is written by Christopher Priest, an author of no layman’s ability, whose previous works include some of the best Black Panther that’s ever been written. His attention to detail and slow-burn methods let your mind simmer in the hot stewing juices of your own conjecture and forethought, wondering if what you’re reading is shallow, or if there is something hidden beneath the crunchy veneer.
From the very first page
we see subversion and duality. Here, Priest talks about a yellow-brick road and how it leads home, and speaks about a song. He points out the song because it feeds the narrative of the story. The song he’s referring to in this case is ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ by Elton John. The song is about a farmhand, a young man who seeks fortune and fame playing music, but soon learns that the road to fame and fortune, the yellow brick road that is; is paved with his own blood and his own life. Vampirella’s path to the city, however, is paved with other’s blood; because isn’t that what vampires do? It is others who pay the cost for a vampire’s right to live.
Vampirella enters the stage
standing defiantly, and impassively. As if stating, by posture alone, that she knows the truth which you are blind to, and she’s willing to face it head-on. She doesn’t need to fly aboard ‘all Affirm’ airlines, she has her own wings.
The rest of the story
up until the last few pages is of a psychiatrist talking down to Vampirella, making light of her heritage, cursing her delusions, and demanding that she come to live in reality. Taken at first glance, one would think this a condemnation of her character, and perhaps it is. However, I believe that a single literary device changes everything that comes after it.
Priest inserted himself into his own story
he’s the psychiatrist; and if he were a lesser writer, then I would assume vanity to be the intent. Priest, however, is not a lesser writer and I posit that he did this to change the focal point of the character, to transform that particular character into an ‘unreliable narrator’. The term is fairly intuitive, but basically it’s when the narrator isn’t accurate or credible.
So what does that mean?
It means that just about everything the Psychiatrist is saying, is a reflection, or distended version of the truth he wants you to find. For example, when the Psychiatrist speaks of werewolves, vampires and warlocks, condemning them; he is literally speaking to someone who faces such things every day. So what he is saying then, with such a comment? I propose that Priest is talking to the audience, not to Vampirella. I think he wants the audience to stop looking for their own superstition, conjecture and nonense to be afraid of — there is enough to be afraid of, and overcome, right here in the real world.
Vampires are the new Negroes?
And yet, a negro talks down to the vampire. Why is this? Again, building on the unreliable narrator, we can take from this that a negro is indeed talking to another negro, but saying this to the audience. Thus, he could be saying that it’s often black people who police and judge their own the most harshly.
Other bits of note
In the first page
we see a true Nazi, flying comfortably aboard ‘Affirm airlines’ and the only person to notice is Vampirella, as if Priest is saying “You wouldn’t know a real Nazi if one stared you in the face’.
In the second image,
we have what appears to be circa 1990 Neil Gaiman in a sandman outfit? Not sure what is going on there. I know Neil is very liberal, and likely opposed some of what Priest spoke out about recently, but not sure why he made him the host of a servile demon that otherwise inhabited the bodies of a rat, and a spider.
So what’s the diagnosis, Doctor?
Vampirella 2019 #1 is Frosty AF, as the kids would say. Check it out for a master’s course in how to be subversive, clever, and drop the mic on your adversaries.
Bravo, Mr. Priest.