Review - Belle: Beast Hunter #1 (@Zenescope)

"Girl meets boy. Boy attacks girl. Girl kicks the crap out of boy, letting him know his mistake."

The song says that it's a tale as old as time, but the only thing old about Belle in Belle: Beast Hunter #1 from Zenescope is the notion that she can't physically fight any and all beast comers. The issue is written by Dave Franchini, illustrated by Bong Dazo, colored by Juan Manuel Rodriguez and lettered by Kurt Hathaway.

The Grimm Universe is filled with heroes far and wide dealing with threats from vampires, werewolves, corrupt governmental organizations, to ancient orders battling for control of the realms of power. But what lies in the deepest corners of our world could give the evilest creature nightmares. A threat since the beginning of time is rising and only one person will be there to stop it from destroying everything! Working from the shadows a long lineage of warriors have been defending life from the darkness that exists and from that family of soldiers comes the newest ally in the war of monsters, Belle the Beast Hunter! Don't miss this new series as a new hero is introduced into the Grimm Universe!

Franchini knows that the Zenescope universe thrives on taking familiar characters from fairy tales and modernizing them with Belle: Beast Hunter #1 being no exception. Belle here is--like every other Zenescope heroine--a competent and combat-ready lead character who restlessly fights evil. And befitting of the mythos surrounding Belle, Franchini just so happens to pit her against all manner of dangerous beast in fights that are knock-down, dragout affairs. Franchini does allow for some character and universe building, giving the reader a glimpse into Belle's lineage as a monster hunter as well as emphasizing her relationship with Candlestick--an obvious nod to Lumiere. The pacing of the issue also accelerates extremely quick, as by the end of the issue Franchini has already thrown a life-altering event at Belle to contend with.

The artwork is very much in line with other Zenescope books in that Dazo illustrates Belle as a fierce fighter. Dazo's linework is very clean throughout the issue, allowing the characters to stand out against the pretty simple backdrops. What's most interesting about Dazo's style is his use of perspective throughout the issue in that he offers unique angles for viewing the action, many of which are in sort of a 3/4 perspective that establishes Belle's authority as a beast hunter. There are an almost dizzying array of panel layouts and arrangements, all of which can be a little overwhelming at times to the reader. The colors by Rodriguez are pretty standard, skewing slightly darker.

If the name wasn't a clever enough indication of what's in stores for readers of Belle: Beast Hunter #1, then the rest of the issue definitely reveals its motives. Belle is on a mission to fight off beasts no matter where they may appear, but there are some that may prove to be too powerful for even her to overcome. Franchini's script is pretty easy to follow, giving the reader very obvious clues in regards to Belle's reason for being. Dazo's artwork is a good fit for the story as it emphasizes Belle's talents. Belle: Beast Hunter #1 is another entry in the Grimm Fairy Tales universe that relies on a strong heroine to fight evil--something that universe certainly isn't in short supply of.

Belle: Beast Hunter #1 is available January 10.