In Review: Van Helsing vs The Mummy of Amun-Ra #2

It's impossible not to get wrapped up in this tale that covers horror from two different time periods.

The covers: A foursome of frontpieces to find to feed your soul. The A cover is by Allan Otero and Ula Mos. Title character Liesel Van Helsing stands facing the reading after taking down several mummies, which lay in heaps around her. She looks as if she’s ready for more slaughter, but these supernatural creatures are out for the count. Good layout by Otero, with the background looking just as impressive as the foreground, and Mos doing an always exceptional job with the colors. I like how she makes this feels like night with all the blues, yet keeps Helsing’s colors bright so she’s the focus for the reader. The B is by Jason Metcalf and Ivan Nunes. A manticore is battling Van Helsing in an ancient crypt. The creature and heroine look fine, but she’s so tiny — I really wanted to see more of Liesel. The coloring is fine, with the flames lighting up the dark interior well. Next up is the cheesecake cover, which is the C. This is by Renato Rei and Wes Hartman. This has the evil mummy, in her beautiful human form, slinking toward the reader. Behind her is her sarcophagus. This looks good. Heck, I would have been happy if the focus had just been on her elaborate coffin. The final cover is a graphic shocker, the D, done by Antonio Bifulco and Vinicius Andrade. This shows the mummy from the C cover in her true form, as shown in flashback. She’s a reanimated corpse that looks to be screaming at the reader. I’m not a gore fan, but I really enjoy when an artist does such a highly detailed job, and that’s exactly what Bifulco has done. It’s impossible not to look at all the ghastly details that have been done with this cover. Andrade also does a bang up job on the colors, with the rotted flesh being wonderfully repulsive. Overall grades: A A-, B B-, C A-, and D A

The story: Picking up from last issue, Liesel has arrived, through the window at a party being held by billionaire politician Roger Matthews. She’s taking down the terrorists one by one, trying to make her way to save another man, Walsh. Unbeknownst to her, this is a ploy by the Mummy, who’s hired the men to get her into trouble. Down a hall, the Mummy contacts her men and tells them to take Walsh to a speakeasy to let “the leaches take the blame.” Far away in her limousine, the Mummy explains to an underling that she should take the time to take out Liesel, after all, “No one will rob me of the singular pleasure…I’ve earned to slit her throat.” The story, conceived by Pat Shand and Joe Brusha, written by Shand, then returns to 1845 where Liesel and three companions have entered a tomb. What happens there sets up some of the motivation for why Liesel hates monsters and teases why the Mummy hates her. It’s a nice action scene, with the exposition moving along quickly, due to something occurring beyond the heroes’ vision. The action on 12 neatly transitions back to the present on 13 with a parallel action. It’s nice to see Liesel acting like a vigilante, trying to help people but in trouble with the police. I was also pleased to see how Liesel escapes her pursuers in a funny scene on 16 and 17. The action on 18 was unexpected and it was neat to see how Liesel doesn’t question things because of where she’s at on 19. The final two pages of the book move to Commissioner Julia Gengrich, who’s got some unexpected problems of her own. It’s always fun to watch a hero be clueless as he or she is manipulated by the villain. A very fun read. Overall grade: A

The art: When set in the present, the artwork is by Marc Rosete, while in the past the visuals are by Roberta Ingranata. This is a very clever way to have two artists working on the same book. Rosete is a master craftsman whose panels are detailed and have lots of action that smoothly flows across a page. In addition, Rosete moves the point of view around very well, as shown by the action on the first page. Even on the third page, when two characters are immobile in a car, the point of view moves about to keep the page visual interesting for the reader. The close up of the Mummy at the bottom of 3 is well done. When Liesel exits the building on 14 it’s as spectacular as any spandex clad hero could accomplish. The eight panels that make up Page 16 are really fun, with the emotions of her passengers funny, but outdone by her look in the seventh panel and her action in the eighth. Liesel’s jacket is beautiful as it splays out behind her, such as in the bottom panel on 17. The final page has got some slick imagery, with two antagonists fully revealed, while another is just out of eyesight. Ingranata also does a fine job on this book. The full paged splash of 4 looks super, with all four characters clearly seen by the reader so that each is easily identifiable when the chaos later breaks out. The corpse in the fourth panel of 6 looks great, with its mouth open in a silent, final scream. 7 has got a terrific layout with four panels creating parallel story advancement: the subtle changes to the speaker are awesome. I’m a big fan of dramatic irony in panels that show the reader something the characters are unaware of and there’s a beauty of one on 8. Some graphic business occurs on 9, which is necessary for the plot, but not so graphic as to have readers lose their lunch. I really like the visuals on this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors on this book by Walter Pereyra (in the present) and Fran Gamboa, with J.C. Ruiz (in the past), are also well done. The opening panel is electric with a strong orange and yellow background emphasizing the actions of Liesel. Notice how when the modern day Mummy is shown everything around her is earth colored, reminding the reader of where she belongs. The strong blues for the action on 13 is terrific, with the bright oranges and yellows returning for an action panel. There are some really cool colors on 17 that suggest the night life of the city, while browns dominate on a new setting that appears on 18 – 20, suggesting the age of the establishment, as well as its patrons. The blues of the final page are perfectly chilly, mirroring the cold action occurring. The first page of the flashback has an excellent lighting effect, showing off Liesel’s bright clothes. The corpse that’s shown on 6 has got a great look of decay thanks to the colors. When there’s a flashback within the flashback on 7 the colors resemble that of an old film, alerting the reader that this tale is set farther back than 1845. Red takes center stage when someone is killed and the true monster of the story appears, changing the entire background to a blood read on 12. An excellent job by all involved. Overall grade: A

The letters: Jim Campbell is responsible for creating narration, sounds, whispered dialogue, a phone conversation, dialogue, changes in time, narration from the distant past, and a beautiful tiny tease for the next issue. Considering how tiny some of the panels are, it’s a testament to Campbell’s skill how he’s able to produce a similar sized font for every panel. The change in narration is smart, while the whispered dialogue drew me in closer to the page to read its text. But it’s two sounds that stole the thunder for me. I mean, after all, how could you go wrong with a good SCHLORK or SPLORTCH? Overall grade: A+

The final line: It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in this tale that covers horror from two different time periods. Action, horror, and some solid laughs make this a recommended read. 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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