Zenescope Entertainment delivers a graphic novel-sized issue with the Van Helsing 2020 Annual: Bloodlust. This marks the first time that company President and longtime writer Joe Brusha takes on the solo Van Helsing title, which was the basis for SyFy's TV series. Joined by artist Daniel Mainé, colorists Robby Bevard and Maxflan Araujo, and letterer Taylor Esposito, Brusha tells a standalone story of Liesel Van Helsing and her assistant Julie Jekyll, facing off with a monster from Liesel's past.
One of the first titles released with Zenescope's plan to publish oversized standalone issues rather than minis, Van Helsing 2020 Annual: Bloodlust is an action-packed monster hunt that will thrill returning readers and convince others skeptical of the publisher's titles. In the past, Brusha has been a very plot-forward writer, and Van Helsing has been a character-driven series. Here, Brusha spreads his wings as a creator and captures the voice of Liesel Van Helsing well, with her acidic wit and good heart shown in this one-shot. The villain here is a bat-like, vampyric monster that gets his chance to shine with bloody scenes setting up his role in this story. In her past miniseries, Liesel has been pitted against Zenescope's reimaginings of horror icons such as Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and more, leaving this monster with a lot to live up to. Brusha pulls it off, though, with some of his best writing yet paired with terrific creature design from Daniel Mainé.
Mainé's art on this oversized one-shot is top-notch, marrying classic superhero action with stylish horror. It may be Zenescope's house style, but Mainé does well in adding his own flair. The coloring is split between Bevard and Araujo, two Zenescope mainstays, and it's impossible to tell where the divide takes place due to the consistency in the issue.
Overall, if this is the future of Grimm Universe titles, Zenescope fans are in for a treat. This Van Helsing one-shot is a great jumping-on point for anyone willing to give this underrated line of comics a chance.