It’s no secret around these parts that I am partial to cats as well as to independent, creator-owned comics, so you can imagine my delight when our fearless leaders here at A Place to Hang Your Cape handed me a copy of Hero Cats of Stellar City Volume 3 to review! Are you imagining it? Good then, let’s get started, yes?
For those of you that are unfamiliar with Hero Cats of Stellar City, it is a cat-centric (original term, do not steal) comic book that is published by Action Lab Comics. Created and written by Kyle Puttkammer, Hero Cats follows the adventures of Ace, Rocket, Cassiopeia, Rocco, Belle and Midnight as they solve mysteries and protect the people of Stellar City from the nefarious deeds of villains!
What makes Hero Cats so much fun is that Puttkammer and the entire Hero Cats team really capture the essence of cats and go out of their way to add funny little cat-related jokes throughout each issue. What’s more is that Midnight also has his own solo book that ties neatly into the flagship title; you can read our review of Midnight Over Stellar City #1 here. Can you see that my excitement is causing me to derail this review?
Getting back on track, Volume 3 of Hero Cats of Stellar City includes issues 7-9 and collects the entire “Crow King Saga.” With Galaxy Man and Cosmic Girl busy with…other stuff, it’s up to the Hero Cats to deal with the Crow King and his minions. Thankfully they get some much needed assistance from Bandit, the newest Hero Cat who is introduced in issue 7. Bandit employs the use of cutting edge technology as he, well, steals things! Check him out:
We get a nice detailed description of all of Bandit’s gear in the closing pages of that issue, which is something I always appreciate. Those types of additions in comics always add an extra layer of depth and help to immerse readers more fully into the story.
In this story arc, the Crow King plans to put all of Stellar City into a deep sleep so that he can move in and take over. In order to do this, he has both crows and mind-controlled humans at his disposal, and bestows upon one of his lackies the ability to understand the Hero Cats when they speak to one another! So far this is unheard of in the Hero Cats universe, as the team rely on their statuses as mild-mannered house cats to remain hidden in plain sight.
The Crow King hails from another dimension and when he breaks into the Hero Cat’s own, Bandit is accidentally thrown into the dimensional portal trapping him in a strange, dream-like dimension in which all the remaining Hero Cats take on human appearances. This was one of my favorite parts of this particular story arc, and it was interesting to see the way Marcus Williams, Ryan Sellers, and Omaka Schultz depict the Hero Cats as humans. Rocco’s appearance is particularly humorous as a jacked-up barbarian/warrior, while Belle takes on the role of a Queen; how fitting.
Since Bandit retains his cat form in this dimension, it’s up to him to locate and convince the rest of the Hero Cats that they are indeed…well…Hero Cats! In order to do this he first enlists the help of a human-ified (real word?) Cassiopeia and a magical cat mask that allows its wearer to see through the eyes of a cat. Once the team is all reunited, it’s onward to confront the Crow King!
The final battle with the Crow King is one of the highlights of this story arc, as it not only gives us a completely badass, giant Midnight going toe to toe with the Crow King on his own turf, but leaves Bandit’s story wide open as he decides not to return to the Hero Cats’ own dimension. We get a nice page that features Bandit and his new crew preparing to embark on new adventures. Will we be seeing a Bandit solo book in the near future?
As I’ve stated in a previous review of Hero Cats of Stellar City, the artwork is absolutely tremendous. Williams, Sellers and Schultz do an exceedingly fantastic job of depicting cats and all their mannerisms and subtle little movements. From the way they “pose” to their graceful leaps, it’s all captured purrfectly (har har), and if you’re a fan of cats it will entertain you to no end.
I thought introducing a little magic into the Hero Cats universe worked well in “The Crow King Saga.” During scenes taking place in the dream-dimension, the panels are separated by mystical looking smoke, which really took the aesthetic of this story arc to the next level. The inclusion of some pirate air-ships and swashbuckling action was also neat, and dipped further into the fantasy genre. It was fun to see the Hero Cats in this kind of setting, and makes me wonder what Puttkammer has up his sleeve for the future of this title; it seems the possibilities are endless.
It’s worth mentioning that Brianna Higgins and Shannon Butt share the task of providing lettering throughout “The Crow King Saga,” with Higgins handling issue 7 and Butt taking care of issues 8 and 9. Both do an excellent job throughout, and the transition between issues is seamless.
So, you want more Hero Cats action? Check out Action Lab Comics’ website where you can pick up issues of both Hero Cats of Stellar City as well as Midnight Over Stellar City. While you’re at it you can read up on all the other titles Action Lab has to offer, and believe me when I say that they’ve got a whole ton of stuff going on over there. Finally, visit the official Hero Cats Facebook page for even more information about your favorite four-legged league of justice!
What did you think of “The Crow King Saga?” Was it the best Hero Cats story to date? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!