Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2020

September 28th, 2020

Featuring Charlot Kristensen, Andi Watson, Jamie Smart, Gipi, Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell and over TWO HUNDRED new graphic novels since last we blogged, linked to, with covers, below!

What We Don’t Talk About (£11-99, Avery Hill) by Charlot Kristensen.

“People will only see racism when it’s at its most extreme…
“But racism is more than just slurs and violent acts.”
“I think it’s important to be true to yourself.
“If something feels wrong you should speak up.”

For over 10 years I wrote up to 15 comic and graphic novels reviews every week – on my days off.

Two years ago I decided I wanted my life back, and for a year I’ve been virtually silent.

But this book is worth missing a whole month of anyone’s leisure time, so I’m back.

Charlot Kristensen, everybody: this is her debut graphic novel. I hope you are paying attention, for Kristensen has created something deceptively complex with extraordinary economy – and the lushest of lines, form and colour enhanced by carefully chosen light throughout – that will reward your careful consideration with much to ponder upon.

 

 

It’s time to meet Farai and Adam.

“I really want to get along with Adam’s family…
“Our relationship means a lot to me…
“But I also want him to be there for me.
“Is that too much to ask?”

No, if we are as committed as we claim, it is the very least we can do for our dearly beloveds: listen long enough to understand and, if necessary, back them to the hilt. It’s called love and loyalty. Especially since Farai’s already reassured her own caring and concerned mother, “I already told you, mom, he’s different.”

But what happens when your boyfriend’s parents turn out to be nightmares, you find yourself trapped in their affluent home territory and therefore beholden to their oh-so-generous hospitality, then it transpires that said boyfriend…

Well, that’s “nurture” for you.

After two years of not-so-subtle stalling for which Farai gives Adam the benefit of what must inevitably be considerable doubt, Adam has finally invited Farai to meet his parents, so they travel to Windermere by train.

 

 

Farai is excited! Adam is angry. Farai’s tardiness almost made them miss their train. But it didn’t; they haven’t. So why is Adam so angry?

Farai is an artist, a positive and inspired young artist, secure in her identity. Adam is a musician. He’s really very pretty. He’s kind of lanky with a disarming flop of hair falling over one side of his forehead. Farai is full-on beautiful with large, pool-deep eyes, rich lips and a casually tied-up bunch of black hair threaded through with blue and purple highlights. They’re a very attractive couple.

But for Adam’s mother, Martha, Farai is a new toy to play with, a sick power trip to take pleasure in, and a goal to be achieved. Can you guess what it is yet?

Hegemony must be maintained at all costs.

 

 

Kristensen has created an appallingly real and ever so clever ogre in Adam’s constantly angling mother. She’s a domineering bully who knows precisely what she is doing. She’s all charm and smarm to begin with, while her husband Charles has been whittled away over the years into being the most monosyllabic, compliant and complicit co-combatant that any garrulous general could hope for. And make no mistake: Martha’s vile and outrageously forthright racism is far from casual or accidental. She bides her time and then she pounces before pulling back, wounded blood drawn.

 

It’s cold, calculated and strategically deployed then, as I say, skilfully withdrawn at the very last minute, leaving Farai with little room to manoeuvre by speaking out or conferring with Adam whose default setting is defensive: especially of his parents.

“Ah, maybe you’re reading too much into it.”

That’s always a favourite of mine.

“Adam, I know what I heard. And that’s not all of it. Your dad and mom were talking about an African gardener they fired just because he forgot to water a plant. They said he had a funny African name and they couldn’t understand his accent.”
“Farai… maybe they didn’t tell you the whole story, I don’t know. I’m sure there were other problems.”

There’s a constant sneer on Martha’s mouth, and disdain in her eyes, She’s smug, supercilious, condescending and patronising.

“Look, Farai Darling, I’m only referring to common knowledge. There’s no need to get so worked up.”

Also: “Every child knows…”

I had an older relative who used to greet almost everything I said with, “Oh don’t be so stupid!” And I’m not, really, stupid. But using nebulous language like that is a very clever way of dismissively shutting down counter-arguments.

Deliciously, Kristensen’s art throughout – in defiantly uplifting and colourful contrast to Martha’s withering, caustic toxicity – is an exuberant, life-affirming, joy!

Oh, where there are inevitable, final flare-ups of anger, they are projected with jagged, barb-edged speech balloons and equally angular gesticulations! And Kristensen’s expressions are ever so subtle and telling.

But predominantly there is a celebration of truly juicy light, form and colour, of fabrics and foliage and stone; beams and streams of sunshine cascading in through the windows, elevating everything inside! And out on Lake Windermere – from mid-summer day to shepherd’s-delight dusk – there is an awe-inspiring beauty in the wide-open, bright sky above and the dazzling, tiny white diamonds dancing on the deeper blue waters below which is entirely immune to the self-satisfied shadows cast in between.

 

 

“Look!” the art demands. “Look at what could be yours! Look at what is yours for the taking! Look at what you are missing!”

It’s actually ungrateful, isn’t it?

I leave you with Martha fishing for what she loves most instead – a reaction – this time feeling no need to find any sort of emollient whatsoever to what she erroneously considers will be her coup de grace:

“Oh that’s interesting, Farai. That… thing on your head.”
“Oh! You mean my headwrap.”
“Is that what it’s called? I didn’t know you were a Muslim.”
“Ahh I think you’ve misunderstood… This is a very common head attire in my culture. And there are many people from across the world who wear head coverings for different reasons.”
“Oh, so you’re not a Muslim?”
“No I’m not…”
“Oh thank god! I thought I was going to have a heart attack.”

By contrast, you’ll be ever so proud of Farai’s response.

 

 

Martha delights in playing cat and mouse games but this time she’s misjudged her victim, for Farai – however calm, reasonable and accommodating of as much of Martha’s cold, calculated and malicious behaviour as she can be – is no mouse.

That would be Martha’s long-dominated son.

I cannot wait to see and hear more from Charlot Kristensen, whose work I already rate right up there alongside early Tillie Walden (I LOVE THIS PART and A CITY INSIDE etc), another of Avery Hill’s many discoveries whose talent they recognised in her mid-teens then gently shepherded towards producing longer-form works like ON A SUNBEAM and her autobiographical SPINNING, all four of which have sold in their hundreds here.

Now that really is true nurture for you!

Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, October 2020.

I mean, obviously.

SLH

Buy What We Don’t Talk About and read the Page 45 review here

Dumped (Page 45 Exclusive Signed & Numbered Bookplate Edition) h/c (£14-99,self-published) by Andi Watson.

The first in a feverishly anticipated series of Andi Watson graphic novels, long out of print and sorely missed, now lavishly redesigned with a matching trade dress and completely re-coloured to make maximum use of modern production values.

Each will be accompanied at Page 45 by a free, signed bookplate, limited to 50 copies.

Please do also check out our best-selling Andi Watson Mini-Comic Collection section. You’ll find several there reviewed.

“Just checking it’s bought, and not out of a skip.”

Duncan’s referring to Binny’s bag of beer, brought to a party hosted by bloke called Tony – whom neither of them knows – to celebrate some sort of anniversary.

Normally Binny’s bags contain second-hand books which, yes, he might well have salvaged from the side of a road, such is his passion for the secret lives they’ve led prior to being dumped: all the highlights and annotations each might contain, revealing a little or indeed a lot of their past owners.

 

 

Upstairs in a bedroom, Binny finds a stylish young lady unceremoniously throwing some of Tony’s prized possessions out of the window onto the bonnet of his car. They, ummm… yeah…

 

 

Binny wakes up very happy the next morning, but entirely oblivious to the young lady’s name (she never offered it), and has to do some pretty decent detective work to track her down to a shop selling vintage clothing. Debs too appreciates history, this time in a discarded garment.

 

 

 

Andi Watson’s customary economy of line, evoking so much (an entire city square through little more than a silhouette of some equestrian statue, as deftly as troubled thoughts by an eyebrow or glance) – is enhanced by gorgeous, charcoal-effect textures and one hell of a lot of British rain.

But Watson also brings economy to the rest of his storytelling, and it may surprise those who’ve snapped up his recent mini-comics from our Andi Watson Collection Section to discover that same succinct discipline in his full-blown graphic novels, as well as the wealth of lateral thinking. You wait until Binny waxes lyrical about all that may lie between dusty covers…

So back to the romance: the romance between Binny and Debs and the romance which they both perceive in found objects’ history. It seems like a match made in heaven.

So why is it not?

SLH

Buy Dumped (Page 45 Exclusive Signed & Numbered Bookplate Edition) h/c and read the Page 45 review here

From Hell Master Edition (In Colour) h/c (£44-99, Knockabout) by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell.

Please Note: this is my review of the original FROM HELL black and white edition (still in print, and in stock) from many moons ago. Interior art of this Master Edition, transmogrified by its new colour treatment by Eddie Campbell himself.

You will want both. Trust me.

On the surface (Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s surface are most creators’ core) it’s the story of one sick bastard’s execution of a royal cover up, fuelled by his own personal Masonic obsession with carving a male sigil across the heart of London by slaughtering the women of the street who happen to have strayed too close to a blue-blooded Victorian’s philandering.

Madness and ceremony and the architecture of time play large parts in this gruelling masterpiece, as the women struggle hard enough to survive in their own unforgiving environment, let alone when they’re lured by grapes into the alien world of an upper class cab, and Dr. Gull has visions of the world as we know it, where his deeds are anything but forgotten.

Eddie Campbell’s intense visuals are inseparable from the experience, whether it’s the look in Dr. Gull’s eyes that see more than is there, or the bleak, unsanitised and dark and stark London which he scratches indelibly on your mind. How did anyone have the arrogance to believe that they could ever “film” that? And speaking of Hollywood, how typical of them to turn this into a Whodunnit. That we know the “who” from just after the prologue makes the investigation all the more frustrating, infuriating and painful to follow, so it was never about the “who” – it’s about the “why”. Why did Dr. Gull do it? Why was the case never solved? And why are we still studying these events then studying the studies of those who have studied the events?

This is a vast work of enormous power that will take you twice as long to read as almost any three other graphic novels combined.

I present you with comparison pages between the original black and white edition which has a raw power of its own, and this brand-new colourized revelations…

 

 

 

Here are two of my favourite pages. Such is its foreboding, its raw, stark power, that I’ve used the bottom-right image to promote the book ever since it was first published. Then behold the new, almost glutinous fog and Eddie Campbell lamplight:

 

 

And this bottom-right panel has been completely redrawn…

 

 

As I say, I believe you will want both.

Please see my review of Eddie Campbell’s FROM HELL COMPANION for more depth and insight. Largely Eddie’s.

SLH

Buy From Hell Master Edition (In Colour) h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

One Story h/c (£19-99, Fantagraphics) by Gipi.

War:

“It’s all so slow.
“You. You’re an inventor. You should invent a better weapon. That can accelerate everything.
“Modernity demands it.”

“I’m not scared.
“Why should I be? I have you.
“You remember? I promised.
“I’ll come back.”

The publisher writes:

“One Story actually consists of two entangled tales- those of Silvano Landi, a writer, who sees his life falling apart and Landi’s great-grandfather, Mauro, a soldier mired in the carnage in the First World War. Alternating between past and present, One Story documents the roots of a twisted family tree and traces the pain passed down from one generation to the next.”

It’s a masterpiece. One of the very finest graphic novels I have ever had the pleasure of absorbing.

 

 

To begin with it’d fragmented. You’ll find out why.

What’s more, each of the fragments, once pieced together, make perfect, oh so powerful sense. Including the tree in the middle of the tennis court.

The tree which Landi can’t stop drawing, just like the petrol station with its vast awning, in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book will break your heart.

Repeatedly.

SLH

P.S. It’s an English language edition. We’ve only used foreign language pages to disguise any spoilers. Perhaps.

Buy One Story h/c and read the Page 45 review here

In The Shadow Of No Towers h/c (£40-00, Pantheon) by Art Spiegelman.

Nearly two decades ago our Mark wrote the following upon the book’s initial release:

You might have seen excerpts in either the COMICS JOURNAL or MCSWEENEY’S 13. I think that the Guardian ran a few pages a while ago. This is Spiegelman’s reaction to the attack on the twin towers, American reaction to that and the government’s reaction to the whole thing. Ten huge pieces, aping old Sunday comics sections, printed on thick card like baby’s first book. The scale is correct, the book, with the black cover, spot-varnish and illo of ancient American comic characters kicked sideways by a foreign goat, is huge.

The format works, carefully spelling out the events of the day.

A scary kids’ book for adults.

MAS

Buy In The Shadow Of No Towers h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Old Guard vol 1: Opening Fire s/c (£14-99, Image) by Greg Rucka & Leandro Fernandez.

That is one well equipped modern mercenary: combat boots, flak jacket… ancient, double-bladed battle axe.

Not quite standard issue.

From the writer of LAZARUS and BLACK MAGIC and – with Ed Brubaker – GOTHAM CENTRAL comes an impeccably researched, more action-orientated mystery of military manoeuvres across the globe. Across time too, and Andy is fucking sick of it.

Clue: her full name is Andromache and if you know your Euripides, she had a pretty shitty time of it ever since Achilles went and whopped her husband Hector. I mean, a really shitty time of it. The Greeks tossed her sprog over the Trojan walls then, just to rub it in, made her a slave to Achilles’ own son.

As the opening three pages make brutally clear the intervening centuries haven’t brought much more peace. She appears to have fought her way through them all. Which is one way to trying to work through your understandable anger issues. She hasn’t stopped fighting, either. Andy and her three male colleagues have one key advantage over others engaged in mortal combat: they’re not mortal. They cannot die.

 

 

Unfortunately in the 21st Century keeping that quiet is a tad more difficult than it used to be: live footage not recorded onto a drive which could be deleted, but beamed immediately around the globe via satellite to someone who wants a piece of their anti-agapic action. You’ll see.

What you won’t necessarily see immediately – as Andy and co are on their way to South Sudan to rescue seventeen girls from heavily armed abductors – is what relevance there could possibly be in American marine Nile Freeman’s search of a family home in Afghanistan full of very frightened women. But you will, at the end of chapter one.

 

 

The initial scene inside the home is beautifully played by both Rucka and Fernández who delivers both day and night, throughout, in a style similar to 100 BULLETS’s Eduardo Risso: lots of silhouettes and shadows.

“We are searching for someone. We believe he is hiding her. This man. He has killed many of my people and many of yours. Have you seen this man?”
“No,” replies the old woman, staring at the photo in terrified recognition.
“No, there are no men here,” she says, glancing to the door behind which they are hidden, “and a man who would cower behind women… who puts them in danger and uses them as shields… he is no man at all.”
“I thank you for your honesty and help. We will leave you in peace… blessings on your house…”

 

 

Everyone’s in for some surprises, including you: being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if your family aren’t in on it. And cannot be – Andy is adamant about that and eloquent on the subject.

On the other hand, discovering the love of your life early on, if they are immortal too…

 

 

Tenderness and brutality in equal measure.

SLH

Buy The Old Guard vol 1: Opening Fire s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Buy The Old Guard vol 2: Force Multiplied s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

New Arrivals Linked To Reviews

Berlin (Complete) s/c (£30-00, Drawn & Quarterly) by Jason Lutes…

Buy Berlin (Complete) s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Times I Knew I Was Gay Expanded Edition (£14-99, Virago) by Eleanor Crewes.

Buy The Times I Knew I Was Gay Expanded Edition and read the Page 45 review here

Bunny vs. Monkey (vols 1 & 2 combined) (£8-99, DFB) by Jamie Smart.

Buy Bunny vs. Monkey from Page 45 and the Page 45 review here

Footnotes In Gaza s/c (£18-99, Jonathan Cape) by Joe Sacco

Buy Footnotes In Gaza s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Blacksad: The Collected Stories vol 1 s/c (£26-99, Dark Horse) by Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido

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The Giver s/c (£11-99, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Lois Lowry, P. Craig Russell

Buy The Giver s/c and read the from Page 45 review here

The Complete Works Of Fante Bukowski h/c (£34-99, Fantagraphics) by Noah Van Sciver…

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Young Avengers By Gillen McKelvie Complete Collection s/c (£31-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

Buy Young Avengers By Gillen McKelvie Complete Collection s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Avengers By Hickman Complete Collection vol 1 s/c  (£31-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Jerome Opena, Adam Kubert, Steve Epting

Buy Avengers By Hickman Complete Collection vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 Review here

New Arrivals Linked To Publishers Blurb

It’s been a while, and there are so very many! For reviews, try popping the creators into our search engine for their earlier books, like Tomine’s OPTIC NERVE (his autobiographical book immediately below, for example, is a catalogue of his worst professional embarrassments, very much like his old letter column!).

If a book doesn’t say out of stock, it’s in stock and available right now for worldwide shipping! Cheers!

The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Cartoonist s/c (£16-99, Faber) by Adrian Tomine

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Pulp h/c (Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition) (£14-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips

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Cruel Summer h/c (£29-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

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Kerry And The Knight Of The Forest s/c (Signed Bookplate Edition) (£12-99, RH Graphic) by Andi Watson

Buy Kerry And The Knight Of The Forest s/c (Signed Bookplate Edition) from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Rat Precariat (Sketched & Signed In) (£2-99, self-published) by Andi Watson

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Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony h/c (Exclusive Page 45 Signed Bookplate) (£8-99, Oxford University Press) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

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Don’t Call Me Grumpycorn! h/c (Exclusive Page 45 Signed Bookplate) (£12-99, Scholastic UK) by Sarah McIntyre.

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Taking Time h/c (£11-99, FSC) by Jo Loring-Fisher

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Paying The Land h/c (£20-00, Jonathan Cape) by Joe Sacco

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Walking Dead: The Alien h/c (£17-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughn & Marcos Martin

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Blackhand & Ironhead vol 1 h/c (£22-99, Image) by David Lopez

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Killadelphia vol 1: Sins Of The Father s/c (£8-99, Image) by Rodney Barnes & Jason Shawn Alexander

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Heathen vol 3 (£13-99, Vault) by Natasha Alterici & Ashley Woods

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John Constantine Hellblazer vol 1: Marks Of Woe s/c (£17-99, DC Black Label) by Simon Spurrier, Kat Howard & various

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Basketful Of Heads h/c (£22-99, DC Black Label) by Joe Hill & Leomacs

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Skies Of Fire h/c (£19-99, Mythopoeia) by Vincenzo Ferriero, Ray Chou & Pablo Peppino

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Steeple s/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by John Allison

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Giant Days vol 13 (£10-99, Boom) by John Allison & Max Sarin

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Five Years vol 2: Stalemate s/c (£14-50, Abstract Studios) by Terry Moore

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Mongrel s/c (£14-99, Knockabout) by Sayra Begum

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Blade Runner 2019 vol 2: Off-World (£13-99, Titan) by Michael Green, Mike Johnson & Andres Guinaldo

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Donut The Destroyer vol 1 s/c (£10-99, Graphix) by Stef Purenins & Sarah Graley

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Lucy Claire: Redemption vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Image) by John Upchurch

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Lumberjanes: Campfire Songs (£10-99, Boom) by Nicole Andelfinger, Liz Prince, Shannon Watters & Maddi Gonzalez, Kat Leyh, Brooklyn Allen

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The Witches – The Graphic Novel s/c (£13-99, Scholastic) by Roald Dahl & Penelope Bagieu

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Useleus vol 2: Kraken Up (£9-99, Bog Eyed Books) by Alexander Matthews & Wilbur Dawbarn

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Victory Point h/c (£14-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Owen D. Pomery

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Zebedee And The Valentines (£12-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Abs Bailey

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Doom Patrol: Weight Of The World s/c (£16-99, DC) by Gerard Way, various & James Harvey, various

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City Of Secrets s/c (£9-99, Penguin) by Victoria Ying

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Lumberjanes vol 15: Birthday Smarty s/c (£10-99, Boom) by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh & AnnaMarie Rogers

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Prison Pit – The Complete Collection h/c (£34-99, Fantagraphics) by Johnny Ryan.

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20th Century Boys Perfect Edition vol 8 (£15-99, Viz) by Naoki Urasawa

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Perramus The City And Oblivion h/c (£44-99, Fantagraphics) by Juan Sasturain & Alberto Breccia

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Ghost Writer h/c (£17-99, Fantagraphics) by Rayco Pulido

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One Million Tiny Fires (£9-99, Silver Sprocket) by Ashley Robin Franklin

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The Rough Pearl s/c (£20-99, Fantagraphics) by Kevin Mutch

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Breaks vol 2: Truth And Dare s/c (£15-99, Soaring Penguin Press) by Emma Vieceli & Malin Ryden

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Avatar, The Last Airbender: Team Avatar Tales (£10-99, Dark Horse) by various

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Buffy The Vampire Slayer Legacy Edition vol 1 (£22-50, Boom) by Andi Watson, Christopher Golden, Dan Brereton & Luke Ross, Joe Bennett, Hector Gomez, others

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Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Hellmouth s/c (£12-99, Boom) by Jordie Bellaire, Jeremy Lambert & Eleonora Carlini

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Meka h/c (£17-99, Magnetic Press) by J.D. Morvan & Bengal

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Fence vol 4 (£10-99, Boom) by C.S. Pacat &  Johanna the Mad

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Lucifer vol 3: The Wild Hunt s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Dan Watters & Max Fiumara, Fernando Blanco, Sebastian Fiumara

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Lumberjanes vol 14: X Marks The Spot (£10-99, Boom) by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh & Dozerdraws

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The Quotable Giant Days s/c (£10-99, Boom) by John Allison & Max Sarin

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Bone One Volume Colour Hardcover Slipcase Edition (£150-00, Cartoon Books) by Jeff Smith

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Castle In The Stars vol 3: The Knights Of Mars h/c (£15-99, FirstSecond) by Alex Alice

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Hellblazer vol 23: No Future (£24-99, Vertigo) by Peter Milligan, Jamie Delano, Mat Johnson & Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini, Simon Bisley, Jock, Tony Akins, Dan Green

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Middlewest vol 3 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Skottie Young & Jorge Corona

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Mister Invincible s/c (£14-50, Magnetic Press) by Pascal Jousselin

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The Flood That Did Come (£8-99, Avery Hill) by Patrick Wray

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Seeds And Stems s/c (£26-99, Fantagraphics) by Simon Hanselmann

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Streets Of Paris, Streets Of Murder: The Complete Graphic Noir Of Manchette & Tardi vol 1 h/c (£26-99, Fantagraphics) by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette

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Death Or Glory vol 2: I Still Miss Someone (£14-99, Image) by Rick Remender &  Bengal

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Just Beyond: The Horror At Happy Landings (£7-50, Kaboom) by R.L. Stine & Kelly Matthews, Nicole Matthews

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Minecraft: Wither Without You (£9-99, Dark Horse) by Kristen Gudsnuk

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Windows On The World s/c (£22-99, Fantagraphics) by Robert Mailer Anderson, Zack Anderson & Jon Sack

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Eat And Love Yourself s/c (£10-99, Boom) by Sweeney Boo

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I Want You (£19-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Lisa Hanawalt

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Kusama h/c (£14-99, Graphic Lives) by Elisa Macellari

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Little Bird: The Fight For Elder’s Hope s/c (£17-99, Image) by Darcy Van Poelgeest & Ian Bertram

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Slaughterhouse-Five The Graphic Novel h/c (£18-99, Boom) by Kurt Vonnegut, Ryan North & Albert Monteys

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The Contradictions s/c (£19-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Sophie Yanow

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Wings Of Light: A Retroworlds Story s/c (£14-99, Humanoids) by Harry Bozino & Carlos Magno

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Mujirushi: The Sign Of Dreams (£15-99, Viz) by Naoki Urasawa

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The Adventure Zone vol 3: Petals To The Metal s/c (£15-99, FirstSecond) by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy & Carey Pietsch

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Buffy The Vampire Slayer vol 3: From Beneath You s/c (£10-99, Boom) by Jodie Bellaire & David Lopez, Marc Aspinall

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The Dreaming vol 3: One Magical Movment s/c (£16-99, Vertigo) by Simon Spurrier & Bilquis Evely, Marguerite Sauvage, Dani, Matias Bergara

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East Of West vol 10 (£14-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta

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The Emotional Load And Other Invisible Stuff (£14-99, Seven Stories) by Emma

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Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal Age Of Resistance – The Quest For The Dual Glaive h/c (£18-99, Boom) by Nicole Andelfinger & Matias Basla, Esdras Cristobal

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Genpet s/c (£14-99, Magnetic Press) by Damien & Alex Fuentes

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Ladybird Tales Of Adventurous Girls h/c (£12-99, Penguin) by various

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Milo’s World Book 3: The Cloud Girl (s/c £14-99, h/c £17-99 Magnetic Press) by Richard Marazano & Christophe Ferreira

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Be Gay Do Comics s/c (£22-99, IDW) by various

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SFSX vol 1: Protection s/c (£8-99, Image) by Tina Horn & Michael Dowling, various

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The Winter Of The Cartoonist h/c (£19-99, Fantagraphics) by Paco Roca

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The Sky Is Blue With A Single Cloud (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Kuniko Tsurita

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Wonder 3 s/c (£26-99, Digital Manga Distribution) by Osamu Tezuka

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A Thief Among The Trees – An Ember In The Ashes Graphic Novel h/c (£14-99, Archaia) by Sabaa Tahir, Nicole Andelfinger & Sonia Liao

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Bix h/c (£26-99, Gallery) by Scott Chantler

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The Cloven Book One h/c (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Garth Stein & Matthew Southworth

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The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Slipcase Softcover Edition (£100-00, Andrews McMeel) by Bill Watterson

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Critical Role vol 2: Vox Machina Origins s/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Jody Houser & Olivia Samson

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Eight-Lane Runaways h/c (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Henry McCausland

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Journalism s/c (£14-99, Jonathan Cape) by Joe Sacco

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The Machine Never Blinks h/c – A Graphic History Of Spying And Surveillance h/c (£20-99, Fantagraphics Books) by Ivan Greenberg & Everett Patterson, Joseph Canlas

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Once Upon A Space Time h/c (£12-99, Random House) by Jeffrey Brown

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Star Wars: The Rise Of Kylo Ren s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Charles Soule & Will Sliney

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Stranger Things vol 3: Into The Fire s/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Jody Houser & Ryan Kelly

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Stranger Things: The Bully s/c (£11-99, Dark Horse) by Greg Pak & Valeria Favoccia

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Out Of The Blue h/c (£26-99, Aftershock) by Garth Ennis & Keith Burns

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The Stringbags h/c (£26-99, Dead Reckoning) by Garth Ennis & PJ Holden

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Firefly vol 4: New Sheriff In The ‘Verse vol 1 h/c (£14-99, Boom) by Greg Pak & Lalit Kumar Sharma, Davide Gianfelice

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Firefly vol 3: Unification War Part Three h/c (£14-99, Boom) by Greg Pak & Dan McDaid

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Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection vol 2 s/c (£19-99, Avani) by various

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Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection vol 3 s/c (£19-99, Avani) by various

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Rascal h/c (£13-99, IDW) by Jean-Luc Deglin

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Things From The Flood h/c (£24-99, Simon & Schuster) by Simon Stalenhag

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American Gods vol 3 h/c (£19-99, Dark Horse) by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell, Scott Hampton

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Crowded vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Christopher Sebela & Ro Stein, Ted Brandt

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Cuisine Chinoise: Tales Of Food And Life h/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Zao Dao

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Fight Club 3 h/c (£26-99, Dark Horse) by Chuck Palahniuk & Cameron Stewart, David Mack

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Strayed vol 1 s/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Carlos Giffoni & Juan Doe

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Sword Daughter vol 3: Elsbeth Of The Island h/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Brian Wood & Mack Chater, Jose Villarrubia

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Undiscovered Country vol 1: Destiny s/c (£8-99, Image) by Scott Snyder, Charles Soule & Giuseppe Camuncoli, various

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Star Trek Picard: Countdown s/c (£14-50, IDW) by Mike Johnson, Kirsten Beyer & Angel Hernandez.

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Joker: Killer Smile h/c (£24-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino

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Wolverine: Weapon X s/c (£17-99, Marvel) by Barry Windsor-Smith

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Powers: The Best Ever h/c (£24-99, DC) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming

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Fallen Angels vol 1 s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Bryan Hill & Szymon Kudranski

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X-Men+Fantastic Four: 4X s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Chip Zdarsky & Terry Dodson

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Immortal Hulk vol 7: Hulk Is Hulk s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Joe Bennett

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Iron Man: Epic Collection vol 4 – The Fury Of The Firebrand s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Archie Goodwin, Gerry Conway, others & Don Heck, George Tuska, others

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X-Force By Benjamin Percy s/c vol 1 (£15-99, Marvel) by Benjamin Percy & Joshua Cassara, Stephen Segovia

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X-Men: Epic Collection – Proteus s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Chris Claremont & John Byrne

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Batman: Curse Of The White Knight h/c (£26-99, DC) by Sean Murphy

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Green Lantern: Earth One vol 2 h/c (£22-99, DC) by Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko

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The Vision – The Complete Collection s/c (£24-99, Marvel) by Tom King & Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Michael Walsh

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DCeased: Unkillables h/c (£20-99, DC) by Tom Taylor & Karl Mostert

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Amazing Spider-Man vol 8: Threats & Menaces s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Ryan Ottley

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Tarot: Avengers / Defenders s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Alan Davis & Paul Renaud

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Flash vol 11: The Greatest Trick Of All s/c (£15-99, DC) by Joshua Williamson & Scott Kolins

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Gotham City Sirens s/c (£22-99, DC) by Paul Dini & Tony Bedard, Scott Lobdell, Marc Andreyko, Guillem March

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Justice League vol 5: Justice / Doom War s/c (£22-99, DC) by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV & various

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Young Justice vol 1: Gemworld s/c (£15-99, DC) by Brian Michael Bendis & Patrick Gleason, various

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Conan: Serpent War s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Jim Zub & various

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Conan The Barbarian Epic Collection: The Coming Of Conan s/c (£31-99, Marvel) by Roy Thomas & Barry Windsor-Smith

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King Thor s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Easd Ribic

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Ms. Marvel vol 2: Stormranger s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Saladin Ahmed & Joey Vazquez, Minkyu Jung

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Punisher: Soviet s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Garth Ennis & Jacen Burrows

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Avengers: Epic Collection vol 5 – This Beachhead Earth s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Roy Thomas, Harlan Ellison & John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Neal Adams, Frank Giacoia, Herb Trimpe, Sam Grainger

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Venom vol 4: Venom Island s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Donny Cates & Mark Bagley

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Miles Morales vol 3: Family Business s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Saladin Ahmed & various

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Savage Avengers s/c vol 2 To Dine With Doom (£16-99, Marvel) by Gerry Duggan & Kim Jacinto

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X-Men Milestones: Messiah War s/c (£22-99, Marvel) by various

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Amazing Spider-Man vol 7: 2099 s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Patrick Gleason, Bazaldua

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Marauders vol 1 s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Gerry Duggan & Matteo Lolli, Michele Bandini, Lucas Werneck, Mario Del Pennino

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Valkyrie: Jane Foster vol 2: At The End Of All Things s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Jason Aaron, Al Ewing, Torunn Gronbekk & Pere Perez, Cafu, Ramon Rosanas

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Batman: Detective Comics vol 2: Arkham Knight s/c (£15-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & various

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Silver Surfer: Parable s/c (£13-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Moebius

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Marvel Action Spider-Man vol 4: Venom s/c (£8-99, IDW) by Delilah Dawson & Davide Tinto

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DC Super Hero Girls vol 10: Weird Science s/c (£8-99, DC) by Amanda Deibert & various

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DC Super Hero Girls vol 12: Midterms s/c (£8-99, DC) by Amy Wolfram & Yancey Labat

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Teen Titans Go To Camp s/c (£8-99, DC) by Sholly Fisch & Marcelo DiChiara

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Cagaster vol 1 (£11-99, Ablaze) by Kachou Hashimoto

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Saint Young Men vol 2 h/c (£20-99, Kodansha) by Hikaru Nakamura

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Saiyuki The Original Series vol 1 – Resurrected Edition h/c (£19-50, Manga) by Kazuya Minekura

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That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime vol 12 (£10-99, Kodansha) by Fuse & Taiki Kawakami

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Transformers – The Manga vol 2 h/c (£19-99, Viz) by Ban Magami & Masumi Kaneda

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Dr. Stone vol 12 (£7-99, Viz) by Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi

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My Hero Academia vol 24 (£7-99, Viz) by Kohei Horikoshi

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One-Punch Man vol 20 (£7-99, Viz) by One & Yusuke Murata

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That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime vol 11 (£10-99, Kodansha) by Fuse & Taiki Kawakami

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Demon Slayer vol 14 (£7-99, Viz) by Koyoharu Gotouge

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Demon Slayer vol 15 (£7-99, Viz) by Koyoharu Gotouge

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Demon Slayer vol 16 (£7-99, Viz) by Koyoharu Gotouge

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Legend Of Zelda vol 16: Twilight Princess vol 7 (£7-99, Viz) by Akira Himekawa

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Sailor Moon vol 1 (£9-99, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

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Dragonball Super vol 9 (£7-99, Viz) by Akira Toriyama & Toyotarou

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Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro Side Story: Nostalgic Travelogue (£12-99, Yen) by Satoko Kiyuduki

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Inside Mari vol 6 (£11-99, Denpa Books) by Shuzo Oshimi

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Persona5 vol 3 (£7-99, Viz) by Hisato Murasaki

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My Hero Academia Smash!! vol 5 (£7-99, Viz) by Hirofumi Neda

Buy My Hero Academia Smash!! vol 5 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype hereAposimz vol 5 (£10-99, Vertical) by Tsutomu Nihei

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4: Diamond Is Unbreakable vol 6 h/c (£15-99, Viz) by Hirohiko Araki

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The Drifting Classroom vol 3 Perfection Edition h/c (£28-00, Viz) by Kazuo Umezz

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Saiyuki The Original Series vol 2 – Resurrected Ed (£19-50, Kodansha) by Kazuya Minekura

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Attack On Titan vol 31 (£9-99, Kodansha) by Isayama Hajime

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Gadgetry – Shirow Miwa Design Archives (£29-99, Pie) by Shirow Miwa

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One Piece vol 94 (£7-99, Viz) by Eiichiro Oda

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Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction vol 8 (£10-99, Viz) by Inio Asano

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That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime vol 13 (£10-99, Kodansha) by Taiki Kawakami

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Mob Psycho 100 vol 5 (£10-99, Dark Horse) by One

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Crikey, eh?

I’ve tried to separate the manga and superheroes so that they at least are all together but time constraints on this already punishing project mean that the rest really are in no particular order! Just stroll up and down until you spot a cover that speaks to you, click on the link and you’ll either see our reviews or a publisher’s blurb.

If a book doesn’t say “out of stock” then it’s in stock for worldwide shipping!

Right, I’m on holiday now until mid-October. It’s the first break I’ve had since last September! So if you have any questions, please email page45@page45.com

Look after yourselves, and thanks so much for all your support.

– Stephen

 

Page 45 Reviews AND New Releases, early July 2020

July 1st, 2020

Includes Flake by Matthew Dooley, Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month for July 2020. Please click on that link to see previous CBOTMs, read their reviews by clicking on their covers, learn more about it, and / or sign up…

Flake h/c (£18-99, Vintage / Cape) by Matthew Dooley.

“Every significant moment of Howard’s life had happened in Dobbiston.”

This we learn as an ice-cream van sails through the stars at the beginning of ‘Howard’s Cosmos’, otherwise known as Chapter 2.

“All the forgettable ones had too.”

FLAKE is as smart as it is delicious, as it is very, very British.

I’m going to bring out the big guns immediately and reference both Raymond Briggs and Alan Bennett when it comes to the quality, the cast, their outlook, their environment, and their quotidian observations about their parochial environment: pride in your local history, the surprising complexities in your family’s history, and the strength of absurdities which can come to dominate any life; the traps therein.

The lateral thinking and succinct wit of Tom Gauld flow freely too. I hope I’m successfully selling this to you.

Visually, there remain stylistic influences from Chris Ware (the facial forms and rendering, the colouring, the occasional boxed layout, and the odd  “AND SO…) and there’s even a bit of Ted McKeever in an elderly lady’s loose-toothed mouth. She should probably have a quick floss.

 

 

The central cast consists of Howard, his wife, his best mate Jasper and Jasper’s new employee, Alex.

Like this father before him, Howard is an ice-cream van man. That’s what we used to call them. A veritable local landmark like the lollipop lady, neither were permanent fixtures, more roaming delights. Both were enormously treasured but the sudden appearance of one – preceded by their iconic jingle-jangle eliciting an inevitable Pavlovian drool – was a little bit more thrilling than the other, I own.

Howard has become a master of his craft, with all the local knowledge necessary and subtle skills:

“Identifying the best places to stop. Sensing the optimum moment to switch on his signature tune.
“His ears were acutely attuned to the sound of children laughing.
“And, more importantly, the sound of children crying.”

Unfortunately, Howard’s finances are dwindling and this summer there’s been a bit of a downturn which Howard at first dismissed as one of the vagaries of his inherited trade. It’s not.

It heralds the Coastal North-West English Ice Cream Wars: like Sicily-on-Sea.

Ice cream vans which had for generations been peacefully patrolling their claim-staked family territories range from the familiar and more mundane Mr Creamy and Barry’s Ices to Good Golly Miss Lolly and – my favourite – Walt Whipman. But now one sly Tony Augustus has emerged, seemingly from nowhere, and his entente ain’t so cordiale.

Tony was born of one of the Families, but not into it, and this has given his quite the chip on his fishy shoulder: it’s made him far more ambitious. His multiple vans have begun encroaching on others’ routes, swallowing them whole like some Great White Shark of the suburban seas. And there’s a reason why he wants Howard’s more than anyone else’s…

 

 

If Howard is FLAKE’s naif, then his best mate Jasper is the story’s idiosyncratic buffoon. Jasper works in the local museum, selling both tickets and – for an extra 50p – museum maps. For fear of confusing those easily overwhelmed with detail, the maps are very clear and extremely concise, boldly noting the most salient features: “museum”, “car park, “gift shop” and “entrance”. In order to acquire a copy, you’d have to have successfully navigated at least two of those already.

Like Howard (and, it transpires, Alex), Jasper enjoys his daily crossword. They both have plenty of time on their hands and their daily routine includes an 11am exchange of answers. They also like local quizzes.

“Jasper had mixed experiences with quizzes and game shows.
“This included a catastrophic appearance on Countdown.
“Jasper boldly opened with a nine letter word…
“Iliterate”.

Too funny!

Jasper’s overriding priorities, however, are his pet peeves or causes, each as irrelevant to any sane human being as they are uncompromisingly and passionately pursued.

“Jasper had worked in the museum for the last twenty years. Aside from a six month stay in a French prison… for trying to convert continental road signs from metric to imperial.”

… Then painting his results on their signposts.

So he’s averse neither to direct confrontation nor overt vandalism, which may well come in handy during the imminent North-West English Ice Cream Wars. (It doesn’t.)

All of which is but the tip of the iceberg which finds our protagonist, right at the beginning, standing silently and solitarily on top of his own ice cream van, buffeted by the waves and submerged in the sea.

 

 

There are so many set pieces to enjoy on your journey, including the local quiz night, a saunter to the seaside, and particularly the three old ladies of ‘The Black Veil Club’, Maud, Jean and Frances. They’re not actually wearing veils, but they’re dressed for the part; nor are they surrounded by flies, though they could be.

Their hobby – their calling, their vocation…? – is to attend funerals, not to mourn the deceased, but to gossip about them, while rating each occasion on score cards according to turnout, eulogy and music.

“A funeral is a fine barometer of a life well lead.”
“And this is the turnout of a womanising drunk.”

But don’t be deceived, for these ladies do pay attention and have acquired much local knowledge over the years. You’ll be pleased that you listened, though you won’t have to strain your ears, for they are not backwards in coming forwards with their mid-service pronouncements.

“People these days don’t have the common decency to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

True, actually.

SLH

Buy Flake h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Luther Arkwight: The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright & Heart Of Empire s/c (£35-99, Dark Horse) by Bryan Talbot.

Here we go, then, first with THE ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT:

A damning indictment of man’s ceaseless inhumanity to man in the form of oppression, warfare and retribution: its attempts to justify war in the name of God or country; its failure to learn or advance except in more effective means of destruction; individuals’ consistent failure in power to live up to their promises made in revolution, and all the endemic, sorry subterfuge behind it all.

Bryan’s knowledge of political history is matched only by his command in communicating its lessons, however they may be ignored by our lessers, and for a work which is essentially science fiction involving multiple parallel worlds, precognition and psychometry, this has its feet planted firmly in British history and on its very streets as Luther Arkwright is dispatched to a key parallel world in which Britain never succeeded in unshackling itself from its Cromwellian past. There he must uncover the Disruptor agents that have infiltrated key positions in the world’s governments and in particular that of repressionist, Puritan Britain, marshal the underground Royalist forces and start a great big fucking revolution to uncover the legendary Firefrost and prevent pan-dimensional Armageddon. I know that it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

 

 

This is a work that is rich in texture, vast in scope and charged with sexual energy. It’s also incredibly dense in its truest sense, for it could have been expanded into four times its length with no filler whatsoever. Instead, by weaving Arkwright’s complex history through the threads of the main narrative, by gradually lacing the present and particular with what is known of the parallels’ past, and by excavating as they go what few clues the guardians of central and stable Para 00:00:00 have of the mysterious Firefrost, their role and their goal in locating that ultimate weapon of mass destruction is slowly revealed. It really is intoxicating, as is the central climax of orgasmic satori when Arkwright rises from his own ashes – a phoenix primed with pure impressionistic poetry – which by contrast is allowed to explode across the pages in all its lush allusion. For anyone else this would be their magnum opus, not their opening salvo.

 

 

As indicated, Talbot has much to say about governments and war. The Firefrost, as its name implies, is an entity of opposites, a conjugation capable of destruction and creation, death and rebirth: the ultimate weapon of mass destruction designed to preserve life “until inevitably – as with any deterrent – it was activated”. Concise and to the point, I think you’ll agree.

Nathaniel Cromwell, Lord Protector and head of the Church of England, is an exceedingly ugly creation. A puritanical preacher, he rages against sin yet fornicates in secret, forcing himself on young royalist virgins, bound and gagged in the dark. Riddled with venereal disease, he is rabid in public whilst, in private, deliriously drunk; he is plagued by his father’s abuse which left him sexually disfigured. Even the revolutionary Queen Anne has a ruthless side that will take you by surprise – or maybe not if you’ve read HEART OF EMPIRE. Just like HEART OF EMPIRE (a sequel of sorts) this shares its Shakespearian elements contrasting affairs of state with backstreet bawdiness, and this has an awful lot of omens. Bryan has a worryingly broad and vivid imagination when it comes to the hundreds of worldwide catastrophes visiting the other parallel worlds! Here too are the Hogarthian references as you’ll see down in Cheapside overlooked (I think) by Westminster, as foul-mouthed farter Harry Fairfax (again, some relation to Sir Thomas) questions the meaning of it all.

 

 

It’s also in Cheapside especially that the true majesty of the art – until now smothered and smudged beyond all recognition by a printing process inadequate to the task – really shines in this new shooting. The sheer detail on every page is remarkable from the exterior architecture with its intricate cross-hatching to the textures of a library crammed full of foliage, cloth and cultural carvings, and the final battle is epic. Steeped in British legend and lore (Boudicca, Britannia, George and the Dragon…), the World War fighter planes are dwarfed by futuristic helicarriers which hover in the sky like mighty, metal, military toads defying the laws of gravity. Absolute carnage!

October 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the first pages seeing print in one form or another, and I think what may be most remarkable about this is that Talbot had the drive, ambition and courage back then to embark on it at all. That he then managed to successfully complete such a complex and painstakingly rendered grand narrative of sequential art which the British and American markets at the time were neither ready for nor willing to pay properly for, paving the way for future sales and showing what could and should be done, leaves us as progressive retailers (and others as subsequent comicbook creators), I believe, substantially in the great man’s debt.

 

 

Please note: readers of editions earlier than 2007 really won’t recognise what they see here: there are mountains whose delineation never made it onto the printed page and stars will explode in a night that was previously pitch-black – or rather bland grey. For many comicbook readers this is their favourite graphic novel of all time, and they’ll now need another copy to see what it should have looked like.

Talbot wrote to me:

Yes, I was trying to do a Hogarthian scene – though it’s not based on any specific one. I just looked at the page in the Czech edition with a magnifying glass and there’s a lot of stuff in there I’d forgotten – me at the drawing board looking out of the top left window, a woman hanging washing in the BG of the next window along, people pissing and fornicating in the narrow alleyway, an old guy sitting on the steps crushing body lice with his thumbnails (as seen in a plate from The Harlot’s Progress – the prison scene). And I noticed, for the first time, not having gone through this edition religiously, that Vaclav Dort, the publisher, has even unobtrusively translated the graffiti on the walls. I think that the tower is one from the old St Paul’s cathedral – the one that burned down on this parallel in the great fire of London 1666. You can see it two pages earlier in the rooftop scene. That scene is based on a Doré print – ‘cept in that it’s the new St Paul’s in the BG. Likewise before the Battle of London when Rose walks up to Westminster Abbey, it has the domes capping the side buttresses that were replaced on our parallel a couple of hundred years ago.

Best,
Bryan

And now our second feature this evening, HEART OF EMPIRE:

 

 

Highly ambitious, very British and totally engrossing work, this uses all the clarity and majesty Talbot found for THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT.

It is, in fact, thoroughly Shakespearean both in scope and treatment, alternating between high matters of state and street-level bawdiness whilst emphasising the connection through social and sexual decadence amongst the aristocracy and their entourage, and revolutionary aspirations and individual courage in the no-go areas of London. Then there’s the dilemma raging between the individual and his/her role in society, the missing kin, the moment of upheaval and the looming cataclysm – all traditional elements of Elizabethan theatre; it might be stretching it a bit but the parallel worlds could be looked at as foreign territory and the science fantasy element as replacing the role of magic.

 

 

As to the story itself, 23 years ago Luther Arkwright saved this alternate reality, leaving behind him a wife, two children and an ambitious empire whose heart is Albion (England), and which has by now conquered most of the known world outside of America. Only the Vatican is allowed a modicum of independence. This world is very much a contemporary of ours – the two US reporters make that clear – but so much of it is Victoria in extremis: the all-consuming, rapaciously greedy imperialism, the vast state expenditure on monument (Talbot’s art here, particularly for the creation of the neo-Crystal Palace and its environs, is awe-inspiring, right up there with Guy Davis but with his own distinctive light and clarity), the seemingly unassailable, matriarchal monarchy, slavery bolstered by racism and apartheid, the hypocritical sexual values forced upon the commoners yet flouted by the well-to-do, flaunting both their bosoms and their catamites. Some sciences have advanced whilst others languish, superstitious prophets and quacks maintaining weight amongst the court, madhouses still the destination of the unstable or politically undesirable.

From the very first page looking out through a Roman window, with its overripe fruit cleaved by a knife, the waste, decadence and latent violence is made patently clear.

 

 

Talbot’s anti-authoritarian credentials are well documented (see ALICE IN SUNDERLAND’s substantial post-script), and this work has at its heart a total disgust for inequality, control and corruption. Machinations are rife. Brutality is common. Sycophancy permeates the court. But even so Talbot is not so dismissive as to avoid counter-arguments, and his strength as a writer shines through in his portrayal of the protagonist, for the princess at the heart of the story has a journey to make, and as the story opens she is as cold and aloof as the empire but has made use of its wealth, power and her own talent to build an astoundingly beautiful city, replete with buildings, squares and vistas rarely seen since the Renaissance, and on a scale we don’t even aspire to any longer.

The resources of the many squandered by the few on self-aggrandising, imperialist spectacle…? Well of course, but it’s more than a little tempting to mourn such architectural planning and achievement, especially after Talbot’s pen lines.

The book also boasts some fine Alan Moore-ish LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN mock endpapers, a great deal of explicit sex and I wasn’t kidding about the bawdy humour, so be warned. Okay, back to the plot and an interdimensional apocalypse approaches…

Haha!

Quick reminder that you can find Page 45’s Bryan Talbot interview in our website’s FUN & RESOUCES section. There are several paragraphs there relevant to this including a couple of behind-the-scenes secrets.

SLH

Buy Luther Arkwight: The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright & Heart Of Empire s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Silver Surfer Omnibus vol 1 (£89-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & John Buscema.

“Poor, pathetic creatures! So riddled with fear… with gnawing distrust!
“What monumental irony… that they who rule a planet — should be so insecure!”

Bumper all-in-one hardcover treatment for the Marvel Comic that most stands the test of time from its early period, given that man’s inhumanity to man is apparently the least mortal thing about us.

John Buscema is on mighty form here, with phenomenally evocative body language as the Silver Surfer, exiled to Earth after escaping his role as Galactus’s first herald, finds the human race busy destroying its own planet and each other… then biting the shiny alien hand which reaches out to feed it.

It is a bit wordy since the Surfer pronounces judgement on anyone and everyone around him, but it’s not as if he’s wrong.

 

SILSUR012_001

 

Also, no matter how many snazzy tricks they might have for representing silver, no other artist has achieved the effect so successfully, so fluidly over form. Nor have they matched Buscema’s definitive depiction of this individual in anguish, his fingers spread wide over his forehead or entire arms covering his eyes in sorry (and, I’d suggest, vicarious shame) after each successive rejection or military abomination. John’s expressiveness was right up there with Will Eisner’s, and I’m not exaggerating when I declare Buscema in terms of physique to be a svelte successor to Michelangelo, without all the gargantuan distortion which plagued the maestro’s paintings, though none of his sculpture.

 

 

Mephisto, Marvel’s version of the devil, really does have it in for our silver soul. He’s nothing if not persistent and positively revels in adding yet more sadistic torture on top of that heaped on him by us.

Thor, Loki, The Stranger, Spider-Man, The Human Torch, The Inhumans, and The Abomination are all in evidence here too.

Full colour throughout (it’s sometimes difficult to find interior art online), this collects SILVER SURFER (1968) #1-7 (A STORIES) and #8-18 and material from FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #5 and NOT BRAND ECHH #13.

SLH

Buy Silver Surfer Omnibus vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Brand-New Releases:

Please click on images or the links to buy or learn more from the publishers. Oh, apart from ARKHAM ASYLUM: I wrote some of that review over two decades ago!

Fire Power vol 1: Prelude s/c (£8-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Chris Samnee

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Isola vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Brenden Fletcher & Karl Kerschl

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Marked vol 1: Fresh Ink s/c (£14-99, Image) by David Hine & Brian Haberlin

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November vol 2: The Gun In The Puddle h/c (£14-99, Image) by Matt Fraction & Elsa Charretier

Buy November vol 2: The Gun In The Puddle h/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Hellboy And The BPRD – The Beast Of Vargu & Other Stories s/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie & Duncan Fegredo, Christopher Mitten, Ben Stenbeck, Adam Hughes, Dave Stewart

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Batman: Arkham Asylum (New Edition) s/c (£14-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean

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Excalibur vol 1 s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Tini Howard & Marcus To

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The Drifting Classroom vol 2 Perfection Edition h/c (£28-00, Viz) by Kazuo Umezz

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Pokemon Adventures – Collector’s Edition vol 1 s/c (£10-99, Viz Media) by Hidenori Kusaka &  Mato

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Transformers – The Manga vol 1 h/c (£17-99, Viz) by Masumi Kaneda & Ban Magami

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Star Wars Adventures vol 9: Fight The Empire s/c (£8-99, IDW) by various

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Life Is Strange vol 3: Strings s/c (£14-99, Titan) by Emma Vieceli & Claudia Leonardi

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New Comics & Graphic Novels late June 2020

June 24th, 2020

Please click on images or the links to buy or learn more from the publishers. Or, in the case of The Andi Watson Mini-Comics Collection Box, from me!

The Andi Watson Mini-Comics Collection Box (£4-99, Self-Published) by Andi Watson

Buy The Andi Watson Mini-Comics Collection Box from Page 45 and /or read Page 45’s Review here

Buy from our Andi Watson Mini-Comics selection and / or read Page 45’s reviews here

Brand-New Arrivals: Graphic Novels

Ascender vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen

Buy Ascender vol 2 s/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Check, Please! vol 2: Sticks & Scones s/c (£12-99, FirstSecond) by Ngozi Ukazu

Buy Check, Please! vol 2: Sticks & Scones s/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Deadly Class vol 9: Bone Machine s/c (£14-99, Image) by Rick Remender & Wes Craig

Buy Deadly Class vol 9: Bone Machine s/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Deep Breaths s/c (£16-99, Top Shelf) by Chris Gooch

Buy Deep Breaths s/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Farmhand vol 3 (£14-99, Image) by Rob Guillory

Buy Farmhand vol 3 from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Moonshine vol 3 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso

Buy Moonshine vol 3 s/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape s/c (£12-99, Titan) by Jacques Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette

Buy Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape s/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Wendy – Master Of Art s/c (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Walter Scott

Buy Wendy – Master Of Art s/c from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

Doomsday Clock h/c Part vol 2 With Slipcase (£22-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

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Daredevil vol 3: Through Hell s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Chip Zdarsky & Marco Checchetto, Francesco Mobli

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Fantastic Four: Epic Collection vol 5 – The Name Is Doom s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

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Iron Man: Epic Collection vol 1 – The Golden Avenger s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Don Heck

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Iron Man: Epic Collection vol 3 – The Man Who Killed Tony Stark s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Archie Goodwin & George Tuska, Johnny Craig

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Silver Surfer Omnibus vol 1 h/c (£89-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & John Buscema

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Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku vol 2 (£9-99, Viz) by Yuji Kaku

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Levius est vol 4 (£9-99, Viz) by Haruhisa Nakata

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Ping Pong vol 1 s/c (£23-99, Viz) by Taiyo Matsumoto

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Brand-New Arrivals: Comics

Old Haunts #1 (£3-50, AWA) by Ollie Masters, Rob Williams & Laurence Campbell, Lee Loughridge

Buy Old Haunts #1 from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

That Texas Blood #1 (£3-50) by Chris Condon & Jacob Phillips

Buy That Texas Blood from Page 45 and /or read the publisher’s hype here

And oh so many more! If a graphic novel doesn’t say “Out Of Stock” then it is in stock! Not so with comics, so if you would prefer to check if we’ve specific comics in stock before ordering, please email page45@page45.com and we’ll let you know, but FYI over the past few months These Current Comics have all come in through our doors, and we’ve plenty of older issues in those series too if you want to email and ask.

ALSO: WE ARE OPEN AGAIN NOW! Regular Page 45 Opening Hours too! Please come along and ask for personal recommendations etc. I promise you won’t have to queue, and there is plenty of space for a 2-metre distance. We’re sticking to 2 metres, cheers, much safer, and we’ve not seen more than four people in at any one time, so you’ll feel perfectly relaxed.

Until Jonathan and I start hard-selling you more lovely comics and graphic novels than you can carry or, quite frankly, afford.

Cheers,

Stephen

Page 45 New Comics & Graphic Novels early June 2020

June 10th, 2020

Please click on images or the link to buy to, you know, buy, or learn more from the publishers. Luther Arkwright and Kevin’s Great Escape already reviewed.

Department Of Mind-Blowing Theories h/c (£12-99, Canongate) by Tom Gauld

Buy Department Of Mind-Blowing Theories h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Luther Arkwight: The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright & Heart Of Empire s/c (£35-99, Dark Horse) by Bryan Talbot

Buy Luther Arkwight: The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright & Heart Of Empire s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

You Brought Me The Ocean s/c (£12-99, DC) by Alex Sanchez & Julie Maroh

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Medicine: A Graphic History s/c (£15-99, SelfMadehero) by Jean-Noel Fabiani & Philippe Bercovici

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Paul Is Dead s/c (£14-99, Image) by Paolo Baron & Ernesto Carbonetti

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Dragon Hoops h/c (£15-99, First Second) by Gene Luen Yang

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Go To Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons From The Fog Of New Parenthood h/c (£11-99, First Second) by Lucy Knisley

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Bone Adventures s/c (£8-99, Scholastic) by Jeff Smith

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Kevin’s Great Escape: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure s/c (£6-99, Oxford University press) by Philp Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

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Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion – Villains s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Greg Pak with Simon Spurrier & Marc Laming with many more

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Superman Action Comics vol 2: Leviathan Rising s/c (£15-99, DC) by Brian Michael Bendis & Steve Epting with Yanick Paquette

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Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed s/c (£14-99, DC) by Laurie Halse Anderson & Leila De Duca

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The Amazing Mary Jane vol 1: Down In Flames, Up In Smoke s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Leah Williams & Carlos Gomez, Lucas Werneck

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X-Men vol 1 s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Leinil Francis Yu with R. B. Silva, Matteo Buffagni

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Attack On Titan vol 30 (£9-99, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama

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Blue Flag s/c (£8-99, Viz) by Kaito

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4: Diamond Is Unbreakable vol 5 h/c (£15-99, Viz) by Hirohiko Araki

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My Hero Academia Smash! vol 4 (£7-99, Viz) by Hirofumi Neda

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Not Your Idol vol 1 (£7-99, Viz) by Aio Makino

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Perfect World vol 1 (£10-99, Kodansha) by Aie Aruga

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The Way Of The Househusband vol 3 s/c (£9-99, Viz) by Kousuke Oono

Buy The Way Of The Househusband vol 3 s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Brand-New Arrivals: Comics

If you would prefer to check if we’ve specific comics in stock before ordering, please email page45@page45.com and we’ll let you know, but FYI over the past few months These Current Comics have all come in through our doors, and we’ve plenty of older issues in those series too if you want to email and ask.

I Tweeted a whole bunch of photos of those we’ve stock of yesterday (Tuesday June 9), but hopefully you can see for yourselves when we reopen on Monday June 15! Fingers crossed, folks!

Cheers,

Stephen

Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month – June 2020

June 3rd, 2020

Normally retailing at £17-99 but a mere £14.39 for Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month members… this month’s selection is…

A Gift For A Ghost h/c by Borja Gonzalez

You can learn more and join the Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month here

Meanwhile, here’s our Page 45 review of A Gift For A Ghost…

A Gift For A Ghost h/c (£17-99, Abrams) by Borja Gonzalez

“Did you really like the tape?”
“She wants to be in the group.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Look, we have the guitar, what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know how to play any instruments. I tried to explain that to Cinderella over here.”
“Huh, you think I know how to play this? I’m not even sure what the black buttons are for.”
“Okay. I accept that knowing how to play an instrument isn’t necessary for a high school punk band, but… there’s no one who can understand these lyrics.”
“Of course you don’t understand them. Laura writes them. Imagine the Bronte sisters giving a talk about a study on the thermonuclear fusion of stars. I think its supermodern.”
“I have a gift and I must use it.”

Indeed you must, Laura, indeed you must…

It’s only upon much reflection, and a third re-read of this dainty ethereal work, at first glance pure stark juxtaposition, yet in fact so deftly immaculately intertwined, that I finally realised just how clever it truly is.

 

 

The word play is delightful, even when we can’t initially possibly grasp how precisely Borja is playing with us, with his seemingly carefree turns of phrase yet actually very purposeful choice of words…

 

 

The art too is mesmeric, stretching seamlessly across the gulf of two very different social eras with hints of elements as disparate as Tom DEPARTMENT OF MIND-BLOWING THEORIES Gould and Mike HELLBOY Mignola. It also kept making me think at times of LOVE & ROCKETS but I think that was primarily because of the girl punk band angle and the sense of playful fun that is also woven throughout this work. There’s some very interesting and clever use of colour too, and a suitably unusual palette that definitely contributes to the mildly spooky sense of atmosphere gently pervading proceedings.

 

 

(PSSST… have a peak under the dust jacket for even more butterflies!)

But how times change and how they don’t… as we start by finding ourselves back in 1856 and a girl seemingly out of time, in several senses. For whilst Teresa’s family want nothing more than to ensure she’s launched successfully onto the debutante circuit, which will of course hopefully lead to a respectable well bred hand in marriage, she’s far more interested in writing some pretty off-the-wall avant garde poetry such as “The Ghost Rider.”

“The fire velocipede hero! The fire velocipede hero?
“Can you see it beautiful lady?
“It is sparkling like the stars.
“The stars, the stars, the stars, the stars of the k…”

Her mum’s a tough audience though…

“Can you tell me what this is about? Is this what you call a poem?”
“It’s… I’m not sure yet, mother. I think it is about someone who shines.”
“It’s less than a month until your debut. Your father and I have everything ready. You know it’s important, right?”

“Yes.”

So when Teresa bumps into a sad skeleton late at night by the lake (who most definitely isn’t Johnny Blaze) she’s not remotely scared.

 

 

In fact, she’s more than up for some cultural cross-pollination and simply wants to chat about poetry with this amazing apparition. Shame the skeleton is having a somewhat morose time of it and isn’t really in the mood to muse about metre and rhyme.

Meanwhile, Teresa’s older sisters Gardenia and Daisy, already lost to society by having firmly established their conforming places in it with their bonnets and frilly dresses, and of course ladylike behaviour at all times, are not remotely sympathetic to Teresa’s plight. Younger sister Rose, still possessed of her rampant childish imagination, is as intrigued as she is terrified by Teresa and her tall tales of stygian assignations with fleshless wailers. She’s also a total snitch…

As we gently oscillate backwards and forwards temporally between our two sets of protagonists we start to unravel that perhaps Laura and Teresa have far more in common than one might think. Both products of their time, yet wanting to rebel against the constraints that they, as young females, find placed upon them. But perhaps not knowing precisely how to, or indeed just how much they can. There’s a question neatly posed of just how much identity is perennially forged by rebellion I suppose, but that’s not overly dwelled upon.

For this is an exceptionally well nuanced and delicately balanced work. It’s certainly one for the reader to find their own place within as they read it. I hugely admire that talent, to create something which has the potential to engender very different responses in those who engage with it. Plus then to leave people thinking about it long after they have finished… Which is precisely why I picked it up again for a second, and then a third read.

But most of all I absolutely adored the deeply mysterious, almost wilfully amorphous and I am sure deliberately ambiguous feel to it. I desperately felt throughout I wanted an answer as to how these two parallel narratives were connected, whilst suspecting I wasn’t going to get that closure. But when we do, of a fashion, it is an immensely satisfying payoff. I didn’t suspect at all. Maybe I should have. Perhaps I was just too drawn in and masterfully hypnotised to see it coming. Bravo to Borja for that!

It’s also wonderful to see just how expressive a relatively simple art style can be. None of the characters have faces, just blank visages, or are occasionally even simply silhouettes, but there is so much emotion conveyed in the body language of the figures themselves.

 

 

Thus it’s almost like mime or watching marionettes in that respect, and again, I think causes the reader to be invested more deeply emotionally into the characters sense of their identities.

Quite unlike anything else I’ve read so far this year, it’s a timely (that word again…) reminder of the prodigious power of comics to take us away from the present moment into other realms and states entirely. A gift from the very real Borja Gonzalez in this case.

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

Yes, there have been new arrivals recently!!! Two whole weeks worth of goodies arrived last week (and another fortnight of fun will be arriving next week)!! For more on those new arrivals please read our Stephen’s recent blog…

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews AND New Comics & Graphic Novels UNDERNEATH, May 2020

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews AND New Comics & Graphic Novels UNDERNEATH, May 2020

May 29th, 2020

New Comics and Graphic Novels are now flooding back in, and soon it will be time to open the shop properly once more! Meanwhile, Page 45’s Worldwide Mail Order Service Has Never Ceased! Please do check out all the New Releases below our reviews. Thanks!

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir In Pictures h/c (£16-99, Harper Collins) by Noelle Stevenson.

“There are no concave lines on the human body – only overlapping convex lines.”

Yes, yes, yes!

And Noelle recreates an illustrative life-drawing sketch which she made at the time when this moment of satori first hit her!

Until I read this page I hadn’t fathomed this either, but what a vital piece of observation to impart to anyone embarking on a career in art – whether it be comics, picture books, illustration, design or those well serious fully painted things – and to anyone who has suffered from body issues, as Stevenson has under the tyranny of ubiquitous wafer-thin media models. Its scope is much broader still, but one has to begin a review somewhere.

 

 

Stevenson is still only in her mid-20s, yet her astonishingly honest, hard-won wisdom moved and impressed itself upon me as fiercely as Tilly Walden’s equally early autobiography SPINNING. And by “hard-won”, you will swiftly realise why this graphic memoir has been included in Page 45’s burgeoning and ever so vital Mental Health Section.

Noelle Stevenson is the creator of our Young Adult best-seller NIMONA, as well as the co-creator of Page 45’s smash-hit LUMBERJANES series, and her early success in both – detailed here in what could very much be regarded as a galvanizing, inspirational “How To” guide for so many young individuals now embarking on their first tentative steps towards honouring us all with their brand-new voices – comes in stark contrast to what you might assume would be a self-satisfied, artistically vindicated “the world is now my oyster”. Instead, even at the height of her triumphs (and with a tentatively discovered and supportive, newfound lover), Stevenson is plagued with the same crippling self-doubt which so many of us secretly harbour too.

“At night, you like awake and shake.
“You feel guilty all the time.
“It feels like a piece has been ripped out and left behind, but you can’t tell which piece and you can’t look back to check or you will surely fall apart.”

The illustrations which accompany these retrospective confessions are so tender and so fragile.

 

 

“Your fear of doing wrong is keeping you from doing good.
“This is what you wanted, ain’t you proud?
“You’re not evil, you are a mundane, selfish kind of bad and that is what you’ve always feared, isn’t it?”

There’s a profound humility here which informs the candour and self-awareness.

“You do kind things for praise, or to feel better.
“You fear hurting people, but maybe because you fear being disliked.
“You’re not strong or brave in the way you want to be.”

 

 

It’s a very rare kind of courage that can commit this to paper in order to help others who might be suffering the same serious self-assessment in silence, fearing that they are alone while the rest of the world waltzes on in oblivious abandon. Clue: most of the world isn’t, in my experience, waltzing on in oblivious abandon, whatever it looks like from the outside. So much of this certainly resonated with me.

If I were to summarise the overwhelming, prevalent, rare but vital humane quality on display here, it would be compassion: compassion, in retrospect, towards yourself.

Told in annual snapshots from 2011 to 2019, each chapter is divided into immediate impressions as they happen, then a considered annual overview of what that year actually brought about. There are sequential art sections, then integrated, illustrated prose.

 

 

The art morphs in rendition from a fragile, febrile even at times angry sort of Hayao Miyazaki (cf NAUSICAA), to bold, emphatically concave Philippa Rice forms (like SISTER BFFS) to a front cover illustration below the dustjacket that struck me very much as akin to Jan Ormerod. But those are just my personal references, not at all necessarily Noelle’s own.

There’s also an enormous, connected tenderness on display, especially when it comes to coupling – to spooning – with her girlfriend now wife, and if you enjoy the occasional photographic portraits interspersed throughout, I promise you will air-punch with unbridled glee at the final, glorious, giggling, and celebratory photograph which rounds off this journey of at times painful self-discovery with a “Yeah, you can do it too!” moment of exquisite, unequivocal and unconditional love.

 

 

Artless, exceptional, and recommended to all, this would be perfect as a gift to anyone embarking on a career in art, the arts, or this thing called life.

SLH

Buy The Fire Never Goes Out and read the Page 45 review here

Crash Course: If You Want To Get Away With Murder Buy A Car s/c (£14-99, Street Noise) by Woodrow Phoenix.

Do you drive a car? Please read this book.

A heart-felt, eloquent and surprisingly gripping indictment of our current obsession with cars, our behaviour on the roads and the vulnerability of the pedestrian, this is as Paul Gravett observes, “an extraordinarily human book… without showing a single human being.”

I’d hazard a guess that this very exclusion forms part of Woodrow’s argument that pedestrians have been relegated to anonymous and dehumanised second-class citizens whose rights are as nothing compared to those of us enclosed in thousands of pounds worth of hard, heavy metal. We’re what counts: we need to get where we going far more urgently than you lot on foot, so don’t you dare cross the road until you’re told to, where you’re told to, and I don’t give a shit if it’s raining outside because it’s not raining in here. Where’s that CD I burned last night?

Yes, that’s how old this review is, resurrected with tweaks for a timely brand-new edition with an infinitely more apposite title, CRASH COURSE: IF YOU WANT TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, BUY A CAR.

 

 

I originally read this an hour before my own car was due in for its annual MOT and service, plus as a precautionary measure they changed what I believe is called the cambelt. If they hadn’t, they would definitely be changing it now. I’ve never understood a mate who was so concerned for his children on board that he turned on his headlights in broad daylight, yet happily answered his mobile phone whilst driving along, one-handed, distracted. For my own guilty part I’ve lit so many cigarettes over the years while driving. Yup, the first one to put his hand up is me. I’ll never do it again, and nor will you once you’ve read this. I feel wretched.

 

 

 

As Woodrow navigates motorways, turns at junctions and admires the view through his windscreen he muses on our self-delusion when it comes to safety, our attitude to death by driving (you kill someone any other way, and you’re in deep trouble; in a car, not necessarily so much), the horrors of the pedestrian underpass, the weirdness of an empty retail car park, and the absurd SUV 4×4 family arms race. It’s moving, compelling and even poetic in places, pared down to level-headed wake-up calls like this:

“There is a dreamlike quality built into the experience of driving. A car windshield is a big window. And also a screen. A windscreen. A long rectangular picture frame. Locations unwind on the other side of this rectangular glass almost as they do on a movie screen. The constant, smoothly unrolling scenery. The continuously changing vistas. It’s like the ultimate cinematic presentation. With you, the driver, as both the director and the star.”

It can be mesmerising too.

 

 

“It’s an intoxicating feeling to have the power to govern every aspect of your private world. You sit cocooned in your cabin. You control the temperature of the interior and you listen only to the soundtrack you have chosen. Everything outside your windows is contained, the rest of the world an arm’s length away.”

But no more than that for BMW drivers who tailgate.

That’s from about the least affecting couple of pages of this book (and they ring so true, don’t they?) as Phoenix assesses what your car says about you, why some arrogant arseholes refuse to budge out of the middle or even outside lane regardless of what speed they’re doing (my own biggest irritation with others, along with their failure to indicate – the consequences of which you’ll discover towards the end), and quietly relates some very real incidents of fatal failures to give a damn about cyclists and those on foot.

As to road rage:

“How did it happen that ridiculous, inappropriate eruptions of impulsive brutish aggression should have been thought to be adequately described by the handy appellation, ‘road rage’? It’s a phrase that hides more than it reveals. Designed to neuter and tidy away the truth. A sheet thrown over a misshapen lumpy ogre of violence. Almost legitimising the strange shapes that poke around underneath. Road rage is an indulgent, doting term, dignifying and excusing behaviour that has no dignity and no excuse.”

 

 

And so we come to the art. Roads. Roads and roads of roads. And rorries.

Is it even necessary? Would your experience reading this be any different if you’d just paid £1-50 for this week’s Guardian, and this was reduced to a single prose feature in the Weekend Supplement rather than 150 pages of chevrons? Yes. Yes it would, because the chevrons here are as hypnotic as they are in real life, and therein lies a point.

Anyway it’s not all roads: there is, for example, a small procession of human beings reduced from individuals to the faceless figurative forms that symbolise human beings on pedestrian crossings; and you’ll never take those for granted again, either. Best not think of all those actual lives now snuffed out: people who woke up and went for a walk but will never come home again.

 

 

The ideas I’ve expressed here are all Woodrow’s – ideas, not views: his views if not awful experience match my own seamlessly. I could never have done so without his prompting, and it worries me terribly that I may ever be careless enough to hit someone in my car. The chances of that after reading this, however, are at least a lot slimmer because I’ve been given a wake-up call, and we could all use a little reminding, surely?

Originally released as RUMBLE STRIP in 2008 (still in stock), this comes with a new essay by Woodrow Phoenix of PANTS ANT infamy, who co-curated the British triumph NELSON with its instigator, Rob Davis. Please note: some of the interior art comes from the original UK publication from Myriad and may have since been amended – for example to reflect other countries driving on the right – other images come from this new edition.

SLH

Buy Crash Course: If You Want To Get Away With Murder Buy A Car and read the Page 45 review here

American Jesus vol 1: Chosen s/c, American Jesus vol 2: The New Messiah s/c (£8-99 each, Image) by Mark Millar & Peter Gross.

 

 

The first collection is from over a decade ago!

“Can I ask you something, Father?”
“Of course you can. That’s what I’m here for, right?”
“Nah, you’ll just think I’m an idiot. I shouldn’t even be here. My mom and dad aren’t even Catholics.”
“Well, neither’s Muhammad Ali, but I’d still given him five minutes of my precious time. Just tell me what you want to know.”
“Do you think it’s possible I’m the returned Jesus Christ?”

Jodie’s a normal kid who’s been living the normal life a normal kid does: comics, salvaged porn and average grades at school. Then one day a truck careers off a bridge and lands right on top of his noggin, but Jodie walks away without a scratch – just a fresh fluency in any known language, an intuitive understanding of all forms of science and a complete encyclopaedia of history on tap in his head.

 

 

When his mother tells him she’s never had sex, he begins to entertain the idea that he’s the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, as do many of those around him with the emphatic exception of the local priest. As the priest explains, it’s common for people of Jodie’s age to think they’re a little different, especially after they’ve survived some sort of accident. It’s tempting to give in to grandiose presumptions of being special. Tempting, and dangerous.

 

 

Gross keeps suburban life real, whilst Millar keeps the suspense simmering, exploring what a young boy like Jodie might make of the situation. I loved the extended comparison Jodie comes up with between the Bible Testaments and the Star Wars Trilogy. Not only does it work, it’s just what a kid might do if they were suddenly that bright. As for what’s really at work, well, Jodie’s thirty-three as he looks back at these difficult days, so he’s evidently come to terms with how things have turned out.

One way, or the other…

As to the second volume from last year’s series (there will be three), we switch to a young girl at school with a kind, thoughtful boyfriend so respectful of her that he’s not even sure he should ask for a kiss. She falls pregnant but swears she’s never had sex. Against all imaginable odds, her boyfriend believes her unquestioningly. At which point, he became my favourite young man in the whole of comicbook fiction.

 

 

She’s telling the truth.

Then we fastforward, and I do believe that you will recognise some of these… institutions.

Brilliant.

SLH

Buy American Jesus vol 1: Chosen s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Buy American Jesus vol 2: The New Messiah s/c and read the Page 45 review here

House of X / Powers Of X (£22-99 UK s/c; £49-99 US h/c) by Jonathan Hickman & Pepe Larraz, R.B. Silva.

Exceptionally eloquent and comprehensively thought-through elevation of the mutant legacy.

For the very first time the X-Men have a geopolitical power base and a global economy of their own. The latter derives firmly from the former, thereby securing its stature, and indeed future.

Didn’t you ever wonder how ridiculous it was that Charles Xavier could somehow sustain a Westchester mansion housing, feeding, clothing and presumably funding several dozen Playstations for nearly one hundred mutants…? For decades…? Let alone defend it!

All of this – all of it – is secured by their new base of operations and its “produce”. As if that weren’t clever enough, Hickman hasn’t even had to invent their home – it’s an established part of mutant lore – but he has extrapolated infinitely more potential from its nature than any writer has been imagined before.

 

 

 

Plus, mutants now have a language of their own for, without language, how can they hope to have a culture?

With all this now laid as bedrock, Professor Charles Xavier approaches the global stage with a positive, pro-active, worldwide agenda. He has economically enticing gifts – many revolutionarily beneficial for human health – to offer countries which would revoke their former genocidal hostility towards mutantkind, and engage openly, honestly and commercially instead with his new nation state.

Professor Xavier also has sanctions.

 

 

This is the most astute and entertaining X-MEN run ever, easily equalling Claremont & Byrne’s tenure on UNCANNY X-MEN, Morrison’s NEW X-MEN, then Whedon and Cassady’s ASTONISHING X-MEN.

Artist Pepe Larraz was a revelation, too. Svelte! His gesticulations are graceful, arms acting expressively when a face is concealed.

From the writer and designer of BLACK MONDAY MURDERS, THE NIGHT NEWS, THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, EAST OF WEST, SECRET,as well as his fabulous new series, DECORUM #1.

 

 

It’s also from the writer and designer of the definitive FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 1 and FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 2, equally recommended and reviewed at greater length, this whopping edition collects HOUSE OF X #1-6 and POWERS OF X #1-6, and leads straight into X-MEN #1 which launches the new slyly composed and attitude-ridden series by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu. At the time of typing, we’ve a complete run in stock.

This is twelve chapters long, I would remind you, and only the beginning…

SLH

Buy House of X / Powers Of X s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Buy House of X / Powers Of X h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Brand-New Arrivals: Comics & Graphic Novels

Before we get to the new graphic novel / collected editions, a quick word about all the comics on our shelves! Page 45 Has Been Mail Order Only for two whole months and, although we’re looking to open ASAP in June, because the comics on our website aren’t quantity-specific like the graphic novels (which, unless they say “Out Of Stock” are most definitely in stock) they’ve been kind of languishing on our shelves in the darkness. If you would prefer to check if we’ve specific comics in stock before ordering, please email page45@page45.com and we’ll let you know, but FYI over the past few months These Current Comics have all come in through our doors, and we’ve plenty of older issues in those series too if you want to email and ask.

 

 

I can certainly confirm that we have a complete run so far of the new, exceptional Hickman and Yu X-MEN series which follows directly on from Hickman’s HOUSE OF X / POWERS OF X reviewed above, and a complete run of the NEW MUTANTS series which also spins out of it, one storyline of which is by Hickman & Reis and is very, very funny indeed. To save you the trouble of searching, I’ve linked to each below:

X-MEN #1, X-MEN #2, X-MEN #3, X-MEN #4, X-MEN #5, X-MEN #6, X-MEN #7, X-MEN #8, X-MEN #9

GIANT-SIZED X-MEN: JEAN GREY & EMMS and GIANT-SIZED X-MEN: NIGHTCRAWLER were also written by Hickman. The former and contains a major plot point; the latter is in stock regardless of the pre-order blurb.

 

 

X-MEN / FF #1, X-MEN / FF #2, X-MEN / FF #3 by Chip Zdarsky & Terry Dodson are also all in stock; you can also pre-order the final X-MEN FF #4. Thanks! Not read, ‘em, sorry, but isn’t it extraordinary how little help Sue and Reed Richards have ever offered our beleaguered mutants given that their son Franklin is a mutant too? That is the bone of contention.

By Hickman & Reis (one uninterrupted story; and, as I say, I laughed a lot!) NEW MUTANTS #1, NEW MUTANTS #2, NEW MUTANTS #5, NEW MUTANTS #7.

 

 

You might think you’ve missed something when you start reading that last one. You haven’t: it’s Hickman mischievously messing with the very notion of recaps!

By Brisson & Flaviano (in all honesty: not my cup of tea, but very few superheroes outside of MISTER MIRACLE, reviewed in depth, are these days) NEW MUTANTS #3, NEW MUTANTS #4, NEW MUTANTS #6, NEW MUTANTS #8, NEW MUTANTS #9

New Graphic Novels

Please click on images or the link to buy to, you know, buy, or learn more from the publishers. Cheers!

Akissi: Even More Tales Of Mischief s/c (£12-99, Flying Eye / Nobrow) by Marguerite Abouet & Mathieu Sapin

Buy Akissi: Even More Tales Of Mischief s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Amulet vol 1: The Stone Keeper s/c (£8-99, Scholastic UK) by Kazu Kibuishi

Buy Amulet vol 1: The Stone Keeper s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Bog Bodies s/c (£11-99, Image) by Declan Shalvey & Gavin Fullerton

Buy Bog Bodies s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Family Tree vol 1 s/c (£8-99, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Phil Hester

Buy Family Tree vol 1 s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Flake h/c (£18-99, Jonathan Cape) by Matthew Dooley

Buy Flake h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Kairos h/c (£15-99, First Second) by Ulysse Malassagne

Buy Kairos h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

The Phantom Twin s/c (£13-99, First Second) by Lisa Brown

Buy The Phantom Twin s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Snotgirl vol 3: Is This Real Life? (£14-50, Image) by Bryan Lee O’Malley & Leslie Hung

Buy Snotgirl vol 3: Is This Real Life? from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Stranger Things: Six s/c (£15-99, Dark Horse) by Joudie Houser & Edgar Salazar

Buy Stranger Things: Six s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Summer Spirit s/c (£12-99, Nobrow) by Elizabeth Holleville

Buy Summer Spirit s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Tinderella s/c (£10-99, Uncivilised Books) by M. S. Harkness

Buy Tinderella s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Transmetropolitan Book 3 s/c (£24-99, DC) by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson

Buy Transmetropolitan Book 3 s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Batman: Last Knight On Earth h/c  (£24-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Buy Batman: Last Knight On Earth h/c  from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

The Girl From The Other Side vol 8 (£10-99, Seven Seas) by Nagabe

Buy The Girl From The Other Side vol 8 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

 Levius est vol 3 (£8-99, Viz) by Haruhisa Nakata

Buy Levius est vol 3 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Demon Slayer vol 12 (£7-99, Viz) by Koyoharu Gotouge

Buy Demon Slayer vol 12 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Dr. Stone vol 11 (£7-99, Viz) by Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi

Buy Dr. Stone vol 11 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Knights Of Sidonia vol 5 (Master Edition) (£29-99, Vertical Comics) by Tsutomu Nihei

Buy Knights Of Sidonia vol 5 (Master Edition) from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Persona 5 vol 2 (£6-99, Viz) by Hisato Murasaki

Buy Persona 5 vol 2 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Twisted Visions: The Art Of Junji Ito h/c (£25-00, Viz) by Junji Ito

Buy Twisted Visions: The Art Of Junji Ito h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Lastly, our Jonathan wrote a big blog about the interim delivery of New Comics and Graphic Novels that arrived a fortnight ago after being held up in the Diamond UK warehouse, all linked up so you can buy some of those seriously excellent books!

Lastly, lastly, two Page 45 Young Readers Reviews from silly old me.

Cheers,

Stephen

 

 

New Comics & Graphic Novels Now In Stock!!

May 13th, 2020

Featuring a whole host of comics creators, but what’s most important is that this is ALL NEW MATERIAL! I’ll say that again because it sounds sooooo good… ALL NEW MATERIAL!!!!

 

We’ll get to showing you the new material itself I promise,  but just let me have a little informative ramble first… (but if you can’t wait do feel free to just skip straight down to it!)

Yes, now Diamond Comic Distributors UK are able to operate their warehouse safely, the UK’s comic shops have received the comics and graphic novels that were due for release on March 25th, so we are officially back in the new comics business!!

It is also hoped – and we will let you know as soon as we do* – that from next week there will once again be new comics and graphic novels arriving at Page 45 every single week. Obviously, physical in-store browsing at Page 45 isn’t possible just yet, so for the time being we will be continuing our “mail order for all” service.

(You can read more about that mail order service HERE if you don’t know about it already, but don’t forget, we ship worldwide, postage at cost.)

*As always, the best way to find out what’s going on is to follow us on social media. All the links to those various channels at the end of this post.

Now, given it is taking rather a lot of extra time to process deliveries and do all the wonderful mail order in the current circumstances, we haven’t actually had chance to read any of the new stuff ourselves, let alone review it. So we are going to try something a little different with this, and possibly future, posts. 

You’ll find below a link where to the new single issue comics are on our website and also a link to some release schedule information. Then you will also find each of the individual new graphic novels that have arrived alongside their covers and the accompanying publisher blurb.

Now remember that the blurb is their words, not ours, so don’t take anything you read below as a personal endorsement of quality, but do bear in mind our Stephen works immensely hard to curate / cull what is in Previews so that only the good stuff actually graces the shelves, and webpages, of Page 45.

The keen-eyed amongst you might also spot the CLICK HERE TO BUY! links which will take you to the relevant product pages. Right, that really is enough preamble from me…

So let’s start with the new comics…

Please note all the new single issues are always available for sale on our website month by month in the CURRENT COMICS section. We add them in as they arrive. (Before that they are in the PREVIEWS section.)

Therefore the ones that have just arrived have gone into the MAY 2020 section even though they are technically the March 25th comics.

We post up the week by week release schedule lists, usually a few days in advance HERE

Just picking out a couple of glorious individual single issue comic nuggets for you we have…

Love & Rockets Magazine #8 (£4-50) by Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez

In the new issue of the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine (sorry, FF), Rosy spends time with her dad and his wife – and discovers that her mother Fritz made a short film with her dad years ago and sees them young for the first time.

Also, Rosy visits the woman who raised her, for possibly the last time. Meanwhile, in ‘Princess Animus,’ lonely Lumina finally makes it home only to find out things aren’t quite the way she left them, and Tonta enrolls in Mr. Dominguez’s life drawing class. What could possibly go wrong?

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Action Special 2020 One Shot (£4-99) by Garth Ennis, Ram V, Henry Flint and chums

Five new dangerously provocative stories by 2020’s most exciting creators…

Garth Ennis and Mike Dorey tell an explosive World War II story starring Hellman. Enter the controversial and anarchic world of Kids Rule OK by Ram V and Henrik Sahlstrom. Henry Flint reveals a new kind of horror in Hellmachine. Zina Hutton and Staz Johnson bring Dredger out of retirement. And Hook Jaw is back, depicted by Dan Lish, in the grudge match of the century against a special guest star!

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Right, onto the new graphics novels! Exciting right?!

 

The Artist: The Circle Of Life h/c (£16-99, Breakdown Press) by Anna Haifisch

The Artist first appeared as a weekly strip on Vice and this second collection (the first was published in 2016) continues our hero’s attempts to break out as a fine artist while being plagued by setbacks punctuated by glimpses of recognition. It’s cynically satirical, but far more loving and affectionate than one might expect. The Artist is a modern hero for anyone who feels broken by the art world but continues on nonetheless.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir In Pictures h/c (£16-99, Harper Collins) by Noelle Stevenson

From the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of NIMONA, comes a captivating, honest illustrated memoir that finds her turning an important corner in her creative journey. In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of her young adult life, Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world.

Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel, NIMONA, she captures the little and big moments that make up a real life, with wit, wisdom, and vulnerability.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

A Gift For A Ghost h/c (£17-99, Abrams) by Borja Gonzalez

An untalented punk band and a parallel dimension-what could go wrong? Clever, haunting, and told with exceptionally original and expressive art, A Gift for a Ghost is a treat for readers and art lovers alike.

In Borja González’s stunning debut graphic novel, one that won him critical acclaim in Europe and Spain, we have two parallel stories reflect and intertwine in a tale of youthful dreams and desires.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

 

Coffin Bound vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Dan Watters & Dani

Izzy Tyburn has promised the world that if it won’t have her in it, it’ll have nothing of her at all. Chased by an unstoppable killer, she’s retreading her life, leaving nothing behind but burned rubber, ash, and the sun-scorched bones of those who get in her way.

Ride shotgun on an existential road trip through the tangle of a blood-splattered life. Mad Max: Fury Road meets Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in this full-throttle, grindhouse fantasy epic!

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

 

Crash Course: If You Want To Get Away With Murder Buy A Car s/c (£14-99, Street Noise Books) by Woodrow Phoenix

A work of graphic nonfiction exploring the powerful, often toxic relationship between people and cars.


Using the comic book format, this book vehemently dispels the notion that traffic accidents are inevitable and/or acceptable on any level, insisting that drivers own their responsibility, and consider the consequences of careless and dangerous behavior.

It also addresses such timely issues as the use of cars as weapons of mass murder in places like Charlottesville, VA.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf h/c (£11-99, Abrams) by Grant Snider

It’s no secret, but we are judged by our bookshelves. We learn to read at an early age, and as we grow older we shed our beloved books for new ones. But some of us surround ourselves with books. We collect them, decorate with them, are inspired by them, and treat our books as sacred objects. In this lighthearted collection of one- and two-page comics, writer-artist Grant Snider explores bookishness in all its forms, and the love of writing and reading.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Masters of British Comic Art h/c (£39-99, Rebellion) by David Roach (editor)

Revealing the extraordinary history of the UK’s prolific comic book industry from the 19th Century to the 21st, this ground breaking volume celebrates the incredible artists who made a huge impact on British comics and would go on to revolutionize the industry on a global scale. Featuring a Who’s Who of talent, including Brian Bolland, Yvonne Hutton, Dave Gibbons, author and 2000 AD artist David Roach takes us on a journey through time detailing the surprising and fascinating evolution of the art from its humble beginnings to its current world-conquering status.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Once & Future vol 1 s/c (£12-99, Boom!) by Kieron Gillen & Dan More

The King is Undead. Long live the King. When a group of Nationalists use an ancient artifact to bring a villain from Arthurian myth back from the dead to gain power, ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire escapes her retirement home and pulls her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into a world of magic and mysticism to defeat a legendary threat.

Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Dan Mora explore the mysteries of the past, the complicated truths of our history and the power of family to save the day… especially if that family has secret bunkers of ancient weapons and decades of experience hunting the greatest monsters in Britain’s history!

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Pollock Confidential: A Graphic Novel h/c (£17-99, Laurence King Publishing) by Onofrio Catacchio

Forceful, tempestuous, and visionary. In an incredibly short and turbulent life Jackson Pollock changed painting forever. This vivid graphic novel delves into his pioneering physical approach to making art, highlights the key characters surrounding the New York mid-century art scene, and reveals the intriguing relationship between Pollock’s painting and the covert activities of the Cold War.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

 

Portrait Of A Drunk h/c (£26-99, Fantagraphics) by Florent Ruppert, Jerome Mulot, Olivier Schrauwen

Guy is a mediocre mariner, able enough, but also a lazy, thieving, lying drunkard. All of which makes him more real than the swashbuckling Hollywood heroes that grace most pirate narratives. This tour de force of sea-faring gallows humor is also an international event in modern comics, teaming for the first time three titans of the field: Belgian comics master Olivier Schrauwen (PARALLEL LIVES) and the acclaimed French duo, Ruppert & Mulot (THE PERINEUM TECHNIQUE).

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Swooshing onto the superheroes

 

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her s/c (UK Edition) (£13-99, Marvel) by Richard Morgan & Sean Phillips, Bill Sienkiewicz

Some say she’s a traitor, some say she’s a murderer… and what most say about her isn’t even printable. But nobody denies that the former Cold War spy is a force to be reckoned with. The last man foolish enough to send killers after her paid the highest price, but his friends on Capitol Hill will ensure that Natasha doesn’t get off easy… and not even Col. Nick Fury can protect her this time.

On the run as the U.S. government declares her an Enemy of the State, Natasha escapes to Cuba, seeking out a former rival: Yelena Belova, the second Black Widow. Meanwhile, the survivors of Natasha’s last tirade start coming back to haunt her… and they’re starting to join forces. Collecting: Black Widow (2005) #1-6.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

New Mutants vol 1 s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brisson & Rod Reis

The new generation claims the dawn! The classic New Mutants – Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Mirage, Karma, Magik and Cypher – get together with new friends Chamber and Mondo for a new mission…tracking down their teammate Cannonball! Hitching a ride into outer space with the Starjammers, the New Mutants soon find themselves in trouble and on trial for crimes against the Shi’ar Empire!

But when Deathbird returns and throws the Empire into turmoil, the New Mutants’ happy reunion soon becomes a complicated struggle for galactic freedom! Who will claim the Shi’ar throne? It’s a star-spanning adventure from the mind of X-visionary Jonathan Hickman! Collecting NEW MUTANTS (2019) #1-2, #5 and #7.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Tales Of The Batman Marv Wolfman vol 1 h/c (£35-99, DC) by Mary Wolfman & various

Marv Wolfman, legendary writer of The New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths, also wrote some of the most memorable Batman stories of the 1980s! Stories in this volume include ‘Batman: Year 3,’ which detailed the origins of the original Robin, and more!

Collects Batman #328-335 and #436-439, Detective Comics #408, The Brave and the Bold #167, World’s Finest Comics #288, The New Teen Titans #37, and Batman and the Outsiders #5.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

 

 

Manga

Let’s highlight some new self-contained works and new series…

Downfall vol 1 (£9-99, Viz) by Inio Asano

From the Eisner-nominated, best-selling author of GOODNIGHT PUNPUN and SOLANIN comes a dark look at what happens when living the life of your dreams becomes your downfall. Selling copies is the only thing that matters.

So what if your manga series just ended and you have no idea how to start the next one, your marriage is breaking up, your pure love of manga has been destroyed by the cruel reality of the industry and nothing seems to fill the sucking void inside you…

Find the secret combo for a new hit manga series and everything will be okay. Right?

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

The Swamp h/c (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Yoshiharu Tsuge

The Swamp is the first in a series of books Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing by Yoshiharu Tsuge, one of the most influential and acclaimed practitioners of literary comics in Japan.

Bucking the tradition of mystery and adventure stories, Tsuge’s fiction focused on the lives of the citizens of Japan. These mesmerizing comics, like those of his contemporary Yoshihiro Tatsumi, reveal a gritty, at times desperate post-war Japan, while displaying Tsuge’s unique sense of humor and point of view.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku vol 1 (£8-99, Viz) by Yuji Kaku

Gabimaru the Hollow is on death row for crimes committed as an assassin when he’s made an offer: die in prison, or travel to a mysterious island to locate the elixir of immortality for the shogun. He soon finds himself trapped on an island full of otherworldly creatures, rival criminals and ruthless executioners eager to take the head of any criminal who steps out of line. For mature audiences.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

 

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru vol 1 (£6-99, Viz) by Masashi Kishimoto & Akira Okubo

Becoming a samurai seems like an impossible dream for Hachimaru, a boy who can’t even survive without the help of his father. But when a samurai cat appears before him, his whole life changes! A legendary manga creator and a rising star come together to bring you this science fiction samurai epic! For teen audiences.

CLICK HERE TO BUY!

 

 

 

Also, the next volumes of the following ongoing manga series have arrived…

20th Century Boys Perfect Edition vol 7 (£12-99, Viz) by Naoki Urasawa

Goblin Slayer vol 7 (£9-99, Yen Press) by Kumo Kagyu & Kousuke Kurose

My Hero Academia Smash!! vol 3 (£6-99, Viz) by Hirofumi Neda

My Hero Academia vol 23 (£6-99, Viz) by Kohei Horikoshi

One Piece vol 93 (£6-99, Viz) by Eiichiro Oda

Tokyo Ghoul re: vol 15 (£8-99, Viz) by Sui Ishida

Tokyo Ghoul re: vol 16 (£8-99, Viz) by Sui Ishida

 

Also arrived…

Errr… well, we’ve just done all that!

Hope you liked this format. Do feel free to let us know what you thought. Our very own Page 45 Reviews will be back at some point I promise, but hopefully this will keep you entertained in the meanwhile…

 

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Page 45 Graphic Novel And Picture Book Reviews Early May 2020

May 3rd, 2020

Featuring Sarah McIntyre, Brigita Orel & Jennie Poh…

Don’t Call Me Grumpycorn Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition (£6-99 s/c, Scholastic UK) by Sarah McIntryre.

First 100 copies come with a FREE, EXCLUSIVE PAGE 45 BOOKPLATE SIGNED AND DESIGNED by Sarah McIntyre!

Welcome back, my lovelies, for a brand-new all-ages adventure by our biggest-selling picture book creator, Sarah McIntyre! Please pop ‘Sarah McIntyre’ into our search engine or visit our dedicated Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre webpage here https://www.page45.com/store/Philip-Reeve-And-Sarah-McIntyre.html for all her other books and our reviews.

FABULOUS! It’s all going to be FABULOUS!

And discovery is everything, especially when it comes to friendship.

 

 

Dawn beckons you into a brand-new day of fresh air, enormous potential and limitless possibilities. And oh, but the patterns of colour!

The northern sun radiates dazzling displays of prismatic gold, and then streams across a quite chilly sea, rippling its liquid light over cool blue and purples.

Out on a wooden jetty, Unicorn has evidently been fashioning something very big and very exciting and very, very mysterious – and he has done so with a DIY diligence that puts me to shame.

 

 

It is a rocket!

“I’m going to discover the most FABULOUS planet in the universe,” he said.

Do you believe him? I do!

“This made him feel very pleased with himself. He already liked being an astronaut.”

He‘s certainly put a lot of work in; and a great deal of thought too. For as well as the buttons and switches and levers, as well as the gizmos and views screens and astronomical charts, Unicorn has decked out his new cockpit domain with hand-drawn portraits of his favourite friends (all his friends were his favourites, but too many more pictures and there’d be no room for doughnuts) and all the other essentials for intergalactic travel.

His tea and coffee making facilities won’t let him down!

There are biscuit dispensers and foil-wrapped boiled sweets in case his tummy rumbles or his mouth runs dry… I spy a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste too! Very wise! There’s a bell jar with a miniature fruiting orange tree inside. Underneath I spy a sleeping bag complete with cuddly Teddycorn! What else can you and your young ones spot? Sarah always packs her pages with so many fun things for bright eyes to discover and relish! Those ‘accelerate’ and ‘brake’ hoof pedals made me howl!!!

And that is a disco ball, yes!

There should always be disco! He might want to dance!

 

 

Unicorn might also want to get his ego back under control again too. Do you remember where he went wrong in GRUMPYCORN? I do!

For when Mermaid and Narwhal and Jellyfish are keen as can be to accompany him on His Expedition (for which he is secretly grateful – most of the best experiences are shared experiences and nobody wants to be left all alone), he doesn’t half make himself the centre of attention and demand that he must do everything FIRST and LOUDEST like…

“LIFT OFF!”

Or

“BLAST OFF!”

Or whatever he booms: whatever he booms is bound to be FABULOUS!

 

 

Best beloveds, we have barely begun, but I’m going to leave you there to discover for yourselves what happens next.

Clue: they do discover a planet, and it is FABULOUS!

Another clue: Unicorn needs to get one – a clue. A clue as to what are really the most important things in life.

Final clue: the answers are true friends and friendship.

Mermaid and Narwhal and Jellyfish are thrilled with their voyage, as loyal as ever and so very patient with Unicorn’s self-centred commands, but he really does need to rein himself in!

 

 

Far from saccharine, like THE NEW NEIGHBOURS, this is another exuberant belter from Sarah McIntyre about getting your priorities right early in life and so setting yourself firmly on course for maximum fun and frolics.

Did I mention the details? There are no spoilers here, but you’re in for a riot of running jokes that grow cumulatively funnier, and a planetary sphere which could only be called Disco!

SLH

Buy Don’t Call Me Grumpycorn Exclusive Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Pirate Tree h/c (£11-99, Lantana Publishing) by Brigita Orel & Jennie Poh.

“The breeze is generous and the ocean is wide before them.”

Look at the language there; it’s all so very positive!

The breeze is “generous” and the ocean is “wide”, plus it’s now a new shared experience: “them”.

This is such a thoughtful, poignant and positive book which, like Sarah McIntyre’s THE NEW NEIGHBOURS, has at its heart the warm welcoming of strangers.

But first, there are obstacles to overcome. Reservations, shall we call them.

‘The gnarled tree on the hill sometimes turns into a pirate ship. A rope serves as an anchor, a sheet as a sail, and Sam is its fearless captain.
‘Today, the tree watches as another sailor approaches.’

 

 

I love the warm antler-grey of the venerable tree and its long, feathery, willow-like leaves; the cool blue above them and the exotic orange blossom which is reflected, a little paler, in the stripes of Sam’s t-shirt. Then there’s the strong red of young Agu’s long-sleeved shirt, picked out in the parrot which later wears a pirate hat.

(Yes, yes, it’s a Macaw! A Macaw is a parrot. I was making maximum use of my ‘p’s!)

I also adore all the clean white space, so that those colours stand out and breathe.

‘“Can I play?” Agu asks, standing on the ship’s leeward side.
‘Sam hoists the sheet up over a branch and glares.
‘“I don’t know you. You’re not from my street.””

Ah yes, the reservations…

 

 

‘Agu’s face falls. He watches her struggle with a thick rope.
‘No one wants to play with him because he’s a newcomer.’

However, Sam hasn’t rejected him; she’s just so immediately swept up again in her imaginary game that she’s forgotten him. Nevertheless, the effect on Agu is profound, and Jennie Poh nails the boy’s body language, his arms drooping heavily to his sides in contrast to Sam’s wild gesticulation, his head bowed in introspection.

 

 

‘When Sam doesn’t as much as look his way, Agu’s shoulders slump. Auntie told him to be patient, but he’s been patient for days.’

Oh, the poor love! There’s no self-pity, merely dignity and disappointment. Unlike the pirate tree, he’s had the wind knocked out of his sails, once more.

But what makes all the difference in the world on the very next page is… well, Agu’s difference!  It’s his specialist knowledge that there are no diamonds in Nigeria. He tells Sam that he used to live in Nigeria, and he has sailed on a ship! His voice rising, Agu offers to tell her all about it, and that has Sam most intrigued!

 

 

“They set sail again.”

Hooray! Which is where we came in, but where will their shared imaginations take them?!

My heart soared while reading this book, and so will those of families so keen for their young ones to make new, exciting friends. I adore all of mine for their individuality and all the knowledge and mad skills that they possess which are way out of my current capabilities. I do love to learn, though!

 

 

Indeed, I’ve loved all the books I’ve seen published by Lantana like Chitra Soundar & Poonam Mistry’s YOU’RE SAFE WITH ME and YOU’RE SNUG WITH ME and YOU’RE STRONG WITH ME which are full of warmth, reassurance and maternal wisdom and the most meticulously composed, radiant illustrations.

You can see those on the bottom rung of our central Young Readers section here:

 

 

I also have enormous respect for Lantana’s committed, progressive policies, addressing the very real imbalance which persists in Young Readers Picture Books and comics alike:

‘In the United Kingdom, almost a third of school children identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) yet fewer than 5% of children’s books feature BAME characters and fewer than 2% of children’s book creators are British authors of colour. And the picture is even more bleak for those who identify as working class, LGBTQ+ or disabled.’

That’s truly shameful, isn’t it?

‘At Lantana, we’re changing the game and publishing inclusive books that celebrate our differences – whatever they may be. And because we all live on one extraordinary planet, we print our books with non-petroleum-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper to minimise our carbon footprint.”

They’ve won so many rewards. Please visit their website!

SLH

Buy The Pirate Tree h/c and read the Page 45 review here

 

 

 

Also Arrived Online & Ready To Buy!

New releases arriving imminently!

After two months delay due to all our suppliers’ warehouses being understandably closed, distribution looks set to begin again in a week or so.

We’ll keep you updated, but for the current situation about purchasing what we have in stock now, please read my recent blog…

Page 45 Temporarily Switches To Mail Order Only. We Ship Worldwide!

Cheers,

Stephen

 

Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month – May 2020

May 1st, 2020

Normally retailing at £16-99 but a mere £13.59 for Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month members… this month’s selection is…

Altitude h/c by Jean-Marc Rochette with Olivier Bocquet

You can learn more and join the Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month here

Meanwhile, here’s our Page 45 review of Altitude…

Altitude h/c (£16-99, SelfMadeHero) by Jean-Marc Rochette with Olivier Bocquet

“That was the day I fell in love with mountains.

“Beauty in its purest form.
“And there was only one thought in my head: going up. All the way up.”

Which immediately brings but one thought into my head… What goes up has to come down, right?

One way or another…

I’ve never really understood the appeal of staring death in the face in which mountaineers seem to revel. Getting completely off my face, certainly, but the prospect of repeatedly daring the grim reaper to come and take me away has always seemed a bit much. I certainly can’t deny the power of a majestic snow-capped mountain range to induce awe in me, mind you.

 

 

I do believe, though, a not inconsiderable part of the appeal of mountaineering for most is the mental peace and quiet. Aside from the eye-watering vistas and the lung-bursting exercise obviously! But I do wonder whether seeking absolute overwhelming solitude in the near infinite and icy vastness of unforgiving mountains isn’t perhaps just a little about trying to escape one’s self too. Or find one’s true self, depending on your perspective. I’m just not sure dangling from a precipice by little more than my fingertips is the right angle of approach in that direction for me…

 

 

No, I’ll just read about it instead thank you!

I think there is definitely the risk of addiction to the adrenaline induced by such activity, though, which is possibly what encourages mountaineers to take crazy chances when perhaps the risk versus reward calculations don’t really stack up. In other words, they get over-confident, both in their own abilities, but also in that of the natural world not to prey upon them. Others yes, but not them…

Right, philosophical aside and the mildest of hints about the content of this work complete, I suppose I should tell you a bit more about it really!

From the creator of the epic post-apocalyptic trilogy SNOWPIERCER consisting of VOL 1: THE ESCAPE, VOL 2: THE EXPLORERS and VOL 3: THE TERMINUS, plus also now the pre-apocalyptic anticipatory lead-in with SNOWPIERCER: THE PREQUEL PART 1 EXTINCTION (all four reviewed by Page 45) comes this autobiographical tale of one young man’s burgeoning obsession with mountains, and indeed also learning to draw comics.

I found lone wolf Jean-Marc’s coming-of-age story inspirational and moving in equal measure. It’s not going to make me want to climb mountains, it’s had quite the reinforcing opposite effect in that respect, but I came to greatly admire his indomitable will, and also his complete absence of desire to conform. Sounds like he’d be perfect for a career in comics…

 

 

The seeming disinterest of his mother towards pretty much any part of Jean-Marc’s life whatsoever must certainly have contributed enormously to his sense of isolation, but I would imagine also helped to engender his immense independence.

 

 

Even the one true bonding attempt she tries to make, asking a teenage Jean-Marc if she can come climbing with him, inevitably takes a turn for the worse. Instead she seems far more interested in simply collecting the stipend from the French state for the loss Jean-Marc’s father in Algeria many years previously.

So it’s probably no surprise that upon attaining his emancipation from her with his 18th birthday, Jean-Marc promptly kicked her out of his life.

 

 

The control of his cash payout, which he would continue to receive for another three years, allowed him to pursue his love of mountaineering with a greater intensity. Indeed, we don’t see his mother again until a certain… disturbing moment… when even then, she seems far more interested in herself than her son.

It seems puzzling therefore that he actually dedicated this book to his mother…

 

 

I almost wonder whether it was entirely to prove a point. That despite her complete lack of maternal affection, he had succeeded in achieving his goals. Though I am sure it is perhaps far more complex than that. Still, she doesn’t seem to come out of this work with much merit at all.

Before that moment, though, there are a few far-too-close brushes with death for Jean-Marc and his coterie of climbing chums. It’s inevitable, of course, that eventually one of them will succumb, but when it happens, it’s still as much of a shock for Jean-Marc as it is for us. Not least because of the circumstances…

 

 

Does Jean-Marc learn his lesson at that point though? No, of course not… Nothing could happen to him, right?

 

 

So once again it seems the peerless natural wonder of mountains and their deranged devotees and denizens is the perfect material for brilliant comics! I am a huge fan of Jiro Taniguchi’s THE SUMMIT OF THE GODS, in fact it is one of my all-time favourite comics, being primarily a story of one of the most bloody-minded and singularly determined individuals ever to decide to do it just because it’s there. There‘s more than a little of that attitude going on here.

Also, Gou Tanabe’s exquisitely beautiful insanity inducing two-part adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. You might think that title isn’t an appropriate comparison to this work in terms of content, but I don’t know, it certainly seems to be that all mountains have a way of inducing a temporary insanity of sorts in those who become truly obsessed with them.

Rochette has buddied up for this project with writer Olivier Bocquet (who wrote the concluding part of the SNOWPIERCER trilogy) who I imagine has merely (I say merely, but who wouldn’t want a brilliant writer giving you a hand with your autobiography?!) provided some degree of input on that aspect to help his artist friend. Between them they’ve done a superb job. I was gripped from the off like a well-tightened crampon and the tension doesn’t just come from taut climbing ropes either as Jean-Marc finds himself under immense emotional pressure both at home and at school.

 

 

Which is why the mountains provide his escape route… where he finds a group of like-minded individuals with whom he comes to enjoy a true sense of camaraderie.

 

 

The art meanwhile is suitably rugged, yet subtly detailed, like an unforgiving rock face that reveals more and more complexity as you are required to pay it increasingly close attention. There are some lovely flourishes of colour too, an early trip to the museum providing an example of the sort of almost rapturous trance than our young Jean-Marc could concentrate himself into even then.

 

 

There’s actually a delightful reprise to that visit many years later which I thought was a brilliant touch.

 

 

Plus, it was truly fascinating to learn of the local pioneering legends of climbing in the French Alps. There are some brilliant anecdotes that Jean-Marc and his chums recount to each other of these early alpinists. His adoring respect for them and their part in opening up the mountains he loves is clear to see as he and his friends try to follow in their huge footsteps, whilst also dreaming of making their own marks for posterity.

 

 

Danger, however, is of course always only ever a misstep, a brief lapse in concentration or just a random moment of misfortune away. Much like comics really, read enough comics and you’ll get a paper cut eventually…

 

 

As we exit the book we find Rochette wisely leaving the mountains behind, but firmly in the foothills of a new and equally demanding odyssey, his ascent towards the pinnacle of the extremely treacherous and demanding professional world of the comics creator. I think there can be no doubt he has reached the summit.

 

 

[NOTE: Assistant Ed. – Just stepping outside of comics for a moment, if you do get chance, you really should check out the film version of Snowpiercer which was very loosely adapted indeed by director Boon Joon-ho, who of course recently won the Oscar for Best Film with Parasite. It is genuinely brilliant and I think a superb example of how an adaptation of comics material needn’t just be a slavish (if frequently abridged) copy of the original, but how the comics can instead provide the inspiration for something rather wonderfully different.

Also, there is a loose continuation of Snowpiercer coming to French TV soon, which I am rather intrigued about. Again, it looks like it is going to take inspiration from the comics rather than just be a direct adaptation / continuation. But it certainly looks to have just the right post-apocalyptic vibe from what I’ve seen so far, and I’m sure more than a few snow-capped mountains.]

JR

Buy Altitude on the Page 45 website here

Online & Ready To Buy!

Well, there have been no other new arrivals recently, due to all our suppliers’ warehouses being understandably closed. That will be changing in the not too distant future, and obviously we will keep you updated on that.

But for the current situation regarding purchasing what we have in stock now, please read our Stephen’s recent blog…

Page 45 Temporarily Switches To Mail Order Only. We Ship Worldwide!

Page 45 Graphic Novel Reviews early April 2020

April 2nd, 2020

Featuring Frederick Peeters, Rensuke Oshikiri, Alexander Utkin, Katie O’Neill, Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Joshua Dysart, Paul Azaceta, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Max Fiumara, Dave Stewart…

Lupus (£26-99, Top Shelf) by Frederick Peeters…

“And so that’s how a girl from nowhere managed, in a handful of days, to turn my whole life upside down, making it an inconceivable mess.”

It had all started out so simply, as these things always do… just an interplanetary fishing trip with his oldest friend Tony and loads of drugs.

Well, perhaps more precisely an interplanetary drug trip with his oldest friend Tony and loads of fishing…

But then Sanaa came into Lupus Lablennorre’s life and everything changed in a heartbeat.

Not least because three’s a crowd…

Because let’s face it, meeting a lonely, mysterious girl with the saddest eyes and a complicated back story in a seedy bar is going to upset the dynamic of any duo, drug-addled or otherwise, right? Especially given Lupus and Tony’s friendship, as old and storied as it is, has started to feel rather… strained… recently, as their inherent differences seem to be serving to push them further apart these days, rather than bonding them together like they used to.

 

 

So throw a femme fatale into the mix and it’s bound to be deadly for someone…

 

 

But just what or who is Sanaa so desperate to run away from? Will Lupus and Tony ever be able to actually talk about the strange, unspoken tension between them? Are the fish biting? All these questions and many more will be danced and danced around in this not-quite-crime, not-quite-romance on-the-road odyssey around the stars as our trio look for somewhere off the galactic grid to hide out.

 

 

I’m a huge fan of Frederick AAMA / BLUE PILLS Peeters. AAMA is one of my favourite science fiction graphic novel stories ever, and BLUE PILLS is an incredibly moving love story in the widest possible, most touching of ways, not just the typical romantic sense. Here he has managed to interweave both of these aspects into a beguiling, compelling and very frequently moving epic.

All three main characters – and well pretty much all of the secondary ones too for that matter – are deeply, deeply flawed, and thus their interactions, and lack of them, are full of conflicting and mismatched emotions that cause conflict aplenty.

 

 

I think Peeters puts on a masterful display of pathos here, as in turn I felt such pity for Sanaa, Tony and most definitely Lupus, for their collective inabilities to simply be the people who they really want to be. Though frequently, of course, that is also down to the actions, and indeed also inactions, of other highly culpable parties.

 

 

In this dysfunctional scenario can Lupus ensure they stay one step ahead of those who are hunting them? Possibly… But probably the biggest question of all is what will happen if they actually do manage to get away…? For Lupus, already fundamentally questioning his own sense of identity and purpose, this increasingly unsettling sequence of events might just be the unmaking and thus making of him.

Reverting to a black and white art style after the glorious colours of AAMA allows Peeters to deploy a lustrously thick brushstroke style of line. At times he uses it sparingly, often depending on the environment I feel, to create intensely stark and brutal surroundings leaving his protagonists completely emotionally exposed, yet at others there is a plethora of detail which is almost hypnotic in its intensity both to us and his characters.

If you want to read something which will challenge your idea of what a science fiction work can be, then this will certainly do it like a long, slow course-correcting re-entry burn. A character study first and foremost, I feel, about how the possibilities for personal change can be seemingly and terrifyingly infinite when suddenly faced with complete and total uncertainty about your future. It might just even change your ideas about yourself. It didn’t make me decide to take up fishing though…

JR

Buy Lupus and read the Page 45 review here

Hi Score Girl vol 1 (£10-99, Square Enix) by Rensuke Oshikiri…

“Argh… crap…!! I’ve lost to this guy seven times in a row now…
“I used up my 500 Yen snack money before I knew it!
“He’s got a 27-win streak! Who the heck is this gu… HER…?!!
“She’s in… my sixth grade class… Akira Oono…
“She’s not s’posed to be the type of girl who’d come to a place like this.
“She lives in a totally different world…
“She’s a top student beloved by everyone, and I’ve heard her family’s loaded too!!
“She’s like the polar opposite of me… someone who holes up in an arcade filled with the stench of cigarettes and gets lost in games!!”

The year is 1991, the Gulf War has just broken out and arcades – proper arcades chock-full of glorious single-game stand-up cabinets rather than endless rows of misery-inducing money-gobbling fruit machines – still existed. Hardcore gamer Haruo Yaguchi, who fancies himself as a local legend of arcade action, is about to have his idyllic avoidance-of-existence bubble well and truly bobbled, I mean popped. Sorry, classic old school arcade game in-joke there… If you never frantically chased a level-warping umbrella around the screen on Bubble Bobble then you’ve never truly lived I reckon…

 

 

I guess, though, you have to be of a certain age to remember the sheer visceral pleasure of discovering an arcade machine, let alone a whole arcade’s worth, often in the most random of locations, and then playing it to death, hammering your ten pences in one after another in a bid to be the best. Or at least not die very quickly! I mean when your pocket money for the week was a mere fifty pence, you soon get the knack of zapping those aliens trust me.

 

 

Thus as a young lad in the eighties I learnt to beat Scramble on a machine randomly plonked behind the checkouts in a Morrison’s supermarket in Morley, used to do battle with the barrel-rolling Donkey Kong in the video shop near my Gran’s, plus I would beg my dad to arrive early at the ABC cinema in Leeds to be able to play Space Invaders, Asteroids AND Missile Command in the foyer. Gorf (certainly the first speaking arcade machine I remember) taunting the space cadets at Richard Dunn Sports Centre meant it was only ever the trigger finger getting any exercise there! Even the local golf club in Batley had a table-top Moon Cresta…

There were also two excellent arcades in Leeds city centre that myself and my best mate Savage would frequent pretty much every Saturday during our excursions into town when we were a little older. An hour or two spent on classics such as Gauntlet and Outrun were an essential part of whiling away the weekend. Trips to random seaside towns or better yet a visiting funfare offered the pleasure of discovering an array of little known machines such as Section Z.

 

 

Good times, as they say. Yes, I had my Atari VCS console and my ZX Spectrum, but an arcade machine was its own particular bundle of electronic joy that was just that little bit different, more exciting, somehow. Whether it was the fact that you had to pay to play which immediately sharpened your concentration a little, or that there could be a random audience of people to applaud or take the piss accordingly, well that was very probably a huge part of part of it too.

And yes, I have to admit, back in the eighties, you really didn’t see that many girls in arcades. If you did, they were probably in tow with their boyfriend looking utterly bored wishing they could be off to Woolworths to get their pick and mix, so my teenage self can well understand Haruo Yaguchi’s total astonishment at first getting completely battered on Street Fighter II, then repeatedly bested on pretty much every other machine by a girl… And not just any girl either, but as he points out basically a total swot! Huzzah for the ladies!!

 

 

Of course, fast forward to current times and my eight year old avid gamer daughter would be completely baffled by this one-sided sexist scenario. As she mows down the opposition on Fortnite there’s complete sexual equality in being her cannon fodder! She can’t beat me on Street Fighter II yet though… Yep, there’s nothing like repeated Guile knee drops to the death dispensed by a cackling parent to induce a tantrum!

 

 

Anyway, I realise I have written virtually nothing about this manga! The joy here is two-fold, firstly listening to Haruo dribble on excitedly about the games of yesteryear making me slightly misty-eyed for the days of my misspent youth, but also the unexpected friendship that develops between our two player team of misfits as Haruo rapidly begins to learn respect for his opponent the hard way.

JR

Buy Hi Score Girl vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Gamayun Tales 1: An Anthology of Modern Russian Folk Tales s/c (£12-99, Nobrow) by Alexander Utkin…

Collects The King Of Birds, The Water Spirit and Tanya Of The Lake into one complete story.

The King Of Birds:

“Now then, best beloved, I will tell you an amazing tale: The King Of Birds.
“It all started with an apple.
“No ordinary apple, but a golden apple that grew on a magic tree in the garden of a warrior princess…
“Anyone who ate a golden apple would become young and mighty again.”

Ooh, that sounds fab – I’ll take two!

It’s a beautiful opening to a beautiful book, o’er-brimming with opulence and mesmerising from cover to cover.

Its narrator is Gamayun, a magical, human-faced bird from Slavic mythology, whose blue face, golden tresses and wide, glowing eyes emerge theatrically from behind fanned, feathered wings, all with more than a hint of the Egyptian.

 

 

Almost immediately a knight on his steed gallops over the roofed walls and steals an armful of the ripe, restorative fruit in order to cure his ailing father. But Gamayun is a tease, for she will not reveal what happens next; not of the knight and his father, at least.

No, it is the apple which was dropped which proves so pivotal. It’s one small accident with collateral consequences whose wide-spanning repercussions are enormous.

For, where once was harmony throughout the realms of the birds and the beasts there will be soon be a battle and blood loss, all because one small bird and one tiny beast break their firm friendship over this fallen treasure. Everything, they shared until now: every morsel of scavenged food. But the mouse is too taken by this golden apple to care, whips it away for herself, and is discovered!

 

 

The sparrow is aggrieved and flies far south, thousands and thousands of miles, to the kingdom of animals in search of justice. Had the Lion King only considered the complaint, then that might have been the end of it (yet, admittedly, the end of the mouse), but no! And so the ripples of cause and effect continue to emanate as the bird seeks restitution and revenge from the Bird King not only for the mouse’s misdemeanour, but now for the King of Beasts’ haughty snub.

And this, best beloved, is but the beginning of a tale that will take you over vast oceans to three sequestered citadels housing great treasure and, within each, a royal relative. It will transform the fortunes of one lowly merchant who finds within him the compassion to forego harming his natural enemies and prey and, if only he can keep his promises, he will reap rewards for his generosity – as well as a fright for an earlier slight.

 

 

I promise you the unpredictable.

Where there are temptations they are generally given into – just look at the mouse and the sparrow! – and when dire warnings are issued you know that almost always they will be disobeyed. But don’t be so sure. Retaliations will be other than what you expect. Anything could happen. So much of it will!

Always remember not just your manners but, forever more importantly, good will and gratitude!

Well, as you’ve probably gathered by now, this is all a bit gorgeous. It’s one of the most luxurious graphic novels I’ve ever laid eyes on. The colours don’t simply glow, in Africa they radiate heat. While on the wing, you can feel the cool sea breezes that help keep the eagle aloft.

 

 

The initial battle is ferocious, full of sharp edges from the lion king’s crown of sharpened bones to the talons that scatter them. The eagle’s mighty wings are whipped with colour, slashes of it fanned out in feathers: green, blue and black on fire-burning brown. It’s all teeth and beak, while all-seeing Gamayun stares you straight in the eye: all because of an apple.

Even more majestic is the first of the three citadels, rising from the deepest blue sea like a gigantic, earthen eyrie. Its copper colour is complemented by clouds billowing above the horizon while the ocean is reflected in the eagle king’s wings, just as it reflects the brighter blue sky up above. This is exactly the sort of spectacle of monumental, fantastical antiquity which has lit my imagination since first encountering the films of Ray Harryhausen. Even Gamayun cannot help but gaze in wonder, turning her head to direct your own eyes to its apex, its external “throne”.

 

 

And this, best beloved, is still just the beginning!

No, really it is. Even this graphic novel is just the beginning, a first instalment to whet your appetite for what is to come. I did warn you that Gamayun is a tease. Over and again she promises to pick a thread up later – and she will, but not yet. No single tale is completed: not the thief’s nor the merchant’s; not the King of the Beasts’ nor the King of the Birds’ – although the eagle may believe that his is.

Oh, you will be thoroughly dangled! But you will relish every second!

What is up for discussion here? Loyalty, harmony, generosity; patience and priorities; retribution, to be sure, and the real risks of war. Gratitude is always a good thing.

 

 

But, best beloved, I will keep you no longer, for I see that you are eager to begin. So I only add this: make sure you keep turning the pages right unto the very end, and remember that blue-skinned is beautiful. Hmmmm….

The Water Spirit:

Ah, best beloveds, now sit yourselves down!

I see you’ve returned to learn what became of the humble merchant who found and rescued a wounded eagle, then nursed it back to health. It transpired that this mighty raptor was none other than the King of the Birds, a blue-skinned being with three regal sisters, one of whom rewarded her brother’s saviour with her most prized possession, a heavy, gleaming gold chest.

Having soaked up the spectacle of three stunning palaces, our lowly merchant now wends his way home, for he has been gone from the wife whom he loves with all his heart for almost a year, and he is desperate to see her once more. Alas, even as he draws near – to within but a few days’ walk of his house – the foulest of weather descends: snow, icy rain and hailstones as big as his fist. And he does have two very big fists.

With nowhere to shelter, he opens the treasure chest, perhaps seeking to snuggle up inside, even though the King of the Birds commanded that it be left locked until the merchant was safely home. But that’s the thing with any such strictures: they’re begging to be broken, aren’t they?

Well, wonders of wonders, my best beloveds, for the merchant will not have to struggle!

 

 

Instead the casket transforms itself into a vast, golden palace. Structured for maximum strength, it’s a little bit Soviet, but with windows that shimmer with banded ocean-blue, sea green and salmon pink, as if aspects of another dimension. Indeed, it proves even bigger on the inside than on the outside, and surprisingly homely, with a feast laid out and candles all welcomingly lit. Wine is poured as if by an invisible servant and, after dessert plucked from a bowl of fruit, a candlestick hovers then shows the traveller to bed. A four-poster bed! And, oh, what a glorious view!

The winter weather has blown over to reveal the most tranquil of lakes, a crescent moon’s reflection streaming over the still, midnight blue waters. The merchant does not recall a lake in this region, but no matter. He bites into the rosy-red apple he’d saved for later and pfft – there’s a worm wriggling inside – so he tosses the apple out of the window and PLOP into the water below.

“A foolish mistake,” notes our narrator.

And so it seems, for there’s something slumbering in the shadowy depths, about to be woken, and about to take umbrage at our merchant’s distinct lack of manners and complete disregard for Local Authority Planning Permission. (Article 11 Notice, if you don’t own all the site).

Still, one lucky fish gets a free worm-supper.

 

 

GAMAYUN TAKES VOL 1: THE KING OF THE BIRDS began with an apple at its core too. They’re so often the seed of a story. Ask Eve!

I urge you to get a gander at that, for it dealt with the premise and artwork in depth, whereas I am on holiday – can you tell?

We are far from done in this second instalment, for even more potential tales are opened up with promises to be told, and there are more oaths exchanged with the alarming repercussions. Top tip: never shake hands on an agreement without knowing what you’re agreeing to; never make a deal without knowing its details. If you’ve been away from home for nearly a year, there’s quite a good chance that there have been changes. Hopefully the bed linen, for one.

If you relished David B’s HASIB & THE QUEEN OF SERPENTS, then I recommend this wholeheartedly, with only the caveat that David B delivered an entire epic, each of whose threads, however digressive, was woven together to form a complete tapestry. Here we conclude with an even more intriguing, whiplash, OMG cliff-hanger than book one!

 

 

It’s equally luxurious, though. The treasure-chest transmogrification aside, I spent an entire hour staring at a single image of the lake when revisited at first light, marvelling at the flatness of its waters. They’re the flattest thing in the world, are lakes – liquid does find its own level – and it’s a very clever artist who can render such a sheer surface in perfect contrast to the vertical thrust of that which emerges from, in front or behind it.

I also liked the different visual treatments of what we are witnessing and what we are listening to. Golden-tressed Gamayun appears in occasional asides, either addressing us directly or commenting on what she has just watched replayed herself, glancing in the panels’ direction. Gamayun is all sleek and smooth; what we watch has a certain rugged texture to it.

“I wish I could help you somehow, poor boy,” mourns the invisible golden palace’s inhabitant.

Says Gamayun, “Oh, darling, you will”.

 

 

Finally, like HASIB & THE QUEEN OF SERPENTS, this mythological excursion also offers broken-promise offenders the opportunity of redemption – second chances, if you will – although there appears to be a far greater price to be paid.

“Nine years has passed joyfully, but even the longest day must have an end.”

Oh dear. The holiday’s over. I’m being sent back to boarding school, aren’t I?

SLH

Buy Gamayun Tales 1: An Anthology of Modern Russian Folk Tales s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Princess Princess Ever After s/c (£8-99, Oni Press Inc.) by Katie O’Neill…

“You heard what she said… and she means it. I thought the tower was the only place for me. But then you came. Somehow, seeing how excited you were made me want to escape. But now…”
“I’ll protect you, Sadie! I have a sword, a unicorn, and kick-butt hair!”
“It’s true, your hair is kick-butt. And I trust you.”

A new printing of the first work from Katie O’Neill who has since gone from strength to strength, particularly in terms of her story-telling and dialogue but also her art, which has got lighter of touch, with AQUICORN COVE, THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY and THE TEA DRAGON FESTIVAL, since I wrote this review.

Who better to rescue a princess in distress than a princess not in a dress? Katie O’Neill’s very sweet take on how a princess can be just as capable and daring-do when it comes to staging a rescue and helping another princess overthrow her villainous sibling, finding true love with each other in the process, certainly has its heart in the right place, but I couldn’t get completely past the thin storyline and stilted dialogue. Nice, clean, colourful art though, again a very cartoony style that’s obviously influenced by many a current TV show.

 

 

If the aim of this is purely in helping educate teeny-tinies about sexuality, then I think it hits the mark perfectly, job done. As the delightful John Allison has insightfully written on the back cover (not on each one obviously, that would take forever) “… a big-hearted fable where the boxes we’re expected to fit into are simply dragons to be slain.”

 

 

Beyond that, whilst it is lovely, and fun, it’s basically a very simple story and that dialogue is so badly in need of loosening up. It’s all a bit Emma Watson’s enunciation in the first Harry Potter film…

 

 

JR

Buy Princess Princess Ever After and read the Page 45 review here

BPRD: 1946 – 1948 s/c (£22-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Joshua Dysart, Paul Azaceta, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Max Fiumara, Dave Stewart…

Of the concluding part of this collected trilogy I wrote…

“During the war, the Germans were attempting to break through a barrier between worlds, to access some power that they could use against the allies. They failed… and yet they didn’t fail.”
“I’ve never heard anything about this. How is that possible?”
“You never had the clearance, Anna. But I checked Colonel Betz, and the State Department, and you have it now. As I said, they failed to win the war, but a gateway was opened… and a creature did come through.”
“My God, it’s just like a little devil. Looks like we got it instead of the Nazis, huh? Is it still in custody?”
“Er, actually I’m raising him.”
“RAISING HIM?!! Raising him to be what?!”

Third part of the 1940s’ arc starring the founder of the BPRD Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, revealing cases from the bureau’s earliest days, and of course the adventures of young Hellboy. Not quite as action-packed as the two preceding volumes, 1946 and 1947, but still great fun, as Trevor is invited by the US military to investigate the strange monsters popping up at a remote nuclear test facility. Positively utopian days compared to the HELL ON EARTH the bureau is having to deal with in the modern day, frankly.

 

 

Hellboy, meanwhile, is going through a sensitive phase, which is going to require a hacksaw to resolve, and in the process finally clear up one of the great Hellboy mysteries. Also, everyone’s favourite demon in a Russian child’s body returns, although it seems the only person who can see her, aside from us, of course, is the Professor. Spooky. Which is the point obviously. Given her current… status… in modern times BRPD I am intrigued to see how her pandemonius story is going to play out…

 

 

[NOTE: now modern era BPRD has completely wrapped up, I think the word badly would sum it up…]

JR

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

New reviews to follow, but if they’re new formats of previous books, reviews may already be up; others will retain their Diamond previews information we receive displayed as ‘Publisher Blurb’.

Cayrels Ring h/c (£22-99, A Wave Blue World) by Shannon Lenz &  Marian Churchland, Alchemichael, Simon Roy, Brandon Graham, Grim Wilkins, Faryl Dalrymple, Filya Bratukhn, Aaron Conley, Aaron Petovello, Dustin Weaver, John Le, Francois Vigneault, Pablo Clark, Cassie Hart

Chrononauts vol 2 (£13-99, Image) by Mark Millar & Eric Canete

Claire: Justice Ninja vol 1 (£8-99, David Fickling Books) by Joe Brady & Kate Ashwin

Corpse Talk Ground-Breaking Rebels (£9-99, David Fickling Books) by Adam Murphy, Lisa Murphy

I Am Brown h/c (£11-99, Lantana Publishing) by Ashok Banker & Sandhya Prabhat

Iron Maiden: Legacy Of The Beast vol 1 s/c (£8-99, IDW) by Llexi Leon, Ian Edginton & Kevin West

Money Shot s/c (£15-99, Vault) by Sarah Beattie, Tim Seeley & Rebekah Isaacs

The Naughtiest Unicorn (£5-99, Egmont) by Pip Bird & David O’Connell

The Naughtiest Unicorn On A School Trip (£5-99, Egmont) by Pip Bird & David O’Connell

Oblivion Song vol 4 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Lorenzo De Felici

Pretty Deadly vol 3: The Rat s/c (£13-99, Image) by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios

The Rise And Fall Of The Trigan Empire vol 1 (£19-99, Rebellion) by Mike Butterworth & Don Lawrence

Trees vol 3 s/c (£13-99, Image) by Warren Ellis & Jason Howard

Batman Allies: Alfred Pennyworth s/c (£16-99, DC) by various

Superman: The Unity Saga vol 2: House Of El s/c (£16-99, DC) by Brian Michael Bendis & Ivan Reis, various

Conan The Barbarian vol 2: The Life And Death Of Conan Book Two s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Mahmud A. Asrar,  Gerardo Zaffino

Immortal Hulk vol 6: We Believe In Bruce Banner s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Joe Bennett

X-Men / Avengers: Onslaught s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by various

Mob Psycho 100 vol 4 (£10-99, Dark Horse) by One

One-Punch Man vol 19 (£6-99, Viz) by One & Yusuke Murata

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