Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Mike Lilly(p), Bob Almond(i), Jay Fotos(c)
The mentally destabilized Vampirella suffers torture in this issue of Revelations. A demon who wants to pay her back for killing his brothers uses a whip on her, yet Mikes Carey and Lilly do not include the scene for titillation. They do not use the whipping for sadomasochistic pleasure. They use the whip to characterize the demon properly and to provide Vampirella with the impetus to unleash her recently shackled abilities. They also stage this dramatic event tastefully to enhance the story and keep the reader focused.
Carey prior to this issue reduced Vampirella's mental capacity to that of a child. This was due to her delving deep into her origins--the purpose of the series--thanks to a spell cast by one of the former members of the supernatural espionage team the Circus, for which Vee freelances. Through these events, Vampirella has found herself once again cast to Drakulon, a location in hell. Though under the care of her father, Belial, other demons do not feel the need for such pampering.
The dialogue spouted by the demon is hateful to Vampirella but not to women in general. He treats her as he would any killer of brethren. Her natural strengths and prowess have not been diluted because she's a woman. They have been reduced due to the psychological block of her younger self's personality usurping her more experienced personality. Indeed, it's the child that many would like a woman to be that weakens Vampirella.
The demon does not wish force sex. It wishes to cause Vampirella pain, and there is no implication of rape. The actions of the demon do not provide voyeuristic entertainment, where Vampirella is a metaphor for any woman, beaten down to her "proper place" by a man.
The way in which Lilly stages the scenes exhibit more than skill. He displays an understanding of the meaning behind poses and body language. Vampirella is framed in these panels to create the illusion that she is small. This reinforces the theme of she being reduced to a child-like state. Again, there's no implication of a woman being small before a man.
Lilly through forced perspective inflates the demon's size and threat. When the actual torture occurs, the demon aims his whip at Vampirella's face, not her breasts. When Vampirella falls the frame centers around Vampirella's face. The object of the writer and artist is to show pain not an excuse for Vampirella's body.
In the next panel, the demon cracks the whip against Vampirella's back. The skimpiness of Vampirella's traditional costume should emphasize her attributes, but the pose chosen by Lilly is neither sexy nor sensual, and you can clearly see the pain expressed by the character. Lilly captures the scene's entirety. The demon in the corner whips his victim in the other corner, and he also uses artistic license to give Vampirella a more angular appearance to play down suppleness. She almost appears to mimic a cat shocked by electricity.
The demon grabs a fistful of Vampirella's hair and pulls her head off the ground. Lilly carefully positions the demon behind her. It towers over Vampirella, and the positioning of the demon and Vampirella make it impossible for the suggestion of rape. The next panel shows the demon personally slashing her face. The demon's rationale is to rob Vampirella of her beauty that which the demon assumes she treasures the most, and take away her identity, which all treasure the most.
The next page done in black serves as a backdrop for falling shard-like panels. The first shows the aftermath of the demon's assault. Vampirella's wounds bleed profusely and without any hint of sex appeal. In the next two shards, Vampirella begins to regain her senses. In the final panel, Vampirella returns, and here Lilly draws an angry, deadly face of a demon-killer.
Once the woman has taken back the throne from the child Carey and Lilly proceed to display what would have happened had the demon attempted to torture Vampirella and not her younger self. This is a stunning display of Vampirella's strength, visually represented by a taut musculature and accented in such a way that actually conceals her breasts and her experience and intelligence in battle. They also give the demon more honor by having him state:
"So, you're in your right mind again. That suits me well, I'd rather take you as an equal.
Despite Vampirella wearing the scantest uniform of any super-hero ever created there is no hatred for womankind or sexism in Revelations. Instead, readers find one of the few still resonant, still capable, still impressive characters created in the silver age.
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