Last Time

So when we last visited, we discussed Vol.1 of BattleCats: The Hunt for the Dire Beast. With the success of this title, it was a no brainer that a volume 2 would be forthcoming. Mad Cave along with writer Mark London, artist Michael Camelo and Colorist Tekino brought back the wonders of Valderia with BattleCats, Vol.2: Fallen Legacy. This continues where Vol. 1 left off; with the BattleCats being condemned by King Eramad III. This was for not following his orders in their mission with the Dire Beast aka King Eramad II. For their punishment, they were made to fight in the Coliseum for three straight days to celebrate Rorinhal, the yearly celebration where felines across the kingdoms embrace their baser, predator instincts. All for the entertainment of the crowd and atone for their betrayal.

 

North Blade Coliseum

As the first day commences, they realize that these battles would not be easy. It didn’t help that their was dissension in the ranks. Kaleera was miffed at Kelthan for leading them down this path. However, as ever, she fought down her displeasure and fought with the team. But this first battle was taxing and Kelthan found himself at the disadvantage. Bloodied and beaten, he still deferred to his King. Because while Eramad may have saw his actions as disloyal, he felt that he was following his heart and honoring his oath to the throne of Valderia. Eramad ordered his former BattleCat leader to rise. He had suffered more serious injuries and found victory. Should this be any different?

As requested by his King, Kelthan did indeed arise and called to his BattleCats. They fought as the team they were formed to be and Kelthan struck the final blow. For the King. As the crowd roared, Eramad’s wife Adastril implored him to stop this. His former BattleCat Leader Valadar and his Darkats were still out there. If the BattleCats were to fall, who would be there to help to stop their advance? Eramad, in his pride, believed that Valadar wouldn’t dare to attack. And his BattleCats needs to prove their loyalty, to answer for their disobedience. He would not end the trials.

Valadar comes to Laurelsville Greenspyre

When will men learn that they should listen to their wives? Because as this spectacle was going on, Valadar was indeed advancing. Most recently into Laurelsville Greenspyre, following the fall of Shimmerglade and Hunterian. It was there that they found Kaleera’s parents. Valadar offered them the opportunity to join him in exchange for him sparing their daughter when they confronted the BattleCats. They refused and met with a brutal demise. Like Kaleera would need more impetus to fight the Darkats. Nevertheless, it was supplied. Now Valadar would set his sights on the Capital and the demise of the King. At his side, his Oracle Myrthalen. Who happens to be the royal Oracle Natharien’s daughter. Kids…they are such a pain sometimes.

Natharien Makes his Case for the Battlecats

Back at the palace, the aforementioned Natharien pleads with the King to end the trials and to forgive the Battlecats error. Kelthan did what he thought was best for the crown. He must see that. They would need the Battlecats in the coming confrontation. Valadar had injured Eramad on their last encounter and he still seeks to merge his Mark of the Fang with that of another. To regain the full power that the Lion God bestowed upon Eramad I.

For those who read Vol.1 (or read our review), you remember that when Eramad had tried to return the power that the Lion God had granted him, it got dispersed among his advisors. After that, Eramad had told his advisors not to father any children. The powers they had obtained needed to die with them. Of course, one of his advisors had not heeded his command. Apparently advisors are just like husbands…they don’t listen! Thus their progeny also carried the Mark. This included Battlecat Vaela, although she didn’t know that. However, it did explain why on Valadar’s last confrontation with Eramad, they chose to kidnap Vaela.

The Final Trial

However, their attempt to unite the Marks met with failure. Apparently, Natharien didn’t teach his daughter everything he knew. Eventually she was able to escape and rejoin the Battlecats with the assistance of the mysterious Artain of Stormholt. Just in time to join in their mission and now, because of their dishonor, their punishment. But on their second trial, Vaela was injured. It was only because of the Queen’s decision to disobey her husband that she was healed…to a point. At least in time for the third and final trial. This time, one Battlecat was chosen at random to represent them all. If they lost, they would vacate their titles as Battlecats. So Zorien was chosen to fight while the rest were chained to the ground. His opponent? Artain of Stormholt.

Valadar’s Assault

While the battle commenced in the Coliseum, Valadar and his Darkats were through the cities gates and outside the arena. They stormed through the guards there with ease and while the King was watching the spectacle below, Valadar stabbed him in his torso. Eramad shouted out in pain and told his wife to run. However, she was cut off from escaping by the Darkats. The chained Battlecats fought to be free, to help their King. But they could not escape their chains. Meanwhile, Myrthalen confronted her Father, demanding he tell her how she could join the marks and whatever else he was keeping from her. His time was over. The Lizard God would now reign supreme.

A Fallen King

As the Battlecats struggled against their chains, Gheeta, a former rival of Kaleera told her of her parents deaths and how they had died. Brave words while Kaleera was securely chained. But the words found their mark as she raged just inches from her foe. It was then that the blood priests of Il-Shavaar held the audience in sway as Valadar and Eramad met for a final battle. The King fought courageously but weakened by previous wounds, he lost his paw and finally Valadar snapped the King’s neck for all to see. Eramad III was dead as the crowd looked on in horror. Was this the end? Not quite. There were final confrontations and a massive secret that was revealed. All of which can be learned when you read Battlecats, Vol. 2: Fallen Legacy and leads to its conclusion in the final series, Battlecats, Vol.3: Hero of Legend that starts July 7th.

Thoughts

The overriding constant that Mark London has interwoven into Battlecats is a steadily building narrative that not only explores the current events, but also fills in the gaps from past. This is cleverly done by allowing the characters to lead into these segue ways as if recalling a past memory. This serves to fill in backstory gaps without impeding on the ongoing narrative and works exceedingly well. Of course, it helps that he has constructed an immersive tale of powerful characters, dealing with questions of loyalty, love, betrayal and family conflict. In other words, just another day in Valderia. London has set the stage for a powerful final chapter in the series coming at us on July 7th.

Artwork

Battlecats Vol.1 set the bar extremely high when it came to artwork and artist Michael Camelo continued that trend with more high quality work. The splash pages particularly were exquisite as seen in the above page of King Earmad III. Just as in Vol. 1, detailed pencil and ink combined with brilliant, vibrant color work by Tekino, makes for a feast for the eyes and another winner in this excellent series.

Coming Soon

So now we are left wanting more and fortunately for fans, they won’t have too long to wait. Battlecats, Vol.3: Hero of Legend is available now for pre-order from Mad Cave and releases July 7th. Needless to say I am hooked now and will be following this to its conclusion. Knowing the work done on the previous volumes, it will be a glorious final.🖖🏻

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