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Scratch 9: Cat of 9 Worlds #1

When writer Rob Worley first introduced Scratch 9 to the world through APE Entertainment, he offered a concept screaming to be adapted to animation. I'm going to harp on this, you see, because it is a concept both instantly graspable and yet complex in all its possibilities. Whether as a TV series or as a feature, Scratch 9 will work in other media.

Thanks to the experimentation of the evil Dr. Schrodinger in the first series (the Eisner-nominated The Pet Project), the plucky Scratch has the power to call forth any of his nine lives -- which are actually incarnations, ranging from a sabertooth tiger to a super-powered mutant future cat. But mostly, Scratch just wants to be scritched and played with by his owner, Penelope, a sweet little girl who herself shows great scientific inclinations.

As Cat of Nine Worlds begins, it's those inclinations that lead Scratch into his next adventure. But first... a lot of things have changed. And not just Penelope and Scratch having moved into a new home, away from where their troubles had been before.

For one thing, Worley has a new artist, Joshua Buchanan. The change isn't drastic; Buchanan has a clean style that keeps the characters fairly simple while still doing interesting things with layout. It's bright and cartoony, as is only appropriate.

Scratch 9 is also now at Hermes Press, a boutique imprint making a few bold moves into the mainstream marketplace, and using this book as a cornerstone is a smart move. Like I said, this concept is going to get picked up by a studio, and Hermes' reputation will benefit from that.

Not that that's foremost in Worley's storytelling. He's still focused on creating a great comic. Scratch's sidekicks don't get as much play as Penelope and Scratch himself this time around, but all the characterizations make an impact.

Worley turns his clever concept on its head this time around. Instead of calling forth his incarnations, from page one it's clear that Scratch is going to be bouncing around in the time periods of his various lives, clawing his way back to 2014 to rescue his owner from that nefarious (and now robotic) Dr. Schrodinger, and a new enemy -- an evil feline counterpart, Strick.

As always, there will be uncertainty, though it's not clear yet if Heisenberg will be a principle.

An excerpt of Scratch 9 was handed out on Free Comic Book Day last week, part of a wave of good children's books being done. But it's concepts like this that stand out -- a kid can jump on board, and there's not a lot of backstory, just good story.

The full first issue will hit stores on June 4th, so for the kid in your life (or the kid in yourself), reserve a copy now!

As always, look to your local comics shop for the books discussed here on Fanboy Planet -- Earth-2 in Sherman Oaks and Northridge, The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, Illusive Comics & Games in Santa Clara, Hijinx Comics in Willow Glen would all be great places, and many do mail-order business.



Derek McCaw



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