In Review: Hellchild Inferno One-Shot

A solid one-shot that shows fans what these characters are up to.

The covers: A foursome you hopefully won’t have to search hell and high water to find. The A cover is by Joyce Chin and Ceci de la Cruz and this is a winner. This cover is crazy with details. Both characters have their back to the reader, but have turned because they realize they’re not alone. Mercy is in the foreground, caught midstep, with each hand holding a pistol. She’s wearing tight black pants and has on a red bustier. Angelica is to the right of Mercy and she’s turning as well. She’s got her massive blade behind her back, held by her left hand, but she looks ready to use it. She’s wearing tight leather pants and a matching leather jacket, that’s not quite long enough to cover her lower back. Both characters look fantastic, but look at what’s in the distance: a broken car on fire and flames that are devouring all other aspect of the image. The coloring is equally intense, with the characters not being overshadowed by all the reds, yellows, and oranges of the flames. This is one to get! Sheldon Goh and Sanju Nivangune are responsible for the B, which is the image that accompanies this review. Mercy is on the left side of the cover, with Angelica on the right. Pistols are in Angelica’s face and a blade is at Mercy’s throat. This shows both characters clearly to the reader and shows which weapons each prefers. Again, both characters look exceptional and the colors are great. There’s a lot of crimson on this, but with Hellchild and Inferno in the title that goes with the territory. The C cover is the “good girl” cover for this one-shot. Jay Anacleto and Ula Mos created this cover of Angelica with her back against a brick wall. She’s holding her iconic blade in both hand before her and the shine is reflected off the left side. She’s got a little black jacket, matching brassiere, and black leather pants on. A choker is around her neck, barbed wire around her right wrist, a whip hangs at her side, and several chains hang off her belt. This is exceptional. The final cover is the D by Derlis Santacruz and de la Cruz. Mercy walks across an alley with her long black jacket splaying out behind her. She has a gun in her left hand and her head is down with her eyes closed. She has on her red bustier, fingerless black gloves, and tight black pants. She looks good and the setting is highly detailed. Seriously, good luck, collectors, committing to just one of these covers. Overall grades: A A+, B A, C A+, and D A

The story: This one-shot’s story was conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, & Dave Franchini, with the later writing the story. One night in Hollywood, California, two bouncers outside a club have their conversation interrupted by a fireball that comes blazing out of the sky. They can’t get away from the entrance soon enough for it blasts into the door and takes out a sizable amount of the wall. The people inside the club are terrified by the violent explosion, but even more so by the figure who stands in its wake. Lori, the owner of the club, orders her men to go out of her office and see what happened. She loads her shotgun as soon as they exit and goes to see what’s happened. She finds bodies, or what’s left of them, hanging from the walls, broken and torn strewn about, and blood everywhere. No one in the club is alive. Standing before her is a monstrous man holding a severed head. “Hello, dear,” he says, which causes Lori to raise her gun and let off two blasts. “Moments later,” she’s pushed back into her office where an oddly decorated cube is located. “I believe you have something that belongs to me,” the monster says. She grabs a spear and points it at his head. There’s an off panel scream and spray of blood. The intruder raises his hand and the box flies to him, glowing white. “Finally. Mine again.” The scene then moves to Angelica who’s flexing her muscles against several demons. She’s taking them down until something stops her in her tracks. She’s drawn somewhere and it’s at this location that she meets Mercy. Naturally the pair don’t see eye to eye and there’s a fight, with the ending being perfection. Soon the two partner up to stop the individual who has the cube. Who he is makes their quest rough and what he has could destroy the world. This was a fun team up, with these excellent characters colliding and ultimately working together. I liked how each character’s quirks got on the other’s nerves initially. The final battle is good, with each heroine being necessary to defeat the villain. Overall grade: A 

The art: Two different artists for this issue: Salvatore Cuffari (Pages 6 – 32) and Marc Rosete (Pages 1 – 5). Both artists are good and their styles mesh well enough that I didn’t recognize there were two artists on this book until I looked at the credits. Rosete does the opening sequence with the club getting attacked. He’s set things up so that the villain isn’t clearly revealed to the reader, outside of being about seven feet tall, wearing boots, and having long black hair. This is a good tease for the later reveal. The object that this individual seeks is an ornately decorated cube, and it’s nothing like a Cosmic Cube or Lament Box. I was thankful that Rosete made the design of this box look very unlike those other devices. Cuffari’s art begins in the alley with Angelica putting a fist though a demon’s head. She looks great on this page and is stunning in 7’s full-paged splash. The behemoth that attacks her is fairly generic looking, but I was able to roll with it. How Angelica takes the creature out is done in silhouette and that’s a WOW panel! Mercy’s introduction is great and the battle that quickly follows looks good. There’s a lot of movement from both characters in a large space, but Cuffari makes it easy to follow. The first panel on 16 is terrific in its layout. There’s a flashback on 21 that sums up a larger story and contains a multitude of characters. This summary is quick and looks great. The confrontation with the bad guy has the visuals not as tight on the villain when he’s revealed: there’s a lot of loose linework to create muscles on him. However, once the battle begins, the pencils become tighter on him and he looks fine. I like that two artists’ styles can gel so well on a book and what each creates looks good. Overall grade: A

The colors: This book spotlights two characters known for dark adventures. I was expecting this book to have a lot of dark colors, but colorist Robby Bevard doesn’t go there. Instead, he wonderfully used the colors of the characters, particularly their bright red hair to have them stand out against settings that are dimmed, but not dark. The explosion that begins Page 2 is bright in yellows and oranges. I like that the sound effect in the same panel is an off-yellow, so as not to blend in with the blast. With the power out in the club, the reader shouldn’t really see things too clearly within it, but Bevard has the characters stand out strongly in a dim location. My favorite coloring is on Page 7, with a character dressed in back looking fantastic in a back alley. Page 21 also has some solid colors with the flashback being done in whites and several shades of brown, aging the story. The colors on this book are good. Overall grade: A

The letters: Kurt Hathaway creates the book’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, screams, yells, and narration. The scene settings are in a neat, unique bold font I’ve not seen before that always caught my eye to alert me that the location had changed. Yells in this book come in many different varieties, showing that these bellows come in many different ranges. The sounds are the big takeaway from this book. There are many and they are spectacular. I love the sounds of Mercy’s guns; they look elegant when going off in the club and they look strong. Overall grade: A  

The final line: A solid one-shot that shows fans what these characters are up to. I’ve missed these heroines, so it was good to see them again, especially in a good book! The story is a good device to have this duo pair up and the visuals are sleek and strong. This is a worthwhile one-shot from Zenescope. 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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