Category Archives: Titles

15Oct/19

Silverline Title Spotlight: The Mantus Files, 1-4

New Orleans is home to many heroes and do-gooders in the Silverline Universe. In The Mantus Files, we learn that the Crescent City is also the home of things that go bump in the night, ghoulish conspiracies, and the handful of characters that are about to get tangled up in it all.

This four-issue mini-series, originally published in 1991, is set in the familiar city but explores the dark workings in the city’s shadows. It is the job of Peter Mantus, investigator of the arcane, to dive into those shadows and thwart the evil within.

The story of Peter Mantus has a standout role in Silverline, not only bringing a unique view on the arcane and magic but also being one of the press’s few titles to deal with horror themes. Silverline’s dedicated readers will notice that like many of Silverline’s titles, the series is rooted in crime. It takes the crime-thriller structure to play on and bend some tropes and concepts commonly found in horror.

Peter Mantus himself is a play on a type of character seen throughout literature. Mantus has been haunted by demons ever since he was a young boy. After his family’s dark dealings were put to an end, and he was rescued, Mantus raised himself to fight the darkness that nearly consumed him. He has spent so long investigating supernatural evil that he has become an expert in the subject. To better his fellow man, he has written down his knowledge on all things evil in hopes that the lay-man could equip himself to fight off the darkness. The pure sensationalism of it all, however, seems to be what grabs most people’s attention. Through publication and publicizing Mantus has earned himself a reputation as a celebrity “ghost hunter.” Mantus finds himself in situations where to get others to take him seriously, he’ll have to show them just how malevolent the forces of darkness can be.

The series starts with little attention paid to Peter Mantus, instead focusing on the evil he is sworn to destroy. Jennifer Morris, a lady of the night, suddenly finds her life is at its end as a madman raving about “closing the gate” sets her and himself ablaze in a dingy hotel room. From there we transition to Sgt. Ferris Jackson, a detective for New Orleans homicide. After establishing the current state of New Orleans, we are introduced to Peter Mantus as he returns home to search for his friend Raymond Evers. Raymond is a social worker with a long and deep relationship with Peter. He is also one of many individuals tied to the city’s homeless population to go missing.

This brings Peter into contact with Sgt. Jackson as he thinks one of the bodies in the fire might have been Raymond. Sgt. Jackson takes away two things from their interactions. The first being that now he has the name of Raymond Evers as a suspect in a murder-suicide. Second, Mantus is a talking head on television, espousing mystical nonsense. Mantus’ search then leads him to find Tammara, a mother whose daughter went missing. As they investigate, they draw the attention of a group of vampires who would prefer they stop asking questions.

Issue 2 picks up with the duo of Mantus and Tammara cornered by the pack of vampires. Mantus launches into action with a big boot to the chest of one of the vampires. Mantus discovers the vampires to be surprisingly fragile. The attackers themselves seem surprised to have a victim that’s putting up a fight. It’s not long before Mantus creates an opening for their escape. As Mantus and Tammara break for it, a photographer by the name of Quaid assists in their retreat, blinding the vampires with the flash on his camera. After they regroup, Quaid leads Mantus to the cemetery where the disappearances and vampire sightings seem to be dense. There Mantus begins to unravel the mystery of the dark power orchestrating the recent events in New Orleans.

The series continues as Mantus draws connections from his past to the cult conspiracy, bringing him closer to learning the truth of what happened to his friend Raymond Evers. Quaid enlists the help of a special local magic practitioner to ascertain the motives of the dark forces in the city. Sgt. Jackson Ferris and Peter Mantus attempt to break through the distrust to develop a professional relationship for the sake of the city. As each investigator moves closer to the truth, we learn that much more than the Crescent City is at stake.

The Mantus Files doesn’t truly fit in just one particular category. It’s more like Demon-Noir, with the tone and trappings of a hard-boiled detective novel. The Mantus Files feature strong narration from the characters, a slow burn as the layers of the mystery are peeled back by the team of investigators, and an explosive finish when it all comes to ahead. This unique voice delivers the story of a dark thriller. The clock is ticking for the heroes to make it out alive. Around every corner is a beast looking to turn an investigator into prey. The dead rise, and mortal men are used as fuel for dark and ancient plots set in motion long ago. Bookended with a splash of body horror for the connoisseur. The Mantus Files sets itself apart as both a crime-procedural and horror-thriller.

Written by the incomparable Sidney Williams, this is one of Sid’s four entries with Silverline Comics. A novelist by trade and madman by heart. Sid has also written several novels and pieces of short fiction as he has honed his craft over the years.

Penciled by Thomas Giles. The Mantus Files showcases his ability to illustrate anything and everything from a crime scene investigation to ancient unspeakable horrors.

Inked by the prolific Dan Vincent Schaefer. Dan has done just about everything from writing, to illustrating, editing, and inking on too many titles to count since 1986. Some notable credits of his include writing Mickey Mouse Adventures and inking Spider-Man: The Next Chapter.

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? 😊