The power of friendship and redemption is victorious in Bravest Warriors #36, which is the final issue of Kate Leth and Ian McGinty’s excellent run on the series. In their sixteen issues on the title, they went beyond the cartoon’s mythos showing Catbug’s evil brother and father, giving Plum a lovely girlfriend named Peach, and homaging everything from Pacific Rim and Agatha Christie to The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Rings in a clever, silly manner. This final issue is a little low on suspense, but Leth and McGinty more than makes up for it by giving each Bravest Warrior a crowning moment of brilliance or funny, which play out in a character and plot twist.
Superficially, Bravest Warriors #36 may seem like a rerun of all those Marvel movies (except Ant-Man) where characters have to put a thing in another thingy, usually a portal and save the day. However, Leth and McGinty manage to keep things interesting by focusing on character reactions and interactions while the Bravest Warriors try to save their own skins and all of the mostly adorable inhabitants of Catbug’s homeworld. McGinty and colorist Lisa Moore make Catbug fans’ dreams come true through little cameos of different Catbugs that reminded me of the different mushrooms in the Super Mario games. (No Poison Mushrooms though.) McGinty gives the Catbugs personality and energy through fancy aerial movement to go with Moore’s trippy colors for the portal’s energy.
This is probably Catbug’s finest moment in the Bravest Warriors comics and TV show as he is an integral part of the planet saving/re-orbiting efforts. Gone is the silly little guy in “Catbug’s Away Mission” as he embraces his inner prince and power to get an unlikely ally to help him save the world. Leth and McGinty have developed Catbug from a scene-stealer in the show to a bona fide, save-the-day kind of hero on par with his Bravest Warriors teammates. This can especially be seen in the colorful climax to Bravest Warriors #36 where McGinty brings out the big art guns and the astonished reaction shots to Catbug’s actions.
And there’s lots of jokes in Bravest Warriors #36, especially from Leth’s “footnote” one-liners, which add a layer of humor to each page. They also help alleviate the tension of the Bravest Warriors shouting out their deepest desires before their ship blows up and the world ends. She also lands one particularly funny Bravest Warriors mythology joke towards the end of the issue that won’t be spoiled here. Her fast paced, one-liner filled dialogue will be missed along with her development of the romances between certain characters and the kissy faces that McGinty draws.
As a cherry on top, there’s a hilarious backup story featuring Impossibear (who is absent from the main story) from Jason Johnson, who has done double duty as a writer on the Bravest Warriors cartoon and comic, and Kat Leyh, who has done a variety of short stories for the series and will become the new co-writer on Lumberjanes. This story is full of wackiness, silly hats, and Impossibear being his insufferable self. Leyh’s take on Catbug is different than McGinty’s and the show’s, but has a chubby baby feel that will make fans smile. She and Johnson’s story also focuses on friendship to give a nice continuity with the lead story.
In the words of Catbug, “Everything is okay” by the end of the action, friendship, and even romance filled issue of Bravest Warriors #36. Writer Kate Leth has put her own unique stamp on the voices and arcs of characters, like Plum, Catbug, Danny, and even Beth by the time the run wraps while also crafting new ones, like Peach and Bugcat. Artist Ian McGinty has translated the energy of the cartoon to the comics page while throwing in some silly facial expressions and cool action sequences. (One year later, and I’m still not over the kaiju arc.) Colorist Lisa Moore brought the candy palette of the cartoon to the comics and added life to the space fights or the scenes where the Bravest Warriors hang out and eat food. All together, they created an off-beat, funny, and emotional all ages comic that had a lesbian couple, Roaring Twenties themed arcade games, and turned a feline-insect hybrid into the greatest Bravest Warrior of them all.