In 2018, comic book readers were introduced to a squad of feline warriors in a new series titled Battlecats from the Miami-based independent comic book publisher Mad Cave Studios. The medieval fantasy epic story was continued in a second story arc last year, and, this week, the first issue of Battlecats: Tales of Valderia takes readers back to the beginning, to the reign of King Eramad I. Scheduled for four issues, these prequel stories will be written and illustrated by a variety of creators who will help shape the world of Valderia.
Mark London is the writer/creator of the Battlecats series, and he has returned for this first prequel story. “The vision for the miniseries was to showcase the depth of Valderia’s history,” states London. “I wanted to focus on important characters and settings while answering some lingering questions for the reader: When were the Battlecats established? What were the first two Kings like? Is Valderia better off now than it was in the past? I wanted the reader to feel and understand the importance of all the lore we’re created over the years.”
In the opening panels of Battlecats: Tales of Valderia, King Eramad I and his sage Natharien reflect on the loss of duty, honor, and loyalty which are mandates of the lion god that Eramad lives by and is sworn to protect. The balance between good and evil have been upset, because a necromancer, Skeleton Lord, has taken the positive power of a magical place and twisted it for evil. Eramad sends his most trusted warrior, General Sai, to battle Skeleton Lord and his minions; however, Sai and his soldiers are defeated, and the villainous feline is on the move to take control of all the land. In the closing pages, King Eramad and Natharien determine the best course of action is to bring together the best warriors from each region. This is the catalyst for warrior cats that was introduced in the premiere issue two years ago.
Natharien is a welcomed character that appeared in the first story arc, and London serves the IP well by traveling back to the beginning and shedding light on the emergence of the warrior class of Battlecats. The ideology of duty, honor, and loyalty are important themes and are prevalent in this series, and they are once again established in this story arc. Additionally, London’s story reveals the origin of evil that rose and inhabited the land for millennia. Stories such as these matter, because animal characters provide a fresh perspective to the classic story narrative of good vs. evil that attract and resonate with readers. The replacement of human characters for animal ones is often liberating for the creator to explore important and often difficult themes, while engaging readers in an entertaining but non-preaching tone.
Joining London are artist Robert Stotz and colorist Jonathan Prada for the interiors. Stotz excels at facial expressions, particularly King Eramad as he reflects on the loss of not only his valiant general, but important values that are the fabric of his being. Prada’s colors are vibrant and pop off the page in several instances. Cover artist Michael Camelo created a powerful image of General Sai in the pivotal battle against Skeleton Lord and his minions. Tekino provided the colors, which match the epic moment by balancing the light, earthy tones against the mutated feline minions situated below Sai, the central figure. Rounding out the creative team are Miguel Angel Zapata, book designer and letterer, and editors Giovanna T. Orozco and Chris Fernandez. The design and letters are cleanly and concisely delivered while the editing results in a well-paced and entertaining story.
Rated for Teen+, this new series releases Wednesday, February 5. It is not necessary to have read the first two story arcs before reading this first issue. Battlecats: Tales of Valderia will appeal to readers who enjoy epic fantasy stories and feline character stories. Readers of the first two volumes will likely welcome this prequel series and the new stories that will continue to expand this fascinating world. For new readers, if you find yourself wanting to go back and read the first two volumes, you can find all issues plus bundle options available for purchase at the publisher’s website.
Creative Team: Mark London (writer/creator); Robert Stotz (artist); Jonathan Prada (colorist); Michael Camelo (cover artist); Tekino (cover colorist); Miguel Angel Zapata (book designer/letterer); and editors, Giovanna T. Orozco and Chris Fernandez
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
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