In Review: Van Helsing vs. Robyn Hood #2

Robyn has gone vampire and Liesel has been captured.

The covers: There are four different covers for this issue and all are worth picking up. The A by Caanan White and Ivan Nunes is the cover I picked up because I’ve never seen Robyn illustrated from this point of view. This is the heroine in her pre-vampire state, leaping straight down from a helicopter, bow in hand with arrow nocked. She’s falling straight into the reader and she looks spectacular. Behind her is the ‘copter, the rope that attaches her to the vehicle, and a full moon. This is great. I can easily understand why this was the A cover. Harvey Tolibao and Nunes have Robyn tearing into Liesel on the B cover. Van Helsing has her back to the reader, pushed down on the top of a building, as Robyn’s new claws rip off part of her jacket. Robyn looks awesome and the point of view done on Liesel is exceptional. Plus, there’s a great setting behind them. I want this cover. The “good girl” cover is the C by Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos. It’s a close up of Liesel from the waist up, though she does have part of her stockinged right leg showing. She’s touching the brim of her hat in acknowledgement to the reader. She looks great and the colors are dark, but have enough of her showing to stand out. The final cover, the D by Richard Ortiz and Ceci de la Cruz, has Robyn’s newfound fury unleashed. She’s in a back alley with six bodies on the ground or collapsed against a wall. She’s holding her final victim by his shirt, but he’s lost too much blood, as can seen beneath him, and he hangs limply from her hands. Robyn looks ready for more as she smiles. Great layout and I love the bright colors. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A, and D A-

The story: Three contributors to the story: Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini, with Tedesco ultimately writing this issue. Last issue Robyn was injected with something that’s turned her into a vampire. That’s all one needs to know because the story goes into overdrive immediately. At first Robyn wonders what’s happened to her, but after Liesel comes close, Robyn warns her away, ultimately baring her new fangs and hissing at her friend. Robyn charges her and that’s when four gunshots go off. Robyn is hit in the arm and stops her attack. Van, the heroines’ target from last issue, and four of his hired hands come in. Pointing at the turned archer, Van says, “We don’t need her…Use the fire.” One thug steps forward with a flame thrower and unleashes hell. Liesel jumps aside while Robyn makes a break and escapes. Liesel is trapped and raises her hands in surrender. Two thugs chase after Robyn onto the dance floor. She elbows one ten feet off the floor into a brick wall. As the second one tries to get instructions through his earpiece, Robyn rushes him and things do not go well. Both Liesel and Robyn are written extremely well. When the reader turns the page, Liesel truly shows this is not her first rodeo. Even turned, Robyn is engaging, with her doing terrible things to terrible people, and ending the book on a great cliffhanger. The majority of the issue focuses on Liesel dealing with two new antagonists with one of them doing something surprising. It’s with this character that the premise of the series is established and possible solution for Robyn’s state revealed. I could not turn the pages quickly enough to find out what happens. Overall grade: A

The art: Allan Otero does a good job with the art. The first panel is a solid introduction to this issue, for new and returning readers. Notice that the panel continues all the way down the left side of the page, and between all the other panels, making this image huge. I like the way Otero focuses in on Liesel with a simple white panel to spotlight her, though she’s right next to Vampire Robyn. There’s also a nice fake out in the fourth panel as Liesel gets closer, ending with a terrific shot of the archer looking ferocious. The fire effects on the third page are really well done, with Robyn’s exit at the bottom of the page sweet! I’m not too keen by all the lens flares on Page 4, plus the dance floor is pretty empty. When the imagery focuses exclusively on Robyn in action, the visuals get better, such as the full-paged splash on 5. I absolutely LOVE the close ups of Liesel on the pages that immediately follow, with the visuals communicating as much as the text for the reader. The design of Tess initially appears to be the typical Goth girl vampire, though she has a really great visual surprise at the top of 8 to show she’s anything but a typical vampire. Page 10 contains no dialogue, only two sounds, and Otero really shows this character cutting loose. When the action returns to Liesel’s situation there’s a lot, an awful lot of dialogue that has to be given, but Otero nicely sets up his panels to accommodate all of it without stepping on the visuals of the characters. The individual with Liesel is inconsistent at times, however, with his head sometimes oddly shaped or buff in one panel and thinner in the next. It doesn’t hurt the reading, but it is noticeable. Page 20 is another full-paged splash and it’s great. It captures a lot of emotion and sets a tone that runs until the cliffhanger conclusion. I’m liking Otero’s work on this. Overall grade: B+

The colors: The opening panel of the book has Robyn in some terrific pasty skin tones. Robyn’s missing eye is also wonderful bright, and continues to be so throughout the book. Leonardo Paciarotti is doing a solid job on this book. Page 3 is the highlight of the book to look at Paciarotti’s work — the flames are outstanding and how they highlight the characters is neat. The dramatic change to violets for 4 and 5 cools the energy of Page 3, but allows Robyn to pop off the pages. These violets are used to color the night, which work much more successfully than any shade of black could. Tess’s hair and tattoos are delightful in their bright colors. The final location where Liesel and her new friend go is perfect in its yellows and tans that scream suburbia. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is a letterer whose work I enjoy and he does not disappoint in this issue. He creates dialogue, yells, hisses, sounds, music, and the tease for next issue. I like that there are several different fonts used for yells, visually cluing me in as to how extreme a character is as they belt out their dialogue. There aren’t too many sounds in this issue — I would have loved to have had some on Page 3 — but when they appear they look perfect, especially with the gunshots and slit throats (Am I terrible for liking those?). And that three word tease for next issue is superb. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Robyn has gone vampire and Liesel has been captured. I love the action that both characters encounter and the visuals give the leads some awesome moments. If you’re a fan of either character, you’ll want to pick this up. If you’ve never read either’s exploits, this is a terrific introduction. 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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