In Review: Van Helsing One-shot

A fun romp for Liesel Van Helsing with the promise of more to come.

The covers: Four covers to track down for this one-shot if you have enough time to find them! The A cover is from Sean Chen and Ylenia Di Napoli and it’s a good tease of what’s to come in this book: a vampire and a morlock’s oversized heads are in the sky above London, while Liesel Van Helsing looks ready to fight these foes. Really nice work done on Liesel, whom I’ve never seen look more confident, with the skyline behind her also good. The B is by Pasquale Qualano and Di Napoli. This time the title character is on the foggy streets of this iconic city, surrounded by several vampires. Strong perspective work on this cover with the monsters behind and before her. The coloring is also well done, with a nice bit of shading done with the fog, allowing just enough of the background’s colors to seep through. Mike Krome and Sabine Rich have created the cover to track down, and that’s the C cover. It has Liesel getting into a similar, yet different enough, version of the time machine from George Pal’s film. She looks fantastic, the machine incredible, and the coloring masterful. I need this as a print! The final cover is the D by Mike S. Miller and David Ocampo. Inside a cave, where lava is flowing freely, Liesel is about to deliver the killing blow to an upset morlock with a wooden stake. The composition of the characters are good for this excellent action shot, as are the colors. Overall grade: A B+, B B+, C A+, and D A-

The story: Writer David Wohl, working from a story by Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha, have Liesel going into uncharted territory. Beginning in London of 1844, Liesel is tinkering with another of her mechanical creations that can be used in the destruction of vampires. As the viewer sees what she’s making, her narration tells how she feels about her mastery in making these devices and how upset she is that her father and Marcus “decide to go exploring but didn’t want to bother me? But not to worry because it seems like a quiet night?!” Pushing a particular stone to reveal where she keeps all of her hunting wares and apparel, she suits up, and none too soon as her father and Marcus are surrounded by several vampires. Diving into the fray in the most heroic of manners, Liesel helps the men out, but not without a price. Once the event occurs on Page 9, readers know exactly what this hero will do, as it was strongly hinted at on Page 2. The first location that Liesel goes to is neat, and is done in a clever enough way to have her restock her supplies before journeying again. The changes that have occurred in this second location are terrific, and everyone’s reactions to seeing her are good. I like her commentary on the new foes she’s fighting and what must be done to defeat them. Pages 36 and 37 have a nice twist, putting Liesel through the emotional wringer once again, and just when it doesn’t seem as if anything worse can be done to her, the final two pages end on a shock of a cliffhanger. That’s my only nit in this story — there’s no ending! I really enjoyed this story, but I wanted a complete tale. However, the ending teases that more of the story is to come, the only question is how much time do readers have to wait? Overall grade: A-

The art: The visuals on this issue are by Anthony Spay and he should be allowed back to do more for Zenescope. The first page is a nice cinematic zoom from high above the Van Helsing estate, up some stairs, down a corridor, and into the basement where Liesel is working. Spay has a good sense of design for the items she’s working on, especially for the key device that provides the transportation in this issue. Page 6 is the hero shot splash page when Liesel enters the fight and Spay uses a good sense of perspective for this difficult page. The action sequences are strong throughout this book, whether it’s from human or underworld hairy threat. Page 14 was an excellent transportation scene, and I admit to thinking it wouldn’t work; after all, it’s been shown in several different ways over the years, but Spay is creative enough to put his own spin on it (no pun intended) and he does a good job. The panorama of the city on Pages 20 and 21 is also well done. I’m not a fan of gore for gore’s sake, but when Liesel has to kill some creatures it’s obviously going to have to be a bloody business, and that second panel on Page 27 is just awesome. One particularly strong element in Spay’s work on this book are his backgrounds. He has created some nicely detailed settings for even the smallest of panels. There is always some piece of building in ruins of London or some interesting stonework done for a wall. He has several opportunities where he could have allowed the colorist to fill in the space, but more times than not he fills the space and that’s a sign of a professional. Overall grade: A

The colors: Beautiful coloring work on this book by Jorge Cortes. The opening page alerts readers to the fact that Cortes has some serious skills, because he creates a vivid blue for the night skies of London and uses superb lighting effects, with a terrific burnt orange, to allow the reader to make his or her way through the seemingly empty home. When Liesel joins the fight Cortes keeps the setting dark, but colors the structures with different shades to continue the nightly time, though allowing each building to be seen. There’s a nice transparent blue used at Liesel’s first stop and the mottled whites and grays on the creatures she eventually fights are very vivid. On every page the colors add to the mood of the story and artwork enormously. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, sounds, dialogue, a weak voice, dates, yells, morlock screeches, and the final three words that tease are crafted by Jim Campbell. I’m always pleased when narration is given a different font from the dialogue, as Campbell does here, and his sounds are cool (CHKCHKCHKCHK) and creepy (THWOOKSHH). I’d love to see Campbell doing more work. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fun romp for Liesel Van Helsing with the promise of more to come. I would have been more willing to pay more to get a conclusion, but my hopes are high that Wohl will get to continue the story soon. Overall grade: A

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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