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Belle: Oath of Thorns #3 Review

7 min read
A secret long withheld from Belle is revealed!

Sometimes the past … is best left forgotten.

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

What They Say:

A secret long withheld from Belle is revealed! How will she handle this new information? Also, what is happening back at the CHIP headquarters that is bad news for Mel and company? Find out in this can’t-miss next issue!

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

As Belle faces down her family’s long time nemesis the Medusa, this serpentine foe breaks the awkward silence by telling of a tale from long ago when she face a similar hunter with a familiar name – her mother Eleanor. The valiant woman challenged this malformed monstrosity and after slaying her offspring and endless prattle she managed to anger the creature, causing the beast to lash out blindly all in an attempt to silence this annoying human. And yet as she managed to dodge every attack and attempted to retaliate thanks to some clever planning, the cursed being was not as distracted as she appeared to be, with a prehensile tail getting the better of the heroine. With the appendage drawing her prey ever closer and tension growing with each passing second, Eleanor could do nothing but demand the menace to release her so they could have a fair fight. But this was but a distraction as skilled tracker unsheathed a hidden blade and plunged it into the deadly eyes, rendering her most powerful weapon now useless – or so she seemed. Now filled with unadulterated rage and hatred, the Medusa sank several fangs into the tender shoulder of her prisoner and injected venom that transformed the mother into the cunning being she is now. However her story was not yet complete …

With her account of the past now complete, the blinded monster once again taunts her captive audience by reminding Belle her mother is now her greatest foe, and she was the one who created her but not without help from Eleanor’s closest ally. As DiMarco cries out in defiance that these facts cannot be true, Medusa reminds her she has no reason to lie, so this recount must be as it occurred, and she too is being betrayed by someone within C.H.I.P. But as this dark reality begins to sink in and the offspring of the cursed start to close in, the Beast Hunter has but option left against these insurmountable odds – to make a deal with her greatest enemy. With a common foe only within reach for Belle, this seemed to be a prime opportunity for both to seek retribution, and yet this monster had other ideas. After all her mother had taken Medusa’s eyesight and with her child now in her clutches, what better chance for vengeance? However as Belle screamed to be killed to have it done with, the monster chose something that would be much more fitting … DiMarco would join her own gruesome family.

In Summary:

With the recent fallout since the last issue of Uncle Louis finally waking up, who would have ever guessed there was something being hidden within C.H.I.P., let alone a traitor within their midst, and yet writer Dave Franchini has created a masterful narrative which disguises this tragedy within intrigue and the truth of what was hidden from the beginning of the franchise – the truth of what happened to Eleanor. Of course one would normally think Candlestick’s ranting as a dormant mind being stirred awake, but when Patricia assigns a new mission immediately after his wakening, one cannot but become suspicious plus it is made all the more elegant as Belle meets her mother’s last and greatest foe – the Medusa. Franchini makes this meeting so deliciously cruel as this twisted rival relates her story of how they met and revels in the pain she creates to tell of how she was betrayed, even as DiMarco tries to make sense of what she begrudging must to accept as the truth. However what makes the telling all the more horrendous is how he links and parallels the past of the mother to the present of the daughter – both having to face the same enemy, and yet it seems neither will be able to escape without some compensation for the monster’s own pain and anguish. But what makes the narrative more powerfully poignant is how Louis ties the reptilian’s tale to how he was left to raise Belle and Alex, the pain and suffering the children were not allowed to fully endure as his sister did not allow them to grieve but insisted on training the next generation. For someone who worked so closely with their mother, you think she would show some compassion, and yet it was all up to Candlestick to become the father figure once their own abandoned them to become consumed within his own selfishness. You cannot but once again become engendered to the DiMarco siblings: a daughter consumed in wanting to follow in her mother’s footsteps and the son insisting to also do the same, but instead seeking the truth in his own way. Although you can sympathize with these separate paths, to now in hindsight think one person was behind what happened to both is what makes their hardships all the more intolerable, and what will in the end allow their revenge to be all the more satisfying.

With such an enticing story, it is fitting to create a thrilling opening thanks to Derlis Santacruz’s stunning action packed illustrations with the Beast Hunter facing off with Medusa, however thanks to the initial close up of a beautiful brunette with gilt mask, one cannot but question if this is Belle or Eleanor. It is not until we witness the dress do we conclude it is the mother, and yet this nuance of monster versus DiMarco will be all the more impactful as we fast forward to her daughter with the parallels being all the more meaningful. Plus what makes this scene all the more stirring and intensely memorable is Juan Manuel Rodriguez’s muted selection of colors, allowing for darkness and shadows to amplify the terror of being hunted by a primal beast who adores playing with her prey, with pale skin tones emphasizing the repercussive fear upon both women. However it is not until we transition to Igor Vitorino’s moving depiction inside of C.H.I.P. headquarters do we clearly witness a change in the mood of the narrative, and while this shift is effective in creating a grim tone for a family suffering from loss, there is an absence of meaningful pain at times due to Rodriguez’s choice to use overly saturated colors which are too light for any effective communication, especially true for some skin tones which seem sickly even when not in the sterile environment of a hospital room. This change in coloring is perplexing since the same artist is painting both illustrators, and yet it seems as if it is the colorist who has been changed instead of drawing styles. In the beginning the emotional tone was solid and effective, giving the reader a mood which reflected the desperation of Belle and her mother, but as we shift to the aftermath of Eleanor’s loss being felt by the family, the story’s atmosphere should be one of dark suffering to lose their mother, and yet the brightness of some scenes make the actors appear sickly instead of grieving with skin tones so pale they seem to be suffering from lack of sunlight and turning ghostly in appearance. While the issue as a whole gave us a moving story of loss and betrayal thanks to striking illustrations, due to colors which seem washed out and less emotional as approach the end whole effect of Belle’s tale is lacking in impact for what should be the turning point in the series, and hopefully this imbalance will be adjusted by next month.

As Belle comes to terms with how her life can change so drastically with a single encounter, the reader only now realizes there is more to come once the full impact of the truth is revealed in all its selfish betrayal. To think someone who worked to closely with two generations would be able to strike this easily is mind numbing, and the fallout of course will be worthy of relishing once we see our heroine escape … if she can. And yet while the aspect of Mel and Candlestick danger may be thrilling, it is the fantastic artwork which makes this reflection of Belle’s life memorable, even if we may hope for some changes which will make the telling all the more suitable to be worthy of this powerful Beast Hunter.

Grade: A-

Rating: T (Teen)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: December 04, 2019
MSRP: $3.99

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