An alien ship crashes on Mars and Dejah Thoris is sent to investigate in Vampirella/Dejah Thoris Collection by Erik Burnham. As Dejah gets closer to the ship, she is attacked by a giant white ape. Just as it is about to eat her, she is rescued by a mysterious woman who rips the ape apart. The woman, Vampirella, starts feeding on it. Vampirella tells Dejah that on her planet the blood rivers have dried up and her people are looking for a new home. Dejah warns that her people believe they are being invaded and that their home will be overrun. Dejah’s people are ready to ambush and attack. They realize they must work together to stop a tragedy from happening.

The cover of the graphic novel would have you think Vampirella and Dejah Thoris are at odds. They face each other, Dejah screaming and Vampirella with her teeth clenched. This is a far cry from how their relationship plays out in the story. I found the graphic novel to be treading a thin line between displaying a tendency for female empowerment and the male gaze. I found it empowering for these two women from different planets to be working together to resolve a conflict. They are portrayed as being the most competent characters. The men are rash and quick to seek a violent solution to a problem. They not only want to stop the invasion but also enslave Vampirella’s people. The female leads are highly sexualized in their costumes. Vampirella’s costume seems like it could barely contain her bust. Often when her backside is shown, her outfit rides up her butt. Dejah’s costume can vary from looking like a warrior princess to a slave girl. It made me question if the writers were trying to have their cake and eat it too. Pacify women with a strong female character and entice the male audience with scantily clad women.

Vampirella/Dejah Thoris Collection depicts Mars as a planet that can be desert and also have a forest. Other alien creatures inhabit this planet. One looked lizard-like with hair reminiscent of Medusa’s wavy snake hair. I was unimpressed by the creature’s design. Two of the creatures were an ape and a hippopotamus. None of them were given any depth or purpose other than to attack our heroes. I would have liked to see more world-building and how all these different factions co-existed.

I do not recommend Vampirella/Dejah Thoris Collection for inclusion into any collection unless you have a Vampirella or Dejah Thoris fan base. I was very hopeful by the teamwork displayed between the two heroes, but ultimately the ending felt too abrupt and unsatisfying. The story did not pique my interest to seek out other titles or want to continue on adventures with these heroes. This graphic novel is rated for older teens. The graphic novel does feature violence, with Vampirella biting into and slashing other creatures. As previously stated the heroes are scantily clad. Also featured are models dressed in cosplay as the title characters.

Vampirella/Dejah Thoris Collection
by Erik Burnham
ISBN: 9781524109790
Dynamite, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: T+ for older teens

  • Tanya

    | She/Her

    Tanya work as a librarian at a maximum security prison in Northern California. She runs a weekly book club which changes themes and genres on a quarterly basis. Her favorite book club moment was watching her book club members perform a play in front of an audience and getting a warm ovation. Tanya is a long-time lover of Manga and animes. Her favorites include anything by Clamp, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wolf Children, Pandora Hearts and Dawn of the Arcana. In her spare time enjoys trying out new recipes from Pinterest.

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