SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
It’s a new book from DIY comicker Larry Young. Huzzah!
It’s been a while since I’ve read a book from AiT-Planet Lar, mainly because they haven’t been putting books out with a great deal of regularity. But Larry was nice enough to give this to me, so let’s check it out, shall we? Elvis van Helsing is written by Steve Kriozere and Mark A. Altman, drawn by Jason Baroody, and toned and lettered by Zach Matheny. Like all AiT books, it costs $12.95. Also like all AiT books, it smells good. What’s up with that?
The high concept of this story is that Elvis Yang, adopted son of a Korean couple, discovers that he’s actually descended from Abraham van Helsing, famed vampire/monster hunter. In the prologue, we find out that Bram Stoker interviewed van Helsing and based Dracula on his exploits. Now, a century or so later, a group of evil-doers has found Elvis and want to steal the stake used to kill Dracula from him (even though he doesn’t know he has it). They think they can clone Dracula from DNA on the stake. So Elvis and his BFF Randy have to figure out whom they can trust and protect the stake. Elvis is approached by a woman named Vanessa, who claims to be a long-time ally of the van Helsing family, while there’s the cute blonde Ariel, who belongs to a secret organization who claim they fight evil world-wide. But who’s telling the truth?!?!?!?!?
It’s a silly concept, certainly (especially when we meet the other members of Ariel’s organization, who are descended from other “real” people), but the writers do some interesting things with it. Elvis is your typical slacker-who’s-really-a-genius college student who is inexplicably pals with people like Bob Woodward and Stephen King, but Kriozere and Altman give him some nice interactions with his adoptive parents, who know far more than they’re letting on. The intrigue over who are the good guys and who are the bad guys is interesting, too, especially because Kriozere and Altman keep us guessing until the final page. Obviously, we expect some of the twists to come at us, but it’s kind of neat that the writers are almost relentless with the twists, so we really can’t get a handle on things. This is, unfortunately, a “to be continued” graphic novel, and while it’s not a bad place to start, I also don’t have much confidence that we’re going to see much more. Kriozere and Altman both work in Hollywood, so it’s hard to believe they don’t have more lucrative projects to get to. Perhaps they will return to Elvis and his world. We shall see.
Baroody isn’t a bad artist – he uses some photo-referencing for his backgrounds, but integrates it well into the panel (it always seem to work better in black-and-white). His figure work is a bit bland and has a bit of a low-rent Gene Ha vibe, but it gets the job done. I wish I could say more about it, but even though I’ve tried to be better at describing art, there’s just not a lot to say about it. It’s fine but not wonderful.
Elvis van Helsing is an enjoyable but pretty forgettable comic. I certainly didn’t hate it, but it’s kind of like a middle-of-the-road movie that shows up on TNT all the time – you know, you can drop in, watch for a while, enjoy it, but if something comes up, you turn it off without thinking twice (they were showing Shooter a few weekends ago, and that’s a good example of what I’m talking about). Unfortunately, this comic doesn’t come as part of your cable package, so you have to drop some cash for it. That might work against it.
Tomorrow: Who doesn’t love lawyers?
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