Monday, April 21, 2014

Review - Helsing #1

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"I call it what it is. Invention."

Van Helsing is a legendary man with no qualms about fighting any manner of undead or evil creature. It's a little known fact though that he has a daughter named Liesl, who keeps up her father's pursuits. That, of course, is when she's not trying to fill her calendar with enough social activities. Zenescope's Helsing #1 offers just that. The issue is written by Pat Shand, illustrated by Tony Brescini and Andres Esparza, colored by Fran Gamboa and J.C. Ruiz and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Liesl Van Helsing has gotten a handle on the vampire hunting thing. Her name strikes fear amongst the vampires she hunts, but when it comes to her social life, things are a little more fearful for her. She can't seem to catch a break socially, even though she's dating Hades and Sela is her best friend. Things are looking pretty status quo for her until she gets a package sent from a mysterious sender that sends her on a quest for answers about her past.

Shand is more or less the architect of the Zenescope universe and it shows here, with many other facets of that universe paying a part in Liesl's life. Liesl is depicted as somewhere between Lara Croft and Carrie Bradshaw, as she seems to have a British accent and no fear, but a strange focus on finding Mr. Right and having friends. It's a very odd mixture in a character and really splits the story into two different halves. The first half has Liesl showing why she's a Van Helsing and is more than capable of holding her own against the undead. The second half has Liesl spending Saturday nights gossiping about boys with Sela on the phone. Again, it's a very strange whole the two halves make, as the book doesn't really seem to know which side it would rather spend the most time with.

The art for the book is a little all over the place. Liesl spends many panels in something of a heroic pose, with her coat fluttering dramatically behind her. In fact, even when she's walking her date with Hades in what appears to be a period piece of garb, she struts triumphantly, as if wading into battle. The art seems to keep Liesl on high-alert at all times, which may be intentional because of the caliber of her enemy, but it really seems to be more of an awkward drawing style. Brescini handles the majority of the duties and infuses the book with a painter's quality in most panels, but it doesn't really afford much detail in character facial expressions.

Helsing #1 is a very ambitious for Zenescope. It offers up a new character with a myth around the name that automatically gives the reader some idea of what to expect from her. It also presents the character in a way that's a little gossipy, despite being feared and capable of killing vampires when duty calls. The direction the series is headed towards could be interesting and looks to bring in more familiar faces from the Van Helsing legend. Hopefully, the next few issues even things out a bit in terms of characterization and overall plot.

Helsing #1 is in stores April 23.

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