GRONK / HERO CATS FCBD 2015 (Action Lab Comics) Gronk = Art & Story by Katie Cook, Colors by Heather Breckel. Hero Cats of Stellar City = Kyle Puttkammer, Writer/Creator. Marcus Williams, Pencils/Colors.
Gronk is a cute, lime green, young and small female monster with a nice tuft of sandy California hair on top. She left monster society because she didn’t fit in well and was very curious about the human world. She meets up with a single female in British Columbia who lives in a home with a large Newfoundland dog and a fuzzy kitten. Gronk is welcomed into their family and does her best to fit in. In “A Cake Walk In The Woods, “ Gronk tells a story of when she tried to make friends with the bigger monsters by baking for them.
The untitled Hero Cats story does not give a lot of background information but gets right into the action. Things have changed in peaceful Stellar City since the introduction of Galaxy Man (who the Hero Cats are spying on.) Not sure if he is good or evil, the cats just know that the increase in super-villains to menace the city began to happen when Galaxy Man showed up. Some of the cats put a new recruit through some vigorous training, in their playground variation on the X-Men’s Danger Room. There’s just enough mystery in this story to make readers curious to know more.
COVER APPEAL: Very basic, but very cute. Loveable Gronk hugs a kitten. This should get the attention of the intended audience - - beginning readers, very young readers, and very young children who enjoy being read to. If I was part of that audience, I would pick this up. 2 points.
STORY: The Gronk story is complete in this issue. It’s amusing enough to make older readers chuckle at some of the dialogue and situations and still hold the attention of younger readers. General themes of acceptance, understanding and friendship are lightly woven into the story. The Hero Cats story is more of a preview of the overall series, and does a good job of creating interest and suspense. 2 points.
ART: The art in Gronk is whimsical and colorful, with enough detail to keep it interesting but not confusing or cluttered for younger readers not used to viewing comics. The art in Hero Cats is a little more advanced, and more action oriented. The opening two-page spread is quite impressive, and features a car chase, attacking space ships and robotic insect monsters. Quite a teaser for the main books. None of this is featured in the FCBD story. In summary, the art here is perfect eye candy for younger readers. 3 points.
YOUTH APPEAL: Both stories are very interesting and sure to be popular with the right age groups. I prefer reading original stories like this over comics adaptations of popular toys or television cartoon characters. 3 points.
NEW READER APPEAL: The back story of Gronk is summarized very well on an “About Gronk” page that wraps up the first section of the book. It’s up to the reader to figure out who the Hero Cats are and what their purpose is from the overall story. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to do. An “about” page probably would have been beneficial. Gronk gets points here, but Hero Cats takes a little away. 2 points.
PROMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS: Action Labs does not waste the opportunity. There is more information about where to get more Gronk and Hero Cats provided, as well as one page ads featuring other young reader titles from Action Labs. 3 points.
BONUS POINTS: WOULD I PERSONALLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK? I think this is a very good book for young readers, especially those who prefer original material. Would I give it a personal recommendation? Yes, I actually enjoyed this book. 2 points.
FINAL RANKING FOR GRONK/HERO CATS: 17 points HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.