Monday, August 10, 2015

Review - Van Helsing vs. Dracula #1 (@Zenescope)

"She'll help us..."

Going up against a being like Dracula requires patience, daring and an ability to go up against the legendary creature. Liesl Van Helsing has all of that and more, which makes her a perfect fit for squaring off against Dracula. Zenescope has the match-up in Van Helsing vs. Dracula #1. The issue is written by Pat Shand, illustrated by Michele Bandini, colored by Walter Pereyra and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Last year, Liesel Van Helsing was attacked by an evil from her father's past... but she survived, and has moved on with her life. Besides becoming the name that vampires in the tri-state area fear, she's also found love - in, admittedly, the strangest places. However, when old friends come calling on her for help, she will find herself pulled into a final conflict with the deadliest vampire of all time.

Very little needs to be said about Dracula, which is why Shand spends most of the first issue following around Liesel Van Helsing as she attempts to help Jonathan Harker with his current predicament. Shand does a great job in this regard as well, presenting Liesl as more than capable of holding her own against both foes in vampires and friends in Hades. Intertwining the stories of all the characters is handled pretty effortlessly, as Shand brings them together under somewhat unusual circumstances. The dialogue exchanges in the book are clean and tell the relevant information well, with the reader having a generally good idea as to what is going on. There are a few twists peppered in and Van Helsing's inevitable confrontation with Dracula looms large, even if Shand doesn't let it overshadow the other events of the issue.

Bandini's art doesn't delve too deeply into the macabre, which is saying something considering vampires are involved. His approach is extremely stylized, affording the Victorian era characters more modern sensibilities that fit the Zenescope aesthetic. In fact, many of the character models feel a little too clean, but it works in giving the book a current setting. Characters are defined by clean lines and sharp angles, effectively differentiating character physiques from one another. Pereyra's colors largely live in the darker ranges, underscoring the darker tone established by the script.

Van Helsing vs. Dracula #1 takes the Zenescope formula and mixes in a storied rivalry for good measure. Much of Liesl's backstory is presented in flashbacks for the less aware readers and it helps provide context for the current events. Shand's script focuses a little too much on the past events, but it's not something that overwhelms the story and it does have plenty on its own to start a new storyline with. Bandini's illustrations are simple and clean, effectively creating a world for the two legendary characters to interact in. Van Helsing vs. Dracula #1 is an interesting first issue that fits within the Zenescope style quite appropriately.

Van Helsing vs. Dracula #1 is in stores August 15.


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