One of the titles I think may have swept under many people’s radar is the release from a couple of weeks ago by IDW of Battle Beasts #1. With a gorgeous painted cover by Daniel Brereton, this is only one of the delights from a surprising licence relaunch. Didn’t see that one coming!
Now we all know that give IDW a licensed property and they will run with it. We only have to look at the impressive work they have done with Transformers, Doctor Who or Star Trek; keeping faith with the original versions but never failing to inject a sense of freshness with every sweep of the pen. As one can expect, this is no different.
Toy licences are a gold mine of good stories when used with care. Using the aforementioned Transformers as an example, we can also look at Rom, the Micronauts, Wildstorm’s version of the Thundercats, many companies renditions of the Masters Of The Universe (check out the current series by the esteemed James Robinson which is well worth the cover price), to mention but a few.
Yet for as many successes out there, there are as many failures upon hitting the comics’ page. The Silver Hawks, the Sectaurs or the Visionaries – Knights of the Magical Light. Without picking on Marvel (although their Thundercats and Masters Of The Universe were both atrocious), I would also suggest the Power Lords from DC, which in itself was an okay comic, but suffered from a lack of investment, from both the company and the readers. One three-issue mini-series? That’s all we got?
All four of those properties deserve a relaunch. (Just in case you are listening IDW, this is your mission if you choose to accept it. If not you, then PLEASE WILL SOMEBODY BRING ME MORE SILVER HAWKS!)
Yet Battle Beasts was hardly the pre-eminent range that sprang to mind. The plot is actually quite mature. Not necessarily complex (yet) but complimented with the beautiful art of Valerio Schiti, writer Bobby Gurnow creates an alien setting pregnant with potential mythology, yet with a simplicity that makes it approachable to begin with.
Schiti’s art captures a majesty to Beasts that I am unsure even the original toy range accomplished, and once these beasts are transplanted into our world, the contrast between the mundane and fantastical is pronounced, without ever being forced.
I’m sure there will be some gems in today’s shipping list as well, but my precognitive gene failed to isolate them. So if there is a single copy of Battle Beasts left on the shelves of your local comic store, grab it. It will be surprisingly addictive.