In Review: Hellchild: Blood Money #1

I've missed Hellchild and am very happy to see her back in action.

The covers: Eight frontpieces to find and you shouldn’t need a gun-for-hire to do so. The A cover is by Marco Mastrazzo. This is a fantastic image of Angelica confronting the reader with her iconic blade held in both hands. Her beautiful hair is billowing to her right in killer shades of red, while the left side of her head sports a closely cropped buzz. Her eyes are a matching crimson, as is everything below her blade. A wonderful city skyline lies behind her. The B has Angelica bringing the pain to L.A. Her right goes back violently, making a foe go flying from the hit of her blade. She snarls at the two men in the foreground who realize they’ve tangled with the wrong person. The background is a decently drawn city with a trio of palm trees. Nice work by Igor Vitorino and Mohan Sivakami. Meguro has created a stunner of a cover with the C cover that features the title character on a white background. Angelica holds her weapon casually above her head as she looks thoughtfully to the left. She’s wearing a black spiked dog collar, a black leather jacket, black crop top, and black leather jeans. WOW! The D be Geebo Vigonte is a more ferocious Angelica. She lets loose a scream of anger as she climbs out of a pit of skulls. Her left hand reaches out to grasp an unseen foe, while her blade is being wielded by her right. Great colors on this, too, from Ivan Nunes. An ominous tone is on the E from Leonardo Colapietro. Someone with clawed hands and black gloves places a frightening skull mask on his or her face. The individual’s eyes are glowing red and this person has a nose ring in their right nostril. The character’s hair is long red strands on the left and the bottom of the illustration shows the city in blood. Creepy and cool! Next is the always popular Blank Sketch Exclusive. This is a blank white cover with only the title of the book and publisher at the top. This is one to pick up if one wants to get an original sketch on it from an artist or have the book’s creators sign the cover. I like these covers when there’s something on them, but on their own they’re not exciting. There’s also a Subscription Incentive (limited to 75 copies) by Jay Anacleto that is the “Good Girl” cover to find. Angelica is wearing only a black bra and panties, with her dog collar and barb wire wrapped around her arm. She’s sitting on a red cushioned couch or bed, with shelves behind her sporting books, skulls, and candles. WOW! Unfortunately I couldn’t find a copy of the Taurus Exclusive (limited to 350 comics) created by Elias Chatzoudis. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B B, C A+, D A-, E A-, Black Sketch Exclusive C, and Subscription Edition A+

The story: In the Hollywood Hills a beautiful night goes wrong when Logan bursts into the living room because Anne isn’t breathing. He knows she took some Molly, maybe something else, but he fell asleep and found her unconscious. Jake says she’s dead, causing Logan’s date Tina to pick up her phone to dial 9-1-1. That’s when Ben produces a gun and shoots her in the head to keep their situation from getting out to the public. The situation now officially out of hand, Jake calls his father Marcus Paulson, who hires Angelica to watch his son’s back so there’s no blow back from the girl’s employer, Tor, who runs a high-end prostitution ring that likes “to use extreme violence to prove their point.” Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini created this tale, with Tedesco writing it. I’ve given the premise but not spoiled anything Angelica says or does. Where she’s introduced to the reader is a fitting setting. Two of Jake’s party goers are captured by Tor who has one of his monstrous minions graphically illustrate what happens to those that wrong him. Angelica’s meeting with Jake and his bodyguard Stan is fun. Things return to Tor’s vengeance on 16 and 17. The final location of the book has Angelica earning her paycheck. The ending is a fun cliffhanger leaving the reader wondering what Angelica will do. I’ve missed Hellchild and am very happy to see her back in action. Overall grade: A-

The art: Butch Mapa does a decent job on the visuals. The first panel of the book shows Jake and Vera looking out from the top floor of their expensive home upon the foliage and L.A. skyline. It’s easy to understand what’s being seen, but it’s very basic linework. There’s a lot of wasted space in the second panel with the left third unnecessary. Much better is the second page that shows some strong character work, movement, and Anne’s situation. The reactions on Page 3 are also good, with Mapa moving the point of view around well to increase the tension. The visual in the fourth panel on 4 is startling and I like Ben’s stance after the action occurs. Marcus’s introduction is good with him looking world weary. Angelica’s introduction on 6 is great — her pose matches her attitude wonderfully. The exterior and interior of this setting is very basic, however. The same can also be said of Marcus’s office. The settings aren’t badly drawn, they just have limited furniture and rudimentary objects on shelves, making them seem sparse. Better are the backgrounds on 9 which are from several different angles. Pages 10 – 12 are really violent. They easily establish that Tor and his man are not to be crossed. Stan is a great design of a character and I like how he dwarfs Angelica. The actions on 16 and 17 are startling and graphic. The close-up in the second panel is fantastic. The crowd panel on 18 is great looking. Unfortunately the backgrounds primarily disappear after this. The second panel on 19 is outstanding, but this tension is lessened by pulling too far away from the characters in the following panel, though the page does end with another shocking/memorable image. The last page is a full-paged splash, but there’s a lot of empty space at the top, making me think there was supposed to be dialogue there. These visuals aren’t horrible, just very basic at times. Overall grade: C+

The colors: One thing is true: Dijjo’s colors on this book are good. Grays are used in the opening page to complete the streamlined look of the expensive building. Having a bright light behind Ben’s entrance makes it seem like he’s emerging from Hell. The bright red middle panel on Page 4 is perfect. Withing Angelica’s introductory panel there are some neat neon colors. Normally the title character’s hair pops out whenever she appears, but her violet locks blend into the setting too much. The yellows on 10 – 12 add sickly reds, creating an unease on the page and in the reader. Whites and grays return on 13 to show wealth. I love the change in the background color in the sixth panel on 15. The reds on 19 are outstanding. Angelica’s hair really sticks out in the location that begins on 18. Oranges are often employed for backgrounds when things get tense. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Ghost Glyph Studios’ own Taylor Esposito is responsible for this issue’s scene settings, yells, sounds, transmissions, signage, music, and the three word tease for next issue. Time and time again, Esposito impresses with his placing of dialogue, and there’s a ton of it on several pages, and his work never steps on the visuals. His scene settings are unique, done in a bold font that screams entertainment in Hollywood. The yells and screams perfectly suit their moments. The sounds are also excellent, with the BLAMs and MM-CHHs eye catching. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story is good, the characters engaging, and the cliffhanger terrific. The artwork could have been a little stronger, with the backgrounds often rudimentary. This is a much more graphic series than the previous Hellchild offering. I really like Angelica and you will too after seeing her in action. Overall grade: A-

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To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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