It takes little or no imagination to read the title Vampirella vs Fluffy the Vampire Slayer and get the gist of it. Two female icons of the undead genre meeting up. The stuff of fantasies, actually. In more ways that one. Just to let everyone know–the cover art conveys the quality of the actual comic inside not at all. The interior art ends up far better quality. Less cartoony for one thing. On the other hand, the artwork and story does not in fact veer towards the more puerile (or fun, as per the image on the right). Good news? Bad news? Matter of taste, really.
But writer Mark Rahner captures what makes a good parody–he understands his targets. Vampi’s alter ego, the sometimes teacher Ella Normandy, comes to Shiny Hill High School (get it?) and soon encounters variations on characters we all know. Fluffy, her nerdish best friend Sallow, Fluffy’s minder Miles and of course her vampire boyfriend Cherub. All this is well and good, but more impressively he delves into a horror that feels appropriate for both franchises. In fact, it seems almost the kind of thing Joss Whedon might have done had Buffy the Vampire Slayer been on HBO.
We begin with a pair of teenage kids making out in a car. Soon enough, as per expectations, they find themselves under attack. Here we go dark. And I mean dark. Their attackers resemble nothing so much as zombie puritans, who proceed not to kill but maim. Their purpose? Feeding a demon who devours the emotion of carnal frustration. Each victim is someone who wanted sex, but is rendered pretty much permanently unable to have such ever again. Adding to the problem, the Governor has recently declared this Sexual Abstinence Week (while cutting teachers’ salaries). Not too surprisingly, Buffy…er, Fluffy comes across the latest victims with Vampirella standing above them and acts accordingly.
This reads quite right, actually, as a story for either character. There’s even a countdown, as the demon-in-question longs to rend a piece of reality once it gets strong enough, entering into our world.
Not a long story, though. Just a “one off” and of no great length. So how is it?
Well, the humor is there well enough. Nothing of Vampirella’s universe shows up save she herself. That seems rather a pity. Imagine for example Adam Van Helsing comparing notes with ‘Cherub’ about their mutual unconventional relationships. Or Pendragon and ‘Miles’ sharing a pint at some watering hole. Too bad really, but understandable given the book’s length (or lack thereof).
The humor regarding Buffy itself works well enough. At one point the Cordy analogue sees the equivalent of the Scoobies stare at the new substitute teacher arriving, i.e. Vampirella. ‘Carmilla’ snarks that Miss Normandy won’t be going with ‘Sallow’ to the next Indigo Girls concert. (If you need to have that explained, you almost certainly are not into the Buffyverse). Likewise there’s some on-the-nose discussion that Vampi’s outfit is her choice, thank you very much.
It does not, however, fit into the continuity of Whedon’s universe. Beloved characters suffer rather final ends (don’t read the graphic at the right if you don’t want a spoiler) while the high school itself ends up destroyed amid the mayhem–long before the “actual” place suffered that fate at the end of season three!
But one thing that kept echoing in my head while reading this comic book–that the story seemed many times too short. Kudos for the generally good quality artwork, for the creepy minions that embody the equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church and violent fundamentalists everywhere, for the taking of chances here and there, as well as capturing the feel of the characters. The sly winks to the readers didn’t bother me but just made me smile.
Yet the idea really demands a lot more than we get. It seems more an excuse for clever zingers than a full story, despite the quality of many elements in said story. Fans of Buffy know how complex the actual relationships among these characters even began, yet we see barely a hint of any such thing. Elements from Vampirella’s universe are missed, as frankly is much information about the demon antagonist. This isn’t a complaint that the comic book didn’t do what I myself wanted. Most of the individual elements themselves work very well. But there aren’t enough. Ultimately, I wanted more. More character interaction, more story, more depth and essentially more issues than one. This idea kinda screams for at least three, preferably four or more issues to really do it justice. It hints at a full meal, but delivers nothing but an appetizer. A good appetizer, but still…