SCRATCH9 is the all-new, all-cats comic for young readers coming from Ape Entertainment and KiZoic (the same folks bringing you the SHREK and PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR comics). The book focuses on a cat who gains the ability to summon any of his nine lives to help him out in his adventures. It was written and created by Rob M. Worley, with artwork by Jason T. Kruse and covers by Mike Kunkel.
I first became familiar with Rob Worley through his Revenant series (not kid-friendly, but a fantastic horror / action read) and became convinced what a talented writer he was. When I heard he was doing a family book about a superhero cat, I was intrigued to say the least. After reading this first issue of Scratch9, I now know that he is not only talented, but also versatile.
Superhero cats and melodramatic mad-scientist bad-guys are a far stretch from some of Rob’s other, more mature work. But he shows here that he can capture the attention and entertain the elementary age crowd. Apparently, Rob has also done some well-received work on some Aesop’s Fables books – but I haven’t seen those yet.
Scratch9 is a smartly written age-appropriate story about good versus evil without any of the unnecessary emotional baggage that sometimes accompanies a kid-friendly comic to make it marketable to an older audience. What we see here is that Worley does not need any spin, cross-overs, or reliance on “kid-versions” of adult characters to make this book work, he simply makes it work through his excellent story-telling. [Pullbox Aside: I and my household are long-standing huge fans of Art Baltazar’s Tiny Titans book and Mike Kunkel’s Magic of Shazam book, not so much with the other Johnny DC titles or the Marvel Adventure books]. Scratch9 is accessible by the young reader (both in content and reading level) and yet with enough easter egg type goodies that will make it fun for an older reader – watch for fun acronyms and names – for instance, the mad scientist who experiments on cats is Dr. Schrodinger (a good quantum physics pun always hooks me!). And come on, a loving house cat who can tap his jungle ancestors to help battle robotic grizzly bears – there isn’t a dad out there who isn’t already interested. Scratch 9 is a perfect “read-together” comic for both child and parent.
Jason T. Kruse (The World of Quest) frames the story well with nice crisp art and colors that only adds to the accessibility and entertainment value. For me, his simple yet solid style is very reminiscent of Joe Oriolo and Bill Watterson. Check out his art below!
Bottom line: A Perfect Family Book!
Issue Grade: A
Scratch9 #1 is available for preorder from your local comics shop. Ask your retailer and give them ordering code #JUN10 0739.