Tag Archives: superstition

Vengeance of Vampirene [1977]

  • Vengeance of Vampirene – Spellbound:  #57 (22 October 1977) – #65 (17 December 1977)
  • Art: Adolfo Usero

Plot

Irene is the princess of the small Balkan kingdom, Geldania, which is ruled by her kindly father Prince Stephen. The princess has been attending a boarding school in Switzerland, since her mother’s death. She excels at sports at the school and her classmates are also impressed that her despite her status she is not snobby. This life is to become disrupted, when her uncle, Count Zukor, decides to overthrow Stephen. He plans to capture Irene in order to keep his brother quiet, but Irene escapes, she makes her way home and seeks out her old nurse, Magda for help. Irene gets into the castle and with a bracelet that maps all the hidden passages, she attempts to find her father. Unfortunately she makes a noise that attracts the attention of Zukor’s men. It is then Irene first dons the appearance of a Vampire, playing up the superstitions of the country. She has to make a leap from the tower into the water below, but luckily escapes and this gives her the idea to continue to use the myths of vampires to help her father.

She prepares a new plan to get to her father. First Magda and other loyalists use a kite, shaped like a large bat, to distract the guards. It works and Irene in her vampire costume, manages to get into the castle and through the passageways to her father. He asks her to get a message to one of his supporters, Anton Tesla. Later Irene is at her hideout in the Vampire Tower, a place where no people like to venture as they are scared and superstitious. She has a problem leaving as there are still guards nearby. She initially planned to get to Tesla in her peasant disguise, but now will have to become Vampirene again. She distracts the sentries by hitting their coffee pot into the fire. Then with the fire out and in her costume she makes her way past them as a shadowy vampire shape. Using her mountaineering skills she climbs a sheer mountain to avoid Zukor’s soldiers. She reaches the loyalists and tells Anton Tesla that he must lead an uprising.

That night as snow falls, they find out an armed convey is on the way. A plan is formed to seize the guns. Vampirene sets off on skis, doing a jump over the convey. But it seems her plan is failing as they are not stopping. She makes a second appearance giving the men an opportunity to shoot at her, she’s cleverly fixed her cloak up and stayed hidden so she is in no danger of getting shot. This gives the others a chance to ambush the trucks. Anton is relieved to see Vampirene ski away.

Irene returns to Magda and while playing the part of her niece in the village, she sees a dog attacks a young soldier. Despite being an enemy Irene helps him. That night they fly the bat kite high, while Irene skates across the now frozen lake. Count Zukor has his suspicions about the legendary Vampire and decides he can use his prisoner as bait. Irene arrives at the castle but is surprised to find her father has been moved. When she is searching for him, she comes across a guard, luckily for her it is the same one she helped earlier. He says he will help her, and they use secret passages to get to her father. They manage to free her father and they stay hidden in tunnels  when alarm is raised. She then sends her father on to the rebels but she stays on to spy on her uncle.

Nikki, the guard, makes his way back to the others, but as he can’t account for his whereabouts at the time Stephen was freed, he is captured. They will torture him for information unless Irene can free him. She creates a diversion with a fire, unlocks the door and they escape into secret passage. Zukor is enraged and thinks there must be a secret way into the castle. Irene and Nikki are laying low in the passages, but Zukor is intent on searching every inch of castle until he finds the passages and they are forced to flee. They make it to the Vampire Tower, where they think they will be safe, but Zukor insists it be searched despite guards reluctance, he has no time for superstitions. Irene releases her cape from the top of the tower as a distraction. They get to Zukor’s snowmobile and escape towards the loyalists. They don’t make it all the way as the vehicle runs out of petrol, and they are forced to take refuge in a cave. Zukor wants them alive, so he can find out Prince Stephen’s whereabouts. One of the guards foolishly lets off a warning shot, causing an avalanche. While Irene and Nikki are safe in the cave, it ends up being a great way for loyalists to capture Zukor’s men, and then they rescue Irene and Nikki. Prince Stephen declares this day of victory will always be a public holiday and Vampirene can be put to rest.

Thoughts

Keeping with the Halloween spirit, I thought this would be a fitting story to look at. While the protagonist is not actually a Vampire, just  playing on superstition, it is something that is more rare to see in these comics. The preferred supernatural beings were witches and ghosts, there are a few stories with vampires and some references may have been made to them (such as Nightmare Academy, Worlds Apart and Dracula’s Daughter) but it was less common. I really like Irene’s vampire costume, it goes for a classical Dracula look but also plays off the bat elements. She uses a second version  of the costume, which is more of a bodysuit which is more practical for what she has to do physically. I quite like that she has two versions, the one that plays on the myths and she takes off a layer and has the bodysuit which gives her a more bat-like appearance and more maneuverability. This story also has one of my favourite covers, done by Norman Lee,  the grey/purple and green used for Vampirene, and her posture makes her an imposing figure.  The cover immediately captures attention. This is also one of my favourite story titles, the alliteration, the merging of Irene’s name with Vampire, the foreboding threat of vengeance!

The art by Usero is great too, as well as Irene’s costumes I like Count Zukor being made distinct with his facial scars. He also handles the action scenes well. They do well at establishing Princess Irene as a top sportsperson, taking a little time at her boarding school, before jumping into the main plot. The change in weather also makes sure she can show off her varied skills (such as her swimming and diving, then when the lake freezes over she can show  off her skating). She could stand proudly beside other costumed heroes like the Cat from Catch the Cat or Bike Rider. She is clever, brave and resourceful and has some uncommon skills such as marksmanship and judo as well as being achieved in a lot of winter sports. Although there are times when it seems obvious that she is not supernatural (I do wonder how the guards don’t see her skis when she jumps!), it is interesting how she plays on the people’s fears and superstitions, to keep them at bay. It is also nicely played that she acts as a distraction while the loyalists can take advantage of that. There are some coincidences, like that she happens to help Nikki, the one nice guard, who in turn is the one who finds her in the castle. But the story is still exciting and appealing and one of Spellbound’s best. Which again highlights that it is a pity that Spellbound didn’t last longer, as it was printing some interesting and different stories.

 

 

Goldie and the Three Bears

Plot

When three live bears attached themselves to Goldie Lock, it began an adventure which landed Goldie and her friend, Pat Howard on the island of Sawaki. The Sawakians had a colony of these sacred bears. They believed that as long as the bears lived, valuable osmium mines would continue. But their enemies, the Katolians, made a surprise attack and killed all the bears except Goldie’s three, whom she and her friend managed to hide. Losing heart, the superstitious Sawakians surrendered. Goldie was convinced that if they knew that some of the sacred bears were saved, the Sawakians would rise up again. But first a safer hiding place had to be found for the bears.

goldie three bears

Notes

Appeared

  • Goldie and the Three Bears – Mandy:  circa #246 (02 October 1971) – (?)

 

Little Miss Twinkle-Toes

Plot

Tina Thomas, a superstitious girl, considers the tap-dancing shoes she acquires to be a lucky pair. She immediately takes up tap-dancing in exchange for a job there as her mother cannot afford classes. Snobby Avril Foster and Lindsey Young look down on Tina and are always causing trouble for her, but Tina believes her shoes are bringing her luck in keeping ahead of them.

Twinkletoes

Notes

Appeared

  • Little Miss Twinkle-Toes –  Mandy: #986 (7 December 1985) – (?)

 

The Thirteenth Girl

Plot:

Superstitious Fern Jackson was dismayed to learn she was the thirteenth new pupil that term to start at the famous Rivoli Ballet School. Realising she would need some good luck on her side, she sent home for Pogo, her lucky teddy bear — but the parcel wasn’t delivered to Fern because another girl had thrown it away.

thirteenth girl

Notes:

Appeared:

  • The Thirteenth Girl –  Judy and Tracy:  #1340 (14 Sep. 1985) – #1349 (16 Nov. 1985)

The Witch’s Brats

Plot:

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Jean Smith and Betty Clark were evacuated along with other children to Witchett End. Jean and Betty were billeted in a rambling old house, the home of a strange old widow, Mrs Meggs, whom the villagers held in awe. When a magpie, whom Mrs Meggs called ‘Jack’, stole Jean’s hair-clip, they, too, wondered if they were surrounded by magic and suspected Mrs Meggs was a witch.

witchs brats

Notes:

  • Art: Bert Hill

Appeared:

  • The Witch’s Brats  – Judy:  #915 (23 July 1977) – #926 (08 October 1977)

The Third Wish

  • The Third Wish – Mandy PSL: #178
  • Artist: Paddy Brennan

Plot/Thoughts


This is another time when the cover art is different from the inside. I like the simplicity and the painted look of the cover. Not something I note often but I also like the font style of the title, it just seems to fit well. The inside art is good too, Brennan’s art I primarily recognise  from the Judy strip “The Honourable S.J.” Though I do like the art I admit whenever  I see it I keep thinking S.J. will pop up.

The story involves a girl Becky, who is on a pony trekking holiday. On one of their treks her and her friend, Zoe,  accidently stumble across a pool. Playing around, Becky throws in silver leaves and makes three wishes. She doesn’t wish for fame or fortune, but makes simple requests. She would like trifle for tea, there is a particular horse she’d like a chance to ride before the end of the summer and she wishes that annoying know-it-all Nella gets what she deserves. That day she gets to ride her dream horse and they have trifle for tea. After a bit of research she discovers the legend of a magical wishing pool that will  only appear to those not intentionally seeking it out.

Becky starts to worry about her third wish so she begins looking out for Nella as it seems disaster could fall on her at any point. She nearly falls over twice, then nearly gets hit by a van. Becky feels responsible. As Nella is always telling people how to do things properly and being bossy, Zoe tells Becky no-one will hang around Becky if she starts hanging out with Nella.

After saving Nella from an old collapsing building Nella begins to show a nicer side. She explains how she was raised by her bossy gran who always sends her on courses during the holidays, so she knows a lot about stuff. She agrees with Becka to try and be a less of  a know it all.  During a treasure hunt Becky is trying to make sure Nella doesn’t get into trouble and ends up falling over quarry herself. Luckily Nella stays calm and withe her emergency supplies she saves Becka

Becky is happy to see Nella get what she deserves, a medal for bravery.

So a nice play on words. The story works fine, although Becky’s wishes could have been more elaborate I like how the vagueness leads to events following could be taken as coincidence. Nella actually becomes a more sympathetic character despite her bossiness. There’s a nice conflict for Becky where she wants to make sure Nella is okay but wants to stay popular with her friends at the same time. Overall the story isn’t breaking any new ground but for what it is, it is fine.

 

 

My Sister Jinx

Plot

Young Vicky Conway nicknamed her pretty  elder sister “Jinx” because she was so superstitious. Vicky persuaded Jiux to enter a beauty contest organised by Talbot’s, the store where they both worked. Their parents desperately needed a holiday and the first prize was two weeks on the Costa Brava for the winner’s family.

Notes

Appeared

  • My Sister Jinx – Mandy: circa #289 (29 July 1972) – (?)