Van Helsing: Bloodlust 2020 Annual
Zenescope Entertainment 2020
Written by Joe Brusha
Illustrated by Daniel Maine
Coloured by Robby Bevard & Maxflan Araujo
Lettered by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios
Van Helsing has had a long life and career of doing what her family does best, vampire hunting. And during her time, mistakes have been made; lives have been lost with Liesel being the first to own all her failures among her successes. But when something from her past comes crawling from the shadows, a creature with hate and revenge aimed for the famed vampire hunter, there’s no telling what is in store for Liesel and her friends and if they will even be ready for it when it strikes.
I was hoping Dave Franchini or Raven Gregory was going to be writing this as I love their style and how they construct and build a story. Joe’s still learning and while the story concept is good the structure of the story has holes in it that are overlooked and discarded and think this is because he doesn’t know how to bridge the gap and put it all in the story. Regardless this is a pretty solid outing from Joe all things considered. Still the concept is solid and by taking an event from Liesel’s past and looping into the present is a great idea. Though I do wish we’d learn how he ended up on the Island to begin with because that I find hard to see happening naturally.
The story & plot development we see through how the sequence of events unfold and how the reader learns information isn’t as solid as I’d like but we do see quite the story taking place. Also who exactly is doing the exploring in the opening and what do they have to do with all this in the grand scheme of things? The character development that we see is interesting and that a random gentleman who takes a fancy to LIesel and vice versa is something we don’t see enough of and with Hades back will he show up in her life again or will he end up being a bad guy himself? It’s an interesting dilemma and it’s one I want to see play itself out. The pacing is choppy to me there isn’t a good ebb & flow to the story and it’s a lot boom we’re here and wham we’re there going on the segways aren’t very smooth.
Now the interior here are rather stunning to see. Out first glimpse of the vampire creature is startling, grotesque and everything possible that will give you nightmares. So the creativity and imagination we see is utterly brilliant. The way we see the linework and it’s varying weights being utilised to bring out such detail work is beautifully done. Our vampire creature, the box he arrived in and then to see the past the way we do it is simply stunning how much the details we see evoke feelings in the reader. The way backgrounds are utilised is fantastic and it enhances the moments and brings us this nice depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the book. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a masterful eye for storytelling. The colour work we see is wonderfully rendered as well. How the various hues and tones within the colours are being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is exceptional. The more sepia tones denoting the past like in aged photographs feels inspired.
There is so much going on here and so many threads that are left dangling in the wind, of which I would like to see a few of them explored further. Also I am a bit confused with the ending but that’s par for the course and I look forward to seeing how that came about as well. The way this is structured and how the layers within the story are done don’t always connect with each other and leave the reader wondering and not in the best of ways. Still I loved this and used my mind to bridge the gaps so things made sense and let’s face it Liesel and Julie are a draw for me and I want to see so much more of them.