Wayne’s Worlds: C.L.A.W.S. #1

Cats are creatures of mystery. We often don’t know what they’re thinking until they act on those thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, dogs are almost always transparent, showing what’s going on inside through their wagging tails and facial expressions, not to mention coming to you with expectant eyes.

On some levels, I get why many cat characters in comics are women. I know I haven’t figured the ladies out at all while the guys I’m friends with are pretty open, sharing thoughts and feelings about their interests very clearly. (Please note this is NOT always the case, though.)

Catwoman, Black Cat, Tigra, Hellcat, Pantha and Cheetah immediately spring to mind when talking about female cat characters. But search online for male cat characters, and you almost always get directed to DC’s Catman, who was turned into a great comic character by Gail Simone.

Well, now we can add another fascinating male cat character to the list – C.L.A.W.S. His first issue just debuted recently from Insane Comics.

Here’s the description for C.L.A.W.S. #1: “When Bras Olivia was 10 years old, he was travelling with his family on a ship. They were transporting an endangered White Tiger back to the Bronx Zoo when the ship they were travelling on capsized. Bras, the only survivor, swam to a nearby island. The island isn’t on any maps and is inhabited by ‘intelligent’ felines. The felines raised Bras and bestowed on him the powers and abilities of each of the large cat tribes: Cheetah – Speed, Lion – Tracking, Asian Tiger – Strength, Western Cougar – Climbing, and Snow Leopard – Leaping. At the age of nineteen, Bras left the mysterious island and returned to the Bronx Zoo where his parents used to work. During the day, he’s a  zookeeper, and at night he fights crime as the masked crusader C.L.A.W.S.”

The book comes from Kelly Bender (co-creator and writer), Jose L. Mojica (co-creator and illustrator), Anthony Cain (colorist), Rob Jones (letterer) and the aforementioned Insane Comics.

The writing is smart, with allusions to New York City being a concrete jungle, just perfect for a cat-like hero. There’s a lot of action and character built into it as well, with C.L.A.W.S. having to face the past while dealing with the present. It also is a different way to give us glimpses at his origin rather than pulling it all out as a separate tale, and I like that.

The hero’s costume is different than I would expect. Most cat characters have browns and blacks in their outfits, but C.L.A.W.S. apparently wears a mix of chrome-like metal and blue leather, with red highlights added as well. Nicely done!

It was funny, but since we didn’t see the hero’s face until flashbacks began on page 18 of the digital version, I thought for sure he was a black man. Instead, given the character’s name, he’s likely Hispanic.

Why is that important to me? Well, I just despise it when white men (like me) go to a different culture/location and rise up to represent or rule it. Instead of people (or cats) who have spent generations surrounded by and connected to these cultures, white guys apparently are better choices to represent the members of the society. While this has a female lead, I used to just wretch at The Wild Thornberrys, a cartoon in which a young British girl was more in touch with nature and animals (even able to communicate with them) than people who had lived in, for example, Africa for generations! I don’t understand how people buy that!

The good news is that C.L.A.W.S., while it focuses on a man, has our hero leaving a society of intelligent cats behind after being trained by them. There’s no mention that they do NOT do that with cats or other people, nor do they put the guy in charge. Phew!

Instead, C.L.A.W.S. patrols New York City, and as he does, he comes across a kidnapping in progress, with an assistant D.A. in trouble. He tries to save the day, but things aren’t exactly as they seem. When he’s about to rescue her, things go badly for our hero! (Well, we likely know C.L.A.W.S. will be back! Otherwise, this would be a one-shot!) We’ll just have to buy issue #2 to see how this story unfolds!

I enjoyed the book a lot, but have some constructive criticism to share as well. In my digital version, the art came out a little sketchy, which may be what the artist was aiming at. When I made the pages larger to read the word balloons more easily, it seemed the text was less defined as well. It hurts getting older!

Forgive me for being such a proofreader, but I also bumped into some comprehension problems, such as commas (the old “Let’s eat, Grandpa” versus “Let’s eat Grandpa” troubles) and “your” versus “you’re.” I’m not volunteering to proofread every book I criticize – I just couldn’t don’t have enough time to do that! But I’m sure there are other grammar Nazis like me around who would gladly give scripts a once-over, if needed.

Still, it’s a great beginning to what I’m sure will be an enjoyable series! If you want to pick up your copy, paper or digital, be sure to go to the Insane Comics store online and choose which version you want and then look for C.L.A.W.S.! Or you could catch the creators at conventions they’re attending. Personally,I can’t wait for issue #2 to come out and see what happens next! Don’t miss it!

Check out the cover for the first issue of C.L.A.W.S. below:

Insane Comics, Kelly Bender, C.L.A.W.S., Bras Olivia, Bronx Zoo, Cheetah, Speed, Lion, Tracking, Asian Tiger, Strength, Western Cougar, Climbing, Snow Leopard, Leaping, Jose L. Mojica, Anthony Cain, Rob Jones, Catwoman, Black Cat, Tigra, Hellcat, Pantha, Cheetah, Catman, Wild Thornberrys, cats, dogs, zookeeper

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