In Review: Van Helsing vs. Robyn Hood #3

A transformed hero faces off against a friend while gangsters encounter the undead.

The covers: Six covers to seek out for this penultimate issue. The A cover is by Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes and it’s great. Liesel crouches low as she raises her crossbow to fire off a bolt at an unseen foe. Her cape splays out behind her sensationally. Behind her is a gigantic head shot of Robyn in green, with her eye creating a bright light of yellow orange. This is fantastic! The B cover has both title characters facing off against each on the top of a roof. This terrific frontpiece is by Caanan White and Ceci de la Cruz. On a highly detailed roof Liesel races forward with a stake in her hand to impale Robyn who’s diving down at her from the upper right, her fingernails now claws. I love when artists get super detailed and White certain is on this cover. The colors are also top notch on this, with Cruz making things dark, yet still visible to the reader. Alfredo Reyes and Ylenia Di Napoli created the good girl cover for the C. This has a brunette woman wearing a black beanie, a tight crop top, with a plaid red and black half top and short shorts. She’s holding an apple in her right, clawed hand and is sporting fangs. She standing in a back alley and high behind bats can be seen flying. It’s nice, but I’d rather see one of the two leads as a vampire. The D by Jay Anacleto and Ula Mos is another beautiful cover. Vampire Robyn is holding Liesel by the neck. The vampire hunter is dropping the stake in her right hand, while her crossbow is useless in her left. She is utterly at the mercy of the archer, whose mouth is open in preparation to drain the life of her friend. This is beautiful in every possible way. The ASD Market Week Exclusive (limited to 250 copies) is by Keith Garvey, but I couldn’t find an image of it online. Nor could I find the Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 100 copies), also by Garvey. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A+, C B-, and D A+

The story: This third chapter moves quickly and takes the story in a very cool direction. This issue is crafted by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, & Dave Franchini, ultimately being written by Tedesco. Picking up from last month, Robyn has been transformed into a vampire and after slaughtering (that is the correct word) two vamps, she’s turned her attentions to an innocent old man in an alley. Just as she’s about to rip the senior’s throat open, the sun rises. She immediately recoils as her flesh begins to sizzle, allowing her victim to escape. She spies a manhole cover, tosses it aside, and leaps into the darkness of the sewer. Meanwhile, Liesel is with Doctor Igor, the man who has created a potential vampire serum which could return the archer to her normal state. There’s only one problem, “I haven’t exactly tested it yet…” Igor reveals he can track the other vampires due to chips in their arms. If they can track them they can probably find their prey: Robyn. Back at crime boss Von’s safe house, the gangster grows frustrated at Igor and Liesel’s escape and the dogs that were sent after Robyn that haven’t returned. He commands a minion to wake up some other vampires so he can take them to his meeting. The dialogue in this issue is good with the banter between Liesel and Igor and among the gangsters, and is fantastic when Liesel confronts Robyn. I’m really enjoying Igor, whose reactions to the graphic results of his creations are realistic. The meeting went as I had suspected, but it’s still neat to see. It reminded me a bit of a film I love: Innocent Blood. The meeting in this is violent and explosive. I especially like Von’s final words at that location. The highlight of the book is naturally when Liesel and Robyn meet. The dialogue is outstanding and the action great — with two good surprises on 17 and 19. Two characters’ fates are left dangling for the concluding issue and I’m looking forward to seeing how the writers resolve things. Overall grade: A

The art: This is artist Allan Otero’s best issue yet. He’s got a really good handle on Robyn as a bloodsucker. She looks like a monster in the book’s first panel, but when the rays of light hit her in the second she becomes very human and sympathetic. The top panel on Page 2 is an excellent vista of the city, followed by a gorgeous panel of Robyn beginning to fry under the sun. Robyn’s leap into the sewer that ends the page looks great, with the work on her hair and hands wonderful. There is a lot of dialogue when Liesel and Igor are introduced, but Otero has set this page up well, showcasing a great looking living room and clearly showing the characters. Liesel’s expressions in panels four and six match her dialogue perfectly. Von’s hideaway also is well decorated and the gangster and his minion are drawn well. Igor’s got some fantastic reactions on 6, with Liesel’s smile at the bottom making me grin with her. The meeting that occurs looks good with Otero having a character slightly overlap a bordering panel on Page 10: I love when books do this. I do not like the computer blur on the double-paged splash on 12 and 13: Otero’s art captures the chaos well enough without adjustment to the visuals. The scenes in the sewers are terrific: the environment is fully developed, the characters are aces (with Robyn being wonderful grotesque), and the action great. I like the small panel created from a larger image on 13 — it’s like a speedy cinematic close-up. There are a few unnecessary blurry panels in their skirmish, leaving me asking, again, why, Zenescope, why? Otero’s tops without augmentation. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The colors of this issue really put a bang into the artwork. The rising sun on Pages 1 and 2 are spectacular, with the rays being considerably effective. The second panel on the second page does an exemplary job on Robyn. I love the coloring by Leonardo Paciarotti on the silhouette in the final panel on the same page. In regards to other characters’ skin, look closely how Paciarotti uses colors to influence the reader’s interpretation of a character: bright colors on Liesel and grays on Von for tone. Blood gets a very bright crimson when it appears, and it appears often this issue. The sewers are gleefully gross in lime, while Robyn’s new state has her flesh appropriately putrid with spectacular splashes of red. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, character descriptions, yells, sounds, dialogue, text on boxes, whispers, weakened speech, and the tease for next issue are created by Ghost Glyph Studio’s own Taylor Esposito. The variety of fonts that Esposito creates make the text of this book visually pleasing. The variety of yells are terrific, with the design of the yells telling the reader how intense each is. The sounds are also slick, with the battle in the sewers containing some great ones. However, it’s the characters descriptions on the first four pages that are really cool looking. Esposito’s work always looks good. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A transformed hero faces off against a friend while gangsters encounter the undead. I love this book! The story is frantic fun with slick, sick art. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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