Indie Comic Review: Battle Beasts #1

Battle Beasts #1 – Writer: Bobby Curnow, Art: Valerio Schiti – IDW – $3.99

It seems that if there was a toy product in the 80′s it has been optioned for a comic in the 2000′s.  Every time one turns around there is another announcement.  It seems that the properties are getting more and more obscure as the big names have all been snatched up.  Such is Battle Beasts, a property which was recently optioned by IDW.

For me it has always been difficult to read licensed comics. It is a challenge for me to separate the actions on the page from the memories I have playing with the toys or watching the tv show in my youth. G.I. Joe, Transformers, even Star Wars and Robotech all have an uphill battle when it comes to replacing the memories and voices I created on my own. But that is not the case with Battle Beasts. I had never even heard of these things until the comic was announced. I had to google them just to figure out what they were.

According to toy, “Battle Beasts were small 1″ tall figures released by Hasbro in 1986. Each Beast had heat sensitive sticker on their chest. When rubbed, it would reveal if the Battle Beast was Fire, Wood or Water.” Hmmm. Ok. How does that make for a comic?

Apparently it doesn’t, because Battle Beasts (the comic) has only gone or the highlights. there are anthropomorphic beasts. They battle. And we really don’t need much more than that!

It’s just another average day for Bliss, an ignored linguist at the Department of Defense. However, when Bliss unlocks the secret translation of an ancient scroll, terror rains from the sky… in the form of the BATTLE BEASTS! Relentless creatures who know only a life of combat, they’ve brought their unquenchable thirst for battle with them! The only thing that can stop them is a gentle word from the one woman who can understand them—Bliss!!

Since I did not have any previous attachment to the property I was able to approach it with fresh eyes. That meant that I could just judge the book on its own merits instead of constantly comparing it to the rosy memories of my youth. Thanks to that, I enjoyed the book tremendously.

Battle Beasts is a lot of fun. The book is 80% (or more) fight scenes. There is some characterization, but most of that is just shoved aside for more fighting (it is called BATTLE Beasts after all!). The fight scenes are big, bloody, and full of action. Not sure if I should credit the artist or the writer with that, but whoever designed the fight scenes did a great job.

Visually, the creatures are all interesting and imposing. While it is pretty easy to lose track of who is who in the large battles, the “good guys” are indicated by colorful clothing while the “bad guys” are dressed all in black. It is a simple technique and it belies the basic nature of the concept. Again, we are dealing with beasts…who battle. This is not Shakespeare.

But that should not be a reason not to get the book. The book is beautiful. It is fun. There is the barest hint of a plot to hold it all together. It is all about the fights, and those fights are well-executed. Battle Beasts is just plain fun.

Battle Beasts #1 is available now at your local comic shop.

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