Published on February 17th, 2016 | by Steven Roman
Review: Queen of Vampires #1 (of 7)
Comics based on licensed products are nothing new these days—comic shop shelves are overflowing with issues of Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Transformers, GI Joe, and a hundred other pop-culture creations. But an independent comic based on a statue, published by the very same collectible-statue studio that created it? That’s something different.
And so we have Queen of Vampires #1, written by Abraham Kawa (based on a story by Arahom Radjah), illustrated by Manos Lagouvardos, and published by newcomer ARH Comix, sister company of ARH Studios. Here we’re introduced to Arkhalla, the queen of the kingdom of Ur, a land where vampires rule and the oppressed human population serves as both workforce…and dinner.
In this first issue, Kawa’s story hits the ground running: We meet Arkhalla and see firsthand just how cruel a leader she is—it’s a quality she revels in—then see how thoroughly she wields her power over her subjects, both human and undead; learn her origin as her world’s first vampire, and how she came to rule; watch as she takes a special interest in a male slave (ARH’s description of the series indicates this will become some sort of love story); and discover that not all her vampire subjects are willing to put up with her shit for much longer. There’s a quality to Kawa’s writing that reminded me of the stylings of comics legend Roy Thomas—the Marvel Comics writer/editor who brought Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja to four-color life during Thomas’s scripting heyday in the 1970s—although Kawa avoids the tendency to lapse into the “purple prose” (i.e., excessively descriptive and flowery text) that was often Marvel’s house style back in the day.
(My one minor complaint with the writing is production-wise: Since no editor is listed, letterer Yiannis Zoumpas should crack open a dictionary to check how words properly break into syllables at the end of a line: “friend” is one syllable; it doesn’t break into “fri-end”; it’s “com-mand,” not “comm-and”; it’s “cap-tives,” not “capti-ves.” Typos like these act as “speed bumps” that distract from Kawa’s writing.)
As for the art, (see some art here) if Kawa’s writing is reminiscent of Roy Thomas’s fantasy comics, then Manos Lagouvardos’s work puts me in mind of that of classic artists like Alex Nino and Ernie Colon. The Hands of Manos (that’s a horror movie joke, BTW) present us with a variety of characters, from powerful soldiers and starving villagers to slovenly hedonists and spirit-broken prisoners of war. But above them all is Arkhalla, whose curves are as hard as her heart, and are put on ample display, from her minimal costume to her nude shower scene—a shower of blood, of course, that pours down from the sliced throats of victims strung up above her.
Bottom line? With a writing style and artwork that harkens back to the glory days of classic Conan and Sonja adventures, and a lead character who is pretty much the definition of the term “bad girl,” Queen of Vampires is certain to appeal to both bad-girl fans and lovers of sword-and-sorcery tales. Go check it out.
Queen of Vampires #1
Story by Arahom Radjah
Written by Abraham Kawa
Art by Manos Lagouvardos
Cover art by Christos Martinis
Publisher: ARH Comix
32 pages • full-color
Now on sale