Cassiopeia was once a street kitten. She and her brother defended a small territory. Now she’s a member of the Hero Cats of Stellar City, and has much bigger things on her mind. Along with her fellow cats, all experienced operatives, she fights against the strange and sometimes powerful criminals who have begun showing up in Stellar City. But Cassie has more to worry about than her status as the youngest and least-trained member of the team; she’s supposed to be comforting and helping her new human family, Professor Quest and his daughter Suzie. Not long ago Suzie’s mother, Amelia, went on a trip to space and never returned. Now the professor spends days in his observatory, searching for a sign of his wife, and Cassie does her best to help out.

Through the eyes of Cassiopeia, this first volume of Hero Cats introduces the team: Ace, Midnight, Belle, Rocket, and Rocco, each of whom has a different ability or skill. Together they battle criminals, like the misguided Johnny Arcado, who brings video games to life, as well as investigating the mysterious happenings in Stellar City. Why are super villains—and superheroes like Galaxy Man and his sidekick Cosmic Girl—suddenly appearing? Where are all these strangers coming from? The first volume ends with Cassiopeia making significant strides in her new life, becoming ready to face the mysteries and challenges that lie ahead.

This volume collects the first three issues of Hero Cats, including short stories of Galaxy Man and Cosmic Girl. It primarily introduces the six hero cats, all of whom have distinct personalities, as well as giving hints about some of their backgrounds. This is a straight bind-up of the original comics, so includes multiple ads for Action Lab’s other titles, including Princeless, Vamplets, Planet Gigantic, and Nutmeg as well as ads for books and games. Each separate comic also includes notes from narrator cat Bandit, Cassiopeia’s older brother, as well as sketches, activities, and notes from creator Kyle Puttkammer.

The art for the main stories sticks with a classic, clean line. The cats have faces that express human emotions, while still remaining feline, but most of their differing personalities are marked by their different colors and shapes. There are only a few human faces shown and they are often just a little bit off, more cartoonish than the tone of the comic suggests. Some of Johnny Arcado’s pixelated monsters are correspondingly fuzzy, but others have a smoother, more finished appearance. The short Galaxy Man comics use a blockier, more unfinished style and are clearly meant to be a homage to classic comics with a goofier look and story.

This is promoted as an all ages comic, a fun choice for kids and parents who want a less violent and more kid-friendly superhero option. I was annoyed by the default female stereotypes; Captain Amelia Quest wears a pink space suit and after her initial appearance is only an off the page inspiration for Professor Quest and Suzy. Of the six hero cats, only two are female, Cassiopeia, who is young and untrained and brings the ability to read, and Belle, who is fluffy and pampered and can read minds. Both can and do fight with the others, but the male cats handle most of the leadership and active roles. I also found the inclusion of ads disconcerting and it made the plot, which is rather winding, harder to follow. These titles are available only in paperback and their binding is not ideal, as the gutters sometimes cover the words or edges of pictures.

However, despite these flaws, this is overall a fun beginning to an interesting story. I found myself interested and eager in finding out what happened next and look forward hopefully to more growth in the various characters. Kids who are fans of Erin Hunters’ Warriors series or Zita the Spacegirl will enjoy the fresh and light-hearted storyline and look forward to more stories of the Hero Cats of Stellar City.

Hero Cats of Stellar City, vol 1
by Kyle Puttkammer
Art by Marcus Williams, Ryan Sellers
ISBN: 9781632290793
Action Lab, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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