If by now you are as tired of the walking shuffling, brain and flesh-eating undead as you are of the shiny, sparkly pretty-boy vampires, and are interested into getting back to Bram Stokers original, horrific vision of the blood-sucking living dead, then travel with us back into the not so distant past of the turn of this most recent century and the publication of Countess Vladimira, a dark, disturbing, and thoroughly engrossing gothic comicbook tale penned by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Kevin Tucker, and The Countess; and illustrated by Mike Lilly, Scott Goodell, and Philip Xavier, with covers by Dorian Cleavenger, Joe Jusko, Janusz Gilewicz and Kaori Kayo.
Published by Peregrine Entertainment, the comic went three issues and delivered such a visceral punch with its storytelling and graphic art it is surprising that it never was continued. The story follows Countess Vladimira, who is the daughter of Count Vlad Dracul and a human woman. As it turns out, Dracula had relations with a number of mortal women in order to spawn a son. Unfortunately for the blood-soaked Count, most of the offspring that he produced were girls, whom he tended to kill, along with their mothers (if they survived the birth of the hell-spawned children. The random son that he would sire often wound up deformed (either mentally or physically), Vladimira’s mother was one of those women.
Fortunately for her, Dracul chose to spare her (even as he slayed her mother. He went out to the peasants that occupied the land that he ruled, killing one of the present rebels, and taking the man’s wife back to his castle to nursemaid his daughter. It was the Count’s thought that since vampire women couldn’t bear him children, that perhaps he could breed a worthy heir by mating with a human woman. Vladimira’s governesses secretly plotted her revenge against the vampire, by allowing Vladimira to not only suckle her mil,, but her blood as well, allowing her to come into her full birthright. As a young girl, Vladimira’s powers were revealed causing the demon Count to slay the only mother she ever knew, and causing an eternal love/hate relationship between father and daughter. Vladimira escaped her father’s wrath, and escaped into the countryside, vowing revenge.
The story itself not only jumps back and forth in time — hitting various key points in her life — but between the present in New York and their homeland of Walachia (where Castle Dracul rests).
Sometimes at her side, and sometimes as her adversary is Vladimira’s brother, The Barron, who, like her, is the off-spring of Dracul and a human woman. As with their father, these siblings have a love/hate relationship, as often fighting against each other as they team up to challenge the authority of their father, who has been spending the centuries in an effort to achieve a new level of immortality surpassing even that granted to him by his vampire status. Utilizing dark science gleaned from his association with Nazi during WWII the undead Count has apparently finally discovered a way to do just that — extend his “life” for all of eternity involving things that should never be accessible to men (either living or dead).
A mature-themed book, Countess Vladimira is a truly chilling story, that will keep readers riveted to its pages until the shocking and ironic end, and wishing for more issues.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.