Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vampirella 85

A rather unique issue of Vampirella with this issue, as Vampi gets drawn by a trio of artists for unfortunately the only time ever.

The cover is by Paul Gulacy, in his only Warren cover. He does a pretty good job although isn't at the same level as Vampi's usual cover artist, Enrich, at least in my opinion. The table of contents page features a Jose Gonzalez drawing of Vampi, something that he would do on nearly every issue of Vampirella over the last three years of the magazine's existence. Unfortunately Gonzalez would vanish almost entirely from Warren except for these one page drawings for about 20 or so issues during this period of time and lesser artists like Rudy Nebres (already discussed in my review for issue 88) would draw many stories in his place.

The Vampi story for this issue is "Flame Spirit" by team of Val & John Lakey (artists) and Bob Toomey (writer). The Lakeys (who were frequently credited under the name "Artifact") were a great artist team who unfortunately only did about half a dozen stories for Warren, mostly in the last few years of Vampirella's existence. This would be their sole story featuring Vampirella herself. Their artwork was arguably as life-like as anything ever published in Warren, although they did have a notable flaw in that the people in their stories always seemed completely detached from the background. Anyway, this story features Vampi on her own in the desert, where she meets a pair of Native Americans and encounters the Flame Spirit, an alien being who has slept on Earth for millions of years but ends up returning to its home planet after its encounter with Vampi. The story's hardly that great although I do like the art a lot.

The next story, "The Conscience of the King" is by Auraleon (art) and Budd Lewis (story). This story of a miniature elf going on a quest to rescue a prince along with the animals he befriends is nothing special and is just one of countless instances during Warren's last few years where fantasy based stories crept their way into these 'horror' magazines.

"Curly's Gold" is up next, with art by Leo Duranona and story by Michael Fleisher. Another story with no horror elements whatsoever in it, its about a husband and wife who are after their uncle's treasure. The uncle refuses to tell them anything but instead tells his neighborhood friend, who is followed by the two of them. When the wife shoots her husband, seeking the treasure all to herself, the cavern caves in on them, killing them. Duranona uses a lot of real life photos in this story, something he'd do a number of times during his run at Warren.

Fourth is "A Green Phoenix" by Noly Zamora (art), in his sole Warren appearance, and Laurie Sutton (story). Billions of years in Earth's future, a lizard like man seeks three magic stones which will give him the power to cast a magical spell. He eventually is able to obtain all three after his encounter with a blind man and a female warrior, but becomes a demon like creature under her control once the spell is cast. Nothing all that special here.

Last is Lilywhite and Lavender by Alex Nino (art) and Gerry Boudreau (story). Nino's artwork is probably about as complex as anything you'd see from Warren, and this story is a prime example of that. His style is not without its flaws though, as its sometimes so complex that its hard to figure out what's going on. This story is about an ugly hunchback named Lavender who kills a beautiful girl, Lilywhite. Lilywhite's Guardian Angel, Wendell, is sent to Earth and shows Lavender heaven and hell. Not a great story, but certainly better than the other non-Vampi stories in this issue.

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