The Dynamite Report #7: Vampirella Meets Purgatori…(Again)

Welcome back to The Dynamite Report! Over the last few months, we’ve given you the skinny on lots of exciting new Vampirella stories. But Dynamite’s latest crossover event forces the Daughter of Drakulon to share top billing with a succubus of a different color (and we mean that last part literally). Later this month, another high-stakes round in the fight between good and evil kicks off in Vampirella vs. Purgatori #1. To learn more about this bloodthirsty match-up, we spoke with the series’ writer, Ray Fawkes.

Technically, this isn’t the first time that these two have locked fangs. Way back in 2000, Chaos! Comics (who introduced Purgatori in 1994) released its own Purgatori vs. Vampirella series. But ever since Dynamite acquired Purgatori’s publishing rights in 2010, a retcon of their initial meeting has been long overdue. This time, she and Vampi will find themselves entwined over the prophecy of the 36 Tzadikim Nistarim. In Judaic lore, this refers to three dozen individuals whose supposed “purity” safeguards humanity from extinction. However, once Vampirella’s mom, Lilith, learns of this group, she’ll stop at nothing to corrupt them and bring an end to the human race once and for all. It goes without saying that Vampi will do whatever she can to keep her mother at bay. Unfortunately, Purgatori’s intentions for the 36 are harder to pin down…

Whatever’s in store, it’s a natural fit for the supernaturally-inclined Fawkes, who has previously displayed his penchant for the macabre on DC’s Justice League Dark as well as creator-owned titles like Image’s Intersect. So pitting a couple of vampires against each other sounds like nothing he can’t handle. Check out what he had to tell us about Vampirella vs. Purgatori below!

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Chaos! Comics memorably put out its own Purgatori vs. Vampirella series in 2000. What interested you about revisiting this pairing more than 20 years later?

Ray Fawkes: I love the idea of bringing these two together. They have similar abilities, but are so wildly different in their motives and personalities that I thought it’d be great fun to play them off each other. They could be very best allies or the very worst enemies, considering how they operate. Or… maybe both?

The new series completely revamps the characters’ first meeting. How much freedom did Dynamite give you in mapping out how they crossed paths this time?

Dynamite gave me total freedom here. Of course they wanted me to be aware of the characters’ histories and work with them, which we’re doing. But beyond that, they were very open to new ways of looking at how they’d interact! It makes for a real creative experience, something I could really take hold of and run with.

You’re obviously no stranger to “dark” stories from your experience with Constantine and Justice League Dark. From a creative standpoint, how has the experience of writing this particular set of characters been different for you?

To put it bluntly, Dynamite is willing to take more risks and be more “adult” with their characters than mainstream DC ever allowed for the titles set in their superhero world. As a result, I can go further, in more directions, than in those books. Sex, violence, all the vitamins and minerals a good healthy horror story thrives on.

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What made you want to explore the concept of the 36 Tzadikim Nistarim?

It’s a piece of mythology I always loved. There’s so much to sink your teeth into, so to speak. Thirty-six people who are so good, by their example, they are the living reason God tolerates the rest of us? And they don’t know they serve that purpose? They just… live. And do their thing. And we have them to thank for our continued survival. It’s a fascinating idea, and in a world of mystical monsters, I see it as something that would be incredibly tempting for certain creatures to dig up and interfere with.

Judging by the first issue, Purgatori has her own agenda for the 36 that doesn’t seem to involve keeping them safe. What can you tell us about this?

Yeah. She’s got her own motives, and in this case, they’re not nearly as straightforward as Vampirella’s. Vampirella wants to protect the thirty-six so that the world doesn’t end. Purgatori wants to save the world too, but there’s something else she has to gain out of all this.

Not only that, but our two heroes (?) have very different strategies when dealing with any problem. Vampirella actually cares about these people, and finds something to admire in their humble goodness. Purgatori has no such feelings for them, so she’s got a totally different way of tackling the problem of keeping them out of her enemy’s hands.

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Vampirella’s mother, Lilith, plays a big role in the new series as the one who tries to corrupt the men and women who act as “beacons of goodness.” We’ve seen how turbulent her relationship with Vampi can be, but what can you say about her interactions with Purgatori?
Lilith is so self-involved (and so obsessed with Vampirella) that Purgatori’s never really been on her radar before. The same is true in reverse, for really pretty much the same reason, but that’s about to change. Just because Lilith is up to something that Purgatori doesn’t want to let happen, and Purgatori is up to something that’s going to mess with Lilith’s plans…
What makes Alvaro Sarraseca a good fit to handle the artwork? Also, how did you two work together on conceptualizing the new supporting characters?
All you have to do is look at the pages he’s producing, and you’ll know he’s a fantastic fit. He’s killing it! Just as Dynamite’s being great with giving me freedom to come up with these characters, I’ve been trying to give Alvaro total freedom to interpret them from script to art. And it’s easy to do that, because he’s knocking it out of the park every time.

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Early teasers for the series have suggested only one will come out on top. Does that mean we can rule out any team-ups between them in the future?
Well, I’ll say this: Vampirella and Purgatori start out wary of each other, and they’re going to end up hating each other. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have reason to work together again. Though I’m pretty sure the next time they meet after all this, there’s going to be some violence. There will HAVE to be.
Vampirella vs. Purgatori #1 hits comic shops on March 24. You can preview the series’ first issue and check out several variant covers in the gallery below. Are you excited about the characters’ impending confrontation? Let us know in the comment section!

Recommended Reading: Purgatori Volume 1: Hell and Back

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