Pain fuels vengeance … and Liesel’s anger is stoked by fury.
Writer: Raven Gregory
Artwork: Allan Otero
Colors: Robby Bevard
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Reeling from the tragic events of last issue, Helsing is hellbent on tracking down the creature who hurt her friends and turned her world upside down. But as the mysterious identity of her foe is revealed Helsing will learn how easily the hunter can become the prey. Brought to you by the dynamic creative team from Revenge of Wonderland, writer Raven Gregory and artist Allan Otero.
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Her name is Julie Kenzie Jekyll and it was not long ago when she made the mistake of working for the wrong side as a biochemist on a blood farm, but when she learned the unsavory truth it was fortunate Liesel saved her one stormy evening before said employers turned the scientist into a meal. After being rescued and learning the certainty that things do go bump in the night this doctor helped Van Helsing in testing new methods to pacify creatures which plagued humanity, plus thankfully due to her knowledge they were able to refine the serum which cured vampirism into a panacea which may prove the turning point in the never-ending battle against the darkness. However even as she continued her research she cannot but be reminded of several incidents which have puzzled local authorities and her friend: dozens of unsolved murders where no trace of the perpetrator could be found, kidnappings of high-end prostitutes and then a busload of students also reported missing with both cases leading to no clues, all seeming linked to the some unexplainable source. However, as these curious occurrences continued unabated, they did not hinder Julie’s experiments to improve their chances in bettering the odds against the various monsters which they must conquer to make the world safe for the unwary.
But even as these recollections of the past continue to haunt the present Jekyll cannot allow them to cloud her judgment, especially with her concerns now focused as to what happened to Liesel after rushing into the warehouse to save the Harkers and a lack of communication is proving to be alarming. Although as a good scientist Julie knows experiments must be thoroughly tested before utilizing them especially in the field, this situation may prove to be the exception as she witnesses a realization of the numerous disappearances now opening up and the vile results assaulting the abandoned building. Seeing no other choice this intrepid doctor injects herself with the elixir with the best of intentions and launches herself into the unknown, seeing this as the only possibility to save her companion and learn what has kept her silent after entering what was most certainly a trap. It is only then after feeling an invigoration of strength does Julie enter this impossible situation and now seeing why Van Helsing remained quiet – the once-proud woman is now surrounded by formerly kidnapped monstrosities with eyes red and a hunger for human blood and yet she can do nothing … grief crushing her strength as she holds a lifeless body and tears streak down her face. Can this rookie hunter return the favor by rescuing a hopeless friend or are they both doomed to become a meal for this rabid mob of sanguine ravagers?
Just when we think the last issue was gripping in exposing the truth behind Van Helsing’s history, writer Raven Gregory unravels our favorite vampire hunter’s seemingly stoic personality by striking deep within her most vulnerable weaknesses … her all too human emotions. It is ironic she defeated her most formidable foe by driving a stake through his heart and now this unknown rival poetically cripples Liesel through the same motion, luring her friends the Harkers via an act of mercy and trapping them afterward by their kindness. But of course this manipulative woman knows she cannot end this distress so swiftly, she must make the raven-haired Brit suffer just as she has and the key is to film their torture as a memento, even as she leaves their blood-stained bodies behind to break the enemy who has done so much wrong to her. It is with this heartbreaking event which we now see our once dynamic heroine as this issue begins and I will admit I cried to now realize Jonathan and Mina were gone, even as the shadow of her husband’s body hangs hauntingly behind to witness Liesel gently cradling the still warm form of the woman who anguished due to Dracula’s hand and now she passes due to the thief who has stolen his body. One cannot imagine how much they were tormented: Jonathan had his wife kidnapped and returned to him after she was turned, asking for his parents’ permission to marry and the sweet days after the honeymoon cut short as they once again become involved within their friend’s life of hunting monsters. They could have lived in quiet isolation away from those creatures after the last encounter and no one would blame them, but instead chose to stay close to Liesel to help and perhaps for protection …. and yet now they lay still due to that involvement. How much can Van Helsing blame herself for their deaths, she could have told them to stay away but of course, her kind nature would never permit such selfishness, but now that foolishness has caused her to lose the people she may have considered family after having to kill her father so long ago. This story has so many monumental plot twists you cannot begin to ponder where the narrative will turn next, but with Julie’s introduction and use of the serum how can you now wonder the possibilities of expansion, especially with a last name such as Jekyll? Yet Gregory could have made the story’s cruelty all the more abhorrent if Liesel was forced to do what she does with all those tainted, but the allowance to settle the Harkers in peace gives Van Helsing and us a moment of peace before we set off to avenge their deaths – which we will need to settle fragile sentiments before the true battle begins.
Even as the story leaves us shaking like a leaf from an horrendous emotional state, the striking illustrations of Allan Otero arouse us as it beautifully portrays a proper introduction for Julie all as Robby Bevard passively creates a tranquil environment with the sterile color scheme until the scenery erupts with excitement and his palette compensates via equal enthusiasm. However even as we become enveloped within this build-up to the present, all other images pale in comparison once we disturb the silence of Liesel’s painful mourning amidst a mob of hungry vampires … with one of two single pages now my favorite from all of the brilliance displayed before within the Van Helsing franchise. I still shudder to remember how Otero shifts our attention from a spectacular double-spread of monstrous women scaling the building to a single panel modestly shadowed by Bevard’s brilliant usage of black and ash gradients, all to focus upon raven hair framing Liesel’s painful tear-streaked face; and yet the misery for her and us only builds as the camera pulls out and her tresses fall forward almost as if she is now veiled within a mourning robe … or more elegantly as a materialization of the Grim Reaper. However, even this chilling portrayal has a double meaning while her hair transforms into a hood for you cannot forget the woman behind it as her curves are extenuated by a crimson bodice, even as we watch as the panorama morphs again as we further watch the event. Luminescent screens display final tortuous moments all as we gasp in horror to see the limp form of Mina as she collapses within Death’s arms, her head arching back in eternal slumber while crimson splatters a body who thankfully can no longer feel … and as I said before – I pitifully cried to see this powerful essence of misery and suffering all as death approached on shambling, bloodthirsty feet. How can one not feel Liesel’s agony from this simple expansive transition: showing even a woman as strong as Van Helsing can be vulnerable to the pain of losing those close to you as danger surrounds and threatens to close in for the kill. And yet even in this time of trouble, Liesel is never alone as Julie burst in with a costume in pale comparison to her mentor while white hair frames her beautiful face, sparkling sapphire eyes and appealing bustier and midriff expose as much skin as possible all as she presents a confidence from over-enthusiasm. However even as this bold scientist is prepared to face an impossible task, I cannot deny my other favorite page is how as Van Helsing hears carnage rage around her and tears cease with the re-ignition of piercing fury within her eyes which signal the end of mourning and a new beginning to stopping anyone else from suffering as she has … all as she places Mina to rest and covers her sightless eyes. This single motion has so much meaning for Liesel: closing a chapter in her life, accepting her friends’ passing and pronouncing the ones who perpetrated such an atrocity will not live for much longer.
Van Helsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter has created a moving foundation for a heroine who we always assumed had her emotions under control and yet now we witness so powerfully Liesel is like any other person who can be brought to misery when the enemy foolishly attack those closest to her heart. This vulnerability exposes a side of this beautiful woman which we knew existed and yet she never allowed to be exposed all to keep her edge intact against who would take advantage of this weakness. However, as tragedy has released her restraints woe be to the one who dared to approach too close to home, for now they must face a weapon tempered by vengeance and will not stop until her anger has quenched in their vile blood. I cannot wait to see what other phenomenal visual treats this artistic team will have for us in the near future as we embrace what may be the most difficult fight Van Helsing will ever have all to avenge those closest to her and finally put an end to the threat of a foe she thought once defeated now stirs with claw and fang from beyond the greatest mystery.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: October 23rd, 2019