Auntie Agatha's Home for Wayward Rabbits #4 // Review
A rabbit consults with a deranged rodent in an attempt to save a small home from the clutches of an unscrupulous investor. What else could it possibly be but the latest issue of Auntie Agatha’s Home for Wayward Rabbits? Veteran comic writer Keith Giffen and artist Benjamin Roman’s tale of anthropomorphized animals in peril continues into the fourth chapter of its first volume. The fusion of weird comedy with seriously-rendered drama has a very unique voice echoing through the fourth issue of a smartly moody comedy.
Sawyer the purple rabbit is concerned about the continued efforts to buy-out Auntie Agatha’s quaint, little home for psychologically troubled rabbits. Sawyer talks with Loomis--a crusty rodent who has use an uncomfortably immense stockpile of rabbit chow rig a rather large explosive that may or may not work. Loomis has built the defense in an effort to protect the property from potentially invading cats. Sawyer is hoping the the defense-minded rodent might be able to help with defending against the developer. Elsewhere the developer (a sinister man named Jackson) holds a meeting with a couple of aids in his shadowy office tower.
Giffen satisfyingly fuses moody comedy with the stress of impending doom in an issue that focusses on Sawyer and his anxiety. The little girl Julie makes only a brief appearance in an issue that largely consists of Sawyer’s conversation with Loomis. The comedy in Giffen’s dialogue is as much about what isn’t said as it is about the actual delivery of punchlines. The comedy fills itself in through the negative space between the lines. It’s a very rare approach to comedy. This AND the fact that there’s very real emotional anxiety at the core of the comic book make it feel deliciously indie. It’s not the type of thing that would fit comfortably in any other format. The fourth issue of the series shows once again that Giffen’s found something which fits so perfectly on the page in colorful panels.
Benjamin Roman is given the opportunity to spend almost an entire issue bringing the stress of a small purple rabbit to life. His little brow is heavy with concern. His body is floppy with exhaustion. He’s tired. He’s stressed out. And he’s very, very cute. The fact that Roman can maintain the cuteness in a very sophisticated story with extremely nuanced characterization is quite an accomplishment. It’s pretty remarkable to make it all the way through the issue and realize that so much of it was just one conversation between a rabbit and a rodent. Roman makes the conversation look so interesting that the whole thing feels satisfying.
Given the slow, refreshingly relaxed pace of the comic book, Giffen and Roman are establishing something that could continue for years without ever feeling anywhere near as tired or fatigued as Sawyer is throughout this issue. There’s a vivid freshness about the whole thing even though the hipster funny animal genre has been more or less dead for decades. The cast of characters feels immense. There’s so much that can happen on a tiny, little property with so many strange rabbits.