Weird & Wacky World of Comics – Van Helsing: From Beneath the Rue Morgue

 So. Van Helsing. We all have our views on it, and for the most part I think everyone would agree that it is not exactly the cinematic masterpiece we were hoping for. I kind of dug it though, in that “this is awful but let’s see what other tripe they throw at the screen” kind of way. But the advertising company certainly tried to get us to like it, the promotion was everywhere. That leads us to this comic book, which is a semi prequel to the original film.

Now if you like the movie this is going to be one of the few ways to actually see Hugh Jackman’s character up to his old monster killing tricks. If you read this comic however you really need to like Van Helsing, because half of it is filled with adverts for the movie. Just in case you were interested you can own the comic, CD soundtrack, animated DVD, novel and video game.

Plot wise this comic melds together lots of different stories into one piece. Van Helsing has finished chasing after Mr. Hyde, but comes across an invisible killer murdering a female medium while he is trying to leave Paris. His investigation leads him to beneath the Rue Morgue where he discovers Doctor Moreau. Seems Moreau has been busy down in the sewers, creating a hodge-podge of weird creatures. One is a strange fish creature that has been injected with the formula that the Invisible Man used, and given the heart of a murdered husband. Moreau unleashes the beasts, Helsing finds out the creature still has a human soul but is trapped in a monster body and the lab explodes flooding everything. Seems the ghost of the lady murdered at the start was the monsters wife, who he wanted to see but his monster mind made kill instead. It’s a happy ending of sorts as Van Helsing lets it escape, and Moreau leaves Paris on a boat of bones to set up an island resort somewhere.

If nothing else this comic tries to pull together an interesting story. Though the elements are nicely mixed in, it has all been done better by Alan Moore in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen so it does not have the thrill factor it would previously had. Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier) does make the book at least an interesting read, but it’s tricky to cram in any real emotion in such a short space of pages. It is incredibly fast paced read though and it seems to take Van Helsing mere minutes to see this ghost before he has found Moreau and left again. The main problem is that Van Helsing’s personality does not really get a chance to shine (there’s a joke there somewhere). You could have replaced him with anyone and the story would have played out the same. Hugh Jackman was one of the few funny things about the movie so it is a shame that could not be incorporated, but maybe Van Helsing is just a difficult character to translate in that way.

Jason Alexander (Abe Sapien – The Drowning) art is interesting enough, but a lot of it is shaded in, leaving a lot of detail sadly missing. The book colors are too dark, like reading a book in a semi lit room; your eyes keep constantly straining to make out the details. I would love to have posted some more pictures of the actual comic book, but alas no one on the internet appears to have posted any. Which gives you a good idea of what they think of it! Overall it is a quirky enough read if you are in the mood for it, but I doubt it is anything that is going to give much joy on repeated readings. I have read it three times myself and have never been blown away by it. Any casual readers may want to give it a miss, but die-hard Van Helsing fans would probably get a kick out of it.

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