All posts by John Metych III

26May/20

Silverline Title Spotlight: Cat & Mouse Vol. #1, issues 13 – 18

Welcome to the fourth, and final, spotlight on the original classic Silverline title, Cat & Mouse.

Yes.  Fourth.  And yes. Final.

You may be thinking “What?? Final spotlight?? Each preceding spotlight reviewed a four-issue arc. This spotlight encompasses SIX issues?  An entire one-third of the original series??”

This realization may lead to thoughts such as “No . . . that’s not true . . . that’s impossible!!!”, or even “This is madness!”

Fear not, friendly reader, for this final spotlight on the original Cat & Mouse run is neither madness nor impossible.  Sit back, take a deep breath, relax, take yourself back to the early 1990’s, drink an ice-cold Crystal Pepsi and chow down on a McDLT sandwich as we delve into the conclusion of Silverline’s original Cat & Mouse saga …

Issue thirteen picks up in the wake of Cat’s (Jerry’s) brutal battle with Tooth and Nail; as Cat remains hospitalized in intensive care, Demon takes it upon himself to look after Mandy’s (Mouse’s) mental health.  A trip to his veterinary clinic puts Mandy in a better mood, enjoying the cute puppies and even assisting with some basic pet care. Playful banter and some light flirting concludes with Demon introducing Mandy to some of “his” music … to which she responds “What? Sixties music?” and rolls her eyes.  I knew I liked this Mandy girl . . . 😊

The next morning finds Demon twitterpated over his upcoming date with Mandy as he makes a rare daytime appearance at his clinic, gives his receptionist a raise, receives a grateful friends only hug and kiss in return, and muses about his apparent new “ladies man” status.

Mandy and Demon’s “floating concert on a sail barge” date goes awry as a tugboat collides with the musical barge.  Demon and Mandy heroically jump into action; Demon rushes to save the members of the 60’s cover band, Steelhammer, from possible electrocution from a fallen lighting rig while Mandy thrusts herself onto the tugboat and fights the thugs who intentionally rammed the musical barge. Demon delivers all of the band members to safety, save the guitarist who was, as was Demon, hit with an impactful electrical shock when a live speaker hit the open water.

Demon recovers, he and Mandy swim to shore to avoid any questions from the authorities (Demon’s appearance would certainly be question #1!), and Mandy explicitly tells Demon that, next time, they see one of her bands.

Again, I knew I liked this Mandy girl . . . 😊

As the light-hearted dating interlude ends, issue fourteen thrusts Mouse back into action. She reconnects with her thieving skills in an attempt to secure financing for Cat’s hospitalization and medical costs.  Her initial break-in goes awry, but she finds herself wielding her new-found pistol with ease and certainty.

Demon and Mandy continue their playful canoodling, which Demon tried to turn into a serious conversation before being interrupted by Mandy’s friend’s unexpected arrival.  Hiding hijinks ensues and Demon finds himself fuzzier after being on the wrong end of a clothes dryer cycle.Unexpected visitations continue as Martin Rossman re-enters the title, stopping by Jerry and Mandy’s apartment unannounced. Mandy has her first one-on-one conversation with Rossman, who emphatically states that he wants to help prove Cat and Mouse’s innocence but will need the two bullets that were in Cat’s possession to do so.  After visiting Jerry, and a quick phone consultation with Demon, Mandy, this time as Mouse, meets Rossman in the dead of night to deliver the evidence.  However, he is not alone . . . accompanying him are his personal lawyer and a United States Marshall. Rossman announces that he is turning state’s evidence against the Mafia . . .

And Champion returned in this issue, as well, with shadowy figures in search of him.  For what nefarious reason? Only time will tell . . .

Martin Rossman’s deal to turn state’s evidence is on center stage of issue fifteen as his family goes into witness relocation and the Mafia boss is taken into custody, though later released due to “lack of evidence” (AKA – Jury Tampering).  The Yakuza are pleased with the Mafia coming under the microscope of the United State’s State Department and Kunoichi ordains her next pair of students as ready to take the names Skull and Crossbones.  Demon’s positive impact on Mandy continues after their first “overnight stay” as she takes his suggestion to complete her GED (High School Equivalency Certificate – AKA “Good Enough Diploma”) and she enrolls in classes to earn this certification.  The nefariousness around Champion continues as an individual claiming to “work for the government” offers him a job in New Orleans. And nary a panel featuring Cat appears this issue!

Issue sixteen begins with a bang (well, technically, a BOOM) as it picks up precisely from the moment issue fifteen wrapped. An assassination attempt on Martin Rossman follows his departure from the courthouse where mob boss Vito Ruggieri had just been released.  As Cat’s return to his own title begins, Ruggieri’s name is dropped multiple times.  Officers (on the take) continue to “look after” Cat, while wondering who he is and why Rossman ordered him protected, and state Ruggieri’s interest in the hospitalized (and still unidentified) Cat.  One of the officers provides a vial – from Ruggieri – to the attending physician who, in turn, injects its contents into Jerry’s motionless body.  “Coincidentally,” Jerry’s condition takes a turn for the worse this issue as his kidneys begin to shut down and a hospital official indicates that his only chance for survival is a complete kidney transplant.

Mouse’s quest for protection – in the form of Kevlar or an equivalent – continues as she “visits” an off-the-beaten-path police warehouse that Martin Rossman identified as one that would contain such body armor.  Mouse also imparts on a quest to secure a replacement kidney for Jerry from Japan’s black market.  She approaches her former teacher, Kunoichi, requesting her assistance in setting up such a purchase.  Meanwhile, Kunoichi is battling her own issues as an unsuccessful attempt to recruit her to assassinate the Yakuza’s leader (known as the Oyabun) leaves her on unsteady grounds with other powerful individuals in the organization . . . individuals that have located the off-the-grid Tooth, who had been in hiding since the conclusion of issue twelve, and recruits her to assassinate the Oyabun instead!  Her payment? Delivery of Cat for her to extract revenge as she sees fit . . .

Rossman, still alive after taking a bullet to the chest, is moved out of New Orleans under the cover of darkness en route to his waiting family, now in witness relocation, in South Dakota.  Family connections are strong in this issue as Champion finds himself now in New Orleans, having accepted the job from the guy “from the government,” encounters his ex-wife, unexpectedly, during his first walk through the city!

Kunoichi, loyal to the Oyabun, seeks his assistance in procuring the black-market kidney for Cat.  As the Oyabun inquires what he would gain in return, a disheveled and unhinged Tooth bursts in and announces she is there to kill him. Kunoichi pledges to protect his life in exchange for the kidney and pushes for an immediate agreement.  And cue the cliffhanger music as issue sixteen ends and issue seventeen begins, picking up at the same precise moment . . .

A protracted, bloody, brutal, limb-severing battle between teacher and student ensues and concludes with Kunoichi’s absolute victory over her former student.  Champion, in uniform and in the heart of New Orleans, receives his own “field agent badge” as he meets a “contractor,” also noted as one of the founders of a “new government branch.”  The badge? Fake.  The contractor?  Ruggieri.  The other “governmental agents?”  Mafia.  The stories they tell, including one where Cat and Mouse supposedly had killed Martin Rossman?  Lies.

And what of Mouse? She’s having vivid nightmares of impregnation with Demon’s child . . . well, children . . . well, litter of children. Being delivered by reverse-anthropomorphic  versions of Vet Demon and Nurse Nancy.  Visions of Cat chastising her lack of responsibility and self-control haunt her. The nightmare is interrupted by Kunoichi, arriving unannounced, who quickly catches Mandy up on her battle with Tooth, her deal with the Oyabun, and the danger that Cat is in now that his identity and location is known by both the Mafia and factions of the Yakuza.

Kunoichi’s newly ordained graduates – Skull and Crossbones – are shown to be loyal to the Oyabun’s chief rival, Inagowa, the one who called for his death.  The duo commandeers a Dirigible and make their way to the hospital, intent on kidnapping Cat, no matter how many Mafia members they need to kill on the way to fulfilling their mission.  Kunoichi and Mandy race to the hospital only to see Cat being loaded into the airship but are too slow as Skull and Crossbones sail away with him in tow. Turning to the Oyabun for assistance, Kunoichi and Mandy come face-to-face with his rival, Inagowa, who has anointed himself as the new Oyabun upon the dishonorable departure of his predecessor.  Inagowa, as the new Oyabun, offers the women the same deal he offered Nail – delivery of Cat upon the death of his predecessor.  Kunoichi refuses a second time while Mandy emphatically announces that she will do it.  Kunoichi and Mouse locate him, hiding on a ship, sailing away to hide. Kunoichi offers him one last opportunity to regain his honor and offers him a blade to do so with.  He refuses, lunges towards the port door to escape, and is confronted by Mouse, gun drawn and ready to fire!

The Oyabun is dead. Long live the Oyabun.  Issue eighteen, the final issue of the original Cat and Mouse saga, begins with Mouse and Kunoichi delivering the dead body of the original Oyabun to his usurping successor, Inagowa.  The large gunshot wound makes it crystal clear that it was Mouse who delivered the killing strike, as promised.  The new Oyabun identifies the local zoo as the location in which they can find Cat.  Mandy locates him, in a tiger cage, being “protected” by Skull and Crossbones.  Petty banter ensues but the assassins assure no interference will occur.  Mandy enters the cage and repentantly shoots an attacking tiger to protect Cat.  The two women accompany Cat to Japan, where a donor organ is provided, surgery is completed, and prognosis for recovery is positive.  After kidney implantation, a horrifying lucid dream jolts Jerry (finally) awake from his coma.

One final mission is performed; Mouse, having an uneasy feeling about the organ donor process, asks Kunoichi to accompany her and investigate the organ donor facility.  She had a bad feeling about it  . . . and she was right.  The “donors” were unwitting individuals, mostly homeless people and missing kids, who the Yakuza provide to the “facility” who, in turn, supply human organs as needed.  The “donors” are awakened by Kunoichi and Mouse’s arrival and lead an “undead” uprising against the guards, doctors, and workers at the “facility,” an uprising that the ladies refuse to interfere in, thus allowing the “donors” to extract their revenge.

The final page of issue eighteen reunites our title characters, finally!  As Jerry continues to recover from his injuries in Japan, Mandy catches him up on everything that had happened during the intervening passage of time.  Sporting a very Nick Fury eye-patch, and still requiring a wheelchair as he is at the very beginning of a multi-month recovery, Jerry thanks Mandy for everything she has done for him.  Overlooking the mountainside, she shares that she likes the thought of them staying there and leaving the mess of New Orleans behind . . . maybe permanently.

The End!

Well, not quite . . . 😊

Although the “The End!” caption closed out issue eighteen, and with it, the original Cat and Mouse series, the final two issues also served to lay groundwork for the continuation and growth of the Silverline universe of characters!

Champion, still in New Orleans, attempts to woo his ex-wife back into a relationship.  It’s revealed that they have a daughter together.  As Champion (who we now know is named Dan) and his ex-wife (Ann) are out on the town, they encounter a shadowy creature assaulting a man in an alleyway.  Dan confronts the shadowy figure, who he (incorrectly) surmises must be Cat due to his appearance (brown fur, tails, glowing eyes . . . yeah, it’s Demon!) and, through his courageous intervention and bravery, impresses his ex-wife.  The story of Champion, working with “the new branch of government” will continue in one branch of the Silverline universe . . . more on that to come!

Demon, after departing from the alleyway (and after letting Dan know he’s “number one”), realizes how flustered he has become since the Church of Abaddon has entered his life.  The man he was assaulting in the alleyway?  A cult member who he was trying to extract information from, even if he had to “beat it” out of him . . . until he was interrupted by Champion, that is.  The Church of Abaddon saga continues in yet another branch of the Silverline universe . . . Demon’s first solo mini-series, Demon’s Tails! (available for purchase HEREhttps://indyplanet.com/demons-tailsshameless plug!  😊 )

As we close the book(s) on the original Cat and Mouse series, we look forward to the continuing adventures of many of the supporting characters introduced throughout these eighteen issues, characters featured or starring in sister Silverline publications, and some special guest stars as well.  It’s almost 2021. Do you know who your heroes are? 😊

The talent that brought these issues to life consisted of the ever-impressive:

Roland Mann – the Mann with the Plan! Cat and Mouse writer and Silverline Editorial Director, would, later in his career, become writer, editor and eventually Managing Editor at Malibu Comics.  He has been the driving force of Silverline as a publisher, including the current relaunch of the brand!

Mitch Byrd, series artist, would, later in his career, grace multiple Malibu comics with his artwork as well as provide artwork for myriad publishers on a plethora of titles.  Mitch held a notable run on the Green Lantern character “Guy Gardner: Warrior” title.

An assembly of guest pencilers pitched in to deliver issue 13, including Tim Eldred, Chris Cross, Tha Grimlen Jack, and Brian Dale!

The myriad talented Inkers over this six-issue run include:

The mighty Thomas Florimonte who also provided inks not only for Silverline’s Demon’s Tails mini-series, but also for titles from publishers including (but not limited to) Marvel, Malibu, Chaos!, Acclaim and Gallant, plus publications under his own imprint: Inferno Studios, home of Zomboy! Thomas also co-founded the industry changing Print-On-Demand service, Ka-Blam as well as its sister division, IndyPlanet!  Plus, Thomas is back at Silverline, currently inking multiple current Silverline projects!

Ken Branch, who also provided inks on multiple issues of Cat and Mouse’s sister publication SilverStorm, and also inked at Marvel, DC, Image Comics, Malibu Comics, Valiant Comics, First Comics, and Comico.

John Dell, who also inked at DC, Marvel, and Cross Gen and worked on titles including Robin, Lobo, Supergirl, and the JLA.

Dan Schaefer, who also contributed to art projects at Dark Horse Comics, Marvel Comics, Malibu Comics, and DC Comics.

Tom Romano, who is still contributing to the comic book field through his own studio, Tom Romano Art Studio.

24Mar/20

Silverline Title Spotlight: Cat & Mouse Vol. #1, issues 9 – 12

The Greatest Foil
(A literary review of Cat and Mouse issues 9 – 12)

One of the greatest debates of the 20th century has been “what constitutes the greatest foil?”  Let’s review a few of the major contenders:

Tin foil, a product introduced in the late 19th century, was the primary metal foil food wrap through World War II. Although stiff, tin foil was practical. However, tin had a penchant to inadvertently leech an unwanted metallic taste from its silver sheathe into its consumable contents.

Tin’s eventual replacement, Aluminum Foil, was more malleable, was less likely to alter the tastes of the food contained therein, was less expensive and was – all around – a welcomed upgrade from the tin standard.

Gold foil is, as you would expect, exponentially more expensive than either tin or aluminum. This foil is utilized by NASA in a variety of products including space suits, space craft, and satellite design.  Radiation (remember Cosmic Radiation??) is one of the many dangers Gold Foil protects spacefaring astronauts from – thus ensuring astronauts will not return to Earth with Fantastic Four-esque powers and abilities.

Gold Foil, in flake form, is the defining trait of the popular cinnamon schnapps liquor known as Goldschläger.

Comic books with Gold Foil enhancements – from logos to backgrounds to the entire comic cover – helped fuel the fires of comic speculation in the 1990s, but as these enhancements became commonplace and lost their luster, they also contributed to the decline – and near decimation – of the comic book industry as a whole within a decade.

And Chromium comic book enhancements . . . don’t even get me started on the ‘90s chromium bandwagon . . . the same bandwagon that seems to be re-gaining traction this generation, in fact . . .  🙂

But the concept of a FOIL, from a literary definition, is a widely used writer’s tool. When used properly, it provides the reader with an impactful method of comparing and contrasting characters – characters who may have parallel backgrounds, a shared history, or competing goals.  Developing literary foil(s) in a story allows the reader to experience and understand the main character(s) via a delivery method that is infinitely more powerful than simply comparing and contrasting characters through overtly factual, detailed, BORING, narrative passages.

Literary foils may, or may not, be adversaries of the characters they mirror, although they often are.  Some of the best adversarial foils in comics share similar origins.  Science is the foundation for both Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.  The gift of Power Rings grants both Green Lantern and Sinestro abilities constrained only by their imaginations.  The X-Men have had a number of similar foils including, but not limited to, the Hellfire Club, the Reavers, and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  Wolverine vs. Sabretooth. The Fantastic Four vs. Doctor Doom.  Professor X vs. Magneto.  Thor vs. Loki.  The Justice League vs. the Crime Syndicate. Hawk and Dove vs. Kestrel. You get the idea.

Writer Roland Mann is a master of the “slow burn” . . . foreshadowing important characters, situations, or actions yet to be revealed.  During the previous story-arc, Wearin’ and Tearin’, you will remember that Mann introduced a mysterious and brutal duo, through cameos across the four issue arc, and dropped clues as to their origins. Brutal this mysterious duo is indeed, as they tracked police officers with known Mafia ties and executed them in cold blood. Few details of this duo were released outside of the fact that they were “specialized” Yakuza-associates who predated Cat and Mouse’s enlisting with the organization.

This provides the first of many foils that are presented within this story arc.  This duo – as we will learn is code named Tooth and Nail – is the Yakuza’s Yin to the Mafia’s Yang.  Both are ruthless crime syndicates but they hold and practice significantly different codes of honour, etiquettes, and protocols.  As Tooth and Nail were mentioned in the same breath as our protagonists, Cat and Mouse, the reader instinctively begins to mentally compare and contrast the two duos . . .the two duos that were both trained by the same martial arts sensei – Kunoichi!

When confronted with information pertaining to current crimes in New Orleans, Detective Martin Rossman, Jerry (Cat’s) superior officer, exclaims that he really wants “to nail the Yakuza.”  Jerry, in response, asks “What about the Mafia?”  Rossman stares blankly at Jerry.  Jerry knows Rossman is on the take; another layer of foil resurfaces.

Jerry continues his quest to recover a bullet used in the slaying of an officer in order to match calibers and markings to the bullet that veterinarian Keith (Demon) Grayson extracted from Mouse’s (Mandy’s) back (as illustrated in our first issue).

At the grave of fallen officer Claude Beauchamp an unplanned, but game changing, face-to-face encounter between Rossman and Cat occurs. Wait . . .I mean between Rossman and Jerry.  Actually, I mean both.

As Rossman and Cat face off, verbal barbs are exchanged and Cat removes his cowl, revealing his identity to his boss in a power play where he blackmails Rossman into collaborating with him against the Mafia and Yakuza, threatening to bring Rossman’s career and life crashing down on him should he reveal the secrets he knows. A cop acting to end all gang activities in New Orleans vs. a cop holding secret allegiances to a criminal organization. Yet another foil.The long-awaited first meeting between Cat (note: no Mouse – just Cat) and Tooth & Nail emerges unexpectedly.  The long anticipated first epic battle . . . didn’t happen. Tooth referred to their ongoing “slay” list, and stated that they have only come to kill Martin Rossman. They have zero interest in engaging with Cat.  They promise to return for Rossman when he is alone and start to take their leave.  Shocked, Cat exclaims that they “can’t do that” and lunges towards Nail, fists flying, attempting to stop them from leaving.  However, what can’t even be described as a scuffle quickly ends as Cat finds himself greatly outmatched by Nail, who had only toyed with Cat, keeping him at a distance without striking back, while Cat was physically giving his all.  The duo quietly and peacefully exited the graveyard . . . while promising Rossman that another visit will indeed follow. . .

This scene, coupled with the scene with Tooth and Nail debriefing with their Yakuza boss, is my favourite foil example in this series.  Tooth and Nail, the duo described as “more brutal than Cat and Mouse” seemed to be almost pacifist in their first encounter with Cat?  While Cat, a single individual with adrenaline pumping, was ready to engage a known dangerous pair in battle?  Nail is unquestionably stronger than Cat, yet Nail did not harm Cat even in the slightest, and even after Cat was the aggressor?  And the fact that Tooth and Nail, who, after being shown brutally killing others in previous issues, are shown to abide to killing those on their “list,” but only those on the list (IE – not Cat)?? AND, on top of that, they ultimately DO leave the graveyard in a pacifist manner.  These would not have been the actions expected by most readers, which highlights the brilliance of Mann’s writing strategy.  Provide the unexpected.  Foil. Foil. Foil.

Unfortunately, Cat’s unprovoked attack on Nail got him, officially, on Tooth and Nail’s “slay list” by authority of their Yakuza boss.

And where has Mandy Paige (Mouse) been all this time? Hanging out with Demon. Asking him about Kevlar upgrades she has in mind for her and Cat’s suits. Which led to a first date with Demon! To the movies (the movie just happened to be an adaptation Mann scripted for Malibu Comics). In public, no less! AND their first kiss afterwards.  Demon discusses, with Mandy, his Church of Abaddon problem (which provides the foundation to the amazing four issue Demon’s Tails mini-series!) and is later visited by Cat (while washing an alligator no less!) who asks for his assistance with retrieving the bullet that shot Mandy for comparison to the known mafia slug he “liberated” from the evidence room earlier in this story arc.At the onset of Cat and Mouse’s career, Mouse made mention about possibly working for the Mafia. Cat quickly denounced that idea and indicated “maybe the Yakuza, though. They have a sense of honour.”  Cat’s statement was proven true as FIVE armed Mafia agents stormed into Jerry and Mandy’s apartment in search of police officer Jerry and a package – on the orders of Martin Rossman himself. A fight ensues, the five Mafia agents come to believe that the cop (Jerry) is under the protection of Cat and Mouse (not putting 2 + 2 together that Jerry IS Cat – these Mafia types aren’t so smart, are they??), Mouse gets her hands on (and fires) her first gun (and likes it!!) and the duo quickly catch up to Rossman, on assignment, to let him know his assault squad failed and that they will not tolerate any more backstabbing. Foils galore shine here across Tooth, Nail, Cat, Mouse, Rossman, extending the range from honor, dignity, restraint vs. treachery, deceit, omission of information, to sole focus on self-preservation.

Cat tracks Rossman down to his home address and finds Tooth and Nail not only in his residence but IN POSSESSION of Rossman’s newborn child.  With Rossman and his wife knocked to the ground, Tooth and Nail give Cat the opportunity to leave without battle, but promise that his turn will be coming soon.  Cat turns and closes the door behind him, leaving the Rossman family unprotected against Tooth and Nail.But not for long . . .

As Cat focuses his chi and strategizes his plan to save the baby, Mandy and Demon go on another date, this time to celebrate Mardi Gras.  Mandy gets drunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnk as she and Demon are painting New Orleans purple, green, and gold. (And, yes, Mandy DID earn some beads while inebriated.)

But back to the action. This time, Tooth and Nail are empowered to engage Cat as he IS now on their “slay list;” an epic battle ensues. During the fight, Nail throws Cat through the front window and follows him outside to continue sparring.  Rossman gains access to his pistol and shoots Tooth, even as she is holding his child!  Rossman also shoots Nail, in the back, as Nail is battling Cat.  The two villains flee into the night with Rossman’s child. Rossman pleads for Cat to rescue his baby.  As Cat picks up a katana left behind by Tooth, he promises to – for the child.  Cat tracks Tooth and Nail through out the neighbourhood. Nail, having taken refuge in the branches of a tree, jumps down to confront a passing Cat. Cat instinctively slashes with the katana – severing all the digits on Nail’s right hand! Cat and Nail battle mano y mano after another katana cut slash relieves Cat of his weapon.  With Nail crushing Cat’s back, Cat grabs Nail’s neck, pushing his fingers deeply into Nail’s throat . . .

Somehow, off-panel, Nail escapes Cat’s clutches.  Cat crosses paths with Mandy and Demon, who had been tracking the action by scent after being alarmed by the sounds of gunshots earlier.  Demon takes hot pursuit, tackles Tooth, which causes the baby to be launched into the air only to safely land into Mandy’s outstretched arms.

Meanwhile, the ongoing battle between Cat and Nail reaches a fever pitch as blood splatters off of both participants as they continue to punch, cut, and slice each other with impunity. Cat’s face and chest had been sliced a dozen times; deep, deep cuts as a lumberjack would inflict into a redwood with an axe. As Nail turns his attention to Mandy and the baby, beaten and bloodied Cat arises, lunges in the bravest act of protection, breaks Nail’s arm, and delivers a series of emotionally charged blows. This blood rage borders on possession and leaves Nail incapacitated – permanently.

Delivered to the hospital, and after sixteen hours of surgery, the title character lays in a coma.  Rossman, Mandy, and Demon are by his bedside.  Rossman uncovers a surprising sense of loyalty and gratitude as he looks at Jerry’s unmoving body and promises him, and the others, that he will do everything in his power to clear Cat and Mouses’ name.

This four-issue story arc also included a short story that focused exclusively on Martin Rossman and his Mafia connections; connections that reveal his fragile emotional state, his regret for the slippery slope into corruption he found himself in, and, finally, the fear he feels being a part of the Mafia world at all.  This “private” Rossman interlude provided the reader an introspective look at Martin Rossman that was a distinct foil to the seriousness, bordering on arrogance, often portrayed by “Officer Rossman.”

And, as Roland Mann does so extremely well, a short sequence in this arc introduced yet another duo trained by Kunoichi – who were bestowed the code names Skull and Crossbones at the end of their training with her, providing us with still another foil for Cat and Mouse.  (And, in the future, others . . . but that is a different story for a different spotlight!)

And, the MOST important thing that occurred during these four action packed issues?  In Issue 12’s letter column, Roland responded to a young high school kid who submitted a fan letter as Cat and Mouse was his favourite comic book.  A pen-pal friendship grew from that dorky teen’s submission – which, through technology, became an online friendship, a phone friendship, and nearly 30 years later brought him (and his own publishing house) to join Silverline! (Yes, it’s me!)

The talent that brought these issues to life consisted of the ever-impressive:

Roland Mann – the Mann with the Plan! Cat and Mouse writer and Silverline Editorial Director, would, later in his career, become writer, editor and eventually Managing Editor at Malibu Comics.  He has been the driving force of Silverline as a publisher, including the current relaunch of the brand!

Mitch Byrd, series artist, would, later in his career, grace multiple Malibu comics with his artwork as well as provide artwork for myriad publishers on a plethora of titles.  Mitch held a notable run on the Green Lantern character “Guy Gardner: Warrior” title.

Ken Branch, inker of each of the four issues in this story arc, later went on to not only provide inks on multiple issues of Cat and Mouse’s sister publication SilverStorm, but also worked for Marvel, DC, Image Comics, Malibu Comics, Valiant Comics, First Comics, and Comico.

Twelve issues of Cat & Mouse – Volume 1 down. Six more to go. Keep your eyes open for the next exciting Cat & Mouse series spotlight!

17Sep/19

Silverline Character Spotlight – DEMON

This week’s character spotlight focuses on the Kevin Bacon of the Silverline Universe, although “six degrees” are more than necessary to connect Demon (Dr. Keith Grayson) to each of the major heroes (and villains) in the Silverline Universe– and beyond!  In fact, Demon is even destined to encounter the newest incarnation of Cat and Mouse in their next issue! The Kickstarter for Cat & Mouse #2 is live NOW . . . why don’t you go check it out now! It’s ok . . . we’ll wait for you while you take a peek and hopefully become a backer!  https://tinyurl.com/CnM-2-KickStart

From the inception of the Silverline Universe, Demon has been the most prolific character, appearing across a multitude of titles and issues.  Beginning with his first-page appearance in the original Cat & Mouse series, continuing through his own Demon’s Tails mini-series, making a surprise multi-page appearance in the second SilverStorm mini-series, inadvertently providing the base of operations for the combined forces of characters from both Silverline and Beta 3 Comics (which was the first in-cannon synergy of these two universes!), and, now making his presence known in the aforementioned forthcoming Cat & Mouse Volume 2, Demon’s connections are varied and far-reaching!

Over the course of his many appearances, Dr. Keith (Demon) Grayson has worn many hats.  A veterinarian. A small-business owner. A hopeless romantic. A god-figure for a murderous cult (what?). A brother. A long-term goldfish sitter. A laboratory-accident survivor. A reluctant adventurer. An avid TV watcher.  A son. A Led Zeppelin fan. An emergency surgeon. A confidant. An aficionado of fedoras and trench coats. A man who lives out his days in seclusion in a mutated body distinguished by giant crests on his head and his body encased in brown fur with not one . . . not two . . . but THREE tails. Did we mention that all three tails can regenerate should they become severed from his body???? This revelation was equally surprising to Dr. Grayson, after finding himself on the wrong end of a katana blade (double what??)

Dr. Keith Grayson’s introduction to the first duo who utilized the monikers of “Cat” and “Mouse” occurred after Mouse (Mandy Paige) was shot in the back and Cat (Jerry O’Neil) was seeking immediate medical assistance.  Seeing only the word “clinic” outside Dr. Grayson’s establishment, Cat carried Mouse into the building . . . the veterinary clinic . . . and demanded that the doctor extract the bullet and stabilize the patient.  After an initial quarrel about the medical legality and integrity of the demand, Dr. Grayson extracted the bullet, nursed the patient back to health, and eventually became Mandy’s romantic partner and confidant.  However, before the spark of romantic interest turned into a full flame of relationship, Demon, attempting to protect Cat and Mouse’s secret identities, faced their former trainer and master – Kunoichi – in battle.  It was at her hand that he lost his tails . . . but that made wearing pants on dates that much easier!

Demon’s attempts to track, and take down religious cult worshipers from the Cult of Abaddon began in the Cat & Mouse series and concluded in Demon’s own mini-series, Demon’s Tails (available for purchase in both digital and print form HERE – https://indyplanet.com/demons-tails and soon to be available in color!).  In this series, Demon was pursued by, and later partnered with, the Chicago Champion (better known in the Silverline Universe simply as “Champion”).  The two battled and took down the Church of Abaddon, its evil leader (who had undergone a physical metamorphosis himself), and rescued Demon’s sister Cheryl from being a human sacrifice.

Demon has also encountered Silverline’s most “in-universe” celebrated heroes – Tempest and Silver Dollar, who had, previously, saved the United Nations from the tyrannical attack by Dr. Fear and his clones.  In this quick, coincidental, almost accidental meeting, Tempest and Silver Dollar were tracking a duo of deadly ne’er-do-well’s, code-named Skull and Crossbones. Demon, knowing Kunoichi’s penchant for training male-female duos with distinctive yet complementary names, directed the heroes to her dojo to obtain leads.

Many, many months later, while watching TV during the day, Demon received a phone call from his employee – Nancy – who works as a nurse in his clinic.  She told him to quickly change the channel.  Live news coverage was showcasing a battle in downtown New Orleans.  Demon immediately recognized Tempest and Silver Dollar . . . but was shaken to the core when he saw two masked individuals in the brawl as well.  He sped from his apartment to the battle scene; the duo he thought he may have seen on TV was not them at all, but he had deduced (due to knowledge gained during his goldfish babysitting the night before), that there was a direct link between this duo and some long lost friends of his.  Along with Tempest, Silver Dollar, and Champion, Sniper and Rook (covert government operatives working under the command of General Davis Jefferson) joined Demon at his clinic that night and the group – which would strengthen to become more a team – and the collection of heroes began their globe-spanning adventure to save the planet from evil and tyranny.

At the end of that adventure, Demon’s whereabouts had become unknown except to his closest confidants (and the watchful eye of the United States government). Demon has remained, literally, in the shadows until his very unexpected, yet quite welcomed, upcoming reappearance in New Orleans (Cat & Mouse #2, vol 2).

Created and brought to life by Roland Mann, Demon truly has been the lynchpin of the Silverline Universe and Demon has been illustrated by some of the most impressive artists in the industry.  Mitch Byrd penciled Demon’s many appearances in the first Cat & Mouse volume, Paul Pelletier provided his artistic talents as penciller on the Demon’s Tails mini-series, Bill Maus is currently illustrating the globe-spanning adventure featuring Demon in the Beta 3 Comics / Silverline crossover series, and Demon’s return to Silverline in Cat & Mouse Volume 2 #2, now on Kickstarter as mentioned above, features Dean Zachary and Alex Gallimore as series pencillers.  Steven Butler, who had served as Silverline Art Director, penciled and inked some of the most definitive illustrations of Demon on two Cat & Mouse covers – issues 3 and 15.

Whether you are being newly introduced to Demon, or are an old fan looking forward to his long-awaited return, the adventures that seem to follow him are wonderfully written and illustrated.  Be sure to check out all of his past appearances so you’ll be up to date when Cat & Mouse Volume 2 #2 becomes available!

03Sep/19

Silverline Title Spotlight: Cat & Mouse Vol 1., 5-8

“Wearin’ and Tearin’ “

Whereas the premiere Cat & Mouse volume established the world of the Silverline Universe and some of its premier denizens, these subsequent four issues (issues five through eight) allowed the creative team to further explore the motivations of Jerry O’Neil, deepen the Mafia / Yakuza conflict that is central to this title, introduce new characters (some that will be around for multiple story arcs to come while others that served a very short . . . and final . . . purpose), and provided opportunities galore for our duo to partake in action each and every issue – and often against antagonists who are also battling each other!

Wearin’ and Tearin’ ” continued to beautifully showcase the series’ ability to retain humour throughout, such as Demon’s surprising reveal to Nancy – his Gal Friday at his veterinary clinic – that he can now wear pants (in light of the climactic action scene in Cat & Mouse issue 4) and Demon’s subsequent locking himself in a cage – in his own veterinary clinic – when an overzealous police officer makes a surprise visit at Dr. Grayson’s clinic.  He did not make a very convincing canine, but enough to throw the officer off of his trail. ?

Demon’s appearances in this arc are limited, especially compared to a central role he played in the first Cat & Mouse story arc, but not all of his appearances were whimsical as those described above.  In fact, some of the most disturbing portions of this story arc include the first appearance of a mysterious cult – one which displays inverted crosses on their religious regalia, performs human sacrifices including the action of removing the heart from the victim’s body – and has a mysterious connection to our favourite fur-covered veterinarian.  In fact, the cult’s lair has a shadowy outline of their “master” on wall behind the sacrificial alter, references “the three tails”, and, as of this story arc, believes that their “master” has — literally — sent them a piece of himself.  Demon, uncharacteristically VERY angry, is on the trail of this cult, which begins the foundation for Demon’s own four-issue limited Silverline series, Demon’s Tails! (Demon’s Tails, his solo mini-series, is currently available in collected Trade Paperback Graphic Novel format from Silverline- order yours today! Shameless plug!)

Throughout this four-issue story arc, writer Roland Mann deepened the crime dynamic of the title providing the framework that both the Mafia and the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) have in the lives of Cat, Mouse, and Jerry O’Neil (Cat’s civilian identity.)  Corruption is key in New Orleans and the readers begin to have the depth of which the local police department is connected to the Mafia powerhouses of the city revealed to them.  Some corrupt officers who are happy to partake in extracurricular activities for the Mafia are introduced as are characters who now have second thoughts regarding this double-agent allegiances and feel guilty about these poor choices.  Several lists of officers “on the take” are floating around New Orleans , in the possession of dueling factions. One such list can be used as evidence in court against those who swore to serve and protect the citizens – not their criminal bosses – while another list of police officers on the Mafia’s payroll proved to be utilized for far more sinister purposes . . .

Throughout Wearin’ and Tearin’, Mouse – Mandy – notices that there has been a dramatic change in the demeanor of her partner.  Internal thoughts that Mouse shares with the reader, through thought balloons, include, “…(he) seems so careless. It’s not like Cat;” , “Something’s wrong with Cat tonight;” among others.  These internal thoughts illustrate her concern about her partner’s mental well-being, while Cat’s uncharacteristic actions such as yelling “Let’s do it!” while jumping into a fray without a plan, coupled with his 180-degree change on keeping Mouse out of seeing action and keeping her out of harm’s way, also give the reader insight that Cat has some demons of his own (yes, pun intended) that he is dealing with.

Cat – Jerry – discusses his thoughts about rejoining the police force with Mandy, as that may give them opportunities to obtain inside information that can be used to further their own interests (including paying rent!) and to clear their names with the authorities, who have, to this point, used Cat and Mouse as scapegoats for their own illegal actions.   Mandy – Mouse, already concerned about the change she’s seen in his personality, encourages him to do so.

Martin Rossman – the man who was hired for the department’s Detective position over a much more qualified and “next in line” Jerry O’Neill – rehires Jerry as an officer after reviewing his file and wondering why he never heard of Jerry before. Jerry immediately benefits from his re-established position within law enforcement when he overhears a private conversation that reveled information that put some pieces of the current puzzle together.  His decision to work against the system – from within the system – immediately paid off.

(One point of visual interest to be noted here is the remarkable similarity between Silverline’s Martin Rossman and actor Gary Oldman’s portrayal of a very well-known Police Commissioner in a very well-known cape and cowl movie trilogy – that was filmed decades later!! ? )

Wearin’ and Tearin’ featured not only strong plot and characterization but action, action, action galore!  From multiple heist scenes (against the Mafia AND the Yakuza) to plenty of fisticuffs, from bullets flying to grenades exploding, from beheadings to sword-inflicted deaths, from accusations to assassinations, a magical sense of action and adventure was still fostered and ingrained throughout the series.  Writer Roland Mann was masterful in keeping the title fun even when subject matter was dark.  And there were some dark, dark times . . .

This story arc also served as the protracted introduction of a duo that will play a much larger, pivotal role, in the future of the series.  Threaded throughout the four issues, references to “specialized” Yakuza-associates who predated Cat and Mouse foreshadowed future characters – and conflicts.  Phrases such as “Before them (Cat & Mouse) there were two others” and “The other two. They’re actually more brutal than Cat and Mouse.”

Brutal this mysterious duo is indeed, as they wander throughout New Orleans following a list, addressing officers by name before asking if they are on the Mafia payroll . . . before ending the life of each officer on the list.  This duo scratches names off the list one by one while bickering all throughout about who killed the last one and who gets to kill the next one . . .

Cat and Mouse are now in possession of a pair of items – a ledger and, now, a computer disc.  Between the two items, they hold the fate of many in their hands.  What will become of this revelation?  That, my dear friends, is to be continued . . .

Roland Mann, series writer and Silverline Editorial Director, would, later in his career, become writer, editor and eventually Managing Editor at Malibu Comics.  He has been the driving force of Silverline as a publisher, including the current relaunch of the brand!

Mitch Byrd, series artist, would, later in his career, grace multiple Malibu comics with his artwork as well as provide artwork for myriad publishers on a plethora of titles.  Mitch held a notable run on the Green Lantern character “Guy Gardner: Warrior” title.

A fantastic lineup of inkers provided their services to this installment of the Cat and Mouse series.  They include Roland Paris, John Drury, Karl Story, Brian Dale, Nick Centanni, and Floyd Robinson Jr.

16Jul/19

Silverline Title Spotlight: Cat & Mouse Vol 1., 1-4

The synopsis printed of the back cover of “The Cat & Mouse Collection”, this titles’ first compilation graphic novel, succinctly began with the following quote: “Jerry was a cop. Mandy was a crook.” 

This statement was short, brief, accurate, and immediately provided the reader insight into the foundations of the series’ two main characters. However, both Jerry and Mandy, as well as the very “Cat & Mouse” comic itself, would quickly evolve far past that base introduction into something much more intricate and even more compelling . . .

As Silverline’s first, and longest-running, title, “Cat & Mouse” established itself as the cornerstone of a growing Silverline Universe.  “The Cat & Mouse Collection” bundled the first four issues in the series (though FIVE issues worth of pages due to a double-sized first issue!!) into one easy-to-read volume.  The Collection chronicles the lives of our titular duo – Cat (police officer Jerry (Jared) O’Neil) and Mouse (crook and reform school inmate Amanda (Mandy) Paige) and also establishes the world in which their adventures take place.

Eschewing formulaic first issue introductions, neither Cat nor Mouse were featured in the title’s opening segment.  That honour went to Dr. Keith Grayson, who would assume the name of Demon in this very opening sequence and, through a series of events, became cemented as one of the most important – if not the most important – supporting cast member.  Dr. Grayson served in many capacities throughout this series,  which helped establish him as a key linchpin to the entirety of the Silverline Universe.  Both the reader and Dr. Grayson are introduced to our title characters, and are brought up to date on their story, together.  Dr. Grayson’s – Demon’s – first encounter with Cat and Mouse occurs as our duo are midway through an adventure of their own and find themselves in desperate need of assistance.  Would Dr. Grayson answer the call?

Meanwhile, a mysterious martial artist, later revealed to be named Kunoichi, stalks our main duo for the better part of this story arc – but why?  Is she friend or foe?  Or something all together in-between? After a series of breaking and enterings to gather intel on Jerry and Mandy, Kunoichi locates and infiltrates their apartment, lying in wait for their return.  Demon uncovers Kunoichi’s plan to (possibly) ambush his friends, leading him to rush to their domicile to warn our duo . . . especially one of them.  An epic battle between Kunoichi and Demon ensues, relationships and intentions are revealed, and Demon is left . . . altered . . . from this encounter.

The first “Cat & Mouse” story arc also, very subtly, introduces a character who would become deserving of his own title (one day!!) and who would serve as the role model for many others in the growing Silverline Universe of characters. This character reveal also serves to expand the scope of the title – and therefore the Silverline Universe itself – past the confines of New Orleans and well into the metropolis known as Chicago. 

The adventures Cat and Mouse undertake in this first collected edition span multiple genres and themes including crime, martial arts, vigilantism, the advent of masked heroes, and yes, even romance. However, romance does not always have to spark between the two main characters of a title . . .

“Cat & Mouse” is an action packed series that focuses on establishing and developing fun characters, utilizing witty dialogue, and integrating some of the best sound effects to ever grace the pages of a comic book.  The series never shys away from delving into deep topics such as police corruption, worries about public acceptance for being “different”, and evolving roles from adversaries to reluctant partners to caregiver and patient.  It also expertly explores themes of trust, loyalty, honor, mentorship, progeny, redemption, and legacy.

The team behind the creation of “Cat & Mouse”, the series, is impressive to say the least.  Three previously unpublished creators united to create this wonderful series.

Roland Mann, series writer and Silverline Editorial Director, would, later in his career, become writer, editor and eventually Managing Editor at Malibu Comics.  He has been the driving force of Silverline as a publisher, including the current relaunch of the brand!

Mitch Byrd, series artist, would, later in his career, grace multiple Malibu comics with his artwork as well as provide artwork for myriad publishers on a plethora of titles.  Mitch held a notable run on the Green Lantern character “Guy Gardner: Warrior” title.

Steven Butler, inker and Silverline Art Director, served as penciller on Silverline’s second title, “SilverStorm” and would go on to produce work for Malibu, Marvel, and Archie, to name a few publishers. Mr. Butler was able to showcase his range of artistic skills while illustrating characters as diverse as The Badger to Sonic the Hedgehog and holding notable runs on Marvel’s “Silver Sable” and “Web of Spider-Man”.

Also providing inking skills to this first collection was Roland Paris, who later went on to ink many titles at Marvel Comics.

On the cover of “Cat & Mouse” #1 features the following quote from Steve Englehart (noted and celebrated comic book veteran): “Talk about your one-two punch! Fun characters, fun art! This is what every new comic ought to be!” Mr. Englehart was right, of course. He was so very right!! If you have not yet read the original “Cat & Mouse” collection yet, what are you waiting for? ?