Vengeance now has a new name … and it is Liesel Van Helsing.
Writer: Raven Gregory
Artwork: Allan Otero
Colors: Robby Bevard
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Hot on the trail of the monster responsible for stealing the bones of her greatest enemy, Helsing will learn firsthand that the threat she now faces may be the greatest threat of all.
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Liesel did not know what to expect in this isolated pawn shop aside from demons hiding in plain sight and a clue to the missing bones, but when she uncovered a journal penned by her mother Elizabeth did this hunt became all the more interesting. It was written before her child’s birth and they were on the run from a creature who would not give up the pursuit, with their home now gone and they were forced to flee to the Netherlands even as Abraham urged her they would be safe. But as their daughter read her mother’s words of nostalgia, assistant Julie wandered into the same nondescript store and looked over the messy handiwork, concerned as to her employer’s current wellbeing only to learn the tracker was ignored as she was too busy reading the diary. It was only then did they hear the front door chime alerting to a new visitor, it was a sultry woman wearing a seductive evening gown sporting multicolored hair and carrying an imposing suitcase from which a courteous voice echoed a polite word of thanks. Only after seeing many fanged tentacles issue forth from the luggage did Julie question their presence, with Van Helsing calmly explaining they were called Eaters from the realm of Myst and she used them to clean up after rather messy conflicts and warned her aide she never saw or knew of their existence. Once the procedure was complete and the disposal was paid for did her colleague ask if she had returned the messages from Jonathan or Mina, with Liesel not knowing her friends had called in the midst of the heated battle.
Unfortunately, the couple in question now found themselves sequestered in a barren warehouse, with floodlights illuminating the dank area and multiple video cameras and monitors littered around them, their use unknown for the time being. As they questioned each others’ health and how they arrived in this troubling predicament neither could recall much aside a masked man and woman then blacking out, but as if to answer these troubling queries a chilling voice echoed from unseen darkness and the haunting source sauntered forward with gleaming fangs and crimson eyes. This menacing seductress wasted no time intimidating her frightened guests even as they attempted to put forth a brave front, with the formidable torturer teasing as to the Harkers’ reputation and their fortunate alliance with a certain Van Helsing. With great pleasure she traced a bleeding gash across Mina’s cheek and licked the results, all as Jonathan tried to warn off their keeper with empty threats though her response was caustically cynical, for she did wish to harm them yet – only to used them as lure for the true quarry. Then as if on cue the woman at the center of this interrogation finally deemed to return their phone calls, only to be answered by an evocative sound of the unfamiliar taunting this hunter to keep better track of her human pets. The gauntlet had been thrown and a challenge issued, but will Liesel answer such an obvious ploy … as if there was any doubt – but can she afford to answer this plea for an insincere rescue?
As we become engrossingly fascinated by Liesel’s latest venture into the darkness, writer Raven Gregory’s intriguing tale reminds us why were adore the confidence of this beautiful woman and yet this title has exposed a new facet to her personality – one which treasures ties to family and friends and will go to any lengths to sterilize festering wounds from old foes. It is this cyclical history from her father’s most hated foe Dracula which now comes to terms with the grief she is forced to face with the discovery of her mother’s journal and the suffering of the Harkers sparked by the theft of her worst enemy. One husk of a man alone has taken so much from the Van Helsing family as the hunt grew ever closer: Elizabeth was murdered to deter the chase, Liesel watched Abraham turn and was forced to kill him, Mina and Jonathan were caught up in this endless pursuit, Hades’ daughter Angelica was seduced by the vampire then converted and now her friends are once again caught in this vicious madness even as they tried to forget its effects. It is this psychological trauma initiated by an act of kindness which makes Van Helsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter such a compelling tale, to have an entire series revolve around painful memories is captivating and is it especially fruitful when one takes into consideration the history between Van Helsing and Dracula. All involved have witnessed this bloodsucker take something away from them be it loved ones or ignorance of what truly happens within Liesel’s world and it is only now does everything come into focus and create a legacy which is fitting for what is to come. It is for this reason which Gregory’s inception of a new foundation forms such a resonating impact upon readers who are familiar with this infamous history: ever since Liesel has been begun to protect humanity never has someone or something else has instigated the hunt … in other words, she has always been the one who has ventured forth to investigate rumors, pursue clues or follow up on calls from colleagues to seek the monsters – and not the other way around. This turn of the tables has forced our beautiful vampire hunter to go on the defensive all in an attempt to seek revenge for a recent wrong, even if the feud may have been settled long ago it is clear someone does not wish to let go of the past all in an effort to claim a new future.
And while this issue may start with somber menace thanks to the fantastic imagery conjured forth by Allan Otero, it is the phenomenal color pageantry of Robby Bevard which provokes the reader to become fascinated by the majesty of this unfolding story, with an emotive palette wondrously connecting the past and present. To watch her mother’s memories materialize creates such a motivation to continue, watching concern etched into her face all as she holds a charred doll is moving, allowing the reader to form a connection as we witness their loss but at the same time a symbol of hope growing in the woman’s belly. However amid all of the gruesomeness displayed, one cannot forget the true manifestation of evil within the story: a shadowy form watching the departing train against a beautiful sunset is serene when compared to the captivating allure within that gorgeous splash of a woman who oozes sadistic tension, her malice seemingly tangible as we hypnotically gaze longingly over her enticing hourglass figure and curvaceous bodice, only to be brought back to our senses thanks to those hate-filled glowing ruby eyes and shiny white fangs. How can one not recognize the hatred within this villainess, the confidence formed within her every movement and displayed pleasure as she teases her victims … this is an introduction worthy of Liesel’s premier foe. And yet Otero does not allow us to forget Van Helsing should be the main focus of this title, allowing the reader to fall back under her mesmerizing beauty as she lies prone waiting treatment, with Bevard’s masterful control of light and shadow to enhance each delicious curve. However, this masterful artistic team cannot allow the audience to be satisfied with these visual temptations when horror is the mainstay of Liesel’s existence, even if it must strike too close to home as we rescue the Harkers within the grim warehouse. You cannot but become sickened and allow yourself to be emotionally shaken to see Mina sprawled out upon the chair, darkness dancing around her as monitors taunt Van Helsing she is too late to save her friend from the torment of a sick mind. Dark crimson splattered across her body signals the pain she was forced to endure, but to turn the page and see eclipsed within eerie luminescence the form of someone we hold dear is heartbreaking – you cannot but shed tears to know who it is with the morbid form of arm with wedding ring intact forcing us to accept one of Liesel’s dearest friends is gone. This is the end of innocence for all … with the literary gauntlet thrown down within a pool of blood, knowing the next issue can only signal a pitched battle now sparked within her determined teary eyes.
Van Helsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter is quickly becoming my favorite title following the adventures of Liesel Van Helsing and not strictly for visual enjoyment, but due to the physiological twist of turning the hunter into the hunted and permitting the prey to dictate the rules of the game. While protecting humanity may be a noble goal, it is the provocative notion of creating friction within our British beauty’s controlled world which allows her usually stable emotions to rage into an inferno which will steer Van Helsing into risks that she might normally take and create situations all the more satisfying than simple pursuit. One cannot but want a good revenge story and with the resources at Liesel’s disposal … you cannot but think someone will end up having a very bad day.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: September 18, 2019