When Liesel needs help, her friends become involved … even if they don’t know it.
Writer: Raven Gregory
Artwork: Deivis Goetten
Colors: Robby Bevard
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
As the forces of evil, led by Dracula’s daughter, gather with plans to wreck havoc on all that Helsing hold dear, Liesel must race against time to save her former apprentice, Julie Jekyll, from the darkness growing inside her soul before it’s too late. Featuring a star studded cast of the Grimm Universe heroes, Robyn Locksley, and Hellchild, as well as the greatest villains, from Van helsing’s past, that she has never faced before.
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
At a pub in Ireland the woman known as Julie Jekyll has a conversation, with herself, but the dark initiator called Hyde has no intentions of allowing the blame to wane, instead stirring emotions and permitting guilt to anchor itself within her host. Even as she tries to deny who was at fault, someone enters this ramshackle tavern and while the scientist may be desperate to her Liesel’s voice, it is another who offers help. This cryptic woman reinforces the contradiction, reiterating Julie is not a monster, but those who see this sight will hate her for being different. And while she may wish to be left alone, the police who have answered the call for help will not allow that luxury, quietly arresting the guilty as they survey the massacre from her wake. But the shadowy lady will not leave as an angry crowd gathers around the patrol car, their rants of wanting justice echoing from outside as makeshift weapons shatter windows and dent metal, loudly making their intentions known. And yet her savior calmly asks the obvious – why does she want to protect these savages who so callously want her to pay for this unintentional crime? It is within her power to stop their foul words and unwanted actions … all she has to do is make them.
On another distant shore Robyn now finds herself freezing and perilously attempting to remain atop a semi-trailer, with her well-intentioned chase after thieves who stole a sarcophagus now ending with a glimpse at a changed Mina and this dubious predicament. Fingers long since gone numb, the heroic archer doubts herself and wonders when this wild trip will ever end, only to witness an answer as the massive transport pulls under the archway of an ominously illuminated and isolated castle. Silently creeping around dimly lit passageways and keeping to the shadows, Locksley knows this is too much to handle alone and tries to call for backup, but a familiar face stops such an effort with the need to question her presence. With a whispered call Robyn approaches Julie, but the lost researcher does not look surprised to see the vigilante, instead warning she should not be here and reversing the blonde’s own query as to her presence by stating she is finish a project for her Mistress. The response makes things ever more difficult, but before she can ask for elaboration an inhuman growl echoes from behind with its source quickly following – a mass of flesh and mechanical contraptions constructed to form a frightening menace, one long thought to be dead brought back to walk again.
As we settle back into the chaos which is Van Helsing’s life, one cannot but be temporarily taken aback by the lusciously sadistic method by which writer Raven Gregory brilliantly begins this issue: allowing a glimpse into the confusion which is now Julie’s mind – a constant struggle between darker impulses and sanity struggling for control, all as her innocence and the morality which have guided her now are on the verge of breaking down. One cannot but be compelled to watch this guilty pleasure as Gregory unravels his interpretation of the classic gothic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, and while many may have attempted this journey, it is his view through the eyes of a vulnerable woman which makes it all the more painful since we have developed a meaningful connection to this scientist via the prior series. The old fashioned viewpoint of a man striving to struggle with his primal side is a societal norm, assuming they are able to adjust to their feelings and hide them so as to be able to better cope with the everyday life, whereas women are considered more in touch with their emotions and thus helpless when having to deal with them. While this viewpoint may be deemed to be sexist and outdated, it is this notion which allows the opening sequence to work so well, especially when Charlotte steps in to manipulate her unwitting victim during this unguarded time; the reader cannot but sympathize and wish to comfort Jekyll, especially when this wicked woman hypnotizes her in to thinking everything is by Julie’s choice, when we all know she is being used as an end to achieve what she desires. It is this turning point that makes the story so deliciously intriguing and the linchpin to the series, with everyone being drawn to finding our unfortunate scientist and consequently why she is helping Liesel’s most hated foe. One cannot but appreciate how Gregory manipulates events to coincide with the unfolding of Dracula and his daughter’s ambitions, the gathering of allies and supplies for revenge against Van Helsing, even as our favorite vampire hunter unknowingly ventures deeper into the trap. It is this molding of the story which makes it suspenseful, with readers knowing information which our heroines do not, all while yelling at the page to warn them of an impending doom which may end them all.
With every issue, it seems as if illustrator Deivis Goetten outdoes himself from prior work, and this is no exception as the opening page has a wonderfully subtle elegance and a thrilling chill, so simply composed as to tempt the reader to watch as it unfolds, always wanting to turn away from implied cruelty and yet cannot as we watch a muscled bound alter ego slowly emerge from the darkness as Julie sits in surrendering light, the juxtaposition of shadow as cruelty and illumination as waning bits of sanity and innocence. Yet the effectiveness of these crisp images would have little resonance without a moving palette from colorist Robby Bevard, allowing silhouettes to play in the moonlight with a gleeful selection of subdued colors beautifully emphasizing each seductive curve of our villainess and cohorts, captivating the reader with the allure of temptation. Even as she calmly appears within the bloody tavern, one cannot but feel an underlying sultriness communicated via Goetten’s depiction of Charlotte, all as Jekyll is portrayed as the typical Damsel in Distress, waiting for Liesel to rescue her from the jeopardy she has placed herself. Those ominous glowing crimson eyes versus the sadness within deep blue, shining white fangs within a sadistic grin against pouting lips of pain and yet both are equally sexy within clothes which reveal as much skin as possible, having differing effects upon the readers’ well-educated eyes. You cannot but become enraptured as we watch Julie slowly surrender to Dracula’s Daughter as she utilizes her hypnotic gaze, her willpower erased as she accepts the guilt displayed by the gory massacre around the pub, all closing via a clever transition between panels as her willpower is slowly broken down, until we arrive at the final closure with a stunning contrast between her new Mistress’ ruby red lips and those entrancing crimson eyes, mirrored with the same close up of her victim’s own as if ensuring surrender. However as this corruption seeps ever deeper within the story, one knows it will only lure us more intensely within its unyielding grasp, making us want more of this amazing combination of grotesque imagery with enticing colors, littered within the beauty of both amoral appeal and honorable splendor.
One cannot object to the beauty within Van Helsing vs. The League of Monsters as it slowly seduces us with the psychological terror of sanity lost versus the intrigue of wanting to help at any cost. The story has been marvelous woven as to captivate readers via a need to sympathize with Julie, waiting for Liesel to come to the rescue, but balanced against the weakness of taking any hand offered when the need proves to become too great – this is the situation Julie finds herself and while we may disagree with her choice, one cannot deny we too may be tempted if placed within the same situation. Combine this gripping narrative with the alluring beauty of both friend and foe alike, all amplified with the seductive shadows of captivating colors and we are left with a title that thrills with each image even as we are terrified by the indisputable allure of corrupt strength made manifest.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: March 25th, 2020