Angel Catbird is like a car crash: you want to, but you just cannot look away. There are too many puns and way too long in places. There are cat, vampire, rat, bird and more, puns. There is good-old-fashioned pulp fiction streaming across the pages. Not to mention a modern-to-look-at set of illustrations that are seeped deep in the old school vividly colored and uniquely detailed comic illustrations. Margaret Attwood’s text and Johnnie Christmas illustrations saturate Volume 2 and Volume 3 with these elements. Then, with Tamra Bonvillain’s coloring, your eyes are assaulted by bold and bright and little cartoony colors but tie the package up nice and tight.
Angel Catbird Volume 2: To Castle Catula can be a fun sequel at times except for the fact it is a “middle volume.” This means there is much filler to the story elements. This reminded me of what I had heard about authors like Dickens who wrote long serialized stories because the longer they were, the more they got paid. Yet, it also is a way to show the villains hand. His fat, hairy, rat-like-claw-hand and his supposedly “ratty” laugh. There is a big build up to the action: Count Catula is going to take our motley crew to his castle, where they can rest, regroup and plan their attack. What happens instead is that you meet Fog (an orphan kitten that somehow has a set of News-Boys clothes despite the fact he and his siblings were tossed out a car window when they were babies and have lived in the wild ever since); a harem of wives for the Count (who are more worried about their ferns and curtains than the fact a half-human-rat wants to take over the world); a cheesy story how a vampire-bat-cat-human was made; a Count who sleeps through the majority of the book , Cate and Atheen (an owl woman who reluctantly becomes an alley) have some really catty interactions and Atheen wants to get with A.C. biblically. (Of course, he is all into her, too, even though they just meet like 4 seconds ago……) This was not the strongest volume of the three-volume set. Yet, I did enjoy the three ladies at the end, doing a dramatic superhero pose to show they are ready to kick tail (and the follow up image that shows they had to hold that pose for a bit longer than they had hoped)
I was able to finish Volume 2 in a night and start Volume 3 The Catbird Roars (or in a couple places whines). The elements of the previous volumes are still there: the classic homage to old school comics, the cheese-sauce, the “Why does anyone like Angel Catird?” Give me Ray, the Raven-Man any day. By Volume 3, the story has petered out. There is some violence for violence sake (the torturer rat that is going to declaw everyone, while he wears a Santa Clause-like suit). Some characters never are developed personality-wise. New characters are introduced or expanded on from book two (two rats that were prisoners of the villain, who have some heavy Hitchhikers Guide vibes going on, know how to contact an underground mouse group that stole the V for Venetta mask-look). Cate goes off on an ill-planned rescue mission alone (but since she cannot fly, Ray takes her, because of course he can’t say no to her and she’s not shy about saying, “I know.”)
All three books also have facts throughout the books on the bottom of the page talking about cats, birds, rats interactions. Atwood is less about being a feminist and human rights but is a big advocate for cats rights. There are pieces of the story just there to introduce a cat-fact/animal rights issues (Fog is to represent how people do not spay/neuter their pets so they then have unwanted kittens which are “road tossed).
If you are a fan of Atwood, I recommend seeing what she can do with a graphic novel story. But it is not necessarily something you have to do. But if you do decide to read the Angel Catbird series, first be prepared for cliches, a less-than-feminist ending (unless you are into polyamorous relationships) and to read each books introductions as they have some of the strongest pieces of the story. Plus, even you do not finish any of the stories, look at the fan art and sketchbooks at the end of each volume. These are fantastic regardless if you enjoyed the books or not. The fan-art is funny, beautiful and even quirky. And Christmas talking about this process with creating characters was fascinating even if you are not an artist,but someone who likes to see “how it was made” and the backstory to things.