AN­gEL CaTBiRD Vol One

The splice of life

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! Pub­lisher dark Horse Comics

Writer Margaret at­wood Artist John­nie Christ­mas

Margaret At­wood was raised on ’40s ti­tles like Plas­tic Man and Steve Canyon, and her de­but graphic novel harks back to that golden age. Mir­ror­ing the ori­gin of the Flash, bio­chemist Strig Felee­dus is trans­formed into a bizarre fe­line/owl hy­brid af­ter spilling some gene-al­ter­ing su­per-splicer serum upon him­self.

Aimed at all ages, An­gel Catbird sees At­wood es­chew­ing the sur­real weird­ness of her re­cent Mad­dAd­dam dystopian tril­ogy. As Strig comes to terms with his new­found an­i­mal­is­tic na­ture, he discovers that he’s grown fangs and can un­der­stand the bird­song around him. He also wants to rub his face up against his co-worker, Cate Leone – who turns out to be half-moggy her­self. The pair then pit their wits against the ne­far­i­ous, ro­dent-like Dr Muroid. It’s all rather rem­i­nis­cent of a Satur­day morn­ing car­toon; there’s even a half-cat/half-bat vam­pire called Count Cat­ula.

Dis­play­ing a fond­ness for thought bal­loons, At­wood ini­tially over-ex­plains the char­ac­ters’ ac­tions in­stead of leav­ing it up to John­nie Christ­mas’s vibrant, manga-es­que art to tell the story. The book is pub­lished in con­junc­tion with Na­ture Canada, and At­wood re­in­forces its eco­log­i­cal theme with fre­quent foot­notes. These can be­come dis­tract­ing, but are eas­ily ig­nored.

The book comes to an abrupt con­clu­sion, with most plot­lines frus­trat­ingly un­re­solved – leav­ing the story open for next Fe­bru­ary’s sec­ond vol­ume. Though older read­ers may find it over­sim­plis­tic, An­gel Catbird is a rare but wel­come in­tro­duc­tion to the su­per­hero genre for younger fans. Stephen Jewell

As a child, At­wood drew comics fea­tur­ing two fly­ing rab­bit su­per­heroes and winged fly­ing cats.

Most plot­lines are frus­trat­ingly un­re­solved

This year he was def­i­nitely go­ing to win the cos­play prize.

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