In the second issue, the series catches up with the King Eramand’s Battlecats fighting their way through the lands of Stormholt, on a mission to kill General Valadar, the king’s sworn enemy and leader of the Darkat army. Battlecats is a digital comic book series from Mad Cave Studios, founded by the writers of this series, Mark London and Carl Bevan. Illustrator Andy King, colorist Alejandro Giraldo, colorist/letterer Michael Camelo, and producer Giovanna T. Orozco round out the creative team.
The art and colors by King, Giraldo and Camelo continue to dazzle visually. The digital format complements the story well in a number of ways. For example, the greens, blues, and purples are rich and luscious, which complement the moon beams and glow of Kaleera’s eyes that appear to pop off the page and are reminiscent of a 3D effect. The use of blurring during the various fight sequences in the issue convey a sense of intensity that lend to the overall epic feel of the unfolding story. The blood splatters during the climatic battle in the closing pages of the issue are particularly well done without being overly gratuitous or gruesome. The layout continues to work well in showcasing the action, especially the second-to-last page in which Valadar is “hidden” by the panels layered on top of him.
The story is definitely action driven rather than plot or character driven. Personality nuances of the squad members are subtle; however, Kaleera (who fought and was defeated by Eltoreq in the opening pages of the issue) and Mekkar (the Bard who provides comic relief at the end of the issue) tend to be the most developed. Hence, they stand out and are more interesting so far in the first two issues. It would be helpful to learn more about the others which would establish more of a connection and build a sense of investment by the reader for the entire squad. Additionally, it is a pleasant change to have a strong female character featured in the story, since this is a genre that typically skews in the masculine direction.
The humor that London and Bevan include in this issue creates a necessary pause in the action and provides some chuckles. For instance, the three-panel sequence of the Stormblot armored goat that reveals he has only one weakness which is summarily exploited by the squad was funny. And then at the end of the issue, Mekkar’s expression when his own test proves him wrong in front of his comrades is priceless. He really is a character, and I’m glad he’s part of the story.
Camelo’s lettering is clean and readable. The narration banners replicate scrolls and are outlined with white, which contrasts well with the parchment aesthetic. The parchment-looking speech bubbles are placed so they don’t compete or interfere with the characters and action in the pane. I did find that while most of the sound effect words are easy to read, there were some that were not. The ones that were filled in with textures were harder to read and instead of standing out, they became lost in the action spotlighted in the panel. For example, about halfway through the issue, the squad is surrounded by the repeated words “RUMBLE” in different shades of blue and lightening textures, yet because they are laid over snow crashing down on the squad, just don’t stand out. Yet, on the following page where there are five panels cascading down the page, the sound effect words pop because they are solid colors against blurred action and textures.
This is a fascinating universe and one that has a lot of potential stories yet to be told. Since it is a digital comic, I would think an animated series might be conducive. If not, then perhaps a role-playing card game that features the artwork would be a possibility. In any case, it will be interesting to read the third issue and hopefully learn more about the rest of the squad as well as see if Valadar be revealed.