Vampirella #2: On Alien Wings by Ron Goulart (1975, Warner Books)
Vampirella was a sexy vampiress who wore revealing clothing. She was created for a Warren Publications comic book in 1969. Forest Ackerman had input into her creation and would spend the rest of his life promoting her. Vampirella hosted the stories in her comic, but she also starred in them. Since Warren published her comic in a large 81/2 X 11 format, they didn’t fall under the comics code provisions and could get away with half-naked vampire woman. Many famous artists would illustrate Vampirella, including Frank Frazetta.
Vampirella’s origins are on the remote planet Drakulon where the inhabitants drink from crimson rivers. A space probe from Earth crashes on the planet, which has been suffering from a disaster. Vampirella, the last of her species, uses the space probe to travel to Earth where a friendly scientist finds a blood substitute for her. Possessed of supernatural powers, Vampirella uses her abilities to stop the enemies of humanity.
In 1976, Vampirella became heroine of 6 paperback novels. They were all written by Ron Goulart, a professional writer who was very active in the 1970’s. Goulart was one writer whose works I would faithfully purchase when they hit the book racks during those years. His novels about the “Barnum” planet system are absolutely hilarious. He’s been called the Mack Sennett of science fiction. Sometimes the books could be a little repetitive Hello, Lemuria, Hello comes to mind), but they were all worth a chuckle.
On Alien Wings is the second novel in the Vampirella series. I picked it and another one up at a local comic and game store where they were carefully wrapped in thick plastic bags. A little bit of over-protection, until you open the bag and discover the book pages are yellowing and coming loose from the spine. I have to admire paperback publishers for their concern for the long-term.
In this novel, Vampirella is teamed with the drunk stage magician Pendragon to fight the Cult of Chaos, a satanic organization which is bent on world domination. Using her copy of the Crimson Chronicles, The Chaos handbook, she’s able to outwit the cult at every turn. She’s also helped by Adam Van Helsing, the son of the famous vampire hunter. His dad, now blind, is determined to take Vampirella out, sure she’s the source of all the evil being perpetuated by the Chaos cult.
The book, concise at 138 pages, is made-up of several episodes. In the first, Vampirella squares off against a reclusive Hollywood producer who has struck a deal with a demon to extend his life. Next, she runs up against the same scenario on an ocean liner. The final and best episode has Vampirella fighting werewolves on a deserted island.
The novel is humorous, Goulart’s trademark. Adam Van Helsing is Vampirella’s love interest. We even get a description of them holding hands at the end. Pendragon works good as a comedy relief. I’m curious to see how the next book in the series runs.