In Review: Van Helsing vs. The Mummy of Amun-Ra #6

The final battle occurs, with Van Helsing confronting supernatural and internal conflicts.

The covers: Wow! What a way to end a series. Eleven different covers for fans of Liesel to find! A connecting cover by Igor Vitorino and Jorge Cortes makes up the A and B covers. Put together, the covers show Liesel in the foreground, wearing her typical clothes, fighting several mummies rushing her. She looks great and between the wrappings on the mummies you can see that they are decomposing bodies, with one’s brain apparent. Behind her is a pyramid with even more mummies coming forward. To her right is the Mummy herself, on her knees atop an altar. Something must have happened to her because the left side of her body has started to rot. Above her is a full moon. Individually, Liesel is on the A cover and the title antagonist is on the B. Very cool. The C is a fantastic illustration of Liesel hiding behind an upright sarcophagus, which is resplendent in gold. She is drop dead gorgeous and looks fierce with her crossbow held ready. This is one to track down. An outstanding job by Juan Carlos Ruiz. The D is by Netho Diaz and Mohan Sivakami and it’s the image I chose to accompany this review. The heroine is on her back, holding back the taloned hands of the mummy that’s above her from ripping her in two. The mummy is monstrous, with its wrappings whipping about in all directions, while Liesel lets out a scream of fury. Also outstanding. There are seven other covers, but I could not find one of them online. I’ll be attending the San Diego Comic Con this year, so I won’t see what they look like until I arrive. Here’s what’s listed as being available: San Diego Comic Con Exclusive (limited to 25) with artwork by Paul Green and colors by Ula Mos, San Diego Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 350) by Elias Chatzoudis, San Diego Comic Con Cosplay Webstore Only Exclusive (limited to 350) by Chatzoudis, San Diego Comic Con Cosplay Foil Exclusive (limited to 50) by Chatzoudis, San Diego Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 500 and 100) by Sabine Rich, San Diego Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 150) by Rich, and San Diego Comic Con ZenBox Exclusive (limited to 150) by Manuel Preitano and Grostieta. Overall grades: A A, B B, C A+, and D A-

The story: This conclusion was conceived by Pat Shand and Joe Brusha, and written by Shand. When last Van Helsing was seen, she was sealed in a sarcophagus that was in a burning building. Recalling where she was, she wakes up screaming in a bed. She discovers that Gengrich and Carmilla are in the room too. She asks what happened and Carm tells her that she was following her the whole time and got her out of danger when the bad guys left. When asked why she saved Liesel, the vampire responds, “You and I, we have a good deal going, Van Helsing. I stick to the straight and narrow, trade you information for blood…and survive. If I let you die, do you think Robyn Hood or Commissioner Oinks-a-lot over here is gonna give me the same shake at unlife? Nah. I’m keeping you around long as I can.” After this, Liesel tells the pair that they need to move now because the Mummy has a list and she’s going to kill everyone on it. Speaking of the devil, she’s with Roger Matthews, who’ll be holding a rally that night, with everyone in attendance on the villain’s list. She tells him that he’ll be elected president after the slaughter because everyone loves a tragic figure. The heroes finish their plans, but Gengrich has a question for Van Helsing, “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” This leads to a really neat moment of reflection for Liesel, as she ponders if everything that’s happened to her is because she no longer has Hades in her life. It’s impressive to see that the character’s resolve is given ample time before the expected closing conflict. There is a closing conflict, set at the rally, with some familiar faces assisting Van Helsing. The battle is good, with some big surprises during the fight. A flashback interrupts the action, but it provides some good backstory that justifies what the Mummy’s motivation has always been. The epilogue occurs three months after the conflict’s close and, surprisingly and welcomingly, addresses Liesel’s motivations. For a story with a lot of supernatural mayhem, there’s a good amount of humanity displayed. Overall grade: A-

The art: Marc Rosete, with flashback art by Roberta Ingranata, create the visuals for this issue. The layout on the first two pages show Liesel’s awakening, but they’re interrupted by three flashback panels, two with her struggle in the sarcophagus and one with Carm helping her escape death. These panels show the reader what happened without dwelling too much on the event. Matthews’s face is never shown to the reader, and doesn’t need to be as he’s in the same space as the Mummy and she should visually dominate the scene because she’s dominating him. The final panel on Page 3 wonderfully shows this with the perfect distance from him. Pages 5 and 6 have Liesel questioning her actions, allowing Rosete to show some key events in her past, with the final two panels on 6 being wonderful. Page 8 is a full-page splash showing the heroes making an entrance, and what an entrance it is! Page 10 has a great visual surprise that’s teased in the first panel, but is fully revealed in the large third panel. There’s a partial double-page spread on 12 and 13 showing a number of mummies rushing Van Helsing and they look incredibly agile in addition to being fearsome. The final battle between Liesel and the Mummy is believable and easy to follow. The Ingranata page is beautiful; there’s a graphic killing on it, but it and all the other panels have been set up to look like a piece of parchment and it’s terrific, with the bottom panel being gorgeous. The return to the present has Rosete resuming the visuals and he gets to create a fantastic reaction to some biting dialogue at the bottom of 16. This is followed by a slick Page 17. Page 19 is a full-page splash and is done from an angle that has both characters’ faces obscured. It’s a realistic angle in a fight, but for the climatic action of this series the faces should be seen. That said, the rest of the book winds up well drawn, with the final image of the book being incredibly heartfelt. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Walter Pereyra, and flashback colors by Fran Gamboa with J.C.Ruiz, create some good work for this book. The reds on the opening panel are a fantastic choice; the color is often associated with love or life, as well as evil, and using it for the heroine’s “rebirth” makes the discussion ominous. The rally location is in a silver and gray auditorium and provides an excellent background color for the Mummy’s bronze skin and white clothing to stand out. Liesel’s flashbacks are done in  black and white to age them for the reader. The blast of violet in the penultimate panel on 6 is great and gets repeated on 17. When the page in 1458 B.C. appears, Gamboa and Ruiz do a sensational job in capturing the tone of parchment with excellent yellows and cool blues for the night panels. Page 17 is the best of the book with colors not often found in a Van Helsing book. Really wonderful work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Creating dialogue, screams, vampire speech, sounds, a unique character’s speech on 10 and 11, Hades’s dialogue, and the wonderful closing quote is Jim Campbell. Zenescope letterers always employ a wide array of fonts for their books and Campbell is doing so exceedingly well. I love the unique fonts used for some characters’ speech, showing that visually they are different from humans. The sounds on this book, which are many, are big and bold, making them loud and fun. However, having read this book on a tablet, the dialogue was really small and I was constantly having to expand a panel to read it. There is a tremendous amount of dialogue in several panels and Campbell does the best he can. Overall grade: A- 

The final line: The final battle occurs, with Van Helsing confronting supernatural and internal conflicts. It’s impressive when a book can instill character development along with undead dealings. A very satisfactory ending. 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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