Review: Van Helsing Vs. Dracula #1
There is likely no villain as pervasive as Dracula. He is maybe not the most intimidating of comic book super villains, but as a character borrowed from literature and history, he has shown up at practically every major comic company. He is a big enough enemy of the X-Men at Marvel, has shown up occasionally at Marvel, and even in the past year has already been featured in his own miniseries, which he shared with the Blood Queen at Dynamite. With such a wide swath of appearances, it makes sense that he would appear in Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales, a setting which is established on the very concept of ripping off characters from myth, legend, fairy tales, and literature. As the Grimm Fairy Tales universe expanded it also made sense to expand its list of heroes, most of whom happen to be female. In this case a female vampire hunter by the name of Liesel Van Helsing, with a fair amount of steampunk, was thrown into the continuity, although the character has never really been able to find a solid home at the company, rather appearing in a sequence of cameos. Perhaps this is on the verge of changing as she is featured in his first standalone miniseries, and one taking on the darkest creature of the night.
For those that are accustomed to Grimm Fairy Tales, they will find that there is something familiar here, but for those that are not they might be confused at some of the very basic concepts introduced here. As the main universe of Grimm Fairy Tales tends to be pretty jumbled, often without a lot of direction, it should come as no surprise that a Victorian steampunk vampire hunter is dating Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. For those that might like to look past this part, it is not really possible, as he is not here as a cameo, but rather as a major part of what is pushing forward the plot. As it turns out, one of Liesel’s old friends has a bit of a vampire problem, and she is off to investigate it, with the god of the dead in tow. Little does she know though that Hades and Dracula already have a history (which is a bit of a stretch even by Grimm Fairy Tales’ standards) and this complicates her goal of helping her friend.
It might seem that this issue is overly busy, but it never really is. The inclusion of Hades is perhaps a poor choice, but it is an editorial choice that was made long ago, and the writer here has to deal with what they have. Despite this, this is a hard issue to get an impression of for where the miniseries might be heading. For those that are interested in a bit of supernatural, they will probably find this approachable enough, but there is really not much here to tell whether it will be one of the better Grimm Fairy Tales projects, or something more limited. As it stands after the first issue it evidently has the potential, only it is unclear what it can make of it.
Story: Pat Shand Art: Michele Bandini
Story: 7.6 Art: 7.6 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read