Hellgate and Heavenshield

Hellgate: London Volume 1 by Arvid Nelson and J. M. (amazon)

This is a prequel to a videogame where I guess people fight a lot of demons. In the near future John Fowler wakes up from a terrible dream where he’s menaced by a dark figure in a bird-like plague mask. He’s a scholarship rugby student at Temple Unversity. When he digs up a skeleton as part of an impromptu outdoor archeology class he finds himself with a splitting headache and a mysterious pendant. He and his sister soon find out that their family has a secret – they’re part of an ancient line of Knights Templar that are supposed to protect London from demons. He finds his father’s sword in the attic; it looks like a giant Exacto knife. I assume that’s a detail from the video game.
The art was effective, making the demons and John’s ancient relative look suitably creepy. I appreciated many of the details like John’s brother Tyler and his tendency to make experimental sandwiches, and Lindsey’s prowess using a cricket bat. It was nice that Lindsey was an equal partner in demon ass-kicking.
While there isn’t anything terribly original about a story centering around demons taking over London, Hellgate was much better than I expected a video game spin-off property to be. I suspect if fans of the game are looking for a comic adaptation they’ll find this book entertaining.

Heavenshield Volume 1 by Ryu Blackman (amazon)

This volume introduced so many different characters in the first half of the book that I had a really hard time following what was going on. There’s a guy with a beard who seems to be having flashbacks and doesn’t treat his hookers very nicely. There’s an evil guy named Oz. A government official who seems to treat his hookers somewhat nicely. A crazy girl with a sword. Other government officials. A hooker named Chocolate. The bounty hunter heroine of the book seems to talk normally in the first half of the book and then communicates drunkenly in cockney rhyming slang in the latter half.
There’s plenty of action and women running around in costumes that look like wedgie inducing torture devices, but I had a hard time finding any semblance of a plot, it seemed like there was just too much stuff crammed into too few pages. There’s something off with the flow of action and the paneling in the art for the book that makes it confusing to follow. The book is set in a futuristic world, there’s a wacky religion and some lizard people!? The dialog doesn’t really help to explicate anything. With characters saying things like “Gonna rape you good”, “Mi nah fear di renk beast wen a come fi tess I?”, and “So I gotta ace this gig or my rep on the network is in the gary for good!” there’s not much there to motivate or help the reader make sense of what’s going on. Relying on dialect and rape threats to establish character is poor storytelling and ultimately boring.

Review copies provided by Tokyopop