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RAT CATCHER by Andy Diggle Kirkus Star


by Andy Diggle & illustrated by Victor Ibañez

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4012-1158-5
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics

A rat catcher catches rats (informers) for the mob, but in this dark graphic novel it’s an art to separate the rats from the cats.

Miguel Fuentes is a bred-in-the-bone, certified rat. That much is unambiguous. One glance at Ibañez’s drawing of him, and you know he’s got a deplorable character. Beady-eyed, he looks like he’d take out his own mother if there was a buck in it. He’d been laundering drug money for the Rawlins mob—low-life people indeed—until the government’s trap snapped shut on him. Having agreed to testify against his former associates, he’s stashed in an FBI safe house, waiting to vanish into the witness-protection program, his quid pro quo. Miguel should have known better. In no time, a designated Rawlins rat catcher is torching the so-called safe house with a roasted Miguel inside, while outside a pair of Texas state troopers observe phlegmatically. Enter a visibly upset and excited black man. Holding out his wallet, he identifies himself as “Special Agent Moses Burdon, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” adding that two of his colleagues had been posted as Miguel’s minders and are now, in all probability, sharing his fate. But Ibanez’s depiction of Moses must be meant as foreshadowing, for the drawings of his face depict great suffering. So what’s going on here? Is Moses not the straightforward cat he purports to be? Is he, instead, a closet rat? Ambiguity meets more ambiguity, and as the story progresses the reader comes to realize that only the artwork is black and white.

Diggle's (The Losers: Book Two, 2010, etc.) taut, fast-moving narrative and Ibañez’s in-your-face, Will Eisner–like artwork combine in a remarkably entertaining tale.