Jillian Tamaki, Tove Jansson, Seth, I.N.J. Culbard, Osamu Tezuka, Russell Stearman, Sydney Padua and a John Byrne classic that made me chortle!
The King In Yellow (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Robert W. Chambers & I. N. J. Culbard…
“Don’t touch it, Tessie!”
“But it’s just a book. What was it you said to me yesterday about dreams?”
“Hildred read it. Boris read it. Both took their own lives.”
“But it’s just a book! Now who’s being silly?”
“Tessie, don’t! Listen I’m serious. Put that book down. Tessie! I don’t wish you to open it.”
Comics are fearfully powerful juju.
They can make money disappear from your pocket and into the Page 45 till just like that… *adjusts fez*. But… I don’t believe they have power to drive you insane and into the clutches of evil supernatural beings. Well… not until you’ve signed up for a standing order with us and then it’s too late, we got you… MWAH HA HA HA HA!!!
Joking aside, the primary conceit of some of Robert W. Chambers’ interconnected short stories is precisely that. The idea that there is a play, the titular King In Yellow, which in book form can cause a reader to begin to lose their mental coherence and thus become at risk from – indeed subjugated to – mysterious sinister forces lurking at the edge of our reality, including a mysterious godlike being known also as the King In Yellow. To fall into his purview is to begin a journey that will surely lead one to a state of utter desolation. Though perhaps that is not entirely true for all…
It’s well known that H.P. Lovecraft read these stories, first published in 1895, in 1927, and they almost certainly influenced his writing to some degree, not least because he references some elements in passing in a couple of his subsequent stories, so he was at least impressed enough to tip his hat in acknowledgement. Others suggest the style of these stories influenced some of his storytelling techniques to a considerable degree. I don’t know about that, but I do know the first few truly spooky stories from The King In Yellow collection – which Ian has gently reworked here to form this adaption (the latter stories being more of the romantic fiction ilk that Chambers plied through the remainder of his writing career) – are rightly regarded as true classics in the genre of supernatural fiction.
So, what of this adaptation? Well, I know I have made this very point regarding at least one of Ian’s brilliant Lovecraft adaptations (AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS / THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD / THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME / THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH, plus two more to come later this year!!!) but yet again he’s done a superb job of deconstructing fairly nebulous material content-wise, in this case four short stories, and re-crafting it into a seamless, brilliantly engaging yarn. I had a little chat with him recently and he mentioned he’d only had to invent one brief bridging scene from scratch. The original stories were never truly intended as sequential chapters in a longer narrative, through there are threads of recurring characters and places, but Ian’s taken exactly the right approach by weaving them into one sinister longer-form story. It never feels like a reconstructing of separate tales, merely different strands of individual woe unraveling in turn under the malign, pervasive influence of the King In Yellow.
Art-wise I will simply say the eyes have it. Or rather they don’t! A distinct lack of pupils on the part of most of the characters, a devilishly deliberate conceit on Ian’s part, is incredibly disconcerting. In certain instances it has the particularly perturbing effect of seeming to allow the character’s gaze to break the fourth wall out to us, the readers, without them even looking directly at us. There’s a cumulative effect to it which is increasingly unsettling, I must say.
There’s also a spectacular extended sequence, as I’ve also come to expect from Ian, where one of the characters, perhaps foolishly believing themselves to have put their macabre travails behind them and taken refuge in the sanctity of a church, listening to a reassuring priestly sermon, is then promptly taken on a mind-bending journey through time and space, or perhaps merely their own disintegrating perception of reality and rapidly draining sanity, before coming face to face with the King In Yellow itself.
Sadly our perilous wander through this weird world all too soon comes to an end. You will be left wanting more though, as was I. Maybe this is not the last we’ll see of the King In Yellow… though if we should see him, it will certainly be the last of us?!
So put this book carefully back on the shelf and watch out for strange people who pay too close attention to your business… or before you know where you are you’ll find yourself penniless and bereft of coherence, wandering Market Street with only a Page 45 bag full of comics in your hand…
Cue the sinister Vincent Price laughter like at the end of the Thriller video again…
Supermutant Magic Academy (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Jillian Tamaki.
Here’s a prediction: the first three or four pages will utterly confound you and the title itself may put you off but then it is rather misleading.
Please, please don’t be dissuaded, for this pays big comedy dividends once you’re within.
It’s certainly a very different beast to the Tamaki cousins’ THIS ONE SUMMER and SKIM in form, tone and content except that in some ways it’s not: it’s all-inclusive, has a heart of gold and fiercely astute at observing and understanding the behaviour of young teens: how they treat each other or what they’re really thinking.
But. This is a comedy! It’s a wickedly clever comedy too, so many of the final panels of the one-page gag strips up-ending the five that have preceded it with a whiplash reversal. As such it’s as likely to appeal to fans of CYANIDE & HAPPINESS for who knew that Jillian was so naughty? Who knew she was such a comedian?
As I first read it I wondered if a longer-form narrative might eventually emerge and sure enough it does, centred on deadpan Marsha’s hilarious hidden crush on Wendy. I was going to attempt to transcribe The Hairbrush incident but I’ve found the actual page so see below or to your right if you’re reading this in the book’s product page. Brilliant!
Wendy is super-lovely, kind of heart and going out with Adam. On one page they make out, Adam asking if Wendy would be put off if she found out he was a robot. No, she says; and no, he wouldn’t be either if he found out Wendy was a robot, he promises. “Sentient robots are so hot, Wendy”, he says.
Wendy considers this for a panel while looking at the reader before uttering, “Beep, boop, beep, beep…”
So let us address the title SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY and really there is very little here which is about being a supermutant. Some of the protagonists – but only some of them – just look a little different. Wendy, for example, has cat ears. Not cosplay cat ears but actual cat ears. Another student is a hammerhead shark. Most of them, however, are completely human although Ethan (we only learn later) is Ethan The Everlasting Boy. Which retroactively explains why in one strip a tree has grown round him! There’s no hand-holding whatsoever which is why a second read-through is even funnier.
It is all so, so deadpan and I think Frances the curly-haired, precocious / pretentious performance artist may be the funniest of all. There’s a scene which she films as director, the first (and last, screaming) character wearing bunny ears and a medieval Plague Doctor mask, carrying an alarm clock on the end of a stick which is a cacophony of “MOTHER” tick tock and “father” tick tock before a rat nibbles seeds and “SCREEEECH” tick tock tick tock tick tock.
Pull back to Frances in her director’s chair:
“Cut! Print it. Excellent.”
Excellent indeed! I have no idea how Tamaki thinks of these things! There’s one strip which does touch on what the academy does and who tends to attend. It involves a session in which practising magic turns into the tragic. The pupil changes his form by invoking its desired Latin name. First he becomes a bear. Then he becomes a penguin. But when asked to turn himself into a butterfly he fumbles the ball and so turns into one. Footballs don’t have mouths. He is consigned to a cart full of other footballs destined forever to be kicked about during the school’s P.E. classes. One suspects the other soccer balls were students with similar slip-ups.
This is empathically not necessarily the slick and sumptuous art you have come to expect from THIS ONE SUMMER throughout which is once more why this might baffle you to begin with. Don’t worry about that. Really. This was originally a webcomic and I suspect that Tamaki just did what it took to meet her own deadline because that’s a big thing with webcomics. A lot of it is shorthand but not once does it fail the story she’s seeking to tell.
And I know a lot of this is quotations, but when a comic’s this comedic then the dialogue speaks for itself. It’s its selling point. Here we’re talking the role playing game of Dungeons & Dragons as a young man defends the pastime and his involvement:
“D&D is actually a very sophisticated role-playing game. While it may appear as merely an indulgence in Tolkien fantasy tropes, it is actually an epic, open-ended exploration of free form group storytelling, strategy, psychological warfare, and moral truth in a shared imagined space.”
“You’ve encountered a female dire-waveryn on the trail.”
“Does it have a vagina?”
“What do I need on this roll to have sex with the dire-waveryn?”
Contains the best metaphor for leaving school, ever. Just when you think you’ve got one life licked, you have to move on to another.
Exquisite Corpse h/c (£14-99, FirstSecond) by Pénélope Bagieu.
“I just asked if I can help you with anything.”
“Well, no… just… uh… looking. Um… Actually… I’ve never been in a bookstore before. Pathetic, right?”
“Not to worry. Let’s go. We’ll start at the beginning. You were curious enough to come inside and have a look, right? That’s the main thing. Sooooo… Tell me, what kind of movies do you usually like?”
Providing recommendations – especially for first-time browsers based on what they love in other media – is the best part of this job!
So why is Zoe now curious about books?
Well, hacked off with her boyfriend who sleeps with his socks on and spends his unemployed days slouched in front of the TV… taking a break from her job as a product rep pestered by creeps who want their photo taken with her… Zoe was sitting alone on a park eating her lunch when the curtains in a window opposite started to flutter. There was a man in glasses peering furtively down at her. And she needed the loo so she buzzed his apartment.
He’s the world-famous prose novelist, Thomas Rocher and for some reason he wants her in and out quickly. He’s cagey, suspicious and expecting Zoe to pester him with questions. At first when she doesn’t he’s indignant.
“Don’t you recognise me?”
“Should I? Are you on TV?!”
“But… but I’m Thomas Rocher!”
Then it seems like a massive relief and he begs her to stay longer or at least come back soon.
So begins a completely new sort of relationship for both of them. Zoe finds herself treated to great food and with respect; Thomas finds the fact that she’s not a fan refreshing. She inspires him, curing his writer’s block.
But Zoe begins to grow bored when the curtains stay firmly closed and they never go for walks in the park. In fact, he never leaves the apartment at all. Would he really get mobbed if he did? I didn’t see the real secret coming at all. It’s a bit of a scandal!
Bagieu‘s cartooning is bright, light and expressive: you can tell exactly what’s going on behind each pair of eyes. Thomas’ visiting ex-wife and editor (she’s still firmly his editor) could have been a two-dimensional dragon or fashionista but although she does have a little fun with Zoe’s insecurity you can tell by the way she holds her finger to her mouth that her peace offering of a croissant is genuine.
There’s also a delightful scene with Zoe at work at a cheese fair dressed as a block of Edam, her colleague as a Friesian.
“You look kinda hot as a cow.”
Exquisite Corpse, by the way, was a game of collective creativity invented by the surrealists very similar to the one we used to play as a family called Consequences. You’d take it in turns supplying a word or sentence according to pre-agreed rules thereby building a sentence or an entire story.
I should perhaps also supply you with the definition of a ‘red herring’.
Palookaville #22 (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Seth…
Ha, that did make me chuckle. He’s talking about his good chums Chester THE PLAYBOY / PAYING FOR IT Brown and to a lesser extent Joe SPENT Matt, of course. As ever, this next volume of Seth’s magnum opus includes the continuation of the Clyde Fans saga as Abraham Matchcard now contemplates the wreckage of his life following the bankruptcy of his business and endures the very definition of strained conversation with his brother Simon. Strangulated would probably be a better adjective to employ, actually.
It’s quite incredible how such a downbeat, depressing story can be so utterly gripping. I’m always a little disappointed reading a new volume of PALOOKAVILE but only because I inevitably forget the Clyde Fans material only forms the first half of the book! (Note: CLYDE FANS BOOK ONE collects the material that appeared in Palookaville #10-#15 if you want to get started!) But then I’m utterly delighted because I remember there will be some equally fascinating new autobiographical material from Seth’s formative years in the second half of the book, separated with something wonderfully random in between.
This time around the random wonder is photographs and a fake back history, including a fold-out comic about the original proprietor, of the Crown Barber Shop, which in reality Seth recently interior (and exterior) designed for his wife Tania Van Spyk, when she was ready to open her own barbers shop. It’s absolutely beautiful I must say, and you can read a little more about the process HERE in an online newspaper article about the shop.
Design is something that so powerfully stands out in Seth’s work these days. His love of small panels, frequently working on a 4 x 4 or 4 x 5 grid on an already relatively small page, means you really do see the clever constructional conceits that are ever-present throughout his stories. I can’t think of another creator where you can be so strongly aware of the design element without it distracting from the storytelling whatsoever. I am still completely present in the moment reading a PALOOKAVILE, but it’s just I am so vividly aware of this extra dimension and depth to the construction of the page subtly subconsciously seeping into my overall perception. His attention to detail is immaculate.
Which is why it is also always a little surprise each time to remember he deliberately employs a much less precise style for his younger days’ autobiographical material. The grid and page design elements are still there, but you can see he has just quickly drawn each grid with a pen and ruler, plus the lettering is very evidentially done by hand. It’s a clever trick because it immediately helps transport us back in time, to the boy discovering comics, and life itself.
And whilst he might not reveal his teenage sexual escapades, or lack of them, he does lay himself bare. It’s just as painful as any of Chester Brown’s or Joe Matt’s more sordid disclosures in its own way. For example, the choice snippet that he will probably be able to discern a piece of arcane film monster information from his collection of magazines results in the lasting embarrassing schoolboy nickname of “Back Issues”. Although, in retrospect, even he has to admit it was ‘deadly appropriate’.
Moomin On The Riviera (£6-99, Enfant) by Tove Jansson.
There speaks a very rich man!
“Of course it is romantic to play poor, but I don’t like it when the roof leaks… and it is rather chilly sleeping under a boat at dawn.”
Hmmm. That’s the Marquis Mongaga in love with the idea of being bohemian and slumming with the Moomins after they’ve had enough of high society and posh hotels, neither of which they understood. Nor could they comprehend why almost everywhere was marked “PRIVATE”.
“I think picking flowers would soothe our nerves. It usually helps.”
“This is a private wild meadow. Get off this property!”
“But who owns everything here, then?”
“People with money, of course!”
I think you’ll find that 99% of the biggest Bajan houses are owned by 1% of Barbados’ population and 99% of them will be white and only part-time residents.
Still, Snorkmaiden and Moominpappa did want to see The South (it really was that vague) and so they set sail to foreign climes with alien customs. They found it surprisingly easy to get a room at the snazziest hotel but they were under the impression it was a house and they were its private guests. Do you suppose that it all went horribly wrong?
Over and over again Tove Jansson in the form of right-minded Moominmamma extols the virtues of a modest life in MOOMIN (and boy, do we have all the MOOMIN!). She finds the hotel room way too big for comfort so they retire to the bed instead and set up shop under its canopy.
I love the way she answers everyone about everything with “Yes, dear”, reassuring all and sundry whilst sort of ignoring them.
May 22nd 2015 sees the UK release of this as a feature film, by the way. The illustration shows the original black and white Tove Jansson strip which you can find in MOOMIN THE DELUXE SLIPCASE EDITION and its transformation into an animation frame. This particular version is coloured too, but differently.
Insurrection #0, #1, #2 (£1-50, £2-50 & £2-50 respectively, Lost Publications) by Russell Stearman…
“Pointless isn’t it?”
“Huh? I’m sorry?”
“Pointless, I said it’s pointless.”
“What them? They look like they’re doing okay…”
“Noo, I don’t mean the people, I mean him, Mr. Heart Attack there.”
“I don’t see what’s pointless about having a heart attack.”
“Look at him, what do you see? Don’t look at his condition, look at the man.”
“Erm, he looks like an ordinary man…”
“Ordinary? Of a type maybe, but what is ordinary? He’s a City businessman who probably worked late for the umpteenth time, possibly for years now. He’s had a stressful day, or will have tomorrow. This was his lifestyle and now this.”
“Well I suppose that’s fate, the way it’s mean to be.”
“Fate. An interesting view, but he’s been working hard for this, his true epoch, his fin-de-siecle award.”
“I don’t want to offend, but how could he have been aiming for a heart attack?”
“His I.D. badge has a RBS symbol on it. He’s a banker, the kind of person who caused the recession.”
“That’s a pretty tenuous connection, he might not have been involved. Anyway one person can’t have the power to cause such a cock-up. And he couldn’t have the power to stop it, things got out of control.”
“You can’t let yourself be carried by the tide even if it seems more fun, one person can make a difference. After all what is a crowd but a group of individuals? He should have been a whistle-blower, should have realised the results of what was going on. Now in his time of individual need he’s in the arms of helpless strangers.”
And they say people don’t converse on the Tube! Clearly our protagonist Matt got somewhat more than he expected when he sat down next to this particularly verbose individual. Matt’s not the sort of chap who’s probably considered anything more radical than what type of beer to drink when he’s down the pub. That’s all about to change though when he meets a girl with a conscience. It’s fair to say his life is about to get turned completely upside down as he’s practically kettled completely unprepared into the unfamiliar world of social activism and protest. It’s probably exactly the kick right in the cods his life needs, but will he survive the experience physically intact, and without getting gripped by the long arm of the law?!
What a fantastically well written piece of polemic this is, which combined with some classic fish out of water comedy makes for a riveting read. Although, most people, myself included, might well add that it really isn’t that contentious to conclude where many of society’s recent problems have arisen from. Darryl SUPERCRASH Cunningham would agree wholeheartedly, I am sure.
So, storytelling chops Russell Stearman has in abundance, for sure; his illustrative abilities do need a bit of work, mind you, which I’m sure he won’t mind me mentioning. Much like THE TALION MAKER by far-flung Page 45 customer Neal Curtis, he can certainly construct his panels and pages, it is just the art itself that rather is on the raw side at the moment. That will undoubtedly improve with practice though, he clearly has potential. And much like THE TALION MAKER, this is an extremely strong work with a fantastic story to tell that doesn’t remotely suffer unnecessarily from any artistic shortcomings. If you have any sort of interest in class activism or the protest movement, take a punt on this because you will enjoy it.
The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage h/c (£16-99, Particular) by Sydney Padua…
I honestly can’t decide whether I like this or not. It does have much to recommend it, but it’s not without flaws, I must say. I think I would have much preferred a straight biography a la LOGICOMIX, which manages to explore both the life and mathematical works of Bertrand Russell in a witty, pithy manner that is as entertaining as it is educative. In contrast, this purports itself to be the ‘mostly’ true story of the first computer, whilst regaling us with the thrilling adventures of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Not that thrilling, frankly.
The true story is that Charles Babbage almost managed to build the first computer, his ‘difference engine’, way back in the 1830s, and that Ada Lovelace suggested computational programs that would have run on it, thus earning her the perhaps deserved moniker of the first computer programmer. The only things that prevented the building of the difference engine really, were ultimately a lack of funding, and perhaps Babbage’s own fondness for argument with all and sundry over just about everything. He was a rather cantankerous chap.
So, when someone decided to build a working difference engine in 1991 from Babbage’s original plans, and worked to the engineering tolerances possible for machining parts in the early 19th century, they did produce a working machine. Babbage also designed a more complex machine, and indeed even a printer, which were both also never built. He was also responsible for code and cipher breakthroughs during the Crimean War, for which he was never credited with during his lifetime. It is perhaps not entirely surprising therefore, that he died an unhappy and somewhat unfulfilled man. Arguing with everyone continuously can’t have helped either, I’m sure…
To me, you could do a brilliant graphic novel biography from such material. Instead this is farcical, spasmodic comedy shorts, weighed down with vast footnotes and interspersed with informative sections that are basically illustrated prose. It just doesn’t quite work for me, unfortunately. Either you have to wholly adopt one approach, like LOGICOMIX, or the other, such as EVOLUTION: THE STORY OF LIFE ON EARTH.
This veers around too wildly stylistically, page layout-wise also, for my liking, though others may well not find that a problem whatsoever. I’m not entirely sure the creator knows what audience she has put this together for, though she has certainly done a fantastic job researching and presenting such a body of – relatively complex in places – information. Overall, I certainly learnt a lot, mainly from the footnotes and illustrated prose sections, which of course must be one of the primary, if not the main, aims of any work like this.
Captain Ken vol 1 (£10-50, DMP) by Osamu Tezuka…
Published by blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-merchants DMP… so it may well be already out of print by the time you read this review… this work definitely sits down near the fluffier end of the Tezuka canon. This is quite understandable given it was originally serialised in Weekly Shōnen Sunday in the very early 60s, but given the series takes place on Mars, post human colonisation, where humans have already begun persecuting the indigenous Martians thus resulting in mutual loathing, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to learn there was some mild social commentary regarding the post-WW2 American occupation of Japan.
Particularly given that in some other later, more serious Tezuka works like MW, the Americans are often portrayed as an aggressive nation, though never referred to by name, merely as Nation X or similar. Anyway, Captain Ken is a sort of Lone Ranger character, a human who fights for justice on the side of the Martians, trying to prevent their exploitation.
It’s probably one more for the Tezuka completists than an entry point, but it is great fun. I have to say, though, there are many, many other more serious Tezuka works I do wish someone would translate and publish. And then keep in print…
Avengers West Coast: Vision Quest s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by John Byrne.
Whence the HOUSE OF M graphic novel in which everyone has to decide what to do with an insane but comatose Scarlet Witch before she wakes up and starts using her powers to alter reality so that pigs might really fly, baked beans taste like food and Marmite becomes something other than the bilious tar coughed up by a minotaur on eighty cigarettes a day.
Bendis drew on two key moments in Avengers’ history in which the Scarlet Witch had already shown signs of not being ‘all there’ (although marrying a sentient vacuum cleaner wasn’t the clearest sign of sanity) and this is the main one.
Her husband, the android Vision, is abducted, reduced to nuts and bolts then reassembled using a Homebase instruction manual. So of course there are a few bits missing: like his feelings.
There’ll almost certainly be a second volume in which Wanda’s children are dealt with (clue: they don’t actually exist – something she should have cottoned onto given that everyone else got a good night’s sleep) when I’ll be forced to look up the word “doolally” in Roget’s Thesaurus for further variations on the expression. In the meantime, this is what happened.
Imaginative plottery, but ridiculous also. Byrne’s art is still oh so solid, but the inking by other parties is blunt and lazy. Honest assessment: when I was younger, I loved it.
Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!
Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews.
aama vol 3: The Desert Of Mirrors h/c (£12-99, SelfMadeHero) by Frederik Peeters
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Shane-Michael Vidaurri, Kyla Vanderklugt, Matthew Dow Smith, Jeff Stokely
Rat Queens vol 2: Far Reaching Tentacles Of N’rygoth (£10-99, Image) by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic
Silver vol 1 s/c (£9-99, Dark Planet) by Stephan Franck
Skim (£9-99, Groundwood Books) by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Southern Bastards vol 2: Gridiron s/c (£7-50, Image) by Jason Aaron & Jason LaTour
The Michael Moorcock Library vol 1: Elric Of Melnibone h/c (£18-99, Titan) by Roy Thomas & P. Craig Russell, Michael T. Davis
Batman: Earth One vol 2 h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank
Batman Superman vol 2: Game Over s/c (£12-99, DC) by Greg Pak, Paul Levitz & Jae Lee, various
Superior Iron Man vol 1 (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Tom Taylor & Yildiray Cinar, Laura Braga
Gyo 2-in-1 Complete h/c (£14-99, Viz) by Junji Ito
Magi vol 5 (£6-99, Viz) by Shinobu Ohtaka
Magi vol 6 (£6-99, Viz) by Shinobu Ohtaka
Magi vol 7 (£6-99, Viz) by Shinobu Ohtaka
Magi vol 8 (£6-99, Viz) by Shinobu Ohtaka
Sword Art Online: Fairy Dance vol 3 (£9-99, Yen) by Reki Kawahara & Tsubasa Haduki
Usagi Yojimbo: Senso h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Stan Sakai
ITEM! Neil Gaiman, Alison Bechdel and Art Spiegelman step in to host PEN gala which will honour Charlie Hebdo with a Freedom Of Expression Courage award after other authors back out. Note how it’s the comicbook creators who are cited in the headlines. Progress.
ITEM! Jillian Tamaki’s SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY is reviewed above and it is cripplingly funny! You can find Jillian Tamaki’s SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY posted online and select ‘previous’ and ‘next’ at the bottom of each page.
Sorry there’s no more: I’ve been on holiday!
Just so you know, Marvel’s big blockbuster this year has begun: SECRET WARS #1 out now, review next week. We’ve lots of freebies to give away too: just ask at the counter or when ordering online!