After taking on all manner of beasts and monsters, including Dracula and Frankenstein, Liesel Van Helsing finds herself close to death in the Himalayas. However, where there are mountains, there is always a fortress of sorts. Here is no different as a group of monks spirit her to the relative safety of their abode. As luck would have it the monks are in the same line of business as Liesel. What is even luckier is that the monks have captured a vampire which Liesel manages to interrogate where the monks had failed, to learn that the migration of the undead is due to the attention of a werewolf. Armed in her usual manner, companioned by her young monk guide, Liesel sets off the solve this supernatural mystery.
There are a few surprises in this book, some good, some bad, but the biggest surprise has to be the book is written by comic legend Chuck Dixon. For those that don’t recognise the name, Chuck Dixon was arguably Mr Batman in the 90’s working with every Bat character, increasing his supporting cast and co-creating the popular Steph Brown and bat back breaker Bane. Here, he is back to writing a female lead. This is something that Dixon excels at; lest we forget his work on Catwoman and his Birds of Prey books. Liesel is definitely a character that Dixon can work his magic on, at least with monologue and the dialogue. The story does have a couple of coincidences for which to suspend our disbelief, including the attempt to cover our heroine up as she is surrounded by snow! Finally, I found it odd that monks using the internet and smart phones in the Himalayas created such a “Really??” moment for me, when I have probably seen the same sort of technology versus environments in any number of books.
Zenescope books live or un-live, rightly or wrongly on the art. Their books consist of mainly attractive women going up against monsters. This book is no different, with artist Allan Otero called up to provide the pencils. Otero’s work has graced a number of Zenescope books, including the for mature readers only “Satan’s Hollow”, proving that he possesses a level of flexibility. As you would expect, there is a focus on the figure work of the characters, though some of the work featuring the monks is equally impressive. Otero’s Liesel meets the criteria as dictated by previous issues, although whomever made the choice to put her in pants rather than fishnets made the right call. As much as my love of fishnets (see The Definitive Crusade podcast) is on the rcord, even I know they have their limitations. Just don’t tell Zatanna! Oreo’s work is largely impressive though I will say the Liesel’s eye placement does cause a mild form of distraction. I am just not sure who she is looking at. If I have said it once, I must say it every time; the colors in Zenescope books are outstanding. Robby Bevard does not let the side down in any way shape or form with a scheme so good, you can almost feel the cold air biting in your lungs.
This book was a surprisingly good slice of diversion from some of the “bigger” books out there. Removed from the relative safety of Gotham, Chuck Dixon goes back to his roots somewhat to show how good a writer he is, proving he doesn’t need the Bat to tell good stories. The partnering of Allan Otero gives Dixon the chance to once again deliver a fun entertaining read, featuring a strong female lead.
Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
Written by; Chuck Dixon
Art by; Allan Otero
Colors by; Robby Bevard
Published by; Zenescope Entertainment