Comic Book Review: Battle Beasts #1 (of 4)
I was scanning the shelves of my local comic book shop last week when my eyes fell upon a cover that immediately transported me back some twenty-five years to my childhood.
That cover belonged to Battle Beasts #1 out of IDW.
When I was a child, my brother and I used to collect Battle Beasts: tiny anthropomorphized animals in battle armor who represented one of three warrior factions: Fire, Wood or Water. They were basically a more elaborate way of playing Rock, Paper, Scissors: Fire burns Wood, Wood floats on Water, Water puts out Fire. You wouldn’t know which faction your warrior stood for until you pitted them against each other.
I had no idea IDW were developing this licence into a comic, so I was genuinely caught unawares.
Needless to say, without a second thought I grabbed this comic with much enthusiasm.
Now the problem with being a grown man and revisiting the things you loved from your childhood is that you realize just how lame they really were.
Recently I dug out my old 80s Blue Devil comics, and to my boyhood heart’s dismay, they were almost impossible to read. It was sad that those comics weren’t as cool as I’d remembered them. That goes for when I recently tried to watch the old He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. Unwatchable today.
Well, I’m happy to report that Battle Beasts #1 isn’t lame or outdated. It’s just an all round, fun comic book.
Battle Beasts #1 focuses on three warriors; Gruntos (an axe-wielding walrus), Merk (a falcon who constantly studies his friends and foes alike) and Vorin (a ram and the leader of the band of heroes). The trio are outlaws with a bounty on their heads because they refuse to fight in the overhanging war that that has become a lifestyle for these creatures. Before long the rogue Battle Beasts find themselves on the run and arriving on the distant planet Earth.
Writer Bobby Curnow manages to take this toy license and make it into an exciting, new story, rich with background and promising a fulfilling direction. He brings a unique voice to each critter and by the end of the first issue has a high stakes conflict that could have crazy repercussions for everyone involved.
The art by Valerio Schiti is incredibly pleasing to the eye. He takes the alien landscapes and characters in his stride as much as the regular humans and scenery of Earth. And his battle scenes? Some of the best I’ve seen in some time. Sure, he’s drawing people with goats heads and such, but he brings so much character to every single animal and person he draws. Extremely satisfying.
If you’ve ever loved any kind of warrior anthromorphized animals from TV back in the day, be it Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Earthworm Jim, or even the Samurai Pizza Cats (not to mention the more “serious” cartoons like Biker Mice from Mars and ThunderCats) this is a comic you’ll find highly satisfying. Action and adventure with a sprinkling of humor to boot.
Battle Beasts is planned as a four issue mini-series, but personally, I’m hoping this comic sells so well that IDW will pick it up as an ongoing comic, because the potential for greatness is right here.