Sometimes the truth … is best left in the past.
Writer: Raven Gregory
Artwork: Allan Otero
Colors: Robby Bevard
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Helsing finally comes face-to-face with Dracula’s Daughter and learns the truth behind her nemesis mysterious origins. Origins that will shake Van Helsing and her universe down to its core. Don’t miss this action packed issue 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):
After a long journey of fleeing from the one who wishes to harm them the most, Elizabeth finally finds some solace and a bit of peace to rest and recover her strength, but this partner cannot leave their pursuer unattended. After writing a final entry in the journal as plea to their future daughter, the servant who was left behind finds it strange to see his lady packing to leave on another trip. However as he asks why she is arranging a suitcase, an unseen intruder ends his life before any answer can be given, only then to have the new mother wait from her visitor what she knows must be done to seal her forbidden secret and the truth from all. It is only after her collaborator returns from his fruitless hunt does he survey the carnage and realize they have been found, with bodies littering the halls and a need to find his mate foremost on his mind the man rushes to the bedroom, but it is too late. The beautiful woman lies on the bed with a massive wound perforating chest and the warmth of her heart now forever stilled, but as her mate turns to see his attacker he also knows their child will not meet the same fate for preparations have been made, with her mother’s diary to be given when the time is right.
As Liesel and Julie continue their inevitable trip toward Transylvania, the resourceful scientist resumes her research into the serum that helped in the last battle, all while watching an exhausted friend finally get some much deserved rest. With memories of Jonathan and Mina’s death still fresh on their minds, Jekyll knows sleep is for the best and yet with the success of her formula and possible side effects an issue, this dedicated researcher cannot stop until she increases its effectiveness and any chance of failure has been eliminated. With a quick trip to the lavatory to splash on some needed cold water for a refreshing jolt, the white haired beauty mentally goes over the consequences of her last usage only to be reminded of how she is now hearing voices with more frequency, only to be shocked back from her thoughts with the unexplained movement of her hand. While Julie thinks this event is due to fatigue, the guilt of her failure plagues Van Helsing’s dreams of memories from their first meeting to the many more which should have followed, with the nightmare concluding with a trip to the Harkers’ home and the face of her unknown foe now threatening to overcome all. Slowly wiping the sleep from her eyes Jekyll informs her employer she has been asleep for most of the flight, but she in turn is warned by Liesel to turn away from using her experiment, with the echoes of her loss still fresh and not wanting to add to any more regrets.
It took several re-readings to finally figure out the true meaning being portrayed within the first half of this book, and when you consider the events described within prior issues the effect as a whole creates a tragedy which writer Raven Gregory has masterfully manipulated into one which readers would have never expected – a second reversal within Van Helsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter and who the true enemy may have been. After noting this realization and looking back on previous stories, it is frightening to see how Gregory strategizes the telling and never allows the reader to witness who Elizabeth was fleeing from nor does she directly address her partner, with him always being kept in shadow and the big revelation making this repercussive effect all the more mind numbing. The audience makes the assumption from her journal excerpt it is Abraham’s greatest enemy and with this seed of knowledge sown into our collective minds, the lie continues to blossom until it blooms into something which is simultaneously beautiful and toxic, strangling the truth we took for granted and unveils it as being something entirely different. Then if you take into account the positioning of the diary which Liesel uncovers and reflect who it was originally meant for, the narrative adds another radical dimension by supplementing the Van Helsing daughter against its true owner … warping our perceptions yet again. To have such talented story crafting within a graphic novel is wondrous, however having a dual plot twist is mind boggling in causing us to suspend our belief in what may be probable and take on the task of what is possible as this masterful story begins its final act. However if prior acts were any indication of the path Van Helsing’s emotional melodrama may take, against someone whose revenge has been centuries in the planning I would not underestimate this greatest rival or its creator Raven Gregory.
And yet even within such literary complexity, the incredibly moving illustrations of Allan Otero stir within the audience an emotional torrent of the unexpected, allowing for Robby Bevard’s richly nuanced colors to evoke an unexplained tension within each panel and allow our eyes to follow fluidly as Elizabeth she prepares for what she knows is coming. The stoic beauty of a midnight scene and sapphire blues bestow upon the mother a pain which seems inevitable, with royal purple making her appeal regal within the suffering, and a lack of light casting a ghastly veil of doom upon the castle proper, foreshadowing what is to come. You cannot but gasp in panic as you see her shrink back from what is to come, with the same crimson from the prior image casting its same terror, with Otero effortlessly crafting a painful sense of calmness upon her face as she accepts her fate. And yet it is the reveal of who the true terror is which makes the audience gasp in confusion and surprise, still stunned as to see who she was accompanied by all this time and we thought otherwise, all as the pulse beat along the bottom echoes the tension of both hunter and prey. The subtle nuances of illuminated equality between the men cast a shadow of doubt as to who is the true monster within, with this talented artistic team etching the conviction of their believes for all to see. The simplicity of the final stroke makes the scene more effective than an excessive show of gore, with the reader wanting to believe this is a nightmare all enclosed within a phantasmal dream of delirium. However as we return to Liesel and our eyes adjust to an abundance of light, one has to question who was in the right as these facts settle into a nightmare for our gorgeous Brit to survey with a conscious burdened by guilt. When compared to the gothic elegance of shadows dancing upon tragedy, these materialized memories of the past and what could have been are hauntingly depicted with Otero’s powerful images, but they are made all the more effective with succinct clarity due to the lack of Bevard’s expansive palette and the provocation of the same midnight blues as used before, but made all the more nightmarish due to a concentration of this singular color in provocative tones. This subtly crushes our need to fight back due to the tranquility expressed within the calmness of the color and yet as gradations become darker and provoke a sense of unease, the audience knows the end is approaching, and we can do nothing to stop it.
Van Helsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter has once again exceeded our expectations as to what should be the standard norm within a horror title, substituting excessive gore with psychological nuances which toss the anticipated out the window and allow the reader to question what should be accepted or allowed. To see Elizabeth involved within a warped triangle of deception was dumbfounding but to see what resulted from this ruse was all the more troubling, with the heir of the family not knowing what dark secret was hidden in the past. But as we are enraptured by mesmerizing visuals which threaten to shatter our sense of reality, the hope of a conclusion which makes us cheer and cry simultaneously gives us great expectations for what is to come.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: November 27, 2019