This fourth and final volume of Crimson Chronicles finds the Vampirella series fully formed. Vampi and Pendragon are a twosome throughout the volume with only a brief visit by the Van Helsings. Getting shed of Adam Van Helsing does open up Vampi to romantic entanglements and she has a few dalliances in this tome. All of the stories in the volume are by "Flaxman Loew" (according to some sources the British writer Mike Butterworth -- see comments), and all of the early stories are drawn by Jose Gonzalez. Gonzalez is using more dark areas in his art and that is helping the storytelling immensely. The volume is decorated with a very alluring painting by Luis Dominguez.
The story "The Undead of the Deep" is a follow up to the last story from the third collection and showcases Vampi falling into the clutches of an undersea demon which can cast illusions of such a nature as to make one stay beneath the waves. The cover is by Enrich Torres.
This is the first of two stories, "The God of Blood" is set in Mexico City in which Vampirella is targeted by an Aztec cult as a proper sacrifice to the great Sun God. Thing is Vampi and the Sun God fall in love and the worshippers suffer the consequences. This cover is also by Enrich Torres.
Now in France, Vampi is still suffering from the attentions of the Sun God in "The Bretrothed of the Sun God", who takes it upon himself to immolate anyone who looks with passion on the young vampire. She is able to turn the Sun God's attention on a gang who kill folks for their wealth. We have one of Frank Frazetta's more iconic covers on this issue.
In "The Running Red" an immortal gambler comes into conflict with a corrupt and cruel man and his mistress. The end is the end of the gambler, but Vampi suffers as she has feelings. Another bizarre Enrich Torres cover. All of the covers are by Enrich unless otherwise noted.
The mistress of the man becomes a sultana and seeks vengeance upon Vampirella when the opportunity presents itself in the aptly named "The Sultana's Revenge". But the tables are turned.
In "The Carnival of Death" the pair are in Venice, and Vampirella and Pendragon run afoul of a mob of listless and horrible people who are more dead than alive, but who meet folks who are even deader.
This issue features new artist Jose Ortiz who offers up a very distinctive look at Vampirella. It's certainly attractice but less languid than what has come before. The villains rob people of blood to use in a strange variation of Frankenstein's experiments in "The Blood Gulper".
We are told that Vampirella and Pendragon are fated to be together and have always been in some form or other. Vampi it turns out was Cleopatra and Pendragon was her loyal servant. The pharaoh turns out to have a dark secret as well in a story titled "The Vampire of the Nile". Sanjulian supplied this delectable cover.
"She Who Waits" is an odd story written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Gonzalez in his original style. It seems to be a file story used here after many years. The presence of the Van Helsings also points to an earlier time. This is their only appearance in this collection.
Gonzalez returns in "The Mummy's Revenge" in a follow up to the Cleopatra story in which a man is able to animate an ancient mummy for his own evil purposes. Sanjulian also did this cover as well as the previous issue.
Vampi and Pendragon are in England where they meet "The Head-Hunter of London" who seems charming enough until he decides to hunt you down for a trophy for his wall. This is the first of three stories illustrated by Leopold Sanchez. Ken Kelly was tapped for this cover.
In "The Nameless Ravisher" a sequel to the previous issue, the sisters of the "Head-Hunter" want vengeance and engage in some sorcery to get it. They all pay the price by issue's end of course. Enrich Torres is back for the final two covers.
This collection wraps up with "The Malignant Morticians", a lurid story about an evil mortician and his gang who has a sideline in the cat food industry. You can imagine what all he gets up to. But Vampirella and Pendragon prove more than they can handle.
These early tales of Vampirella showcase the changes which not the character undergoes but the publisher itself. When Vampirella debuted Archie Goodwin was in charge and the influence of Forry Ackerman was very evident. She was a character played for laughs like Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie. But at some point they decided to do something more substantial and Goodwin and artist Tom Sutton began a legit series of continued tales. When Jose Gonzalez was tapped, the series matured and grew steadily in elegance if not necessarily taste. By the time of these latest issues Vampirella is an icon on the comics scene, an icon who has never really left us. But that's what vampires do isn't it, if they're lucky they go on forever.