The concept behind Hero Cats is relatively simple: it’s cats, but in a fantasy setting. They’re heroic–putting their lives on the line for human and feline companions alike. The latest issues expand the Hero Cats world from Stellar City to a brand new, mysterious planet; the titual “Skyworld” which, as it turns out, exists at the core of Jupiter.
Hero Cats is firmly in the middle of the road, quality-wise. The book is an easy introduction to comics for younger readers without over-simplifying. While the main cast leans on archetypes to fill in a classic fantasy quest party, the character development is engaging and exciting. Combine that with a plot just shy of formulaic and the book remains fun without becoming remarkable.
Writer Kyle Puttkammer makes up for stock character design with interesting relationships between cats, humans, and the supernatural realm of creatures. Lead Hero Cat Bandit is out of his element, and must navigate a literal new world of challenges in order to save both Sky World and his home Stellar City from annihilation. Puttkammer skips over chunks of time that may, in a book for older readers, be spent on “side quest” type stories or more complex character studies. For simplicity’s sake, though, when the solution to a Hero Cat problem is discovered, it is often executed off-screen. A perfect example is Maddie, the kitten haunted by angels and demons alike, who learns to control these supernatural voices in between issues.
Another element that keeps Hero Cats from landing completely in a “skip” pile is Omaka Schultz’s art work, particularly with the cats themselves. They are illustrated in such a way that blends both realistically feline and supernaturally powerful movements. Battle scenes practically jump off the page. For comic book vets, this is par for the course. The illustration style overall is remniscent of webcomics like Looking For Group—there is something sterile or digital about the art that makes it an easy “in” for new readers.
Overall, Hero Cats is a fun romp in a simple universe that can sometimes read like a marketing ploy. Each planet in the solar system is ostensibly protected by a different team of Hero Cats. Each trade reveals a different “realm”—one for each planet of the solar system. The formulaic format does, however, make it an easy comic to pick up from almost anywhere.
Story: Kyle Puttkammer Artist: Omaka Schultz Colorist: Julie Barclay
Story: 5.0 Art: 6.5 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read (for kids), otherwise skip
Action Lab comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.