Review - Van Helsing vs. Robyn Hood #1 (@zenescope)

"What idiot said baking is relaxing?"

Liesel is a vampire hunter. Robyn Hood is an archer from another time. The two of them are more than capable of holding their own when teamed with one another. When putting their talents on display against one another like in Van Helsing vs. Robyn Hood #1 from Zenescope, then things get real. The issue is written by Ralph Tedesco, illustrated by Allan Otero, colored by Leonardo Paciarotti and lettered by Taylor Esposito.

Robyn and Liesel learn that they're each separately on the trail of a seedy crime boss who's experimenting on humans while developing an extremely dangerous designer drug. But neither Robyn nor Liesel is prepared for what they'll uncover as the two long-time friends find themselves face to face in an epic battle to the death!

Both Robyn and Liesel are two of the newer additions to the Zenescope universe, but Tedesco doesn't let that fact stop him from presenting them in a way that both pays service to fans and shows they have a familiarity with one another. Their history working together has pitted them against a variety of opponents and in just about every scenario they're victorious and Tedesco uses that history to his advantage in making the stakes seem high in pitting them against one another. And Tedesco puts them against one another in a way that doesn't feel forced in that their personalities bring them to a point that feels like it makes sense for them to square off. The issue does seem to portend that their confrontation will be fraught with a lot more animosity than what Tedesco actually infuses the impending battle with one another. Tedesco's dialogue is pretty easygoing, effectively capturing the back and forth between Liesel and Robyn.

Otero has a very interesting artistic style in that it seems to rely heavily on perspective--specifically, one character standing out and having some sort of epiphany. Otero's lack of specificity when it comes to backgrounds makes these moments stand out even more. His linework is somewhat loose in its approach and seems to slightly distort the kinetics and physiology of the characters as they engage one another in combat. The panels are laid out pretty simply for most pages, but there are other pages that are filled with insets and overlays that pop appropriately. Paciarotti's colors are heavy on greens and blues, which makes sense considering those are the colors of the main characters.

Van Helsing vs. Robyn Hood #1 is exactly what it sounds like with two popular characters being pitted against one another. Liesel and Robyn have always been on the same side in the past so it's a nice change of pace to see them capitalizing on their talents when faced with one another. Tedesco's story is pretty sound and gets them to the titular point in a reasonable way. Otero's illustrations are somewhat spartan in their appearance, but they do handle the hand-to-hand combat fairly well. Van Helsing vs. Robyn Hood #1 is a type of team-up book that eschews the team-up for a throwdown.

Van Helsing vs. Robyn Hood #1 is in stores January 30.