After last month's Belle: Ghosts & Goblins, writer Dave Franchini is back with another one-shot continuing the adventures of the character that has essentially become the Batman of Zenescope's interconnected titles, the Grimm Universe. In Belle: Hearts & Minds, Franchini crosses the title over with another Zenescope title, the horror comic Gretel, about a witch hunter who kills evil witches and eats their hearts to take on their powers. Belle is a very grounded, street-level hero even as she fights monsters and creatures from other dimensions, as seen in the last issue, so let's see how she fares against evil witches.
Under Franchini's capable pen, the superheroics of Belle blend seamlessly with the horror of Gretel in Belle: Hearts & Minds. It's a team-up comic that evokes classic superhero stories where a common foe brings two characters together, while also exploring character by highlighting the heroes' different approaches to fighting the good fight. Belle is a "well; let's see how this shakes out" style of fighter who battles with confidence, physical skill, and mercy. Belle wants to understand her opponents, as well as her teammates. Gretel and her companion Calabar, on the other hand, are tactical fighters who seek to, above all, eradicate the enemy, no ifs, and, or buts. Franchini's script plays on these differences by pitting these heroes against a group of burgeoning witches, creating a story that's thrilling, funny, action-packed, and fun.
Artist Alessio Marinani is a great fit for Belle: Hearts and Minds, delivering action-sequences that feel halfway between the sharp angles of Michael Turner and the hyper-detailed, heavily inked New 52 era at DC. It feels like both a fun throwback style with modern flair brought to it by colorist Juan Manuel Rodriguez.
If you're looking for superhero comics that bring something fresh to the table that companies copying the Marvel and DC structure can't supply, Zenescope has done exactly that by creating a universe that hosts stories of all genres. Belle: Hearts & Minds collides their go-to genres of horror and superhero excellently.