Auntie Agatha's Home for Wayward Rabbits #6 // Review
There’s a large explosive pile in the shed. There are a bunch of rabbits hanging around that shed. Some of them know why the pile is there. A couple of humans are held captive there. Things might not go quite as expected as writer Keith Giffen and artist Benjamin Roman conclude the first book of Auntie Agatha’s Home for Wayward Rabbits. The final chapter of Book One of the series closes in suitably off-center emotional stillness. The first arc of the smartest funny animal comedy around today makes an engagingly witty end in its sixth monthly installment. Giffen and Roman clearly make a very strong case for more stories in what will hopefully be a long-lived series.
The adorable, little purple rabbit Sawyer holds a remote control as he addresses a couple of identical-looking humans who are tied-up and gagged. He’s about to press the button which he’s reasonably confident will detonate enough explosives to destroy the shed and the two women along with it. They have come to do something unspeakable in the name of a real estate mogul who is looking to turn their home into the sixteenth hole of a golf course. Rabbits face humans as the fate of a small home hangs in the balance.
Giffen is delightfully mutating tradition in an issue that opens with what is essentially a five-page monologue by a bunny looking to blow something up. Dylan is the closest thing the ensemble book has to a central hero and he’s spending the first quarter of the issue essentially delivering the standard villain’s monologue to the trapped heroes right before they escape and defeat him...only this time it’s the hero delivering that monologue to the villains...and so the ending might not quite be what anyone expects in another brilliantly iconoclastic little bit of social satire by one of the art form’s most seasoned writers.
Roman’s art matches Giffen’s style brilliantly. There’s a lot of still motion with clever switches of perspective from close-ups to wide shots. Silent panels draw-out both dramatic intensity AND comedy. Comedy relies pretty heavily on timing. Any medium that allows the audience to determine the pacing to some extent (anything in print) can rob the creator of the ability to draw-out the timing of a joke. Roman’s long silences in multiple panels and casual framing of some rather intense moments allow Giffen the ability to control the pacing in a way that makes for a very slow-paced, moody kind of comedy that is deeply engaging emotionally.
There’s a lot going on here beyond the surface. It’s difficult not to see a deeply flawed contemporary society reflected in the strange collection of psychologically challenged bunnies living on a rural farm that has been targeted for demolition. On some level, we’re all Sawyer trying desperately to save our homes from the utter destruction of sinister forces. We’re all dealing with the dysfunctional dynamic of so many others who are far too wrapped up in their own infinite gallery of psychoses to be able to tackle the challenges of continued survival. It’s just a funny animal comedy, but there’s a very deep allegory going on here. Hopefully Giffen and Roman will be able to continue their exploration with the rabbits for a long time to come.