Night of the Living Cat vol. 2 – Hawkman

5 out of 5

Right, so, this is the best comic book ever made.

I think you can tell the potential success of a “dumb idea” book – or what I’ve maybe called a “hook book;” or anything that’s pitched on shtick first, content second – based on how it presents that dumb idea beyond its initial (and inevitable) splashy intro. The vast majority of such books, at least from my point of view, will have supporting dumb ideas stacked up right behind it, and just sort of overstuff things from the get-go. It makes sense: you’re so excited to prove the bona fides of your dumbness that you want to show it all to us. Meanwhile, things like character and any story ‘neath that hook are nigh non-existent, and so after that barage of forefronted stuff… the story deflates.

While I questioned Hawkman using the whole first tankobon (and now second one!) of his dumb idea series – the hook being that cats are infected with some disease that makes their touch turn others into cats, a la riffing on zombies – as a flashback, I did not question how much fun I had while reading it, and that was very much due to the writer (with artist Mecha-Roots) not just relying on kitty puns and “like zombies but with cats” tweaks to carry us through; instead, lead Kunagi and his fellow cat cafe workers / associates felt like they had actual personalities, and that Hawkman was attempting to turn this shtick into a legit story with a plot. It’s still very silly, mind you, somewhat akin to a slapstick comedy in tone, meaning that those “personalities” are all kind of elevated, and the story hinges on humans not being able to stop the kitty plague because cats are so dang cute…!!, but that makes its relative depths even more impressive.

Doubly so as we go into this second collection, the sophomore effort which should’ve failed – i.e. if the story was going to deflate, this was the time – but just makes me so much more eager to read what’s next. And I now see the full benefit to the flashback setup, as it helped to ground the ridiculous concept and characters by rebuilding back to an opening scene, and using that time to make the dialogue and story reveals impactful and relevant for what’s to come. So it’s rather the reverse of the “hook book” problem I’d mentioned in a way: while we start off with a splash, Hawkman is now forcing the story to go through its proper paces, sort of giving the best of both worlds: you get your shtick up front, and then get legit storytelling props thereafter.

While this is a pretty slim collection (only two chapters, plus a bonus tale and the 6 extras that assumedly would’ve appeared with each chapter), it’s absolutely worth it. The introduction of some further story elements, plus the incredibly imaginative was Hawkman / Mecha-Roots decided to represent a cat army, provide page-turning entertainment and intrigue, with plenty of awww moments throughout, even when those felines are being crazy evil.