If you are new to Vampirella then you have a lot of catching up to do. Vampirella has been in print since September 1969 and is still going strong.
So who, or what, is Vampirella? Who are her friends and foes? What is her history?
Click on the red bars below to do a bit of "catch up".
The main characters in Vampirella's history
Originally believed to be an alien from the planet Drakulon, Vampirella is later revealed to be the daughter of Lilith (the first wife of Adam) and the arch demon Belial. Drakulon is a region of Hell where Lilith and Belial rule over the race we know as vampires.
Vampirella is the ultimate Vampire, with all their strengths but none of their weaknesses. She is unaffected by daylight, garlic and religious symbols. She has super human speed, strength and agility. She can transform into a bat or a half bat/half woman form, and has hypnotic abilities.
Unaffected by extremes of temperature, her costume is minimalist to allow movement in combat. She is also very beautiful.
Rejecting her demonic roots, Vampirella is a force for good specifically targeting occult and demonic adversaries.
With a family history of fighting vampires, Adam van Helsing and Vampirella were fated to meet. When they did, an attraction was formed and Adam became Vampirella's long time lover.
Eventually, Adam was killed by Mistress Nyx, but the story does not end there.
Cast into Hell, Adam takes on the hordes of Drakulon and becomes a feared and powerful warlord in his own right, ruling his own region of Drakulon.
Father of Adam van Helsing, Conrad is a dedicated vampire killer with psychic abilities to compensate for his blindness.
Aghast that his son was consorting with a vampire, he was determined to destroy Vampirella. With time he reluctantly came to accept that she was a force for good and fought alongside her against the various demonic forces they encountered.
He was killed as a deliberate attack on Vampirella and all she held precious.
One of Vampirella's first and most long standing friends, Pendragon was an itinerant, alcoholic, magician who needed a pretty assistant for his shows. Not only did Vampirella fit the bill as a "pretty" assistant but she provided a climax for his show when she transformed into a bat and flew away!
Latterly, Pendragon is slightly more sober (not much) and has discovered that he actually has real magical powers.
Pendragon's powers are apparently due to the fact that Vampirella gave him a transfusion of blood to save his life (he had been shot and was in hospital) and thus also transferred some form of mystical ability to him.
Another alien from the same solar system as Vampirella, Pantha can also shape shift into an animal - a large black panther.
Though details are vague, she is also related in some way to a cat worshipping cult from ancient Egypt and may be several centuries (if not millennia) old.
Mostly she is a force for good, though often she has her own agenda and the distinction between good and evil gets a bit blurred. Pantha is more a cat that transforms into a human than a human that transforms into a cat.
This is the same Count Dracula as in the novel by Bram Stoker. Arch vampire and all round villain, Dracula is also from the home planet (or region of Hell) as Vampirella.
Extremely old and powerful, he has all the usual vampiric abilities combined with centuries of experience and wisdom.
Typically, he is never fully destroyed and keeps coming back for more ...
A long time adversary of Vampirella's, the Blood Red Queen of Hearts is not a single person, rather a demonic entity that resides in a mystical playing card. The entity transfers from body to body when a person touches the card.
Her mission in life is to collect a specific number of hearts to sacrifice to the mad god Chaos to enable him access to the planet Earth.
Vampirella and the Blood Red Queen have crossed paths on a number of occasions and I'm sure she will return again.
Mistress Nyx, daughter of Lucretia and Dracula (Warren Vampirella #16) is a child of Chaos, endowed with demonic powers.
Nyx and her consort, Hemorrhage, battle with and kill Adam van Helsing and then Vampirella herself. Nyx and Hemorrhage continue spreading Nyx' evil on Earth, but Vampirella returns from the dead and kills Hemorrhage.
Nyx retreats to Hell where she and her followers occupy a region of Drakulon where she plots her revenge. In her last battle with Vampirella she appears to lose an arm but, presumably, she is still lurking in Drakulon biding her time.
Lilith was created by God as Adam's first partner, and then cast out of Eden for failing to submit to the will of Adam.
After she was cast out of Eden Lilith "laid" with demons and gave birth to thousands of demons of her own - the race of demons we know as vampires.
However, the vampires on Earth were draining her power, so Vampirella was created to provide the ultimate vampire killing machine and sent to Earth to destroy the energy sapping vampires. Once Vampirella had fulfilled her role sufficiently, Lilith then tried to kill her now redundant "daughter".
When Vampirella was first published by Warren Publishing in 1969, she was an inhabitant of the planet Drakulon, a world where people's physiology required that they drink blood (as we do water) - the rivers and seas were full of blood, and it rained blood. Drakulon orbited round twin suns, Satyr and Circe. Drakulon's sun Satyr erupted at irregular intervals to scorch the surface of the planet, destroying all living things. Then, as the sun returns to it's normal state, so a new life and new civilisation begins anew.
Vampirella was of the Vampiri race, who are able to transform themselves into bats, sprout wings to fly and drank blood as our equivalent to water. Slowly but surely, the inhabitants of Drakulon were being destroyed by Satyr's latest eruption.
As the last of the Vampiri struggled for existence a spaceship from Earth (the "Arthur C. Clarke") crash landed on Drakulon. Vampirella investigated, approaching in her bat form. The disorientated spacemen attacked her, and when she she retaliated she found they carried blood in their veins. After feasting, she managed to pilot the ship back to Earth where her adventures began.
After crash landing, Vampirella realises that she needs money and food - the red, liquid kind. Food is no problem, as there are humans galore walking around full of life giving blood! For money she tries out for a Monster Model agency and gets hired, but on route to her first job her plane is hit by lightening and crashes in a remote mountain range. Vampirella is the only survivor as she could sprout wings to break her fall, and she feeds on the corpses of the other passengers before staggering into the snow ...
Weak and injured, Vampirella is rescued by Dr. Tyler Westron and taken to his clinic where he discovers her alien origins - and has to amputate her wings to save her life. While Vampirella recovers, the corpse of one of the airliner passengers (Kurt van Helsing) is being staked through the heart before being laid to rest by his blind brother (Conrad van Helsing). The van Helsing family have a tradition of being vampire hunters and were the downfall of Dracula in Bram Stoker's novel of the same name.
Back at the clinic, Vampirella discovers that Dr. Westron is really Ethan Shroud, warlock and leader of the Companions of Chaos, a cult devoted to the mad god Chaos. During a human sacrifice ritual to bring Chaos to Earth, Vampirella destroys the Crimson Chronicles (the "bible" of Chaos) and is instrumental in the destruction of the clinic and all the cultists.
Thus begins a long and enduring relationship with the Cult of Chaos, demons from the void and similar horror standards.
Elsewhere, Conrad van Helsing has determined via his psychic abilities that Vampirella drank the blood of his brother, Kurt, and Conrad and his son Adam set off to track her down and kill her.
Eventually, they do find Vampirella and Adam falls in love with her. Conrad still believes that she is a danger and it is a long time before he puts aside his desire for vengeance and finally accepts her as an ally in his quest to destroy "true" vampires.
In her travels Vampirella meets an aged, alcoholic magician who's career is failing. She teams up with Pendragon as the assistant in his magic act, providing the grand finale when he makes her disappear - replaced by a bat! The addition of Vampirella to the act boosts his career and they travel all over the world with their magic act, meeting strange and wonderful people who all seem to turn out to be monsters of some sort.
In a brief career as a B-movie star, Vampirella meets Pantha - another alien from a planet in the Satyr and Circe star system. Pantha's race also transform, but into large cats. Pantha transforms into a black panther.
Aliens, demons, gods, monsters, vampires and werewolves were on the daily agenda for Vampirella, with a variety of sub-plots involving her deepening relationship with Adam van Helsing, Conrad van Helsing's distrust of her, and her need for a daily infusion of a blood substitute serum to hold her blood lust at bay.
In one classic story line she travels back in time and under the nom de plume of Ella Normandy and meets Dracula, who falls in love with her. Of course, she teams up with the van Helsings of that time to defeat him.
During the Warren Publishing years Vampirella blossomed from a slightly tacky bit of titillation used to introduce the real horror stories in the early issues, into a strong character in her own right with her own entourage of supporting cast - both heroes and villains. As time passed the focus was less and less on the traditional horror story and more on the Vampirella story, which quickly established itself as the lead story and the cover page subject.
Jim Warren had the good sense to recognise real artistic talent and many of the top writers and artists in comic book history were published in Vampirella.
There are too many to mention here, but one person who stood out head and shoulders over the rest and who's art defined Vampirella for decades to come was José "Pepe" Gonzalez (see example on the left).
After the demise of Warren Publishing in 1983, José Gonzalez dropped out of sight, returning to his birthplace, Barcelona. Fortunately, after 20 years in the void, he was found and created another Vampirella masterpiece for the cover of Revelations #1.
When the Vampirella character was revived after being bought by Harris Publishing (subsequent to Warren's bankruptcy in 1988) changes were made to her origin.
In the Morning In America series, we are reintroduced to the companions of Chaos and Nathan Shroud. As the story unfolds we find that Vampirella has been "missing" for ten years. Shroud had altered her memories and she had been working as a teacher under the nom de plume of Ella Normandy, unaware that she was really Vampirella. In a complex but absorbing tale which forms a bridge between the Warren version of Vampirella and the new, up-to-date Harris version, Vampirella gets the first hint that her origin is fallacious.
Vampirella first began to suspect all was not as it seemed when she was given a glimpse into her future and past by the demon Nuberus (who tempted her with her true origin in order to gain access to Earth). In the vision she witnesses a woman faintly outlined, but cannot see who she really is. Later we discover this is an image of Lilith.
And then the story starts to blur. It appears that Vampirella's memories are all false, placed into her mind by her evil brother and sister - Madek and Magdalene - but even this is false!
In truth, Vampirella is the daughter of Lilith, the first wife of Adam. Lilith was created by God himself and then cast out of Eden for failing to submit to the will of Adam. God's second attempt at creating a partner for Adam was Eve - who went on and did the "apple and serpent" bit.
Presumably, after two failures God gave up on trying to create a "perfect" partner for Adam ...
Vampirella was born to provide redemption for her mother. After she was cast out of Eden Lilith had "lain" with demons and gave birth to thousands of demons of her own - the race of demons we know as vampires. Lilith also bore two others, Madek and Magdalene, in the hopes they would give her the redemption she seeks, but they abused their power and decided to follow the path of evil.
On finding her brother and sister Vampirella attacked them, but they prove to be too powerful for her. Rather than kill her they provide her with false memories of Drakulon so that she will leave them alone to continue their quest for evil without alerting their mother, who would try to find another way to thwart them.
Vampirella's adventures continue and she meets Mistress Nyx, a demon who allies herself with an old adversary, Hemorrhage. After her death at the hands of Nyx, Vampirella awakes to find herself in Hell, but it was a part of Hell known as Drakulon and this is the true place of her birth. She is still a child of Lilith, but instead of ridding the world of Madek and Magdalene (who are now dead anyway following the conclusion of the Mystery Walk series) her mission was now to provide redemption for her mother by destroying all vampires on Earth. This she must do because Lilith's time in Hell is ending, and she can only find redemption through her daughter, Vampirella.
With the help of Adam van Helsing (also finding redemption in Drakulon) she restores the Styx, the river of blood that provides nourishment for the inhabitants of Drakulon (which we now know to be vampires) and bids her mother farewell one last time before Lilith is taken by the Hand of God. But it isn't quite over yet. Although Vampirella spends some considerable time ridding the Earth of vampires as she promised her mother, she finds herself back on Drakulon (Hell) again.
This time she is seeking the Heart of Darkness, the heart of Malkuth - an angel created with free will who chose evil and was killed by another angel, Metatron. Lilith (who it appears has not told the entire truth to Vampirella) created Vampirella in Malkuth's likeness, yet created her as a force for good so she could release the spear holding Malkuth's heart, and thus end creation. This was Vampirella's true destiny, to remove the lance and destroy everything as Lilith's final vengeance on God!
This she does, and destroys creation, but then by destroying Metatron's heart immediately afterwards she creates a new beginning for life, the universe and everything.
Returning to Earth, Vampirella continues with her more mundane crusade to rid the world of vampires, trolls and any other nasties that prey on humans. But still, all is not right. Her memories sometimes contradict themselves, or (on closer inspection) are obviously ridiculous.
With the aid of a psychic she regresses and discovers that her mother (Lilith) and her lover (the Demon Lord, Belial) had created Vampirella out of Lilith's blood and the soil of Drakulon to be the ultimate killing machine. Lilith was being drained of energy by all her vampire children, but when Vampirella destroyed a vampire that vampire's energy returned to Lilith, making her stronger with every kill. Alone since Lilith had been destroyed by the Hand of God, Belial kidnaps Vampirella returning her to Drakulon where he manipulates a mass battle where she destroys thousands of vampires in a berserker, killing frenzy. As his minions die at the hands of Vampirella, Belial uses the surge of energy and Vampirella's blood to revive Lilith.
The revived Lilith shows her true colours as an arch-demon, and casually destroys her daughter who is now surplus to requirements. In her dying moments, Vampirella draws on the life force of Drakulon itself and manages to destroy Lilith.
Returning to Earth, Vampirella has to come to terms with the fact that she was a tool created to empower her evil mother, Lilith, and she is now merely a highly efficient killing machine with no purpose in life...
Vampirella has been missing. In fact, no one has heard of her for so long that some of the vampires and other demons think that she was nothing but an urban myth.
In truth, she has been keeping a low profile refining her skills, creating more weaponry to aid in her fight against the dark and has eschewed her traditional red and gold suit in favour of a less conspicuous "jeans and jacket" outfit.
Investigating a nightclub that is a vampire base she comes across an old foe and makes a new friend.
Le Fanu is an old vampire who has developed new abilities and Vampirella barely defeats her with the aid of Sofia, one of the human clubbers.
Vampirella and Sofia travel the world under the auspices of the Vatican with the assistance of the Scarlet Legion - the Vatican's warrior nuns - and battle a variety of demonic threats including Japanese vampire triplets.
Old enemies include Von Kreist, Dracula and Lilith. Von Kreist is the perennial "evil personified" bad guy and is Vampirella's most wanted villain.
Dracula, as usual, has his own agenda and will work with or against Vampirella depending on the situation but, on the whole, tends to be an asset.
Lilith, Vampirella's mother, is a bit of a surprise as she turns out to be repentant for her previous actions and she and Vampirella have a reconciliation. Along with her mother, Vampirella gathers a small entourage of old friends including Pantha, Pendragon and Lorelei.
Vampirella realises that not all demonic beings are "bad" and develops a master plan to create a haven where non-humans can co-exist in peace.
However, Lilith has her own agenda...