Christopher Priest taking over Dynamite Entertainment's Vampirella has meant updates and changes for many of the characters associated with the titular heroine. Priest and artist Ergun Gunduz have now shared redesigns for three of Vampirella's biggest foes: Blood Red Queen of Hearts, Mistress Nyx and Lord Drago.
Blood Red Queen of Hearts, who was created by Bill DuBay and Esteban Maroto, first appeared in 1976's Vampirella #49. Although blind, Blood Red Queen of Hearts is able to navigate using dark magic and has a heart tattoo on her forehead.
Speaking of the character's motivations, Priest said, “In previous continuity, the BRQ would exclusively target generic white women and transform them into her own image of a generic white woman with red hair. In this version of Vampirella, the Queen will instead assume the identity of the host, which is to say she will look like the woman she has possessed rather than transform that victim into her own image. The human host becomes blind once the BRQ takes over.”
As to the redesign for the villain, Priest said, “For this story arc, I would like to use plus-sized models as our inspiration for her. The Queen assumes the identity of a very attractive and, yes, sexy African American real estate agent. The BRQ’s main power is mind control. She is seductive and has an infectious personality. She feeds off of literal human hearts which she snatches from her victims with ferocious speed and strength and devours animalistically while they are still beating.”
The next redesigned character is Mistress Nyx, who was created by Tom Sniegoski, first appearing in 1996's Vengeance of Vampirella #23. The character, who is the half-human daughter of the Mad God, has two designs: fire demon and young, attractive woman. She's the only one of the one of Vampirella's villains to have ever successfully killed the heroine. In Priest's run, she'll be returning following a "near-death experience" with the aim of exploring "the human side of her existence." This will lead to conflict as she begins to have empathy for Vampirella.
“Nyx is extremely short-tempered," he said of the villain's personality. "An arrogant, spoiled child with an enormous sense of entitlement. Nyx is a fire imp with pyrotechnic ability to manufacture and control flame, including body heat of humans and animals. She can teleport, vanishing and reappearing in bursts of brimstone similar to Nightcrawler. While not a shape-shifter, Nyx IS a demon, so she can cloak herself in an illusion of human appearance, therefore some alter ego, some 'Clark Kent' version of Nyx should be designed, a human appearance she assumes.”
Of the new design, Priest said, “Nyx will carry a hellfire scepter, a baton roughly 10 inches in length with death head carvings, something she can hurl like Thor’s hammer and it magically returns to her. This device would, of course, emit hellfire and be extremely destructive. The way Nyx can assume and maintain human form is to coax any human being into grasping her scepter, which will draw their life essence from them. Unlike the Blood Queen, Nyx does not adopt the victim’s identity, but this process re-charges her own human cells and 're-skins' her to a fully human guise. When in human form, Nyx is fully human--as vulnerable to injury and death as any human. When she switches back to her demon form, whatever she is wearing is vaporized by the flame, so when she again switches back to human, she is naked. The hellfire baton could be sheathed in a literal skin pouch on her back (it is artificial skin, after all). I saw [Jack] Kirby do this once with one of his Fourth World characters-- it was very creepy!”
Of Mistress Nyx and Blood Red Queen of Hearts, Priest said, "Both characters have been depicted as generic nude white women with long hair wearing unimaginative costumes. For this run of Vampirella, I need to endow these characters with real humanity as well as sex appeal.”
The next villain getting a redesign is Lord Dragon, created by Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter for 2014's Vampirella #2.
“Lord Drago looks like an eggplant with fangs and pointed ears (he is literally purple)." Priest said of the vampire and child of Lilith. "The design for Drago’s vampiric guise is usable, but it looks a little silly. I would appreciate it if ERGÜN could please make Drago look more frightening. Drago has an enchanted human guise where he looks like a handsome athletic man of about 54 years of age who calls himself 'Drake.' In his human form, Drake should have sincere, piercing eyes and a heroic aspect. He should look like a good guy, a hero.”
“Drago is a conventional vampire, subject to the limitations and vulnerabilities to daylight, crucifixes, holy water, garlic and so forth," Priest continued. "He can transform fully into a giant bat. Like all of the rogues, Drago is deeply conflicted; a semi-heroic antihero who has, nonetheless, both sexually and psychologically abused his half-sister Vampirella over the course of their history. Vampirella loathes him but he’s in love with her, his half-sister. Drago formerly lead The Kabal, a clandestine organization of supernatural creatures, but is now protector of a community of vampires in a rural town outside of Atlanta, Georgia.”
In addition to the redesigns, Priest provided information about Von Kreist and Lilith, who have appeared in the series to cause havoc.
“Visually, Von Kreist needs no reworking--he looks great," Priest said. "Just a brief note about his character: Von is insane, like The Joker. As such, his motives are little harder to define because money and power mean nothing to him. He is simply an agent of chaos. He has been alive so long, cursed by his own lust for power and immortality, that longevity has taken its toll on him. As such, Von Kreist is just as likely to turn on Lilith and the rogues as he is to work with them. Further, on some level, I believe Von Kriest longs for death. It’s just been too long, he’s just too tired. He has a sick patriarchal affection for Vampirella while lusting after her at the same time.”
“This version of the character also has a new power, a necrotic touch," the writer continued. "This is why Von Kriest wears gloves at all times. Whatever flesh he touches dies instantly, which can either destroy limbs or organs or cause complete death in whomever he touches.”
The last of the redesigned characters is Lilith herself. Created by T. Casey Brennan and Jose Gonzalez, the villain and mother to Vampirella first appeared in 1972's Vampirella #18. She'll appear in his "Corporate Mother illusion" and Priest will embrace an "everything is canon philosophy" in terms of the various retcons that have taken place over the years.
Vampirella #5 releases November 20.