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.
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 HERE –https://indyplanet.com/demons-tails – shameless 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.