BATTLECATS #3 – The Issue That Is One Big Fight Scene
After squawking for pages upon pages about their quest of slaying an impressive beast that could decimate entire countries if let loose, the Battlecats have finally cheated their way onto said beast’s lair. And they are ready to kill it – just because an unseen guy told them so. The question then remains: is this a good issue? Well, that depends on how you answer one simple question:
Are you young enough to remember 1993?
I mean, I am obviously rhetorically questioning you here, since there is no way you can answer this question swiftly enough for me to change the contents of this article before it gets published. And, even if you could, I wouldn’t change a letter since I’d be really freaked out by your phantom answer, given the fact I am typing these words at night accompanied only by my own house cat. And, despite my best efforts to force her to do so for the last seven years, she is unable to talk, let alone answer questions regarding human inventions such as time.
“Meow”, she says. Which probably means something like “stop using my existence as a procrastination tool in your quest to not get to the point already, filthy human. I mean. Meow. Also, feed me.”
But, again, are you young enough to remember 1993? I am also making a parakeet ton of assumptions here. Judging by the biographies of my fellow Soda-and-Telepathians, I have to believe we are writing for people that roughly reflect what we are – kind of old, to be honest. Furthermore, of all the people I tend to hang out, comic book readers tend to fall on the “I was born on or a bit before the 80s” side of the spectrum.
Then again, I stopped hanging out with teenagers some time ago. It started to look suspicious. The fact I was giving them free candies and comic books from outside an unmarked white van didn’t help matters.
Blood and Magic Beat Catnip Any Day!
Getting back to the point. A lot of things happened in 1993. Historical events. Achieved milestones. Births of people that would take 15+ years to become interesting beings for the public eye. The deaths of some people we cared about and some people we didn’t. You parents divorce. It was a long stretch of 365 days.
Many things happened. Most of which we have forgotten. But only one thing is relevant to today’s review. In January, after basically creating the modern hype machine during three months simply because the alternative would be “we will basically lose all of our company’s money if this doesn’t work out in the end”, DC decided to do something we hadn’t seen before. Something that would influence countless comic book stories in the West for years to come.
No, not killing Superman. Although, I guess that was a milestone in its own right: “the first time the public was gullible enough to believe superheroes could be killed”. But the death of an icon has nothing to do with this Battlecats issue. No, what DC did was prepare the ground for what every single teenager that was lured by the “making comics is a good way to do what you like and earn money” fallacy instinctively did when telling their own stories across multiple school notebooks.
They straight up copied Dragon Ball Z. Specifically, the Frieza saga.
In January of the same year Hulk Hogan decided to become a Mr. Nanny, DC wanted its readers to feel a battle between a so-called Doomsday and Superman was one of the most epic moments ever published in limited color palettes over cheap paper. And, since comic books lack both epic John Williams scores embedded on its pages as well as good old movement, they only had one choice: copy what other people were doing.
Enter TOEI Animation. Two years prior they had solved the very same issue DC executives had at that point. DC wanted a fight to feel epic. TOEI was looking for a way to stretch out their source material enough to let the author churn out even more source material. A match made in heaven.
If a fight between a Saiyan and whatever the hell kind of monster a Frieza is could be transformed into the longest five minutes of television history, just imagine what a group of artists could do with comic books!
“It’s not furries, mom! Furries don’t fight with swords!”
Therefore, everyone who was everyone that year, feasted their eye on what amounts to 90 comic book pages focused on one single and (pun definitively intended) drawn out battle. Oh, sure, there were some “plot-driven” scenes and “character development” moments peppered here and there, but they were there just so comic book critics couldn’t accurately say “it’s just 24 pages of two dudes hitting each other’s face. AGAIN!”
If you were alive in January 1993 and testosterone was something your body still created back then, you probably loved “reading” – in the loosest sense possible – this Superman adventure. Same goes if you ate every single of the 6 fights featured on the 291 episodes of Dragon Ball Z. If the memories of either of these two properties make you feel nostalgic about your childhood-self lusting for cartoon blood in everything they consumed, then, boy, is Battlecats #3 for you!
Because this entire issue is nothing but a fight scene. Choreographed exquisitely, drawn dynamically and, especially, paying excellent tribute to the cliché phrase of “leaping out of the pages”. It is glorious but, again, it’s one really long fight scene and little else.
If you can stomach your eyes moving frantically from panel to panel, foillowing blood spurts, shield shards and pointy swords breaking through skins, while both your mind and mouth try to create the folly effects your inner director would add to the scene if the budget allowed.
If, on the other hand, you are here because of the engrossing story Battlecats hints at but rarely shows, you only need to read the first nine pages in which:
- You finally see how the villains of the story look
- You get to see that the Lion King might be hiding something and
- You understand Vaela is an important piece of the puzzle.
After that you could surmise the whole thing as “they fight with the beast.” The issue doesn’t hold out its punches and knows that its main strength could also be its biggest weakness. But then again, the book is called Battlecats. It’s not like this comes out of left field.
However, although I dig the art style and what they have done with it, I cannot fail to mention how, once again, on more than one panel, the female characters’ faces look like if you took that memed Thor clay bust that fell face down onto the floor last year and added a scantily clad female body below it. Add fur and proceed to confuse your boner (or get confused by it; you never know).
But are those pancake faces with distraught expressions going to taint my enjoyment of Battlecats? NO! Because Battlecats is good. It just, sometimes, doesn’t look as good as it should. But we’re here for the D&D quest, not the hotties!