In Review: Hellchild: Blood Money #2

The story is enjoyable, but the visuals are hurting it.

The covers: Six covers to collect for the second issue of this series. Angelica stands atop a gargoyle as the sun’s rays fall upon her. She clutches a wicked blade as she grits her teeth and makes a fist with her right hand. Her hair whips high above her from a strong breeze. Excellent character work from Edgar Salazar and strong colors from Ivan Nunes. I would have preferred to see the character pulled into more tightly, but Salazar may have thought text would have been placed into the illustration. The B cover is a spectacular frontpiece with Angelica leaping in a bar at an unfortunate patron. She screams in anger as she’s about to bring her double bladed sword down upon the blonde haired man. Broken glasses and bottles, as well as a spilled pail of water and ice, fly everywhere. The details on this from Riveiro are amazing. The color work by Grostieta is also superb, with the hot pinks gorgeous and the blues and the white at the bottom awesome. Truly, this is a fantastic cover! Anthony Spay and David Ocampo have created a threatening and sexy C cover. Hellchild stands before the reader holding her double bladed sword. She’s stroked her finger on one of its serrations, leaving a dripping crimson streak. Her powerful red eyes have locked onto the reader’s as she sports a benevolent smile. Her outfit is her expected leather, chain, and barbed wire apparel and it’s great. The background is also an eye catcher with strange brown mystical symbols outlined in orange and yellow on a matching brown field. This is extremely striking. The D cover has the title character in a full frenzy with her vampire teeth on display as she grabs a suited man by his shirt, knocking him backwards. She is amazing looking with her emotion and clothing perfection. The man, who is only partially seen because of the perspective, looks good, too, with his flailing tie creating some excellent action. The background is also cool with all its fine details. The coloring is exceptional with blues and pinks creating the tone of a seedy, yet “classy”, bar. Great work from Caanan White and Hedwin Zaldivar. There’s also a pair of Licensing Expo Exclusives (limited to 250 and 100 copies) from Keith Garvey, but I couldn’t find any images of them online. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A B, B A+, C A, and D A

The story: Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini created this story, with Tedesco writing the issue. Picking up from last issue, Angelica is standing between Jake and Vera and Tor and four of his men who have guns trained on the other three. The goon in the front calls Angelica a certain word and she uses her sword to stab him in the stomach and then she uses the weapon to sever the gun hand of another. Tor tells everyone to chill when he realizes who Angelica is. While Marshall, the new one handed man, holds his wound, Tor has a discussion with Hellchild over Jake and what he’s done. He’s trying to get her to give the young man up, but she gives her opinion at the top of Page 8. There’s an action sequence that follows, with Tor demonstrating that he’s not just a burly thug. The action on 14 and 15 is terrific and the resolution to it on 17 just flat out cool. There’s a good pause in the action that allows for some character building that strongly foreshadows that one of the individuals deserves a nasty fate. There’s a clever motivation for Angelica to come out of hiding to meet the antagonists. A smart story with some solid action and good character growth. A good comic book read. Overall grade: A 

The art: I’m liking the layouts by Butch Mapa, but, as with last issue, the visuals are basic. The first panel of the book is perfect because it shows all the characters, with their distance from one another necessary. The pair of panels that follow it have oddly placed point of views of the characters: why is the second panel so pulled back from the character and why omit the gun from the third panel? I really like the panel that ends the first page, as the character is witnessing the start of an action that the reader cannot see until the second page. This second page is a full-paged splash of one of the goons getting stabbed. The victim and Angelica look okay, but what’s with the shadow on Tor and what’s up with the feet on Marshall on the right? The action on Page 3 is okay, but where are the backgrounds? It looks really sparse. The second panel on 4 is good, again showing the relationship of where everyone is in relationship to each other. But what is up with the background in the final panel? What is it? The walls are notably blank on every page that follows: this stood out negatively. I don’t like the computer blurs to show the action between the two characters on 8 and 9; it’s a bad effect. I do like the large panel on 11 with an excellent image of a character and I’m a sucker for circle panels containing a character’s face. The blur returns on 12 and it’s not good. What are those people doing at the top of 13 on the far right? The after effects of the action shown on 17 contain no details, leaving the gore falling to the colorist. Pages 19 – 21 contain a lot of dialogue in a tight space and Mapa does a really good job on those pages. There are several questionable choices in this issue. Overall grade: C-

The colors: Because there’s not much done with the backgrounds in the opening setting, it’s up to Dijjo to brighten things up whenever lighting appears, such as at the top of the second panel on Page 1. These lights are too bright on 2, earning more focus than the violence at the bottom half of the page; the two characters should be lighter in their colors and all else in darker shades so the reader is looking at the correct elements on the page. The lack of colors in the large panel on 3 is smart work by Dijjo because the reader is looking only at the characters. There’s a nice lightening of background colors around the final figure’s head on 4 so the reader can get the humor of one thug’s reaction. The lights are crazy again on 5, but there’s no reflection or glare from them on any of the panels that precedes their physical appearance. Throughout the fight Angelica’s hair has her stand out, which is really neat. The coloring for the background on 14 is odd, because it looks as though the vehicle is on fire. Dijjo is doing the heavy lifting at the bottom of 17. I don’t understand why the protagonist on the final page goes to dull colors in her final appearance when she was bright in every panel before her last. I like most of what Dijjo is doing. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is the artist behind this issue’s dialogue, scene settings, yells, sounds,  groans, telephone text, and the three word tease for next issue. The scene settings look different from any other book and that’s a plus. There’s a lot of great yelling and excellent sounds given the wide array of violence, but I wish there had been more sounds with Pages 2 and 3 occurring in silence — this isn’t Esposito’s fault, writer Tedesco should have included them. The sounds look cool, with WHK , POOM, and WHD perfect. The phone text is also well done, looking as though it would be on one’s phone. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story is enjoyable, but the visuals are hurting it. I like seeing Hellchild in action and her foe is worthy in battling her. However, the lack of backgrounds and simplistic visuals lessen the story’s impact. The colors do what they can with the visuals, but it results in focus going off the characters. I want to like this more than I am. Overall grade: B-

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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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