Pullbox Reviews Cat Mouse #1- An indie comic comes full circle

Cat & Mouse #1

When Brett’s ex-fiance asks him to go to New Orleans to find her runaway sister, he discovers she’s gotten herself involved in much deeper problems: human trafficking!

In general, I’m not a big fan of reboots. The idea that there are no new ideas out there, that the path of least creative resistance is to find something that’s already been done is kind of annoying to me. You know where I’m happy to make an exception? When the original creator of a thing decides to go back to what they made and take another stab at it.

For instance, there was a small press title back in 1990 called Cat & Mouse published under the Aircel label along with a series of other black and white action titles. I was a fan of that run and am wholly onboard with this reboot after finding out the guy behind the words in the new series was the writer for the old. Guess I’m just a sucker for that kind of round trip.

Roland starts his second bite at the creative apple by changing his main characters up a bit. In their first run, Cat & Mouse were professional thieves working for the Yakuza in New Orleans. As readers are introduced to them now, they still haven’t met and are circling each other as they each approach their common enemy from different angles. Rookie cop Brett Huffman is trying to track down his former fiancé’s sister, while the mysterious & totally badass Kunoichi takes notes & follows his progress. Mann’s job as a writer is to slide readers into a story about human trafficking without overwhelming them… not an easy thing with such a heavy subject. He handles it by easing his characters into the deeper plot, taking his time and keeping the focus on Brett. We stay on an even footing with the young idealist, learning what he learns and finding our own way into the story. That kind of POV isn’t always an easy ideal to stick to as the writer knows what they know & have to fight the urge to lay it all out there for the world to see. Roland Mann is taking the more difficult approach, letting the reader fall into the story more slowly and becoming invested naturally, rather than being told who to root for and how to feel at any given time.

Picking up the art for Cat & Mouse is the co-op of Dean Zachary (pencils), Barb Kaalberg (inks), & Kevin Gallegly (colors), and the work from these three is pretty rockin’ so far. Zachary sets the table, establishing layouts and scripting the action for the page. His character designs do a great job of showing readers enough of the various personalities to guide us into Mann’s “show, don’t tell” approach. We don’t need to be told that a tired beat cop is a “tired beat cop”. We can see it on the page. As for the action, kind of a big deal in a comic like this, Zachary’s got a good sense of body mechanics in the martial arts being used. When Barb Kaalberg steps in to solidify the lines, there isn’t the impression that her work does anything but accentuate the pencils. Her lines are clean & even, not heavy or distracting as she brings out the detail in Zachary’s work. The last step would be for Gallegly to bring color to the page, adding life & depth to it all. His palette reinforces the grim tone established for this story, just a bare handful of panels done in a bright, well-lit setting. For a book set mainly in the seedy underbelly of a city with a reputation for having a pretty seedy underbelly, the overall look is spot on.

All personal nostalgia aside, I think Cat & Mouse shows a lot of promise for things to come. It’s a gritty action story set the stage for bigger and better things. Wrap that promise up in the potential of the Silverline comic universe, and readers could be in for something pretty cool. Having read some of the pdfs Roland Mann has sent my way, I can say that a few them already have my attention.

Final Score: 11/13

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