Aug 9, 2012

Let's Talk About Battle Beasts.

This comic is okay.
Written by Bobby Curnow, art by Valerio Schiti.
Cover by Dan Brereton
 Okay, okay. Surely there's more to say about Battle Beast than that, right? Not... really. So IDW was presented with a problem; update a toy concept from the 1980s for an adult audience. The concept is a bunch of anthropomorphic animals in battle armour who fight each other. How do you update that?

Well, honestly... they went for the most obvious and cliched options availabe. I mean, what would you do if you weren't trying that hard to create a world or mythology? Before I read Battle Beasts I had a little guess in my head as to what it would be like.

My estimate went a little something like this:

The animals would be aliens.This is because they're aliens in the very small amount of fiction they've had before, so I was biased there -- they could have easily been genetic constructs or ancient monsters in a time lost land, but I guessed aliens.

They would be fighting over some macguffin. Probably something magical. Again, this is obvious -- they're Battle Beasts, they have to be fighting over something, right? So probably it'll be the ONE THING THAT COULD BRING PEACE, right?

Mac called, he wants his Guffin back.

The macguffin will end up on earth -- and thus the beasts will come to earth and meet a human cast. Because of my own gender biases I guess I sorta figured the humans would be male.

I pretty much got it exactly right. The macguffin isn't magical, it's technology (but we all know what Arthur C Clarke said about sufficiently advanced technology, right?) -- and the main human isn't a guy, it's a plucky young female, so I was wrong there too. I shoulda known, really. Oh, and the macguffin's not really the one thing that could bring peace, exactly -- it's a weapon they're fighting over.

The independent female lead, who's bringing up her delinquent
brother because their parents are dead! Where do they
come up with such groundbreaking ideas? I just don't know!

Despite being nearly painfully cliche in its settup, the book is okay. The beasts are generally likeable characters, and the plucky young human is likeable. I was impressed with the way they introduced the book too --  they started the story from the beasts' point of view, rather than from the human's.

The art takes exactly the same track as the plotting -- it's exactly what you'd expect from an obvious update. The animals are 'badass', huge monsters. The cuteness of the original toys, and the campness of their designs is downplayed as much as possible. Oh, and there's a tonne of gore. Hasbro doesn't own this license any more (it's now owned by Diamond Select toys), so there's no one telling them not to make it violent. So if you always wanted to see a 1980s toy property updated but now with buckets of blood, this is the book for you.

Battle Beasts: Boodstorm!

This is not Battle Beasts by way of its Rocket Racoon-esque roots, it's a badass revamp! Which, is exactly what you'd expect it to be, really. Fortunately (unlike their Beast Wars comics) IDW decided to hire someone who can actually draw animals for Battle Beasts, which is nice. They can also drawn okay humans, so that's good too!

So yeah, it's an obvious, stupid cliche of a revamp, that's otherwise written and drawn pretty well. The end result is that my conclusion is exactly the same as my introduction.

This comic is okay.

--Andrew S.
(The review copy of this issue was suppled by

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