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Vampblade Takes the Worst of the 90s and Makes Something Useful of It


Writer: Jason Martin
Artist: Winston Young
Action Lab Comics

Remember how a lot of bad comics in the 1990s tended to be some combination of big knockers and violence?  Vampblade remembers. Action Lab’s goofball series about a comic-shop owning cosplayer who’s been transformed into an actual 1990s “bad girl” is back for a second volume, and it’s accessible enough for the casual reader to jump in now.

Vampblade’s premise is simple enough, effectively combining the 1990s Ghost Rider and Sleepwalker concepts with the ins-and-outs of modern fangoing.  The two-page recap gives us all we need to know: Kate Carva is, like many of us, an adult comics junkie who’s been hooked since childhood. A chance encounter with a magic prop turns her into the “Vampblade” character she read about as a kid, right down to having a mission to kill alien parasites invading the real world. It’s admittedly a ridiculous concept, but creator Jason Martin seems aware enough of this, and rolls with it. In other words, if this comic seems to be emulating the worst of the 1990s, that’s a feature, not a bug.

Honestly, Martin puts Kate through some inner turmoil questions that we haven’t seen much of in comics in awhile—the difficulty of the “shared body” superhero where one personality is at odds with the other. Bruce Banner vs. the Hulk, Dan Ketch vs. Ghost Rider—this used to be commonplace in comics, yet at the moment, it’s not. Vampblade resurrects some of those notions by having Kate watch helplessly as the Vampblade entity kills without regard for the innocents caught nearby. The issue opens with quite the pickle, where Vampblade’s targets are two pilots on an airplane full of people. Her only job is to kill, even as Kate is screaming that there will be no one to land the plane.

Martin’s solution to the plane problem may be a little cheap, but at least while the problem is on the page, it’s tense, and it does at least leave a lingering question about the extent to which Kate can ethically continue her mission. Keep in mind, Vampblade is at least done against the backdrop of a comedy story. Much of this opening issue is set against—where else?—the San Diego Comic-Con, with Kate and her employees having to juggle comic sales against the larger mission of finding more demons to kill.

While Vampblade’s goofiness and 1990s self-parody may be a bit overdone, its heart is in the right place, and it might be a welcome distraction for a reader looking for a comedic distraction. Winston Young’s art is a little on the cruder side of things–appropriately cartoony for this type of title, but perhaps in need of refinement. Still, it gets the job done, and comic artists have been known to tighten up their style in time.

Vampblade Vol. 2 #1 was released last week. Younger readers caution: issue and variant cover contains some nudity.

Rating: Three oversized breasts out of five.

About Adam Frey (371 Articles)
Adam Frey is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. In the meantime, he's an attorney and moonlights as an Emergency Medical Technician in Maryland. A comic reader for over 30 years, he's gradually introducing his daughter to the hobby, much to the chagrin of his wife and their bank account.
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