Review - Hellchild #1 (@Zenescope)

"Oooh! What's the matter Hades? A god can't overpower a simple vampire?"

Vampires are notorious for being creatures of the night with a propensity for drinking blood. That doesn't go over well with most people, prompting some such as Liesl Van Helsing to rise up to stop them. When one of those vampires gets a little god's blood in them though, things get a little more complicated. Hellchild #1 from Zenescope seeks to untangle those complications. The issue is written by Pat Shand, illustrated by Vincenzo Riccardi, colored by Eleonora Bruni and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Angelica Blackstone is half-Greek god, half-vampire, and she's pissed! When she is brought back from the dead and given a new lease on life by monster hunter Liesel Van Helsing, Angelica joins a gang of Viking vampire junkies living in the underbelly of New York City. But she has a hell of an ax to grind with her absentee father, Hades, who she blames for her death. All hell is about to break loose!

The opening of Hellchild #1 throws readers right into the thick of things before Shand goes back in time to explain the present. In this issue, Angelica Blackstone's presence as Hellchild is being emphasized through her association with vampires, which makes a great case for the presence of Liesl Van Helsing and Hades (as Angelica's father). Fortunately for readers, Shand makes the issue very accessible to new readers and doesn't direct them to a bunch of other random issues in the Zenescope universe when certain events took place. There's still a lot to digest in the issue though and Shand provides few details in terms of how exactly Liesl's interactions with a witch led to the rebirth of a god's daughter. Other than that though, the script is pretty concise and keeps things moving along at a very brisk pace.

Riccardi's artwork is effective at capturing the otherworldly aspects of the tale. The characters are illustrated with a very stylized approach that gives the characters more of a caricature-like appearance. In fact, some of the facial expressions feel almost a little too cartoonish and it sort of subverts the otherwise dire and supernatural tone the book seems to be going for. There are also some pages that feel very polished and finished and others that feel a little less so--none of it's bad, but there are some slight inconsistencies throughout the book. Bruni does a great job with colors, especially the pages at the Lavendar night club where she gets to play around with neon pinks and blues.

Hellchild #1 is a set-up issue first and foremost, but it doesn't necessarily feel like one. The introduction of Hellchild is done in a way that leaves plenty of room for more development and is effective at setting the table. Shand doesn't have to rely on the readers' knowledge of the Zenescope universe for the book, yet he still provides plenty of hooks into it. Riccardi's artwork is pretty simple and is a little more on the lighter side, even though it still captures the spirit of the issue very well. Hellchild #1 is another entry in the Zenescope mythology that doesn't require a compendium to understand it, which is welcome because there's some pretty crazy stuff going on in it.

Hellchild #1 is in stores March 23.