Thomas E. Sniegoski's Writer's Commentary on Vengeance of Vampirella #6, out now from Dynamite Entertainment. He writes,
The resurrected Vampirella has had her final battle with her arch enemy, Hemorrhage. It didn't go well for the villain, Vampirella having savagely broken his neck, but it didn't mean that she escaped the epic battle unscathed. Suffering some pretty intense injuries from the fight, Vampirella has been absorbed into Passion, and is being taken back to the main craft, where Pendragon waits, in order to heal.
While she heals, she dwells upon something that has haunted her since her return from the dead, that maybe she has returned to life missing something.
First off, the great Michael Sta. Maria needed to play a little catch up on some up-and-coming issues, so the equally amazing Roberto Castro was brought in for the art of this special issue.
While Vampirella floats in a kind of healing stasis, within an aspect of Passion, she dreams about the thing that she fears most . . . losing her humanity. The story that follows will be her remembrance of the time when she knew that it would eventually happen.
This page shows Vampirella before her death 25 years ago, on her way to an important and dangerous mission. We go back and forth between her remembering being assigned the mission, and traveling to the site of what she's been sent to investigate. This page establishes that she once took missions from the mysterious Mr. Sabastain, the leader of the Danse Macabre.
What's cool about this was that it allowed me to reintroduce Sabastain, and the Danse, which I'm planning on bringing back into the current run of Vengeance of Vampirella. It helps readers become familiar with older concepts that are to be used again.
We learn from Sabastain that a mysterious jungle had begun to grow around Belaine, Virginia, and that based on the information gleaned by the Danse, if allowed to continue to grow, it'll be a threat to the whole Eastern Seaboard. Sabastain wants Vampirella to go and investigate this mysterious jungle.
Back to the current moment of her memory, Vampirella tells the pilot that she'll get out there, sprouting her wings and flying down to the street below. Roberto did an awesome job of showing Vampi with her wings spread, gliding down from the chopper. At this point in her life, she still has her awesome wings—they hadn't been ripped off yet by Nyx. Hmmmmmm. Wonder if we'll ever see those wings again. Time will tell.
Vampirella lands before a wall of vegetation, and quotes the Bible at the sight of it. "The Lord God planted a Garden toward the East, in Eden . . ."
This was just a little reminder to me and the readers that Vampirella isn't just another pretty face, she's pretty damned smart. Not sure if that comes out enough.
Vampirella forcing her way through the thick growth. It's almost as if the jungle is trying to keep her out . . . but she manages to push through to what awaits her on the other side.
Vampirella pushes through onto a deserted neighborhood street. There are all kinds of crazy growths and weird plants. She wonders where everybody has gone. It's when she notices the skeletal remains of a child sliding out from one of the strange plants that she puts two and two together . . . just in time to be gobbled up by one of the larger plants.
Roberto's art and Omi's coloring on this page are awesome. Vampirella within the plant, being digested, fighting to get out. She, of course, needs to tap into her more bestial (monstrous) nature to escape. She rips her way out of the plant that swallowed her, but more are converging . . .
And then she finds the chainsaw.
Really cool action page of Vampirella going wild with the chainsaw, and taking out the carnivorous plants.
Vampirella decides to get the hell out of that area before the plants get too much and ends up at a church. Inside the church she finds one of Mr. Sabastain's Dancer Agents. He mentions something about getting to "the clinic." The first clue as to where all this trouble may have originated. The agent has been webbed to the wall, and she rips him free, but there's something really wrong with him.
Something spider-like rips its way from the Agent's stomach, and Vampirella responds by smashing it with a candelabra.
Murdering the newborn spider-thing of course pisses off the newborn spider-thing's mama. Vampirella does battle with the spider-thing and is thrown through the church window to the ground outside. Lying on the ground she notices a building in front of her, it's the clinic mentioned by the Danser Agent—and someone is standing in the window.
Vampirella gets up, and is about to make her way towards the building when she is attacked, bludgeoned from behind.
Knocked unconscious, she gradually comes awake to find herself trussed up on a spit, over a cooking fire about to be lit. Here is where we got to introduce three pretty wild characters. I got a real kick out of writing them.
The troll brothers! They were an absolute hoot to write. They are depicted as quite the gourmets as they discuss how to prepare Vampirella for cooking.
I also got the opportunity to show how cunning Vampirella can be, as she manipulates one of the troll brothers.
I love the basket of rotting dead things that one of the brothers is carrying in Panel 5.
Vampirella, using her feminine wiles gets the dumber of the troll brothers to murder his siblings. She's promised him treasure, and that she would marry him and make him a king. Stupid trolls.
Some nice gruesome stuff on this page. Roberto and Omi knocking it out of the park once more.
And, of course, Vampirella feeding off the stupid troll brother just shows how cunning and savage she can be when necessary. This concept plays a very important part of this issue as we draw closer to the climax.
Having fed, Vampirella goes to investigate the mysterious Trevaine Clinic, and hopefully find the person she saw standing in the window earlier.
Vampi crashes through the window, coming face to face with that very person—a doctor of the clinic, Phyllis Nourey.
Here is the area in which we start to learn some interesting things as to what the hell is going on.
We learn here that the Trevaine Clinic is run by the Danse Macabre, and it's where people who are born with latent, preternatural abilities are sent to be primed: having their special powers activated so they can be of service to the Danse, as well as the world.
It appears that one of the clinic's patients has been primed, and the ever growing jungle and the creatures in it are part of the person's power activation.
The hospital is Ground Zero.
Patient 969 was primed, his powers activated, and the jungle began to grow.
Inside, a wing of the hospital has been completely overgrown with, thick twisted vines. On the other side of the thick wall of vegetation, Patient 969 and the cause of the jungle.
Vampirella knows where she has to go.
Some very ominous words from Doctor Nourey as Vampirella begins to rip through the thick vegetation to get to the other side. "Be careful in there . . . he's being protected."
Pushing through she finds yet another dead Dancer Agent, entwined in the thick vines and vegetation. Vampirella needs to tap into that special level of savagery in order to make it through.
She at last makes it through, and into the room of Patient 969. And he is not alone. Lying on a bed covered in thick vegetation is a body, but on either side of the body are these strange elemental-type creatures. They are protecting patient 969. They talk about how "the sleeper" will dream a new world, eliminating the old – the new world obviously being the jungle.
Vampirella confronts the creatures, ready to fight them, but they have a strange effect on her. Their words are mesmerizing as they talk of the "sleeper" and the new world to come. They are slowly putting Vampirella to sleep, so that the jungle can continue to grow, and grow.
Vampirella is about to give into the sleep when her more bestial nature awakens, refusing to lie down and die. Roberto's panel of a savage Vampirella breaking free of the elemental creature's hold is awesome.
Vampirella in all her savage fury dispatches the elemental creatures, ripping out their throats with her claws.
Here is where Vampirella finds out why a jungle grew, and the reason for the strange creatures living within it. The floor is littered with fantasy novels, and books of mythology. Patient 969's abilities somehow brought these creatures to life.
Vampirella approaches the vegetation covered figure lying on the hospital bed, ready to do whatever she needs to do in order to stop this dangerous phenomena from overtaking the world.
She rips away the covering of thick grass and moss only to discover that Patient 969 is a child.
But can she do it? Will her humanity allow her to do such a terrible thing?
Vampirella is forced to call upon her dark side in order to perform the act. It is here where she feels that her humanity is dying, and fears that someday it might not be there at all.
After murdering the child, the jungle begins to die—to decay. Her communications with Mr. Sabastain restored, she asks the head of the Danse Macabre how he knew she would perform such a heinous act? He just says that he knows these things, and congratulates her on saving the world.
We return to the present, and Vampirella still floating within the belly of Passion, healing. We see that she is crying from the memories. Mourning the loss of her humanity.
This idea of Vampirella becoming more and more a monster will be explored in future issues.