In Bravest Warriors #25, Kate Leth and Ian McGinty take a break from their ongoing storyline to add depth to Catbug’s mythos and introduce a new character, Bugcat. Bugcat is a palette swapped version of Catbug, who has his mischievousness, but lacks his cute charm and sense of humor. Leth and McGinty give Catbug some time on his own and show what he gets up to when he’s not being adorable around the Bravest Warriors. Leth delves into Catbug’s emotional life and reveals that he does have the true makings of a hero even if he killed Jelly Kid and completely failed at leadership in “Catbug’s Away Team”. Ian McGinty has a deft touch with facial expressions and reaction panels in the opening scene which features an ersatz version of Cards Against Humanity, and he nails Catbug’s cuteness as a character while also hinting at hidden depths. Lisa Moore uses a color scheme that will remind fans of the cartoon with its brightness and even tone. And she nails Bugcat’s palette swap.
For all of his hilarious lines and moments in the Bravest Warriors comic and cartoon, Catbug sorely needed a story centered around him as a character. (“Catbug’s Away Team” came close, but it was more of an ensemble story.) Kate Leth wrote a story in last year’s Bravest Warriors Annual featuring Catbug and understands his little nuances, which she expands upon by adding a character to his non-existent rogues gallery. Leth and McGinty combine the “evil” version and dark, hidden past tropes when creating Bugcat, but they play with these tropes by giving Bugcat some similarities with Catbug instead of just making him Catbug Bizarro Edition. For example, McGinty shows that both Bugcat and Catbug have the same bouncy energy when they move, fly, and fight. They are also both pranksters, which Leth reveals in the backup stories. These backups show Bugcat messing around with each Bravest Warrior (and Impossibear) and feature a different art styles from Jake Myler’s (Finding Nemo) strong lines and almost photorealism to Wook-Jin Clark’s (Adventure Time: The Flip Side) cartoonish insanity and Jess Fink’s slapstick fun (We Can Fix It). Paulina Ganucheau (Adventure Time Pixel Princesses) is skilled at drawing food, clothing, and Plum. The one page backups give readers extra value while also showing what Bugcat is like as a character away from Catbug. I enjoyed how formal Bugcat’s dialogue was and how Leth made him sound like the alternate tyrannical versions of Catbug in “Hamster Priest.” Leth really understands the different facets of Catbug from his sweetness and innocence to the emotions and destiny that he represses around the Warriors, which Bugcat brings out of him.
With the exception of a skirmish between Bugcat and Catbug where a liquid comes out and the action is unclear, Ian McGinty’s art in Bravest Warriors #25 is bright, expressive, and just plain adorable. He enhances Leth’s characterization of Catbug with reaction shots and little beat panels, like when a big, scary portal shows up, and Catbug naively keeps eating his popsicle. He supplies the punchlines to the Cards Against Humanity jokes in the opening page. McGinty excels at traditional action storytelling by using wider panels and the occasional full page spread for big reveals and character moments. Together, Leth and McGinty introduce a fun new foe for the Bravest Warriors while also developing Catbug as a character and throwing in a lot of action and silly humor making Bravest Warriors #25 a great introduction to the team for new readers as well as long time fans.