“Bravest Warriors 2014 Annual” #1 by Kate Leth, Coleman Engle, Monica Ray and Sloane Leong spotlights on team member Catbug in a quartet of tales, one by each creator. It’s a fun and diverse set of light, easily digestible stories based on the animated web series by “Adventure Time” creator Pendleton Ward, and one that that can be enjoyed by kids and their parents, or any adult for that matter, even those not familiar with the franchise.
For those who aren’t, Catbug is exactly the kind of character one might first guess: a childlike amalgamation of a cute kitten and a ladybug; it’s already hard not to like. The stories aren’t a series of solo appearances; other members of the cast are also featured in supporting roles, so readers of the regular series won’t feel cheated or feel like the annual isn’t up to par with the rest of the series, as is a common conception with annual comics. Even if readers find some of the entries not to their liking, at six to eight pages each, it doesn’t take long to get through one and move on to another.
Kate Leth’s “A Is For . . .” a comical and even educational romp through the alphabet, or most of it anyway. Parents might have to explain to their inquisitive children that the alphabet doesn’t end with “W.” It’s the first, strongest, and funniest of the comic’s stories, as Leth juxtaposes between comical, surprising, and over-the-top definitions descriptions for what each letter stands for. “T” can indeed stand for “tax evasion,” for example, but kids will probably need their snickering parents explain that one to them. At least when the story is over, these kids will be the only ones among their friends who know what an obelisk is.
In “Love Rejuvenation” by Coleman Engle, Catbug and teammate Wallow are practicing some dance moves from a music video. Wallow keeps getting called away to save the day, but Catbug stays behind to practice his moves. Wallow, however, is able to use these movements to his advantage when battling various menaces, and the story is largely Wallow invoking these moves in step with those in the video, as well as Catbug trying to master them. There doesn’t seem to be much of a point to the story, and its repetition makes its short page count seem a little longer, but it remains fun.
Monica Ray’s “We Killed Catbug” has the most striking colors of all four stories, which works well with the strange metamorphosis Catbug endures in this story. Not to worry, parents; the title isn’t as ominous as it sounds and it’s still perfectly in keeping with the lighthearted mood of the rest of the comic. Closing out the comic is Sloane Leong’s imagination-inspiring “Catbug and the Cosmic Quest,” where a bored Catbug finally gets his wish to go on the ultimate adventure; or so it seems.
Each of “Bravest Warriors 2014 Annual” #1 four stories are unique, both script-wise and art-wise, yet fit well together as a whole. It’s surprisingly varied for such a group of simple and easy-to-read stories, and entertaining for all. $4.99 is a little steep for such a quickly consumed comic, but it’s the kind of thing that young children just might want to read over and over.