Tag Archives: Roland Paris

02Feb/21

Silverline Title Spotlight: SilverStorm (vol 1)

There Is No Shelter From This Storm!

A SilverStorm (Volume 1) Retrospective by John Metych, III

A wealthy playboy philanthropist whose father engineered some of the most futuristic technologies of the day now dons a suit of armour to protect both innocents and those he cares about.  Who immediately comes to mind when you read that description?  Yup, me too.  Christopher Kastle, AKA Silver Dollar!

A beautiful woman who overcame extreme poverty and traumatic childhood experiences was blessed, at birth, with the gift of wind manipulation.  Thus far, she has attempted to keep her abilities hidden from the world but eventually must utilize her powers to escape captivity and, later, in public in order to preserve the lives and safety of others.  I know you’re picturing the same model-turned-adventurer / heroine as I am . . . the supermodel who professionally goes by one name . . .Natashia , AKA Tempest!!

And who doesn’t immediately picture the one – the only – cloaked villain, operating behind the scenes while he sends out his agents to do his dirty-work bidding, infatuated with the concept of developing, perfecting, and utilizing a legion of clones to attack the very foundation of assembled government, made up of constituents representing their individual interests and homelands?  You know it! Of course! It is none other than Doctor Fear!!!

Originally published in the Spring of 1990, Silver Dollar, Tempest, and their newly minted arch-nemesis, Dr. Fear, were the main characters in the Silverline packaged, Aircel Comics published, SilverStorm four issue miniseries . . . and what a miniseries it was!!  Further expanding from Cat & Mouse, their buddy, Demon, and the still enigmatic “Chicago Champion”, SilverStorm was the next title, entry, and step in establishing and expanding the interconnected “Silver” universe of characters and stories.

SilverStorm (volume 1) lead off with a strong, character driven autobiography presented by none other than Christopher Kastle himself.  Speaking to his closest confidant, his Uncle Miya, he chronicles his affluent upbringing, though light on responsibilities, his internalized worries regarding how his father viewed him as he grew from youth, to a college student, to an adult and lamented how his life has become empty, unfocused, since his father’s passing and his lingering inability to follow family tradition by swearing an oath to upload the traditions and values of his family, upon a Silver Dollar that has been passed down through family generations.

Kastle’s narration continues through mourning his father, assuming leadership of the Kastle Foundation – a research organization previously lead by his father, through introduction to a specialized suit of armour created by the foundation.  Kastle becomes enamoured with the suit and dedicates himself to the utilization and mastery of this incredible piece of technology!  He also describes the mental and emotional journey he has undertaken in trying to understand his father’s death, when things don’t seem to quite add up but, at the same time, all the powers-that-be insist that there was nothing out of sorts, out of the ordinary, nor nefarious in terms of his father’s passing.

A serendipitous mutual attendance at the Symposium of Earth and Natural Sciences (hosted by the Kastle Foundation) brings Christopher and Natashia into the same venue and Kastle, who had been attendance at one of Natashia’s (Nat for short) model shows several years prior, makes a point to introduce himself to her.  Nat’s external beauty is only surpassed by her intelligence – as illustrated by her deep interest in, and ongoing study of, geology.  (She was way before her time in terms of STEM!)

Invited to accompany her on a modeling gig on a nearby island, Kastle joins Natashia and becomes even more twitterpated with her in all respects.  As the two canoodle during their walk back to their respective accommodations for the evening, they are savagely attacked by a duo going by the names Hunter and Axe.  Kastle is beaten unconscious, which allows Natashia to unleash her mastery of the winds without him bearing witness.  As she attempts to blind Hunter with a face full of blown sand, Hunter responds, in kind, with warning shots bullets and takes her, as well as Kastle, prisoner.

Hunter and Axe deliver the newly romantically linked couple to their employer – Doctor Fear.  Kastle recalls meeting him, long ago while on a business trip with his father, and remembers that Dr. Wilderman (now, FEAR) was once an impressive biochemist on a global scale, nothing close to the scarred, mutated, blistered and disfigured man that stood before them now.  Kastle persuades Fear to reveal what had happened to him . . . a story which consisted of scientific discovery, partner treachery, attempted murder, arson, and a near-death experience culminating in being submerged in an experimental formula designed to grant super-human strength and power.  Though Fear survived, and became physically stronger than ever, he would never recover from the physical or mental scars nor his ever-increasing passion for revenge including against the very world itself!  Information vital to Fear’s forthcoming plans has been in the possession of a man associated with both Kastle and Natashia – from different social and professional spheres – yet intertwining the destinies of all involved!!!

Kastle confides the legacy of his familial Silver Dollar and Oath to Natashia and she not only matches his level of trust and faith during a daring escape from Fear, his henchmen, and their compound.  They encounter several armed guards as they evacuate, noting that each of these guards had identical appearances save different tattooed numbers on their foreheads.

This observation foreshadowed Dr. Fear’s endgame . . . he has expanded his biochemistry interests into cloning, creating and growing a clone army that he utilized to launch an assault on the United Nations building, in New York City, and upon completion of his clones seizing and securing the building, as well as the UN Representatives now held hostage within, Dr. Fear declares his takeover of the world itself!

Nat and Kastle descend upon the battle scene; flanked by reporters and live television coverage, the duo is swarmed and questions fly . . . including if the individual in the suit was the Chicago Champion (it isn’t) and what they call themselves.  Christopher invokes the name of his family tradition and bestowed upon himself the code name SILVER DOLLAR and dubs Nat TEMPEST in honour of her wind-controlling talents.

Collaborating with the government-sanctioned armed forces, Silver Dollar and Tempest battle countless identical, mute, and loyal combatants ‘til death.  Our heroic duo infiltrated the occupied United Nations building, decimating clone troopers along the way, battling (and evoking revenge) Fear’s henchmen Hunter and Axe, leading to a final face-to-face showdown between Silver Dollar and Dr. Fear and with a HUGE detonation and the apparent death of Dr. Fear.  But, in comics, is anyone ever really dead?  This very author may have something to say about that fact in the not-so-distant future, in fact . . . as well as the long-ago planned (and abandoned – nay, “long-hiatused”) Silverline Universe team book . . . also in the works by yours truly!

The cadre of talent that brought these characters, issues, and Silverline’s first mini-series to life was comprised of this most excellent lineup of creative talent:

Roland Mann – the Mann with the Plan! Cat and Mouse writer and Silverline Editorial Director, Roland provided scripting duties on the latter part of the SilverStorm series and served as series editor.  In time, he would become writer, editor and eventually Managing Editor at Malibu Comics.  Roland has been the driving force of Silverline as a publisher, including the current relaunch of the brand and the ringleader of the impressive collective of Silverline talent!

Thomas Fortenberry – SilverStorm’s plotter, writer, and scripter. His Amazon biography notes that he is also an American author, editor, reviewer, and publisher. A Pushcart Prize-nominated writer and history teacher, he has also judged many literary contests, including The Georgia Author of the Year Awards and The Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction. Thomas was the second writer, after Roland Mann, to work on a Silverline title when wrote this very four-issue SilverStorm miniseries!

Steven Butler – Steven, who had already provided stellar inks on the Cat & Mouse series and both pencilled and inked several of the series most dynamic covers, all while serving as Silverline Art Director, contributed his first sequential pencils for Silverline’s on this very title, “SilverStorm”!  Having already cut his teeth on sequential work on First Comics’ “Badger”, Mr. Butler’s artwork on SilverStorm can only be described as “detailed, beautiful, kinetic, and perfect!”  He also provided colours for the series covers and created all the additional promotional art to support the title! Steven’s future projects would include illustrating titles for Malibu, Marvel, and Archie, to name a few. He held notable runs on Marvel’s “Silver Sable” and “Web of Spider-Man” and will forever be favorably remembered for his illustrations of Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider!  Steven recently collaborated with his Silverline friends and colleagues for a special guest artist variant cover for the recently released TRUMPS. He has also recently fulfilled his first Kickstarter campaign for issue #1 of Fianna McCool and the House of Ulster under the Duo Comics imprint in conjunction with his incredibly talented daughter, Lily Butler.  Oh, and Steven is one of the top, all time favourite artists of this author . . . if you couldn’t already tell who I am honored to have come to know thanks to the wonders of the internet!

Roland Paris – the first of two inkers on this SilverStorm miniseries, Roland also providing his inking talents on it’s sister title, Cat & Mouse. Roland later went on to ink many titles at Marvel Comics.

Ken Branch – the second inker over Steven Butler’s pencils on SilverStorm, Ken also provided inks on multiple issues of Cat and Mouse. Ken later went on to ink titles at Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics, Malibu Comics, Valiant Comics, First Comics, and Comico Comics.

Nick McCalip – Nick served as SilverStorm series letter. Nick has also lettered several other Silverline titles including The Mantus Files, Cat & Mouse, The Scary Book, , and Krey.

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? ?