Page 45 Review by Stephen
The Losing Side Of Eternity: an unpublished novel by Dominic H. Raines, 1957.
So heres how my entire life went off the tracks in one day.
It started at Dominic Raines funeral
and of course the weather was as bad as most of the old mans novels
I didnt see her among the small crowd, which, looking back, is odd. But I was distracted by the engravings on the headstone. Raines wasnt just an atheist
he hated all religions. So what the hell was this about?
What the hell indeed. From the creators of CRIMINAL, more crime fiction with a Lovecraftian twist.
Nicolas Lash has inherited the estate of his fathers best friend, one Dominic H. Raines who published a string of bestselling detective novels beginning in 1960 before dying alone and bitter and broken. As Nicolas swiftly discovers, however, hes also inherited a great many questions and a whole world of trouble in the form of an unpublished manuscript whose title speaks volumes and a woman he meets by the grave. She calls herself Jo and claims to be the granddaughter of a woman the novelist once loved. The symbol, she says, is a private piece of the past Raines and her grandmother simply couldnt let go of.
Later, Id wonder why my head felt glued to the ground as she walked away. How with just a few words, shed made me feel like some high school kid again. Dumbstruck. I didnt know that could still happen.
Its been happening for years. Flashback to San Francisco during the mid-1950s and Dominic Hank Raines is a happily married man with a wife and a kid on the way. A reporter determined to expose police corruption and in particular one Walt Booker, he lures Walts woman Josephine to a bar one night, and she warns him she does try to warn him but from that moment on he just cant get her out of his head
She hates herself
For wanting to survive this badly. For the things shes done and the things shes willing to do. She can still feel Hanks hands on her. Still taste him on her lips. And she hates herself for that too.
She thinks about his wife
pictures her waiting up
lying to herself that her husband is working late. Or out all night chasing a lead. And she wants to cry, for what shes done to this woman. But she doesnt
because its not just about survival.
Ah, la femme fatale: beautiful, seductive, and disastrous for all who stray near. But Brubaker and Phillips have carved something far more interesting, especially in Josephine who cant help each act of seduction just like you cant control your own pheromones, while she sees all those around her paying the price. Also, Ive deliberately said little about Walt himself both his public and private investigations into a death cult nor what happens to Nicolas back in the present, because although this is everything you love about the same teams CRIMINAL, its also a horror comic: the less you know, the better. Indeed Brubakers hinted at so many unanswered questions, I cant get it out of my head, either, and you wait until the next shift in both in scene and time period in volume two.
Its another perfect fusion of genres, but the big change and one of the keys to its complexity lies in the multiple, third-person perspectives: Josephines, obviously, but also that of the men who find themselves stricken by the raven-haired beauty who appears to weather the ravages of time infinitely better than those who fixate. Each for their own reason feels they have no option but to forge forward in their different directions; each believes they are running out of time. All of them seem linked by and trapped in a web woven wider and wider across time, spanning, it seems, an entire century.
I love the way Sean Phillips draws gunshots jagged flashes of fire and theres plenty of action and more gore to come as the tentacles first start to show. Almost all of this takes place indoors or at night, and Ive long said that I never trust anyone drawn by Sean Phillips. The faces are constantly cast in shadow, masking their motives and making your fear the very worst either of them or for them. Cigarette smoke is rendered with a very dry brush, while much of the violence is framed in expressionistically rendered and instinctively positioned darkness. Its not something you notice until you, err, notice it, youre so caught up in the action. But its his quietest moments set in beds, bars or out on the street that I relish even more. The opening pages in the bucolic graveyard are particularly sublime, and the covers including their subsequent printings, so wittily re-rendered have been the best designed this year. Each one is reprinted in the back of the book whilst the cover to the first issues fourth printing manifests itself on the title page.
This is Page 45s biggest-selling periodical this year, by the way. Now lets make it our best-selling book, please.