Referred in many plays in his marketing as akin to “Beauty & The Beast” thereby giving away part of the story, “Belle – Beast Hunter” [Dave Franchini/Zenoscope/148pgs] plays more like a mix of “Aeon Flux”, “Ghost In The Shell” & “MacBeth”. Belle comes from a long line of beast hunters. like Xena in many ways, she is invariably striong but also at times invariably vulnerable depending on who she is close to. In this paragon, her closest friend over the years (like in many ways Gabrielle in Xena) is Mel who knows nothing of her powers until they come running straight through the front doors of Mel’s apartment and take her away. Some of the action is undeniable and the fact that Belle is led by Candlestick is obviously the other hark back to Beast beyond a late story reveal. The reveal of a sister to Candlestick who runs a hard edge weapons division is both too coincidental but also convenient although it gives the story push and a Jane Bond ploy that actually could be amped up. The family dysfunction that paints most of the story between an absent mother, a drunk father and a pissed off step-sibling who lost his original parents and the story points to an invariable conflict in terms of both control and power, While the themes are good, the story shifts around quite a bit in time sometimes without being ergonomically clear in its progression. Belle has a good sense of humor but sometimes retreats too much into action cliches despite an interesting penchant for a simpler life at times. The art is colorful and vivacious in many ways especially in a final battle with a Medusa like creature, However the cliffhanger which brings together 3 disparate forms of creatures with family secrets again seems too coincidental without enough details to support its stakes fully without more explanation.
By Tim Wassberg