The Battlecats were seasoned warriors in the realm of Valderia, and their reputation as heroes was known far and wide across the kingdom. It came as no surprise that King Eramand III would, therefore, mandate the group of warriors to search out and defeat the Dire Beast, who over many years has been responsible for numerous deaths. As proof of their success, the King requested that the Battlecats present him with the head of the beast. In the first two issues, readers followed the group as they fought a series of ambushes, and, in this third issue, the Battlecats finally face their arch nemesis in the rugged mountains.
Mad Cave Studios’ Mark London is back as the writer of the story. Since the Battlecats series is very much an action-driven story, there is less emphasis on character development. London utilizes familiar character stereotypes to build his unit of warriors. Kelthan is the gruff, serious, and intimidating leader who is the largest of the cats in the story. Zorien is the other larger cat of the group and is the quiet, muscular cat. Kaleera is a fiery red-head fighter with keen perception, which helps with tracking the Dire Beast, while Vaela, the other female cat, is imbued with magic and serves as the healer of the group. Mekkar is a smaller, compact cat; he is the bard who likes to break out in song or provide comic relief when tensions and worry run high. London’s choices work well and, as a result, the characters congeal into a cohesive unit and their bond of camaraderie from having fought many battles together in the past is readily apparent. Because the focus is skewed heavily on the action, the story develops at a slower pace. For example, in the opening pages of the first issue, the group questions why the King wants the Dire Beast dispatched with urgency, when the villain has been a menace for many years. The group hints that there may be some devious plan in the works. The fights are thought to be ambushes that knew their path and in the closing pages of the third issue, a conversation takes place at court that revisits that question, but, sadly, it is just a tease to keep the reader curious.
The digital art style is conducive to showcase Battlecats as an action-fantasy story. Penciller Andy King, who is also the inker, has created a satisfying visual experience for the reader. He does a superb job at creating visually the five distinctive characters that consistently look like themselves whether in the throes of battle or during the quieter moments of conversing with each other around the camp fire. And with the digital format, the depth of the background environment almost becomes its own character, as well. King’s pencil-and-ink drawing on page two provides a stark contrast to the efforts of Alejandro Giraldo, main colorist, and Julián González, assisting. Their rich color palette offers a brilliance that emphasizes the action of battles as well as accenting certain elements, such as the eyes and the moon.
Lettering is just as crucial as the rest of the comic book experience. The location of the speech balloons and narrative boxes, both which look like crackling parchment, complement King’s layout and don’t block out the characters or the action. And, the lettering is clear and readable, positioned well in the balloons and boxes – just as they should. The lettering was a group effort that included Michael Camelo, Julián González, Diego Uribe, Christian Ospina, Andrew Zea, and Miguel Angel Zapata. Well done, all.
Where Battlecats may slip with a slower developing story and revealing beats, it is made up for in the action that unfolds with each page. That said, readers that enjoy stories similar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and R.A. Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms will want to give Battlecats a try. And if you like cats as heroic characters, then this is a perfect fit.