Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Helsing #1 (Comics Review)

I’ve read a few Zenescope stories in the last couple years, such as Alice In Wonderland, NeverlandJungle Book and the first arc of Grimm Fairy Tales. They’ve all been quite fun stories, especially the first two, and one thing that has really struck me is that Zenescope relies heavily on its female characters. Whether they are characters out of myths or urban legends, mythology or fiction, female characters dominate Zenescope’s various books. Going with that theme then, last week the publisher released Helsing #1, the first in a new series that focuses on Liesel van Helsing, daughter of the famed vampire hunter Abraham van Helsing.

I’ve been waiting for this title for quite a while, ever since it was announced, especially since I recently watched the entire Dracula mini-series, which was quite fun indeed and Abraham van Helsing in that was quite a reserved badass. In this new series, we see Liesel established as a feared vampire hunter in her own right and also see her social life, even as writer Pat Shand leaves a lot of clues for readers to pick up on for future issues. And the art by Tony Brescini and Andress Esparza, while having a painted quality, seems to fit the character as well, though it lacks a bit of polish.

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Helsing 01Zenescope is one of the smaller publishers in the industry and their shtick is basically doing stuff on the risque side. If you just look at the covers for the majority of their books, you’ll see that they go for a certain level of sexualisation of their characters. Since the majority of their characters are female, there are some obvious and expected routes that such an approach goes, although the internal art may be quite different. I’ve certainly see a lot of criticism of the publisher on that account alone. And so, in that context, it is quite refreshing that Brescini and Esparza stray away from that for this book (more on that later).

The issue starts off quite fantastically by taking a shot at the whole Twilight craze and more besides. It is a good way to start off I think since it helps lighten the mood immediately and also provides a nice contrast to Liesel’s monologue regarding her work and her hobby: inventing new weapons to take down vampires. And the very first few pages show exactly that. The monologue is quite focused and direct, in keeping with Liesel’s actions in these pages. She doesn’t waste time on any kind of talkative nonsense, pontificating about the evil nature of vampires or such. She kills vampires and that’s that.

From there we move on to other things, as we see Liesel and her relationship with the Greek god Hades, and then get a flashback of her father’s days as a vampire hunter himself. Pat Shand does a lot in these few pages and what I found to be the best element was the social aspect of things. A vampire hunter dating a god of hell? That has win written all over it. Pat Shand’s writing in these pages is somewhat less focused than the previous pages and I didn’t quite get why Liesel is so apprehensive about an actual romantic relationship, but I appreciated that the writer dealt with it nevertheless. It adds colour to Liesel’s character, and makes her more three-dimensional than just a kickass hero.

The final few pages set up the mystery of what this first arc, Epistolary, is going to be about and my curiosity is quite tickled. An old adventure from her father’s days s a vampire hunter is rearing its head again and soon she will be confronting the legacy of that, so I’m expecting lots of good things in the coming months.

Tony Brescini is the main artist on this issue, with Andress Esparza doing the three pages with the flashbacks of Abraham van Helsing. Fran Gamboa and J. C. Ruiz provide the colours with Jim Campbell on the letters. On the whole, I like the artwork for this issue, but I think that it is a bit too painted. More inking was needed maybe? Not sure. But I liked Brescini and Esparza’s characterwork. And as I said before, the former stays away from oversexualising his character, other than giving her corset a deep cleavage and giving her an outfit with short-shorts and fishnets, kind of like the DC superhero Black Canary. At the same time though, we only see Liesel in her work outfit for all of six panels in total, and she spends the rest of the time (most of it) in quite sedate clothes, like when she goes for her date with Hades to a cupcake place. And the colours were also nice, they matched the tone and mood of the story, and were thus suitably subdued for most of the issue.

The issue leaves you with a lot of questions, but then that’s a good thing since it provides the narrative hooks for a reader to come back for the next issue, which I will be!

Rating: 8.5/10

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Posted on April 28, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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