By Dustin Cabeal
It is incredibly rare for me to check a series out twice when I haven’t enjoyed it the first time. It’s even rarer for a publisher of any kind to take a negative review from me to heart and strive to improve and not for my sake, but for the reader’s sake. That’s why I’m back to review the first four issues of Battlecats.
Publisher Mad Cave completely rebooted their title from the ground up. The goal wasn’t so that I would make a comparison or that the readers of the first version of the series would appreciate what they did, but rather it was just to make a better comic, and that they did.
As with any story, there are familiar storylines and plotlines. There are after all only six stories in the world when you boil any tale down to its core. What Battlecats has going for it is one simple thing… it makes you want to read more. I can pay it no bigger compliment because getting me of all people to want to keep reading, is a feat. To give you some simple math I read anywhere from 20 to 40 comics a week that range from single issues, trade, to original graphic novels. If you don’t swim, you sink with me, and I just don’t have the time or desire to give things that I instantly dislike a second chance. My point being, that when you make me blow through four issues in one sitting, you have successfully grabbed my attention.
The story has some nostalgic bits from 80s cartoons. There is a land ruled by cats, with one manned lion being the leader that unites all the different tribes. He’s blessed by the Lion God and eventually creates an elite warrior group known as the Battlecats. What’s fantastic about this set up is that in the first issue the entire history is laid out for the leader in the form of a story being passed down from one generation to another. Very much how storytelling has been throughout time which is a simple and yet effective way to convey the history of the world. The other thing it does is show that the Battlecats are generation and that no one cat is irreplaceable, but rather it’s a badge of honor. Though I’m sure that much like G.I. Joe, we’ll be sticking with this current crop of Battlecats for the foreseeable future.
The next three issues follow the Cats as they have been sent by the third king to hunt a monster and kill it. The Cats are confused as to why they’ve been sent on this mission with such urgency considering the beast in question has been around for years and only causes a fuss here and there. Along the way, they face many challenges, one of them dies for a moment and most of them take battle damage of some kind throughout the journey. What’s also quite interesting is the true villain being teased throughout the four issues. Let’s just say that the first issue becomes more and more important to the story as the issues continue.
The writing is quite good. The pacing of each issue is quick, but the content is rewarding. The only thing that dips on occasion is the dialogue. In some cases it’s the intentionally annoying/comedic relief character being a little too “on,” and in other cases, it’s a character having deep thoughts for the first time. This wouldn’t be bad if it were a little later in the book, but it’s our first time getting to know the character. As it is, the Cats are better at giving a few lines during the heat of battle than having deep conversations around the fire.
The art is great and very professional looking. The story gives plenty of pages for the Cats just to fight, and that’s actually really refreshing. Granted, a few of them could spout out a one-liner or some kind of battle intense line, but I’m not complaining about seeing them just throw down. The designs have a good mix of cat inspired elements. The Lion design isn’t overused, and that makes the King all the more unique to the story. The designs are iconic to the point that it’s a lot like a cartoon, memorable and action figure worthy.
Battlecats is exactly what you want from an independent/small publisher, a professional looking work that challenges what larger publishers crank out weekly. Battlecats certainly does that and has gotten me excited to read more of the series and from the publisher. If you loved iconic cartoons from the 80s, but appreciate modern storytelling, then check out Battlecats.
Writer: Mark London
Artist: Andy King
Colorist: Alejandro Giraldo
Letterers: Miguel Zapata/Christian Ospina
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios