Comics: Hellchild Inferno - Reviewed

On March 7, 2018 Zenescope will release a one-shot issue entitled Hellchild Inferno featuring Inferno’s Mercy Dante and Hellchild’s Angelica Blackstone meeting for the first time in battle. This issue brings together two powerful, badass women with supernatural histories and allows them to work together to defeat the Greek god Ares, who has stolen Pandora’s Box and intends to utilize it to become the ruler of hell.

I should state, for the record, that I have not read any of Inferno or Hellchild’s prior issues, so the Hellchild Inferno one-shot is my very first introduction of both characters. Zenecope certainly has a wide variety of really interesting, cool characters packed with a ton of potential. Writer, Dave Franchini gives us an action packed story, full of hacking and slashing violence that is certain to satisfy those who have kept up with these characters in their main storylines. I enjoyed the supernatural aspect that has been melded with ancient mythology to form a tale that is interesting and full of drama. The dialogue is littered with sarcasm and angst between the two main characters, light, albeit predictable. I have found that I do tend to struggle with some of the writing choices that are being made in the dialogue portions of many of the Zenescope titles, and unfortunately Hellchild Inferno isn’t really an exception. The sarcastic banter between Mercy and Angelica feels a bit forced and too similar to other characters within the Zenescope universe. I love the idea of a badass, witty female character, but I think these books need to work on creating a bit more depth to them. Sarcasm and snarkiness does make for a fun, humorous read, but I also really want to see more dimension in these characters. A character can be strong and cool without actually being repetitive. There is more than one way to write a badass female character, and I find too many times the women being written about within the Zenescope universe tend to lack originality. The backstories of the characters in this one –shot, though we don’t discover much, have potential to be very interesting and unique; I would love to learn more about them and see different sides of them. Too much of a good thing definitely tends to get a little boring and for me this title just did very little to hold my attention; it felt just like more of the same books I have read from Zenescope, just with differently named characters wearing different outfits. 

I found the artistic collaboration to be an interesting one. In pages 1-5, Salvatore Cuffari is the credited artist; the remaining pages the art has been done by Marc Rosete. What I find most interesting about this is the fact I really cannot see a difference within the work of the two artists. The entire book is cohesive and you can certainly see it fits within the Zenescope universe well. The artistic portion of the Zenescope universe, similar to the writing styles, is very similar in all of the titles. The colors, focus on characters bodies and features, as well as the detail in the violent action sequences certainly mimic one another, which, if Zenescope is going for a very streamlined looking universe, is quite successful. I think whether it is something, you as a reader, like or not, it is simply a matter of opinion. I prefer reading books from publishing companies that showcase a wide variety of talent, very different writing styles as well as clear artistic differences from artist to artist within the universe. That being said, that is simply my opinion. I understand Zenescope most likely sells to a particular audience, and the audience is used to and enjoys the writing style and artistic work that Zenescope brings to the industry, and with that, they are certainly doing a great job.Though I personally wish to see a wider array of artistic styling when I open a new Zenescope title, I understand, most likely that is something they are staying away from for a reason. 

For fans of the Zenescope verse, particularly those who have kept up with the Hellchild and Inferno titles, Hellchild Inferno will be a fun, action packed piece that they are sure to enjoy. It showcases some expertly drawn, vivid scenes of blood and violence and no doubt the chemistry between Angelica and Mercy will be appreciated. Though I personally long to see more variety in both writing and art within the Zenescope universe, I can’t say they don’t do a good job keeping things incredibly streamlined in all of their series. 

-Rachel Rutherford