"Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Helsing #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Zenescope
Written by Pat Shand
Illustrated by Tony Brescini and Andres Esparza
2014, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 21st, 2014
Modern day culture probably has a bad taste in their collective mouths when it comes to Van Helsing thanks to that crappy Hugh Jackson movie that came out a few years ago. Zenescope is aiming to change that feeling and make it sexier with their own version of the character. Instead of centering on some old guy hunting down vampires, their comic, Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Helsing, is focused on his daughter Liesel, a feisty brunette in steampunk garb who wakes up in our present, which is over a hundred years from her future. It's like a sexy version of Captain America with vampires.
Anyway, Liesel Van Helsing has found herself in the middle of a mystery. After receiving a piece of her father's lost journals revealing a super powerful vampire, she travels to Italy to learn more and encounters – you guessed it – more vampires. As she goes deeper into the rabbit hole of her father's past, she begins to unearth secrets that drastically change everything she knew of her family. Unfortunately for her, everyone she knew is long dead, so there's no one else she can go ask about this...unless they're a vampire I guess, because they don't really age.
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Liesel is sure of herself only when she's in the field. Otherwise she is constantly questioning her decisions, especially when it comes to other people. She's more comfortable alone in her workshop, constructing devices to destroy bloodsuckers. It probably doesn't help matters that she's sort of seeing Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. I missed a few issues when she was first introduced, so I'm not sure how that all works. It's a strange connection. She spends nearly an entire page towards the beginning of the issue trying to take the perfect selfie and failing miserably.
What sticks out like a sore thumb in Helsing is the dialogue. Liesel is British. You can tell because she uses the word “bloody” every thirty seconds. It's very clear that author Pat Shand is not from the UK, but he is trying very hard to make this character sound like she is. It comes off as very inauthentic. Granted, I'm not from the UK either, but I've spoken to enough people from that side of the pond to know that they don't actually sound like that. Pip Pip! Cheerio!
Liesel's design is a steampunk lover's dream; long trenchoat, elaborate top hat with large goggles, red corset, and fishnets. Fortunately, her boobs aren't popping out.
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The artwork for this issue is split between Tony Brescini and Andres Esparza with the former drawing the scenes set in the present day with Liesel and the latter handling the pages in flashback dealing with her father. Brescini's work is a little rough, with characters often appearing bony and positioned in awkward angles. The aforementioned selfie page is particularly tough as Liesel is making a series of different facial expressions which, when put side-by-side, look like she's passing a bowel movement.
Esparza on the other hand presents some great artwork with a classic look that works well with the flashback. You can tell from the first panel of his pages that this is an older time. He also brings more emotion to the characters, especially in old man Van Helsing, who suffers an incredible loss.
This version of Helsing is interesting, but I'm not entirely sold on the character. Shand is carving out a niche within the Grimm Universe where vampires and slayers can roam as well as adapting classic characters to fit next to gods and people from fairy tales.