In Review: Belle: Beast Hunter #4

The monster hunting continues, but becomes personal for Belle.

The covers: Five different frontpieces to pick up on this fourth issue. The A cover is by Caanan White and Ula Mos and has Belle wielding her axe and sword, looking for a creature. Her cape splays out behind her spectacularly. Her face fantastically shows her resolve to stop the beast. If only she looked behind her! A massive thing with huge horns and tremendous teeth is sneaking up behind her to do her harm. Great illustration and sensational colors. I really like the work done on her cape. The B hails from Bong Dazo and Ivan Nunes and it shows what happens shortly after the scene on the A cover. Belle is falling backwards, her weapons still in her hands, as the monster falls atop her, its claws trying to slash her. Both characters look great, with the debris falling around them well done. The colors are also good, with Belle instantly catching the reader’s eyes due to her costume’s bright colors. Ruiz Burgos’s C cover could be considered a “Good Girl” cover, though the heroine isn’t really showing any extra skin, though she is very beautiful. Belle is sitting on a recently killed black hairy creature that is similar to a character from a classic 1991 film. The setting is a lavish room with beautiful curtains and an orange window and wall. Red roses fall from the heavens. This is really nice! The D cover by Harvey Tolibao and Nunes showcases the creature that was on the first two covers. This beast looks as though it’s enjoying frightening some unseen prey, its clawed hands open to grasp a victim, with a smile on its face showing its utter joy. The work done on its tattered clothes is amazing. The setting is also extremely well done. Even though Belle isn’t on the cover, this is my favorite of the lot. The final cover is the New York Comic Con Blank Sketch cover. I couldn’t find an image of this online, but based on the description it’s going to be similar to the blank sketch cover of Issue #1, just with a New York Comic Con logo on it. As with other covers I can’t find images of, I’m going to leave this cover review free, but wish collectors happy hunting. Overall grades: A A, B A, C A, and D A+

The story: The rain is pouring in the city and Belle is on the move. As she moves to a roof top via a cable she thinks about how she doesn’t let many people get close to her, “…but when I do it’s for keeps. It means I’ll do anything for them.” Belle reaches the top of an outcropping on a roof and glares down at the city. “I’m coming for you, Mel. Just hang on.” The story, conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, & Dave Franchini, written by Franchini, has the title character on the prowl for her roommate. Why? The story moves to the semi-recent past when she’s in her friend Mel’s apartment, the bathroom specifically, realizing how lucky she is to have some new tech even though her house fell into a river. At least that’s what most people think; it was actually pulled into the water by a monster that she, naturally, killed. Mel wants her friend to tell her everything, but Belle isn’t ready to tell her she’s a monster hunter. The story returns to the present, where the rain has stopped and the heroine has discovered an easy way to track her prey. What happened in the past is the catalyst for this nocturnal hunt, and it’s a really good reason for her go into action. For a book that deals with a woman slaying beasts, this issue is very believable. What intrudes into Belle’s life, what Mel does, and what ultimately happens is entirely logical and an entertaining read. Much of Belle’s thoughts are revealed to the reader, in the past and the present, and it’s an excellent way for the reader to bond with the character. The ending is left unresolved until next issue and has me looking forward to what Belle will do. Overall grade: A

The art: Igor Vitorino takes over the art chores for this issue because Angelo Ty “Bong” Dazo passed away on June 29. Vitorino does a solid job. The opening two pages that show Belle’s journey through the city look great. Rain is often a bugaboo of artists, but Vitorino has it looking very natural, and not a visual distraction. The full-paged splash on Page 3 is great with the protagonist taking the quintessential hero pose. Not only can Vitorino do Belle’s hero persona well, he does an exceptionally good job on her with the mask off. Pages 4 and 5 have her unmasked trying to decide what to do with Mel’s pressing desire to speak with her. The first panel on 4 has the reader slightly below her, looking up. This could be an awkward illustration, as the reader is looking up her nose, but it looks great. Her reaction to the knock on the door that ends the page is also great. I really like the image of her that ends 5 with her surprised. The leap on 9 is Superheroes 101 perfection. I also like the lightning going off behind her. Excellent perspective on this as well. The uninvited guest that appears on 11 is good. The design of this individual is smart, containing elements that are familiar in other similar characters, but different enough to be unique. The reaction of the character in the foreground on this page is stellar. The reaction that ends the next page is equally strong. The body in the air in the fourth panel on 15 is fantastic; again, very realistic. Page 20 has a three panel sequence that shows a character going through a transformation that’s very believable. Throughout the book there’s an impressive amount of realism for a comic that contains such fantastic elements. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first three pages that have Belle making her way through the rooftops of a rain city have some slick coloring from Juan Manuel Rodriguez: instead of using black for the night sky, different shades of blue are used to create the heavens. This is a good choice because it allows the colors of Belle’s costume to stand out. When the scene shifts to the past, the color change is dramatic, with neutral tans and grays used for Mel’s apartment. The coloring of both Belle and Mel’s skin is also really well done, as is their hair. The coloring of the individual that arrives is good, in light yellows and reds, allowing it to stand out against the color scheme of the apartment. Some very cool light blues are used in conjunction with grays on the final page completing an elaborately illustrated setting. Overall grade: A

The letters: Kurt Hathaway is the book’s letterer and he creates scene settings, narration, dialogue, sounds, yells, and the final three words of the issue that tease the next installment. The scene settings are zippy for being slightly tilted into the panel, speeding the reader into the visual. The narration from Belle is a slightly different font the book’s dialogue and that’s a key component that every comic should have. The sounds are big when the uninvited guest arrives, with one humorously becoming part of the dialogue. Hathaway completes this book well. Overall grade: A

The final line: The monster hunting continues, but becomes personal for Belle. The story and art are very believable and the action is perfect for those craving some largeness in their comics. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next issue! Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to https://shop.zenescope.com/collections/belle-beast-hunter/products/belle-beast-hunter-4

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Belle-Beast-Hunter-4/digital-comic/700375?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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