In Review: Hellchild #2

She's reborn, confused, and hungry.

The covers: Six covers to seek if you feel you’re up to the task. Anthony Spay and Ivan Nunes have the recently resurrected Angelica confronting a trio of biker werewolves on the A cover. She’s surrounded, with the two before her making the initial attack, while the one behind her has his arms folded, ready to watch the carnage. It’s a good cover, but not enough focus is on the title character; she’s only in the bottom half of the image. Too much space is devoted to the full moon. Pulling in tighter to Angelica would have improved this. The B is a dramatic cover by Vhon Remot and Jorge Cortes of Angelica and Hades falling in an hellish orange sky, swinging immense blades at one another. The energy on this is terrific and the title character gets the immediate focus because of her proximity to the book’s logo. The colors also make this explode. This is the cover I had to use to accompany this review. Liesel Van Helsing is the sole character on the C cover by Mike Krome and Ula Mos. It’s a beautiful shot of her, dressed for battle, but the character doesn’t really do too much in this issue. I’m all for “Good Girl” covers, but I prefer them if they focus on a character that does something important in the issue. The D is by Jason Metcalf and Wes Hartman. This is a preview of things to come, as Angelica is surrounded by her new vampire friends. All the characters look appropriately creepy, with glowing red eyes and blood flecked on their lips. The colony of bats behind the characters, against a blood red sky, is like an evil cherry on top. Terrific! There are also two Calgary Comic Expo exclusives with art by Paul Green and colors by Mos. The first cover is limited to 500 and the second to 100. UPDATE: A photo of the first cover came online a week after I posted this review. This cover has the title character wearing a low cut top, that’s barely holding in what gravity wants to release. She’s also wearing some Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots. She looks to be within a barn. This is a “Good Girl” that’s holding nothing back. I have a feeling the more limited cover has her topless. Good luck chasing this pair down! Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A, and D A 

The story: A quick vision of things to come starts this installment by Pat Shand. Somewhere in the city a motorcycle gang speeds down the lit streets, under a full moon. Two men in suits standing outside a building observe a manhole cover that’s glowing orange. “I can feel the heat coming off of it,” says one, just before it explodes upwards, blowing off his head. One of passing lupine cyclists says, “[email protected]#$ing freaks. City’s going to s—.” A turn of the page resumes where last issue left off, the title character, who’s been returned to the land of the living, somewhat. She’s feeling confused and cold to the bone. Her father, Hades, steps forward to reassure her all will be well, as Marian and Liesel see that the woman has been reborn as a vampire. When her father gets closer, Angelica punches him, sending him across the room and into a wall. She tears out of the room and finds a woman. Angelica then rips the innocent’s throat opens and drinks. Feeling a little more rational, she stops her feeding, realizing what she’s become. The trio run into the room and confront the woman, again. Hades keeps Marian back, saying that if she didn’t mean so much to his love Liesel he would kill her for what she’s done to his daughter. Angelica believes her father to be a demon and again strikes him. She then clamps her jaws down on Marian. One must give credit to Shand for not going slow in this opening. He’s reintroducing Angelica to the world, as her father and friends try to reason with her. Her reawakening is momentarily interrupted by some individuals seen on the D cover who are going to become very important by this issue’s finale. Shand’s introduction of these characters is great, giving some needed menace to them before they meet Angelica. Before this meeting occurs, Angelica encounters the werewolf bikers, and it goes down as one would hope it would. A fun, dark ride, with a full moon not required for enjoyment. Overall grade: A

The art: Vincenzo Riccardi is the artist of this book and his work is okay. The character work is better than the backgrounds, which are often absent from a panel. The opening page shows some of Riccardi’s issues.  The setting is decent, but not spectacular; the first panel is rudimentary, with too much of the focus on the city, rather than the bikers. When the two men become involved with the hellish manhole, there’s too much distance between them and the reader, with the actual death hard to see. The focus is rightly on the biker in the final panel, but the surviving man has lost a considerable amount of weight between panels. Things greatly improve on Page 2 when the characters are clearly shown: all four look good, and remain consistent looking throughout the remainder of the book. When Angelica bares her teeth at the top of 3 she looks great. This image is nicely countered by the third panel, which gives Angelica a different emotion. When she engages her father the action is good, and things get really good when she chomps down onto Marian. The four page interlude introduces Angelica’s soon-to-be friends, in a delightfully Clive Barkerian setting. The full paged splash on 17 is just too dark; this would have much more of a threat if the reader could see the creatures more clearly. The battle with these characters starts better than it ends, with too much action being condensed into the first panel on 21. The final page of the book is a good payoff and shows Angelica in the garb she’s been sporting on the covers. Angelica is a vampire and has to exist in the night, but if parts of her adventures cannot be seen by the reader, there will be no connection with the story. Overall grade: B-

The colors: The first page of this book has some bright neon colors, making one think this may be set in the 1980s or in an episode of Miami Vice. Even the supernatural explosion in the third panel is neon pink, orange, and white. This is a very different color scheme from Eleonra Bruni. With this being established, I was expecting the rest of the book would have a similar palette, but it doesn’t. There are momentary splashes of violet for backgrounds in the opening, but it becomes the color of the night for the final pages, making things very dark. It makes the crimson blood not as startling as it should be, as it becomes muddled on the purple. Light blue is used very effectively to signify magic, and that color pops. Having Angelica’s narration and speech in bright red sets her apart from the heroes’ speech, though it does match that of her demonic father. Unusual coloring throughout. Overall grade: B

The letters: Sounds, dialogue, werewolf speech, Angelica narration, Angelica dialogue, Hades dialogue, a spell from Marian, vampire dialogue, a unique font for an important individual that appears on Page 10, Marian dialogue within someone’s mind, and the tease for next issue are provided by Jim Campbell. This is a spectacular collection of varied fonts to give individuals particular speech to differentiate them from others. Campbell is proof that, yet again, Zenescope is using the best letterers in the business. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Angelica is reborn and her life decisions are not the best. She’s reborn, confused, and hungry. A good read with occasionally murky art, but I’ll definitely be back for more next month. Overall grade: B+

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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