freaking mind! HA! I loved writing this.
Michael and Omi really set the mood here. Everything appears dark and decayed. Overrun with twisted growths. Nyx is both strangely sexy, as well as really scary. The robe of skin she is wearing gets the point across that this woman is really bad news.
Nyx's musings over her boredom are interrupted by a demonic servant that tells her that a storage facility of Danse Macabre magical weaponry has been discovered. Nyx wants to know HOW it was discovered. The demon explains that it was discovered AFTER it had been broken into, and something of great supernatural power is missing.
Nyx doesn't seem all that surprised, or upset by this. Could our Chaos Mistress know more than what she's letting on? She might, Rabbit, she might.
We're back on board the Passion craft with Pendragon (Passion) and the recently retrieved Danser Cobb—and the mysterious item of power. Pendragon is examining the book, and verifies that this is indeed the item that so many had given up their lives to find. The item is called the Lazarus Book, and contained within its ancient pages is a spell that could very well save humanity from eventual extinction.
The extent of Pendragon's desperation is shown here when he sneaks up behind Danser Cobb and slices his throat to collect the blood of a hero to perform the ritual inscribed in the book that could save the world. Pendragon is incredibly sad that he has to do this, but there is no choice—and Passion explains this, attempting to alleviate his guilt.
The Lazarus Book supposedly contains life force of the Biblical figure, Lazarus, and a complex spell on how to use this life force to bring someone back from the dead.
This is Pendragon and Passion's desperate plan, to bring someone back from the dead who could help them win the war against Nyx and the forces of Chaos.
Hmmm, I wonder who? HA!
Michael and Omi do a fantastic job of showing Pendragon as he performs this blood ritual, Passion cheering him on. The blood of Cobb merges with powerful supernatural energies to create a crimson orb. We hear Pendragon's words, almost a prayer to the powers that be, as the blood orb shoots from the Passion craft, to rocket to the twisted world below.
The wrap up of the first issue. We see the spell as it hits the ground in a specific area with devastating effect. It was so powerful that the survivors that we saw earlier in the issue feel its strike from their hiding place. They're afraid, which causes them to console themselves with a story of the past . . . of a very special person . . . a child of darkness, but also a champion of light.
While the story is being read, we're seeing the area where the magical blast hit. The magic struck an area called the Pit of Sorrow, a kind of mass grave. Something is moving beneath the dirt, bones and ash. The spell has done something. It has returned something to life. And that something is Vampirella.
That final splash is freaking amazing. A classic shot of our heroine's return to life—screaming her birth cries as she erupts from her grave.
What an ending! Couldn't wait to jump onto issue #2!