Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1 – Review

Written by: David Avallone
Art: Dave Acosta

It is eternally baffling to me that the 80s horror channel host Elvira has managed to become such a cultural icon that in 2018 she is still relevant enough to have a brand new comic series dedicated to her character. But indeed here we are, and I am pleased to live in a world where there is still an audience for Elvira. If you’re unfamiliar with Cassandra Peterson’s alter ego Elvira, all you need to know is that she is a buxom goth who speaks like a valley girl and doesn’t ever let an opportunity for innuendo pass her by.

Elvira to me seems like the closest thing the US has to the British Carry On film franchise: it’s camp, it manages to stay on the right side of blue, and both franchises are responsible for many a young person’s sexual awakening.

In Dynamite’s new comic book series Elvira travels through time in her dressing room coffin, to the cottage where Mary Wollstonecraft (soon-to-be) Shelley, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron challenged each other to writing ghost stories, and the story of Frankenstein was born.

The writing of this is exactly what you would expect from an Elvira comic, which I found hugely enjoyable. Don’t come to Elvira for serious character development, or intelligent discourse. Elvira is all about fast quips and breaking the fourth wall. And even though Elvira is not a superhero in anyone’s books, she is not going to be anyone’s damsel in distress either. Elvira won’t be fooled by the blustering men who try to box her in. With a quick wit and visible eye rolling, she saves the day. David Avallone knows how to portray Peterson’s creation that does not fall out of step with her work to date.

The art by Dave Acosta really comes into its own in Elvira’s facial expressions. So much of what Elvira communicates is through a raised eyebrow or a specific look in her eyes, and Acosta manages to capture those perfectly in any close up of Elvira. And I guess if someone is going to draw Elvira, it should be the guy who has a penchant for drawing covers that focus on T&A. I’m not necessarily a fan of the unrealistic, hyper-sexualized way Acosta has drawn women previously, but with Elvira it would not make sense to draw her any other way. The constant running joke with Elvira is that men underestimate her based on her ridiculously low plunging cleavage. So I can’t fault Acosta on taking every opportunity of framing Elvira waist up wherever he can.

I had a lot of fun reading this comic. It is different from the comics I usually enjoy with plenty to read between the lines (panels?). Elvira is none of that, and I am happy that it isn’t. If you enjoy a good old-fashioned camp horror romp, this is the book for you!


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