|Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Written by Richard Howell, Paul Dini, and Kurt Busiek. Illustrated by various. Leonia, NJ: Claypool Comics, 1996. 152p. $12.95. ISBN 0-9653109-0-6.|
The stories are "real-world" experiences of Elvira with varying levels of pure fantasy. For example, the first story in this book deals with Elvira's struggle with the new station manager, Rosalind Wyck, who wants to get rid of her but can't fire her for contractual reasons. Rosalind thus attempts to make Elvira look foolish by forcing her to host a variety of inappropriate shows, including a cooking show and a kid's show. But by doing her trademark schtick, Elvira is a hit in each venue, and Rosalind is ultimately carted off to the funny farm. On the other hand, the two-part "Curse and Tell" teams Elvira and a teenage boy ("Talbot Lawrence III") who turns into a werewolf when he gets lustful. They seek to end Tad's curse by confronting the gypsy who bestowed it upon him, but Elvira ends up getting shrunk and added to the gypsy's collection of tiny wizards whose powers feed the gypsy.
Other stories cover Elvira's high school reunion; a naive angel's attempt to show a sleazy producer how the world would have been worse off without him (except that it would've been better. Let's put it this way: this guy was responsible for the bad reputation of "Alan Smithee," which is a joke you won't get unless you know something about the movie industry); Elvira's interesting encounter on a whale watch; the return of Rosalind Wyck; the introduction of another of Elvira's recurring nemeses, Spooky Suzie Knight; and a Christmas party where Elvira livens up the proceedings with "a good old nonalcoholic family treat--brewed up special from my great-aunt's recipe books. It's refreshing! It's tasty! It's free!" Among other things, this lively episode includes a nod to the Pinis and Elfquest: Elvira appears as one of Santa's elves and says, "At least if I worked for the Pinis, I'd get to carry a sword and stab people!"
Yes, there are a lot of breast jokes, both verbal and visual, but at least Elvira is up front about it. (Sorry.) The character makes nearly all the jokes herself and is fully aware of the effect of her chest on men, which gives her control over the situation. Contrast this attitude with your typical big-tits dead-serious superheroine (which is an asinine concept to begin with, given the typical physical endowments of female athletes) who is drawn solely to fulfill masculine fantasies. As far as I'm concerned, if you're gonna do this, you might as well have fun with it.
The black-and-white art (by old pros Neil Vokes, Jim Mooney, Dave Cockrum, and Ricardo Villagran, among others) is excellent and playful. Regardless of artist, Elvira comes across looking right, which is all you can ask.
If you like in-your-face humor, this book's for you. This title should be quite popular in most collections, and obviously Elvira fans are urged to rush out and buy it.
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