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Belle: Oath of Thorns #2 Review

6 min read
Things are never easy ... especially when uncertainty is involved.

Things are never easy … especially when uncertainty is involved.

Creative Staff:
Writer: Dave Franchini
Artwork: Derlis Santacruz
Colors: Juan Manuel Rodriguez
Letters: Kurt Hathaway

What They Say:

After the shocking events of last issue, Belle’s life is thrown back into the fire. Now, left with more questions than ever and with no time to get to the bottom of these new mysteries, she must head to a place that could hold the key to all of her troubles, but what she finds there may be something that has been waiting for her all this time.

Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):

Uncle Louis had been in a coma for a long time and it is only now does he wake from his forced sleep, but in regaining his bearings he rants to Belle to be careful of her surroundings and not everything appears as it seems to be, however it is this incoherence which attracts others into the room. While she tries to calm down her guardian several orderlies burst in and forcibly restrain him, but of course DiMarco will not allow more harm come to Candlestick and resist their duties especially when they attempt to sedate the poor man. However when Patricia soon follows and gives the order to also tranquilize Belle she does not take this order lightly and easily defends herself until someone unexpectedly jabs a needle into an unprotected thigh. With her awareness quickly fading the last thing she hears is Otts telling her men to restrain their ally, for all know she will not wake in a good mood and they still need her cooperation if they are all going to survive this situation.

As expected when Belle sees Patricia staring over her unconscious body she is certainly not happy and it is only after promising to be good does the scientist remove the straps holding her down. After explaining the necessity to sedate her brother to keep him from harming himself or others, they agree the mental trauma of body not being able to accept what happened triggered the outburst and this is for the best, with the Beast Hunter only agreeing to help once again if they immediately notify her once he regains his sanity. Although as she looks over her uncle in such a helpless state, Mel surprises her best friend and quips how she is once again in trouble and here to help in the upcoming mission. Unaware of this occurrence herself both turn to Otts even as Belle is understandably resolute for not wanting to leave, it is only by reasoning the trace on the recently allocated artifact may lead to a cure for Alex or being able to save more hostages does DiMarco finally agree. As Mel promises to keep watch over Candlestick the pair turn to the head of C.H.I.P. for new gear and weaponry with the surprising addition of a self contained pressure suit and oxygenator, but Patricia assures her all is needed for this situation. With the positioning trace quickly fading they hurry to the portal and Belle bids all goodbye as she steps through, only to find herself at the base of a mountain with the sad proposition of needing to climb a surmountable peak. However Otts quickly corrects her and states the entrance is underwater, thus the need for specialized gear … but if this is the case, then what can be waiting inside a location which is so difficult to enter?

In Summary:

After all of the ferocity we have seen of Belle occupied with nothing more than slaying and capturing beasts, it is a meaningful reflection as writer Dave Franchini finally gives us a moment to see how much she cares for Uncle Louis, even if it was a bit pale without more flashbacks of their life together. But at the same time how can one not be suspicious of how Patricia attempts to calmly explain the mental fatigue of her brother even if there seemed to be warnings hidden within his ramblings, especially when she had men prepared to tranquilize both? It was convenient Otts was there within the last series to pickup where Candlestick left off, having all the answers to her questions and graciously supplying new gear in the fight. And now that they have become partners within this mission to find new threats to humanity it must be difficult to suspect treachery, but at the same time one would have never expected her mother to behind all of the villainy before and yet that turned out to be the case. With the trust building between the two thankfully we still have Mel to serve as a go-between and impartial observer since she is bound to side with her best friend, but there still the assumption she is going to think any impressions are paranoia with her joking personality. Although one would hate to presume allies may become enemies, since the idea has been implanted by Franchini there has to be some prudence to the notion and it only makes the underlying thought all the more essential as we delve deeper into the series.

While the opening sequence wondrously presented by Derlis Santacruz’s stunning illustrations is enticing, what spoils the intensity of what follows is an overcompensation of illumination via Juan Manuel Rodriguez’s vivid palette of colors for the actors’ skin tones. Although one may explain the brightness due to fluorescent lighting within this underground setting, this would not justify why the surrounding environment is appropriately dark and those scenes following being pacified have a more idealized shading. However after Belle’s costume is removed and she appears in regular clothing, a new problem is displayed within Santacruz’s depiction of our heroine – she has a lack of any apparent contours upon her face, especially when one stares at her head on. Since the definition of her visage was broken up before by allowing the mask to hide any faults this error was not noticeable, but now although Rodriguez may attempt to give some highlights to bone structure via subtle shadowing it is not enough to ignore the lack of wrinkles or character lines, almost as if her skin is stretched too tight over a standardized frame. Strangely this deficiency only stands out on DiMarco since all other actresses have delineations or glasses to break up the smoothness of the face and it disappears once she returns to her Beast Hunter persona. It would not too bad if she was a minor character, but to expose our heroine to such a lacking distinction makes her stand out even more and hopefully if she does not show her unexposed face again we will forget this simple hiccup.

As story gives us a new viewpoint of what is happening behind the scenes, you have to wonder which Otts has the right to lead and support Belle for her future ventures against her foes. The suspicion has been planted and as we look back upon who has betrayed the Beast Hunter in the past, this inkling may be more support than the ramblings of a fevered mind. However with artwork which seems lacking at times one cannot but hope the story will improve as we delve back into what we love about the series – a woman who is not afraid to confront what others may fear to face.

Grade: A

Rating: T (Teen)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: September 11, 2019
MSRP: $3.99

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