From Zenescope Entertainment. Collecting issues 1-6 and Grimm Fairy Tales 2017 Armed Forces Edition.
Story by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini.
Writer: Dave Franchini
Artwork by Ario Murti, Bong Dazo, Igor Vitorino, Eman Casallos.
Colors by Ivan Nunes, Juan Manuel Rodriguez.
Letters by Taylor Esposito (of Ghost Glyph Studios), Kurt Hathaway.
Explaining Zenescope and their Grimm Fairy Tales universe to a non reader is complicated. Overly simplified, it takes iconic stories of legends and puts new spins on them. These new spins can take place in any time, and in any place. They can be complete fantasy or bump up against reality.
The complication comes in the art. Zenescope is known for absolutely gorgeous covers. Stunning, grab your attention, multiple variant covers. The art on the inside has at times been a gross departure from the cover, to the anger of many comic collectors. Zenescope listened and while the cover art is still at another level the art and also the writing on the inside has greatly improved across their releases.
Belle: Beast Hunter is an inspired super hero take on the classic tale. This book is Beauty and the Beast meets Batman. Belle comes from a long line of beast hunters. She has the costume, the gear, the assistant, the money and more to battle creatures of legend in the dark night.
Along the way, revelations take place. Belle questions her life and her memories. Non stop twists and turns. Each issue unfolds like an old movie serial. Big action, some exposition to set up, bigger action, tiny bit more set up, explosive action, explosive revelation in exposition. With some graphic novels I’ll take a pause in reading after each issue ends. Think of it as a break in between chapters. I didn’t expect to be so engrossed in this tale that it became my dominant entertainment for the night.
I wish the same artists could have worked on every issue. Reading the entire series at once it became jarring to jump art styles. To their credit, every artist was great. It became increasingly interesting to see differences between each artist and what they focused on along the way. Costume details, backgrounds, angles. Like watching a dramatic TV show that switches directors with each episode.
For anyone sleeping on Zenescope and remembering some bad experiences, learn from me and give them another try. Since reading this graphic novel I’ve been digging through my own bulk purchases and the local comic shop for more of their titles to review. Whether you want fairy tale spins like “Once Upon a Time” used to be, or a strong female starring comic, Belle: Beast Hunter is well worth your time and money.