Ceej Says… Battlecats #1 review (Mad Cave Studios)


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Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
Writer: Mark London
Artwork: Andy King
Colours: Alejandro Giraldo

The Battlecats are made up of the very best warriors of Valderia.  Responsible for defending the realm of King Edamad III from any and all threats, they may be about to encounter their toughest test yet in this brand new series from the folks at Mad Cave Studios.

Okay, cards on the table – writer Mark London’s story is about as subtle as the hulking, muscle-bound cats themselves, and feels very much like the type of thing you’d get as the introductory cut-scene before a mobile game.  We’re given a brief summary of the state of the world, followed by a nod to the fact that the Battlecats are on a quest to eliminate a hideous beastie, and then – IT’S FIGHT TIME!!

It all feels incredibly over-indulgent at times, almost verging into parody as the ten-page battle scene in this first issue rages on and on and on.  Plus, because there never really seems to be any legitimate threat posed to our heroes by the faceless army of baddies they’re cutting a swath through, the stakes are removed completely, leaving us with little else to do but sit back and enjoy the pretty pictures.  Thankfully, the pictures are damn pretty, with artist Andy King and colourist Alejandro Giraldo churning out page after page (after page) of poster and print-worthy carnage.

It’s definitely a case of style over substance here, but thankfully – as I mentioned – the style is pretty damn impressive. As a well-publicised fan of awesome 80s toy and cartoon franchises like He-Man or Thundercats, the unapologetically larger-than-life approach of the series definitely appeals to me.  That said, without any real emotional investment in any of the ‘cats, other than the fact that they each seem to fill a well-established fantasy trope, I found myself really struggling to care about what was happening, even as the issue reached its somewhat tense finale.

A major misstep in terms of storytelling then, but a definite triumph when it comes to the visual aspect of the series.  In a lot of ways, Battlecats might have been better suited dispensing altogether with the story – such as it is –and simply marketing itself as an art book set in a fictional feline fantasy world.   That may perhaps sound a little harsh, but is also probably something the creators themselves are at least partially aware of, particularly given the “style over substance” approach to the series.

Overall then, while there’s not much here for fans of story, characterisation or emotional investment, there is a heck of a lot to like for fans of bold, brash, in-your-face fantasy carnage with a feline twist.  And while that’s perhaps a bit of a niche market, it’s one that Battlecats – and Mad Cave Studios – are ready to fill with gusto.

You can feast your eyes on the official Battlecats trailer below, and check out the Mad Cave Studios website for information on how to get your hands on a copy of this or any of the other books in their diverse catalogue of releases.

ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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