herocats2

The Hero Cats return in a second volume of adventures, collecting issues 4 through 6. Cassiopeia, still a new member of the team finding her way, joins her friends as they explore underground. Deep fissures have been appearing, closer and closer to the center of Stellar City, and the Hero Cats are ready to put a stop to it. They discover new friends and enemies, and possibly new mysteries as well, in their adventures underground. Cassie learns more about her teammates, especially the mysterious Belle, along the way. But the new discoveries aren’t over; Cassie also finds out the secret her family, Professor Quest and his daughter Suzy, have been hiding from her. Now Cassie isn’t sure who to trust—and neither is her team—but they have to decide fast as they face an invasion of space bugs! The final story arc involves a missing scientific machine and hints at further adventures and villains yet to come.

This collection also includes multiple ads for Action Lab’s other properties, mostly teen or all ages titles, as well as for some books and toys. Each issue ends with notes from the creators, letters from fans, or hints at stories to come. The art continues the clean, slick style of the earlier comics, while incorporating some of the blocky, more cartoonish elements of the Galaxy Man shorts into the Hero Cats’ interactions with Galaxy Man and Cosmic Girl. The cats still have limited expressions, but they are growing as characters; glimpses into the backgrounds of Belle, the feelings of Rocket, and Ace and Cassie’s growing relationship give the cats stronger personalities, even if they remain interchangeable beyond a few differences in color and fur. Most humans remain faceless or hastily sketched in, keeping the focus on the cats and their activities.

Cassiopeia’s role grows in this second title, as does Belle’s. As I was unsatisfied with the roles given to the female cats in the first book, this was a welcome development. Cassie deals with feelings of betrayal and uncertainty, but the reader also sees more emotional depth from the male cats, especially Rocket and Ace, and Cassie begins to take more initiative and become a stronger member of the team. A flashback to Belle’s former life helps the reader understand her sometimes standoffish demeanor and we get hints of her powerful abilities as well. Quirky new characters, drawn to look like animated crystals and rocks, glowing green space bugs, and even a little hint of romance all add up to a fun development in the series.

These titles are only available in paperback and their binding and layout is not superb; strips of art and even sections of introductory text are sometimes lost in the gutter. However, fans of the first collection will be eager to find out more about the Hero Cats and new readers will want to read more about their background and future adventures.

Hero Cats of Stellar City: New Discoveries, vol 2
by Kyle Puttkammer
Art by Marcus Williams, Ryan Sellers
ISBN: 9781632291097
Action Lab, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library

    Reviewer

    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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