Auntie Agatha’s Home for Wayward Rabbits
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Benjamin Roman
Colorists: Bryan Valenza and Beyond Colorlab
Publisher: Image Comics
In the tradition of cartoons like CatDog, Ren and Stimpy and Pinky and the Brain, Image Comics’ Auntie Agatha’s Home for Wayward Rabbits #1 is a bizarre romp into a rabbit shelter where all of the animals talk and one of the mice believes cats are conspiring to conquer the world. As The Beat noted in our September preview of the comic, which is currently slated for a 6-issue run, many of the rabbits that protagonist Julie takes care of for her auntie Agatha suffer from mental and/or physical illness. Others — like Sawyer, who rocks a heart on his chest that makes him look vaguely like a Care Bear — seem to simply be argumentative and a little judgmental.
Rather than bogging down issue #1 in exposition, writer Keith Giffen launches immediately into a regular day for Julie as she delivers food to the rabbits at the shelter. Sawyer and his buddy Pope protest the vegetables she brings them, so she takes Sawyer to check out the dozens of bags of chemical-packed dry rabbit food her aunt ordered before Julie cut off the phone line. He’s less than impressed with the ingredients — especially when the cat-hating mouse mentioned above turns up to stake his claim on the “food” — and things go downhill from there.
When two imposing figures cut shadows across Agatha’s door, Julie attempts to keep them out of their home, but they overpower her and go after her aunt in what appears to be a mafia-related shakedown of some sort. However, per the Image Comics release about the series, these two “meat monsters,” as Julie refers to them at one point, seem to be after Agatha’s property. Uh-oh. Based on their willingness to hit a little girl, whatever they want the land for probably isn’t good.
Given the immediate introduction to the rabbit food and the non-sequitur into these people banging down Agatha’s door, it seems likely that the wealthy businessman described in Image’s plot summary may have some investment in building a factory where the rabbit shelter lives… but of course, we won’t know that until further into the series.
Auntie Agatha’s Home for Wayward Rabbits is frankly kind of weird. Issue #1 features a less-than-surprising dose of ableism, given that the rabbits are referred to as “damaged and deranged” in press materials, though the language used is still a little jarring. Benjamin Roman’s art is incredibly cartoonish, again invoking the series mentioned above — but it works for the absurdity presented in Giffen’s writing. Likewise, the colors by Bryan Valenza and Beyond Colorlab are stark, which draws the reader’s eye to the characters while allowing the backgrounds to blur a bit. It doesn’t seem out of whack that some of the animals have natural colors and others are distinctly more rainbow-hued; everything is cohesive enough to allow the reader to totally suspend disbelief.
There’s no question that this series will get weirder over time, nor that Julie’s animal friends won’t play a significant role in the battle for the shelter land that’s sure to come. Since the series is only slated for six issues at the time of writing, pacing may become an issue as the stakes get higher. This story feels like one that needs a little room to breathe in order to get a proper conclusion, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bustle, The Mary Sue, SheKnows, The Tempest, Rogues Portal, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is also the co-creator of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat women and non-binary creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Rhode Island with her partner and cats.