The past is never finished … especially when Van Helsing is involved.
Writer: Raven Gregory
Artwork: Allan Otero
Colors: Robby Bevard
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
A mysterious being, hellbent on revenge, rises from Van Helsing’s long forgotten past with secrets that could very well destroy Helsing and all she holds dear. Don’t miss this exciting new series written by fan-favorite Wonderland writer, Raven Gregory, and artist extraordinaire, Allan Otero!
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
In one of several safe houses the Van Helsing family has secluded around the world, the current scion Liesel has managed to cache many horrors which humanity is not ready to witness and thanks to ancient mystical techniques and preventative devices of her own invention, hopefully none may see them any time soon. However as these bothersome objects and trophies of past adventures serenely gather dust from times best forgotten, there is one figure cloaked in shadow and ethereal mists who does not think these security measures paid heed to their intrusion, easily bypassing each supposedly immovable portal with relative simplicity, nonchalantly progressing to the depths of the vault to a prize which should have been disposed of long ago. It is not until a trusted companion returns from a food run does the vampire hunter now know one of those secrets has been exposed … and she will go to any lengths to retrieve the sanguine remains all to keep them hidden and buried where they belong.
However as weeks pass and Liesel is no closer to tracking down her misplaced monstrosity the raven haired beauty happens upon a nondescript pawn shop manned by an unusual company, their after hour time spent complaining about the horrors of living above ground. But as an incessant knock on the front door interrupts their conversation the man answering the beckoning is horrified by what he finds until he is hurled across the store into a distant display case, his demonic nature fully exposed. With their disguises now unnecessary the inexperienced staff foolishly rush into the fray not knowing their lives are for naught against a veteran of hunting their race with cold wrought iron spikes making quick work of their ardent efforts. Now overcome by panic an incautious minion races through the back rooms and leads Van Helsing to the person she wants, a balding and rotund man whom she addresses as Oliver, the owner of this questionable establishment and perhaps a lead to hunting down her stolen prize. And yet as the two adversaries exchange introductory pleasantries, it is soon apparent the proprietor is not as he appears to be like the outside enforcers … for once he rises from his seat and exterior appearances are shed for something much more mammoth and monstrous, Liesel must deal with someone who may no longer be willing to answer her queries with sincere honesty.
When I first heard one of my favorite writers Raven Gregory would be handling the construction of a new Van Helsing title, I was honestly thinking the series would be peppered with psychological nuances to make readers question if they had taken a wrong turn and wandered into Wonderland, but now with the first issue firmly established and Liesel’s biting wit fully intact I can honestly state any concerns are now banished like a shadow exposed to the burning brightness of the warming sun. Taking the lead from Dave Franchini’s excellent short story within Grimm Universe Presents 2019, this tale explores the intriguing premise of allowing an old foe to influence the actions of the present, namely the villain mentioned in the title – Dracula. While we have been influenced by ideas from Bram Stoker’s classic novel and other pop culture references of once a vampire is destroyed they stay dead, the chance of other possibilities is fascinating to contemplate, especially since the valiant hunter no longer has the assistance of her dear partner Hades to aid in taking down the formidable foe, which she barely survived in their last encounter. And yet with the cringe worthy possibility of such malice wakening from beyond the grave, Gregory still gives the narrative a lighthearted tone by accenting it with comical moments such as demons quipping about other Zenescope heroines making their lives difficult and Van Helsing managing to slip in a joke before her battle with Oliver. It is occurrences like this which make this story both charming and memorable, allowing us to remember Liesel does not allow uncertainty to interfere with her centuries of experience, tempered by creating an environment which reflects her brash personality of not taking violence seriously if she can relieve the stress with her signature acerbic humor. This is what makes this vampire hunter so endearing to readers – while she may be ruthless to her enemies, Van Helsing has the temperament of a seasoned warrior who will not allow herself to be blinded by pursuits which may seem trivial, but with all of the history she has with this bloodsucker I cannot wait to see what will happen when she finally may face him again.
And while this title may be a Van Helsing series, it is refreshingly eerie to begin the issue with scenes which help to set the mood for the story by allowing the fantastic illustrations of Allan Otero to punctuate the opening with a Mission Impossible inspired robbery complete with lasers and a cloaked thief, but what makes the event fit so thoroughly within the mythos of the story are the phenomenal mystical colors of Robby Bevard which lend an ethereal influence to this haunting sequence, with the clever usage of neon tones lending to the magical intonations of the intruder. But at the same time, Otero also adds another nod to Van Helsing fans by showcasing relics from previous adventures, all while giving us a giggle to think back to the closing scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, recalling how expansive the warehouse was and comparing it to Liesel’s cache of souvenirs collected over the years. However even as we marvel at this artistic brilliance, it is strange to see our raven haired huntress has not made a full appearance, instead reserving the moment until the story calls for her burst forth after everything has set the stage for her forceful impact; this creates an atmosphere for the reader to absorb the graphic nature of her world, allowing us to remember dealing with devils is second nature … all before she presents herself in her beautiful glory: cyberpunk top hat with dual color lensed goggles, enticing bodice, open trench coat and revealing fishnets, everything to highlight her beauty and yet the devices dangling off her belt reinforce the fact she is a most dangerous woman to anything which dares to go bump in the night. This conducive mixture of seduction and pent up fury only adds to the dynamic nature of the character all with the simplicity of primary colors black and crimson emphasizing the warm tones of flesh peeking out from every place you would dare to stare, and yet the coldness of her gaze as she stares down opponents is made all the more comically pleasing once Liesel cracks us up with her playful expression after she stares down a powerful foe. This is how Liesel Van Helsing should be portrayed – a sexy woman who is not afraid to expose herself to danger if she can save an innocent, but at the same time her teasing gestures and frenetic motions remind us this heroine has survived for centuries and experience has taught her use whatever weapon to achieve the goal, whether it be a pleasing smile or an arrow through the head.
Van Helsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter reminds us why Liesel is our favorite hunter of those creatures who would dare to intrude upon the world of humanity and why any who cross her should be afraid of her wrath. With a enticing narrative and fantastic artwork which both stirs our imaginations and tempt us with gorgeous imagery, one cannot but marvel at this synergy between the written word and visual seduction. The stage has been set and with the temptation of a monumental battle looming on the horizon and I for one cannot wait to see how the story unfolds with so many possibilities for revenge and redemption.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: August 14, 2019