Angelica Blackstone, aka Hellchild, is on the streets and for hire. But when she is hired to guard the body of a wealthy man’s privileged son, can she handle all the extra baggage? Find out in HELLCHILD: BLOOD MONEY #1 from Zenescope Entertainment.
Writer: Ralph Tedesco
Artist: Butch Mapa
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Marco Mastazzo
Alternate Covers: Igor Vitorino & Mohan Sivakami, Meguro, Geebo Vigonte & Ivan Nunes, Leonardo Colapietro
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Release Date: April 3rd, 2019
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in HELLCHILD: The daughter of the Greek god Hades and victim of a vampire attack, Angelica Blackstone uses her abilities and curses to make a living as a bodyguard and personal security. Now she prepares to take on a new job, it gets complicated.
YOU PEOPLE WORK ON COMMISSION, RIGHT?
High above Hollywood Hills in the city of Los Angeles, a loving couple looks out over their amazing view from the balcony. Except one half of this couple is the client and the other the freelance employee. You see, Jake and his two friends thought it would be entertaining to order up a trio of prostitutes and fulfill their rich boy fantasies. Fairy tales like this never really fairy tales, no matter how pretty the people involved. In no time at all, Jake’s friend Ben completely blows the chill off the evening when he announces that his companion for the evening seems to have overdosed while he was asleep. As everyone piles into the bedroom, one of the ladies begins to panic in anguish over her friend’s apparent death and the men in her life (for the evening at least) refusal to do something. She decides to take matters in her own hands and call 911. At least she was until Ben puts a bullet in her head, just proving the adage once an idiot, always an idiot. With two dead hookers on his hands, Jake calls Dad and tries to explain the series of unfortunate events that lead them to this juncture in his young life but Dad is having none of it. He sends out someone to handle the situation, telling Jake to leave.
Over in North Hollywood, at a little hangout known as The Fat Cat, Angelica “Hellchild” Blackstone is enjoying a skinny margarita while conversing with her local barkeep. The barkeep is nervous about walking back to her car four blocks away and her too cool to care co-worker is unfeeling toward her plight. Angelica, ever the guardian of her fellow man, woman or demon, offers to walk her back. It was then she receives a phone call from Marcus Paulson, of Paulson Industries. He needs someone to watch out for his son for the next few weeks. It seems his fixer, a man named Harry, found the two friends of young Jake were low-level handlers in the employee of a high-end prostitution ring with a tendency for settling their grievances through extreme violence. Good thing Paulson tells Hellchild all of this information… oh, wait…
Meanwhile, in a darkened room, Jake’s friends, Ben and Logan, are in the not so tender hands of their employers, and are being tortured and beaten for information regarding the dead ladies who were in their care. Things go sideways for the two young men, and while Ben gets a taste of his own medicine, Logan loses his head over their treatment, but not before he gives up Jake in an attempt to save his own skin. In the meantime, in the Hollywood Hills, Angelica arrives at the Paulson residence, finding an irresponsibly calm and uncaring Jake wondering why his Dad hired a girl for his security detail. Before the night is out, the bullets fly, bodies pile up, and a Hellchild has to take matters into her own hands to protect her charge.
WORK IT. OWN IT.
As a part of the Grimm Universe, Joe Brisha, Ralph Tedesco and Dave Francine conceived the story of Hellchild, and presumably the Blood Money series. The credited writer for this issue though is Ralph Tedesco (Grimm Fairy Tales, Wonderland). As one of the co-founders of Zenescope Entertainment, along with Joe Brusha, he has probably had a hand in more of the company’s titles than almost any other writer has. One website has him credited with over 800 issues, the majority of them being for Zenescope or its imprints. With that knowledge, I was disappointed the story took such a predictable path from page one. Dead hookers, privileged rich kids, enabling parents, a too-cool-for-school heroine, and a crime organization with possible ties to a dark evil. Tedesco has written better storylines than this and it almost feels like a fill in the blank story. However, there are some moments to enjoy. Angelica’s reaction to the blasé attitude of her employer and her attempts to protect such an idiot make you feel for her. Unfortunately, there are plot holes that are just too big to patch with cheeky dialogue and cheesecake art.
Speaking of the art, this issue is by Butch Mapa (Realm Knights, Grimm Universe). Mapa also has a long history with Zenescope, having worked on multiple projects and titles for them. Here he manages to get the house style of Zenescope. That said, there are issues that just pull you away from any hope of enjoying the story. Anatomy for characters is all over the place and all the character share the same body type. A contributing factor to the overall problem with the art is the colors. The first nine or so pages have so much purple, either in shades or tints that it makes me feel like I was reading a Saints Row comic. Coupled with the flatness of the colors on the page, I just could not get into it.
BOTTOM LINE: WHAT HAPPENED?
Back in February, I reviewed the GRIMM UNIVERSE PRESENTS 2019 from Zenescope. One of the stories in that title, in fact the one I was most impressed with, was Hellchild for Hire. In that issue, the characters look, the wonderful art Salvatore Cuffari, even the writing by Tedesco was much better than I had expected. In fact, I even commented on how I was looking forward to the upcoming title. Now that I have read that new title, despite the same person writing it, it feels like a dim shadow what was possible. Will it change in upcoming issues? I hope so, but I’ll wait and see how the next issues unfolds.
HELLCHILD: BLOOD MONEY #1 fails to stand out as a first issue, instead falling to a generic, overused plot and mediocre art.
Hellchild: Blood Money #1
HELLCHILD: BLOOD MONEY #1 relies on story hooks better left in the past and wastes a possibly breakout character.