In Review: Van Helsing vs The Mummy of Amun-Ra #4

The fun this book brings never fails to make me smile.

The covers: Six covers for seekers of forbidden knowledge. The A cover is by Sheldon Goh and Ivan Nunes showing Liesel entering a room “Batman” style, through a circular window in the ceiling. This image captures her landing, as her black jacket splays about her and the glass still hitting the floor. She has a stake in one hand and a crossbow in the other. Behind her are several Egyptian artifacts, suggesting she’s entered a museum. Good action image with the colors looking great. Andres Meloni and Mohan Sivakami have a showdown between the protagonist and antagonist, with Liesel practically face to face with the undead villainess. Looking closer, one can see that the Mummy is holding Van Helsing by the neck. The tan colored woman smiles as she raises her green, glowing left hand to harm the title character. The two statues in the background also look well done. The C cover is the one I chose to accompany this review and it’s a terrific character shot of Liesel standing with one hand on her hip, the other holding a khopesh, while standing before a wall covered in hieroglyphs. She’s wearing wearing a fedora instead of her top hat, and she got a hip out cockily. This looks great! I love covers that clearly show the title character and the colors on this are winners in every way. My hat’s off to Noah Salonga and Ceci de la Cruz. The D cover by Jason Metcal and Wes Hartman has Liesel in peril. She’s being held down on a table, being prepared, unwillingly, for mummification. Her mouth is wide open in a scream as three of the men begin to move sharp tools toward her. A creepy cover in the classic woman in peril mode. I like it. The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) is the first exclusive cover available and it’s by Michael Dooney and Ula Mos. It’s a great cover of Liesel wearing a Calgary Flames jersey and black stockings. She smolders as she looks at the reader, holding a hockey stick against a white background. Yeah, this is worth tracking down. The final variant is the In-Store Exclusive by Paul Green and Ula Mos. This book is limited to only 100 copies, and is a drop dead gorgeous image of the Mummy turned three-quarters to the reader, bearing a wicked knife. She’s beautiful and the colors are spectacular. Yeah, you’ll need to track this one down, too. Overall grades: A A, B B, C A+, D A, Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo Exclusive A+, and In-Store Exclusive A+

The story: Pat Shand and Joe Brusha have crafted this tale, with Shand writing the issue, titled “How I Learned to Travel Through Time Like a Ghost.” Big points out of the gate for this title. The action is instant on the first page as Liesel is battling a manticore in an Italian restaurant. Liesel is providing narration for the reader as she battles the creature and it’s similar in its weariness to Philip Marlowe. This is evident by what she’s thinking on Page 2, which accentuates the artwork incredibly. Her final commentary on Page 3 is excellent. It was neat to see how the Mummy enters the battle on 4 and her words and actions make her undeniably a queen. When the beast is dispatched on 7, and that’s no spoiler, it’s a major moment. What was surprising were the immediate actions that occur after this on 8, which had me laughing out loud, but were completely realistic if such a battle were to occur. The flashback to 1845 begins on 9 and it has Liesel writing in her journal about the rise of the mummy in the temple. Outside her room, she spies a man with interesting eyes and finds that his destination is not a holy one. The remainder of the issue is split between the two women: Liesel trying to get information on the mummy, while the evil Queen has decided that “expediting the plan” has become necessary. I enjoy seeing villains prepare for battle, and this one does so in epic style, but it’s Liesel’s information gathering that really stood out. She shows herself to be extremely direct and not afraid of getting physical with the minions. Things are definitely spinning toward the final showdown and getting there is enjoyable. Overall grade: A-

The art: There are two different artists on this issue: Marc Rosete illustrates the events in the present and Roberta Ingranata does the four page flashback sequence; both do a good job. The battle with the manticore shows Rosete doing some incredibly slick work. The creature dominates the first page and this is countered nicely with the turn of a page to show the focus going to Liesel, who looks intense as she prepares a weapon she believes will quickly take the beast down. When she fires the weapon on the third page, notice how Rosete uses four panels that are practically diagonal, making the action seem chaotically skewed. The reaction of the manticore at the bottom of 3 is terrific — it’s a classic pose and suits the ancient monster. The Mummy is perfectly posed during this sequence, which reinforces that nothing phases her. The full paged splash on 7 is excellent — that’s how you end an altercation visually! This is followed by three very humorous panels of Liesel dealing with the immediate aftermath of the battle. The flashback by Ingranata also is tops, starting with a great bust shot of Liesel against the pyramids. She definitely sets the setting well, with the streets of city excellent. The man who catches her eye also looks good. What the heroine discovers is pretty creepy on 11, ultimately leading to a cool reveal on 12. Rosete has an excellent close-up of the mummy on 14, with her hair creating motion very well. The entrance of the character at the end of 15 is excellent — again, a classic look from Rosete. 19 is the best page of the book with a strong point of view panel of Liesel interrogating someone from a very unique position. The book closes with the mummy looking a little different and revealing a special ability. The visuals on this book make me very happy. Overall grade: A

The colors: Three colorists contributed to this book, with Walter Pereyra coloring Rosete’s pages and Fran Gamboa with J.C. Ruiz doing Ingranata’s pages. The manticore has some beautiful oranges and reds, making him the focal point of any panel. Page 2 uses reds and flesh to draw the eye to Liesel, which is needed since most of her working garb is black. When Liesel fires at the monster on 3, the background goes fiery orange to accentuate the action. This bright color reigns throughout the battle, transitioning to grey and black on 8 when it concludes. The first page of the flashback starts with some beautiful blues, becoming perfectly aged yellows for the streets and structures of the Egyptian city. The large panel of 14 has some excellent background colors, with reds bleeding and splattering beyond the linework. The use of gold on 15 snaps the reader back to the present, and the colors on the character’s face in the third panel look great. The bottom panel on 23 has some really cool and creepy work done on the character’s face. The last page of the book is a full page splash and Pereyra could have cheated a bit more with the colors, as the individual’s legs blend in too easily with the curtains, and the electricity that’s flying about is lost with the character’s clothes and the stonework. This background should have had different colors. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Narration, dialogue, sounds, manticore speech, yells, a date, journal text, and the tease for next issue are crafted by Jim Campbell. I am so appreciative of letterers that use different fonts for narration and dialogue. Giving a unique font to the supernatural beast’s speech is a Zenescope hallmark, found in many of their books, and I’m glad to see Campbell continuing it here. The journal text is really good; it’s not exactly cursive (since many people don’t use it, let alone can read it), but close enough to resemble it. The sounds are also really well done. Campbell is knocking it out of the park on this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The Mummy continues to thwart Liesel, creating some great action sequences. Great adventure with excellent artwork. The fun this book brings never fails to make me smile. 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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