Zenescope gets a bad rap, mostly for their use of scantily clad women on the covers of their fairy-tale inspired stories. Helsing suffers from this stigma as well. Honestly I probably wouldn’t have checked the book out if it weren’t for the fact that I love the character Van Helsing has become because of, and in spite of, the Dracula mythos.
The literary character of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, M.D., D.Ph., D.Litt., etc. was a friend of Dr. John Seward who contacted him for assistance regarding his fiancé Lucy’s malady (vampirism). John consults Van Helsing not as a vampire expert but because he was renown for his knowledge of obscure diseases. Luckily Van Helsing does have knowledge of vampires and becomes John’s mentor in their attempts to free Lucy from Count Dracula’s grasp.
When Van Helsing makes his movie appearances though he is usually presented as original “Vampire Slayer” and the archenemy of Count Dracula. He’s been played by many actors and the character has ranged from the scientific and professorial Abraham (among other surnames) Van Helsing, who I always picture as classic actor Peter Cushing who played a “Van Helsing” of some kind no less than five times between 1958 and 1974, to the near super human heroics of Van Helsing portrayed by Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing (2004) and Van Helsing: The London Assignment (2004). Zenescope’s Liesel Van Helsing is somewhere in the middle.
The daughter of Abraham, Liesel is a woman out of time recently escaped (?) from being held captive in a hell dimension, she’s here, in our time, hunting monsters. She’s a scientist, and engineer, an inventor, and a bad-ass. The only thing I have the urge to knock is the outfit. She looks like a steam-punk Zatana. It’s attractive, it just seems silly in a way. And that’s coming from a guy who reads super hero comics. Maybe I’ve been warped by the Buffy and Angel series’ I loved so much. I just wish we could have a hot, sexy heroine who wears clothes. If you’ve seen Lost Girl you know what I’m talking about, you can push the envelope without going too far.
Now don’t let that dissuade you from buying this book. This isn’t cheesecake. This is an action-adventure story that takes the time to develop characters as well. Issue one opens with a great scene that juxtaposes a cemetery battle with a weapon design and building session. The layouts are great, really good storytelling and the dialogue (including Liesel’s narration) doesn’t stray into the overly dramatic.
Interestingly unlike most issue 1’s we don’t get the full story of Liesel’s past. There is the “story so far” opening page…
Born in the early 1800s, Liesel Van Helsing is the daughter of the
famed vampire slayer Abraham Van Helsing. Liesel, as both a genius inventor and a skilled hunter, became known as the scourge of the Underworld when she created steam-powered devices to dispatch her prey. Back then, Liesel was unbeatable… but what about now?
After spending more than a century trapped in a hellish dimension called the Shadowlands, Liesel has returned to Earth
and is beginning her life anew. Dedicated to not only taking out
vampires, Helsing occasionally fights all kinds of evil alongside
her friend Sela Mathers and the other Realm Knights sworn to
protect Earth. However, a powerful evil from the past has been
waiting in the shadows for his chance at a reckoning… and that
chance has arrived.
This is the story of Liesel Van Helsing… vampire hunter
Which gives you the facts but when reading the issue you find yourself asking questions. I love that. I was interested in who this woman is and why she’s doing what she’s doing. I’m not going to delve into the plot except to say that what could have been a run of the mill vampire book turned out to have a very interesting plot, I look forward to see where it goes.
I think Pat Shand has given us a worthy addition to the Van Helsing family. I’m giving Helsing: Issue 1 (of 4): Epistolary 3.5 Steam Driven Stakes out of 5! I this book will be an enjoyable read for anyone into the vampire hunting genre (c’mon it’s a genre now, a sub-genre at least…)
Grimm Fairy Tales: Helsing #1
Writer: Shand, Patrick
Cover Artist: Ruffino, Nei
On Sale: April 23, 2014
Diamond Id: FEB141571
Format: LIMITED SERIES
ANDRESS ESPARZAFRAN GAMBOAJ.C. RUIZJim CampbellNei RuffinoNicole GladePatrick ShandTONY BRESCINI