In Review: Van Helsing vs. The Mummy of Amun-Ra #5

Once you start, you'll be unable to unwrap yourself from this supernatural tale jam-packed with action.

The covers: Five covers to find on this fifth issue. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Jesse Heagy and they have Liesel going into action. She’s shown from the right, walking toward a pyramid. She’s holding her hat against the breeze, which has uncovered several skulls and bones at her feet. Behind her an apparition of Horus screams its displeasure as it reaches out to her. Badassery at its finest. The B has a terrific action frozen for the readers. Marc Rosete and Erick Arciniega have Liesel about to swing her crossbow at the Mummy, who’s holding her staff to deflect the blow. The poses of both characters are excellent, shown looking over the villainess’s shoulder, with Liesel’s cloak outstanding as it billows out behind her. Great coloring on this as well. The Mummy, in her most glamorous next-to-nothings, sits on a slab overlooking a pool, as a loyal Horus stands behind her. The figure work by Andrea Meloni is a little problematic, with the image so busy, it’s difficult to focus on the villain, and Horus is a fairly squat looking character. The coloring by Ylenia Di Napoli does its best to remedy this, but can only do so much. Just too busy. As much as Zenescope is known for their pretty women covers, this is the cover for me this month with this woman by Jason Metcalf and Ivan Nunes for the D looking sensational. The Mummy reaches up to reader, her wrappings barely containing her viciousness. Behind her is a raging sacrificial fire. This cover is spectacular and the one I had to use to accompany this month’s review. Looking at this, I wish this version of the antagonist had looked like this. The Motor City Comic Con Exclusive (limited to 500) by Mike DeBalfo and Hedwin Zaldivar will have older fans remembering the television show that inspired this cover — Baywatch! In the foreground, on the right side, is Leisel, wearing the iconic red one piece from the show, though she’s tugging down on one side to show a little more skin than the program did. She’s hoisting up the red lifeguard float in her right hand, while behind her a speedboat has gained some serious altitude against a yellow sun. Everything about this is beautiful, the character, the boat, the water, the beautiful colors. Worth hunting down, to be sure! Overall grades: A A-, B A, C C-, D A+, and Motor City Comic Con Exclusive A+

The story: Here’s an unexpected beginning for this issue: vampires are attacking the main gate of the God-Queen Mummy. Even more surprising, they’re working with Liesel. As she severs one of the electrified bars in the back of the Mummy’s compound, she thinks to herself, ‘Liesel Van Helsing teaming up with vampires. What would my father say?’ The story flashes back to a bit earlier, where she reveals that she’s been getting tips from a vampire named Carmilla. It’s this vampire that’s called all her peers together to help her take out the Mummy. The story then moves back to how last issue ended, with the Mummy hovering in the air as electricity emanates from her. The white clad minions rush in, stating that vampires are attacking. She orders that Matthews be taken to safety why they deal with the creatures’ invasion. She states that “There is something bitter in the air…Someone else is here.” Cue a massively buff vampire who rushes in. The creature is thrown backward and then decapitated by her powers. As she leaves the room she tells her minions to deal with the mongrels. She does not seem to notice the figure hiding up high, aiming a rifle at her. Liesel takes the shot and everything goes wrong. Pat Shand and Joe Brusha, who came up with story, with the former writing this issue, have a lot happen and it’s all entertaining. As things go wrong, the story flashes back to 1845, when Liesel first saw the Mummy. There’s a surprising person with the Mummy and her minions, causing Liesel to make a promise that will difficult to keep. The action of the flashback is a complete enough adventure, having some major moments and outstanding dialogue, but once it finishes it’s back to the present, where Liesel isn’t doing as well. Her struggles against the supernatural queen are excellent, with her narration during the fight just as strong. The issue ends on a wonderfully devious and iconic way, which will have fans feeling the heat until the next installment. This was outstanding storytelling in two different time periods. Overall grade: A+

The art: The pairing of two different artists on this issue, with Marc Rosete on the present and Roberta Ingranata on the past, is sensational. I will continue to heap praise on Zenescope for having a different artist responsible for each time period, making this the best possible way to have more than one artist on the book. Rosete is doing very strong work. His panel layouts are really fun, with the first page using horizontal panels to establish setting and fill with several characters, but look at the small circular panel that has the reader focus on the action of one individual in the back of the compound. This is a very cool way to draw attention without having to significantly alter the layout. The final panel is the reader’s first glimpse of Liesel and it’s a great one to show her serious intent for this mission. Page 2 has a close-up of an individual’s mouth as an inserted panel to give it weight and it’s fantastic. The circular panel returns on 5 as the view through Liesel’s scope as she’s about to take a shot at the Mummy. What her bullet does to the creature is fantastic; Rosete gives it the appropriate strength, which makes the full paged splash on 6 surprising. The flashback pages by Ingranata are initially beautiful, with two characters looking stunning in the presence of the evil doers. The Mummy’s first true appearance in the flashback is spectacularly memorable and her emergence from this location on that page wonderfully horrific. I love how Ingranata can create beauty and horror equally well. The full paged splash on 13 is the perfect closer to the fight. Rosete’s work returns on the following page to continue the battle and he does some really smart layouts with a really cool, long fall on 18, an incredible sweet design for 20, and an excellent final page where tiny panels mirror the character’s claustrophobia. Outstanding work from both artists. Overall grade: A

The colors: There are also two different colorists on this book: Walter Pereyra for Rosete’s work and Fran Gamboa with J.C. Ruiz for Ingranata’s pages. And as with the artists, all do a superior job on this issue. I am so happy that Pereyra elected to go with bright colors within the Mummy’s compound. Darkness would have been fine for this nefarious villain, but instead there are plenty of bright colors, blues, oranges, and yellows, to keep everything clearly seen for the reader. I wanted to see what the Mummy looks like after Leisel takes her shot, and Pereyra makes it happen. I also like the use of blues on Page 3 to extend the power of the electricity that’s coursing through the Mummy. The flashbacks sequences instantly have an aged feel because Gamboa and Ruiz use a faded yellow boarder around the panels, making their pages older than they are. 8 is a beautiful page for all the blues used to create night in the desert. The colorists on this book make the art wonderful. Overall grade: A

The letters: Jim Campbell is responsible for creating narration, yells, vampire hisses, signage, sounds, scene settings, dialogue, vampire dialogue, Mummy speech, Liesel’s journal text, and the tease for next issue. The variety of fonts used on this book greatly provide visual clues as to who is speaking, as well as making the action more explosive. I love the Mummy’s font when she’s gone into Mummy mode — it looks ancient and primitive, which is her to a T. The vampire speech is also different from humans, and looks as if it’s uttered by savages. The narration is slightly different from Liesel’s dialogue, which I love, as is the text of her journal. Campbell is differentiating all the fonts flawlessly. And his action verbiage is fantastic. How could a reader not love SPLAK, CHOK, and SSFWITOverall grade: A+ 

The final line: Once you start, you’ll be unable to unwrap yourself from this supernatural tale jam-packed with action. There were several payoffs in this issue, and it ain’t close to being done! Recommended reading. Overall grade: A

To purchase a print copy go to https://shop.zenescope.com/collections/van-helsing-vs-the-mummy-of-amun-ra-single-issues/products/van-helsing-vs-the-mummy-of-amun-ra-5

To purchase a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Van-Helsing-vs-The-Mummy-of-Amun-Ra-5/digital-comic/506887?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

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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