Every time I sit back and think on the fact that the horror host/hostess is a foreign concept to most horror fans of the younger variety, I get a little sad. Yeah, I live my life in some kind of nostalgia-bubble wrap, refusing to forget when horror was at its best, but what’s wrong with that? I mean, these were great times. Every weekend, you could look forward to a new, bad B-horror flick, hosted by an entertaining host the likes of Joe Bob Briggs, Svengoolie...and Elvira. While you may have missed out on the concept of spending Friday nights with your favorite horror host/hostess, any of you who stopped sucking on a bottle in the past ten years are in luck, because Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1 captures the spirit of Elvira perfectly…
…For those of you unfamiliar, Elvira (aka Cassandra Peterson), began as host of a show in the 80s called Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation interrupted with fun quips and bad jokes by Elvira, a vampish character dressed all in black who had, dare I say, the most recognizable cleavage in all of horror? What was great about Elvira was that she was relatable, with her quirky wit and valley-girl speech, despite looking like the kind of girl who was about two seconds away from biting your neck and, er, sucking you dry. Eventually Elvira went on to star in a couple films, such as Elvira’s Haunted Hills and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, both of which I recommend you check out.
Written by David Avallone (Legenderry: Vampirella) with art by Dave Acosta (Blood and Gourd), Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #1 picks up with Elvira in her movie days, on the set of her latest sucky vampire film. Displeased with the script, she storms into her trailer, only to randomly discover a time warp which transports her to the home of Mary Shelley (yes, THAT Mary Shelley), who, along with her male colleagues, is under attack by a crazed, supernatural heathen hell bent on making Elvira and Mary his brides of darkness.
Avallone’s writing encapsulates the quirky essence of Elvira perfectly. All throughout, I could hear Cassandra Peterson’s voice as Elvira flirts and quips and constantly breaks the fourth wall with indulgent winks to the audience. From page one to the last, Elvira is a treat to watch. Some may find her humor too cheesy for their taste, but if you’ve been reading my work, you know I love a bad joke, so I’m the perfect audience for lines like this, when Elvira responds to a vampire, “Slow down, Romeo! I like to start a first date with a stake dinner, and then get hammered”. It’s this kind of humor that keeps the simple story entertaining and just plain fun. You can’t expect to have your mind blown with deep pondering of the human existence or shocking twists, but that’s never been what Elvira is about. Fans of Elvira will agree Avallone nails her character (don’t take that the wrong way). Nothing about her character is different from her normal vivacious self. What I also love is that Avallone tells a story where the women are in control. The men surrounding Elvira and Mary Shelley are a bunch of bumbling oafs, including the villain, so it’s up to the women to manage the situation. It’s a joy to watch Elvira use her seductive sex appeal to bring the guard down of characters around her.
Acosta’s art beautifully displays the sort of vibe you’d expect from an Elvira story. The art itself is playful yet sexy, a sort of PG-13 tease the way Elvira herself is in all of the best possible ways. The violence isn’t very violent at all, with the focus more on the mischievous spirit of Elvira. The color by Andrew Covalt adds a cartoony element that makes Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #1 reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons, which makes it even more bizarre that I’m just a little turned on by this comic book version of Elvira. Shut up, that’s not weird, your weird!
While Avallone’s plot isn’t all that original with its heavily Bill and Ted influenced concept, that’s okay. I genuinely am thrilled at the idea of Elvira time hopping to different time periods and encountering famous horror authors. Based on the ending of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #1, it seems like that is exactly what’s going to happen, and I’m all for it. In a way, it’s almost like a call back to Elvira’s show. It used to be she would play horror films and crack jokes about whatever B-movie was playing that week. Since she can’t just go from movie to movie in these comics (that might be considered plagiarism), the next best thing is to have Elvira going around encountering the horror folk who inspired or created those movies. This first issue does a great job commenting on the fact that Mary Shelley was a brilliant horror author, even though the men around her didn’t see it at the time because she was a “woman” (thank god for progressives), so I’m curious what else Avallone has up his sleeve in terms of the writers Elvira may visit.
All in all, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #1 could not be a better callback to the comical, sexy vibe of Elvira. This comic isn’t for everyone, and horror fans expecting some kind of gruesome horror adventure will be let down, but for those who have a specific appetite for witty B-horror, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #1 will have you coming for more.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #1 is out now from Dynamite.
By Matt Konopka