Angel Catbird, Volume 1

Angel Catbird is a strange story that's all the stranger because it's by the Booker Prize-nominated novelist Margaret Atwood (and Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for The Handmaid's Tale), an author well-known for her strong environmental and feminist views. Angel Catbird is a kooky, punny and pulpy comic book with a flying cat-owl-man hybrid superhero suffering from an identity crisis of his conflicting feline, bird and human selves.

Strig Feleedus, a pharmaceutical scientist, discovers a missing piece of code that will complete a compound designed to replace diseased genes with healthy ones. As he is leaving home with his breakthrough, his cat runs into the street and is struck by a car; the driver then hits Strig, too, breaking the beaker with the secret chemical compound. Strig changes into a flying cat-man possessing the desires and instincts of both birds and cats. His transformation attracts the attention of coworker Cate Leone, who leads a group of feline misfits at the Catastrophe Nightclub. They join together to fight Professor Muroid, their evil half-rat boss, who has designed a pack of remote-controlled rats to destroy all cats.

Angel Catbird recalls the Golden Age cheesiness from which the story is modeled. There are qualities within the narrative that channel traditional Atwood, such as overt environmental subtexts (she is an advocate for Nature Canada). While Angel Catbird won't be for everybody, it does seem to satisfy Atwood's itch to publish a comic book, one that is a trippy thrill ride and weird to the core. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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