Archive for September, 2010

September 2010 Previews – For November 2010 Onwards

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Pills, paranoia and misanthropy; callousness, cruelty and control. As the various perspectives converge into a cohesive whole, the least likely of all the cast finally learns a little empathy. Which only makes things worse…

– Stephen on King Of The Flies vol 1. Vol 2 out in November.

b e f o r e   w e   b e g i n

Now that the film’s out (see Broadway link below for screening times etc. – and it is emphatically not a chick flick but a beltingly funny Stephen Frears film), this is selling as fast as it did when it first arrived on our shelves.

Here’s my original review from when we made the hardcover version Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month.

Tamara Drewe s/c (£12-99, Jonathan Cape) by Posy Simmonds.

“I think the real secret of being a writer is learning to be a convincing liar… I mean, that’s what we are: story tellers… liars…”
Nicholas Hardiman is a relatively successful author, most popular for his string of “Doctor Inchcombe” crime novels and their televised versions. He’s middle-aged, middle-class, and thoroughly charming. He’s also a serial philanderer. His wife, the homely Beth, runs their Stonefield working retreat for writers out in the British countryside, cooking for their guests and typing up their daily manuscripts along with her husband’s. And she’s more than just his business manager, though she is that as well: she’s constantly suggesting alterations and plot points, like asparagus for dinner. Their gardener, Andy Cobb, a failed graphic designer, used to live on Winnard’s Farm, across the fields, until he was fourteen when they had to sell their ancestral home:
“Everything went arse-shaped for Dad. No money in Dairy unless you’re big.”
He resents the rich weekenders with their second homes, commuting during the week back to London, leaving the tiny village a lifeless skeleton:
“Oh very nice!! No shop, no bus, no school, no post office, no community any more! Just a load of ponced up, over-priced real estate. Look at it! Cottage Cheesecake!”
There’s little to do for the younger generation except hang around the abandoned bus shelter, flirt with each other clumsily, throw mud at the cows and obsess over celebrity rags and their papped stars’ cellulite. So when young and sexy gossip columnist Tamara Drewe returns to the empty Winnard’s Farm where she too grew up, her parents having bought the house itself from the Cobbs back then, the local lull gives way to a sudden surge of prurient interest. Andy falls for her; fat academic writer Glenn resents her openly (he already resents Nicholas privately); and the village teenagers dub her “Miss Plastic-Fantastic” after the nose job which has transformed Tamara into an undoubted beauty. She certainly knows how to work it. Only Nicholas appears to ignore her.
The final disruptive ingredient is Ben Sergeant, ex-drummer of the popular Indie band Swipe (a name its bassist took too much to heart when he ran off with Ben’s girlfriend, their vocalist), whom Tamara spies in a London bar and scoops up for herself. Ben and his dog are both loud and aggressive, the boisterous dog worrying the cattle while its owner sneers at the writers and their retreat. But he’s an A-list celebrity, and you know what young girls are like: Jody develops an enormous and unrealistic crush on Ben, persuading the easily led Casey to join her in stalking the couple then, when they’re away for Christmas, “breaking” into the farmhouse using the key left under the flowerpot for Andy to rummage through Tamara’s clothes and borrow one of Ben’s dirty t-shirts. Although Casey is uneasy about the whole thing, they make a habit of it until, on February 14th, Jody spies the laptop that Tamara leaves there during the week and sends the first of two fateful emails…
Let’s start with the art, shall we? Lush pastel hues are washed over the most graceful of lines and soft pencil shading, evoking the tranquil beauty of the rustic landscape, whether it’s the fresh green sprigs of spring, the cold, crisp blue of a winter’s night, or the vibrant shepherd’s delight of a closing sunset. There’s an elegant shorthand in the faces and their subtle expressions. The book would fail completely if Simmonds couldn’t draw a beautiful woman, but Tamara is all she’s cracked up to be with her soft mouth, bright doe eyes, naturally flowing hair and her casual city chic. Conversely, Jody, self-obsessed and self-indulgent, is all front teeth, with the eyes of a cat.
The layout is the most unusual feature of Posy’s books, being a hybrid of sequential art and prose, the perfectly positioned, hand-lettered panels wrapped around typed-up text as seen from the perspective variously of Beth, Glen and Casey, with the occasional column from Tamara. It’s no easy task to pull off, but very easy to read, the panels usually driving the narrative, but at other times acting as parenthetical asides. At no point do you feel – as happened on occasion both in STRANGERS IN PARADISE and THIEVES & KINGS – as if you’re having to slog through the prose to get to the comics. That’s partly due to the fact that on no single page does the comic give way to prose, and partly because the voices ruminating throughout are so engrossing.
In particular Posy’s grasp of modern slang and priorities lends Casey’s observations a perfect credibility, while Beth’s mental handwringing, stewing over what Nicholas might be up to and how she’s supposed to react, is spot-on. The plot threads are gradually developed and intricately entwined, and what struck me very much towards the end is that unlike a great many graphic novels which leave you in the lurch as if their authors have lost interest and energy after the punchline, the conclusion is far from abrupt, playing itself and all possible ramifications out over a couple of dozen pages with an extra twist as it does so.
I don’t suppose this month’s choice for the Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month Club comes as a surprise to anyone, although if you’d heard my roars of laughter on Sunday night, lapping up the latest SCOTT PILGRIM, you might have wondered if I’d waver. But no, TAMARA DREWE is on another level entirely, and given how much prime, straight British fiction there is in comics these days, it’s surprising that other than Simmonds’ equal triumph, GEMMA BOVERY, there’s still nothing remotely like this out there: graphic novels about middle-class, extra-marital affairs set out in the countryside. The TV schedule’s full of that sort of thing.
It is, as I’ve said, a quintessentially British work, at once quiet and clever and observant, yet threatening all the time to give way to drama and tragedy. Recklessness, deceit and outright sabotage: it’ll all end in tears as everyone comes undone.
“What can happen? What can ever, ever happen in this place?”
You’d be surprised.

Here’s a beautifully illustrated recording of Posy from 2008 talking about the composition of the book and her sketchwork: LINK

And here’s an in-depth article in The Guardian on Posy’s career and in particular the Thomas Hardy origins of the graphic novel: LINK

Tamara Drewe runs at the Broadway Cinema until September 30th. Scroll down here: LINK

b o o k s   f o r   n o v e m b e r   o n w a r d s

Acme Novelty Library vol 20 h/c (£17-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Chris Ware.

Oh God, this may be his most beautiful book design yet. LINK

After an enormous couple of paragraphs detailing financial genius Jordan Wellington Lint’s successful career trajectory before informing us that he is married with two boys, D&Q pronounce that this is actually part of the Rusty Brown story. Can’t even begin to imagine how.

There are never any softcovers of these, by the way.

H Day h/c (£22-50, Picturebox) by Renee French.

Oblique autobiography doubling as a fantasy as Renee explores through metaphor “her struggles with migraines, marshalling troops of insects [?!], beasts and humanoids to envision the processes that result in such hideous sensations. A sweeping, often tense narrative of invasion, repulsion and liberation.” Well, we’ve loved everything else she’s done so I don’t doubt it will all make sense or at least look beautiful. LINK?

Castle Waiting vol 2 h/c (£22-50, Fantagraphics) by Linda Medley.

No softcover of the first volume of this, either. 384 pages. Of vol 1 Tom wrote ~

The titular castle, once the proud home to a monarchy and security to its townsfolk, lies almost abandoned. It never quite recovered from that curse which sent its princess and all the occupants to sleep for one hundred years. That was a lifetime ago by the time we join in, but curses are a terrible bother, you know? Really bring down the resale value of a property.
It now serves as a safe-haven for those who feel society has no place for them, or those wishing to escape. Like Jane, heavily pregnant and seeking refuge from her knight who wouldn’t spare the shiners in between moments of shining in armour. And like her, the castle waits for life to begin anew.
Life in these stories gently flows along at the same pace as the early BONE stories, and the timing is as perfect as Linda’s art is impeccable. Not a single panel is wasted, every expression and movement serves a purpose creating a visually engaging atmosphere within the deceptively simplistic tales. Because they’re not in the least simplistic, more… familiar. But just as you get used to the social formula of the castle’s occupants, Linda completely changes tack, throws your assumptions out the window, and begins telling stories within the story.
From what appear to be stock fairy-tale archetypes, Medley creates life and energy. Tons of little jokes and crafty looks going off in the background don’t simply reference folklore and nursery rhymes, but draw from them and play with them. Restructuring the moral spirit of these tales, not necessarily carrying a new message but getting it across in a new way for a new time. LINK

King Of The Flies vol 2 h/c (£13-99, Fantagraphics) by Pirus & Mezzo.

Can’t wait. Ever so close to being Comicbook Of The Month, of the first volume I wrote:

Charles Burns directed by David Lynch sounds like the sort of facile copy a publisher might shove on the back of their books. Nevertheless that’s exactly what this is: a book made compulsive by the obsessive nature of its disordered cast, each of whom has a fevered perspective fuelled by pills, alcohol and/or raging hormones transforming a superficially standard suburbia somewhere in mainland Europe into a territorial battleground whether inside or outside the home.
With barely more than two dozen lines of dialogue, it is instead all in the heads of these maladjusted, disaffected and sexually driven narrators in constant conflict in a neighbourhood too small to avoid each other, their fantasies playing out inside their minds or breaking out into bouts of theft, sex and violence. On one notable occasion all three erupt on the very same page as Eric, the epitome of disaffection, steals Sal from her boyfriend Damien, drags her out into the woods over the road then, his grotesque Halloween fly mask still on, screws her while watching Damien being chased into oncoming traffic:
“He was out of my line of sight when the car nailed him — some drunk driver with his headlights off. All that was left was three cowboys with their flashlights. I freed my head from the branches and finished what I’d started.”
It’s intensely claustrophobic, full of sweaty jealousies and secret desires which only we are privy to. It’s also, I should add, sexually explicit.
As well as Eric, the titular King Of The Flies, there’s poor young Marie whose profound crush on him intrudes into her every waking thought just as he intrudes on her. But even that doesn’t make the pangs go away, it just transforms them into a gnawing, hollow hole where her virginity once was. Meanwhile Sal becomes morbidly aroused by the verge where Damien was killed but irritated by Marie’s adulation which she takes sadistic pleasure in toying with, while Marie’s father, a delusional alcoholic with an out-and-out psychosis verging on a split personality, sets his alpha-male sights on a boy hanging round his house who’s far more central to events than it first appears. And if you’re worried so far, wait until you meet Big Ringo, a man of rugged, unassailable self-regard and a bloody great quiff.
Pills, paranoia and misanthropy; callousness, cruelty and control. As the various perspectives converge into a cohesive whole, the least likely of all the cast finally learns a little empathy. Which only makes things worse…
Preview of vol 1 down the page here: LINK

Elmer (£9-99, Amazing Ink/SLG) by Gerry Alanguilan.

“I find Gerry Alanguilan’s ELMER one of the my favourite comics. It’s just heart-breaking and funny and so beautifully drawn.” – Neil Gaiman, writer of stuff. LINK

Chickens have suddenly acquired the intelligence and self-awareness of humans, but fortunately not the same predilections for violence and oppression. Instead they seek to be liberated from man’s prejudice.

Also, I’d have thought, from coops, freezers and frying pans.

But inevitably they get themselves into a right stew when met with half-baked sentiments set to ruffle their feathers and foil their flight into fully fledged — [cut! – ed.]

Heart Transplant h/c (£18-99, or £75-00 for the signed version limited to 100 copies, Dark Horse) by Andrew Vachss, Zak Mucha & Frank Caruso.

Child abuse lawyer acclaimed for his writing all over the place including here (we’ve always stocked HARD LOOKS and ANOTHER CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT – the former was harrowing) has set his sights on bullying and he’s not short of several thousand high-powered endorsements here: LINK

Depresso (£12-99, Knockabout) by Brick.

Okay, now I’m confused. I happen to know this is by Brick AKA John Stuart Clark, but the solicitation copy says it’s by Tom Freeman. Repeatedly.

Okay, I get it: some copy-monkey cocked up. Tom Freeman is the semi-fictional protagonist.

“Our world is plagued by madness. With leaders bent on insane policies and citizens locked in crippling depression, normality seems elusive and questionable. Part travelogue, part indictment of mad medicine, DEPRESSO is Tom Freeman’s hilarious journey through the vagaries of the system to emerge scathed but content with being “bonkers”. The story unfolds over several years, in China and the UK, during which anti-depressants reduce Tom to a zombie and alternate therapies drive him to comic re-examinations of his life, his work and relationships. Throughout the adventure he is shadowed by the White Lizard, a familiar, a conscience, a pain in the arse who helps and hinders Tom’s recovery, and is justly the butt of some wicked humour. DEPRESSO is only semi-fictional.”

Preview: LINK.

Lone Pine (£10-99, Adhouse) by Jed McGowan.

Interesting… And I think you should see for yourselves. I read the preview three or four times after the silhouettes initially jarred with me (you’ll know it when you get there), and started to rethink. Certainly I love the blue.

So a man retreats to the woods in search of a little introspection after his relationship ends without him knowing why. Is he alone with his thoughts? LINK

Tonoharu Part 2 h/c (£14-99, Top Shelf) by Lars Martinson.

Of book one, way back when, I wrote:

Mmm, olive on cream. An odd taste, I grant you, but very pretty to look at.
“Daniel Wells begins a new life as an assistant junior high school teacher in the rural Japanese village of Tonoharu.”
Fooled by my misperception that this was going to be a complete story rather than the first volume of a longer saga, I thought the end came very quickly, but now I understand, and I sincerely believe this should be read by anyone embarking on a stint as a teacher in Japan. I’d be very interested to hear what my former house-monkey Ossian makes of this, having recently returned from a two-year tour there with Kate, his girlfriend – sorry, fiancée! [now wife – Ed]. Based on reading this, I do think they might have been very fortunate having each other.
So, we have a story within a story, as the narrator – not the protagonist, Dan – debates whether to renew his own contract for a second year. He’s just not sure. His early aspirations were lofty: to become fluent in Japanese, leave behind adoring students and colleagues, and revolutionise the curriculum. Perhaps he should have checked that optimism a little after meeting his predecessor, Dan, who showed no enthusiasm for discussing his own experiences and quit after a single year, because the reality for the narrator has proved more difficult. Most of the teachers don’t want to use him, but still he has to be on site during the school day so he’s left to his own devices:
“What really kills me is when some nice, shy teacher works up the courage to strike up a conversation with me. As the conversation moves beyond the initial pleasantries, unknown words and phrases pop up and my Japanese starts to fail me. They’ll rephrase something that I didn’t understand, but I won’t understand that either. We laugh uncomfortably, and look down at our shoes… The pauses are painful. I can actually see the conversation dying before my eyes, unresponsive to all attempts to save it. We struggle for a bit, but after a couple of minutes it becomes clear that we just don’t have the means to communicate in a meaningful way. So with an abrupt nod, our conversation ends and they walk away, never to return.
“The isolation might be a little more tolerable if I had more to occupy my time. But my job offers no help in this regard, and outside of work my options aren’t much better.”
This, you should bear in mind, is only the introduction. Then you meet Dan, and Dan’s own predecessor, Wendell. Wendell is pretty negative, but at least he’s cheerfully negative! Dan, on the other hand, is a nightmare of sullen dejection with absolutely nothing to say for himself and nothing to offer anyone at work or otherwise. He’s virtually the last person in the world I could bear to spend five minutes with. He prepares nothing for class and has no outside interests so starts making stuff up about himself.
Lars captures him on paper perfectly, and it’s an interesting cartoon style he has going there, with the rounded figures sitting very comfortably and solidly within disciplined panels of line. I have absolutely no clue where this is going, but I don’t think it’s good. No, I mean, it is good, I just don’t think the rest of Dan’s story’s going to get any happier for him. There’s a girl, see, and some rich weirdoes throwing parties in their disused Buddhist temple…

Another stunning cover you can enlarge or, if you click on the first volume, there’s a preview there: LINK

Salvatore vol 1: Transports Of Love (£10-99, NBM) by Nicolas De Crecy.

From the creator of the Louvre co-production GLACIAL PERIOD. American publishers NBM are doing a damn sight better job of getting quality European material onto our shelves than European publishers Humanoids Inc.

“A new series starring a dog auto repair mechanic so in demand, he can afford to move his garage to a distant hard-to-reach peak for peace and… privacy. The privacy, as it turns out, is to build a mode of transportation that can get him through earth and seas to his beloved far, far away. As unpredictable and totally original as GLACIAL PERIOD, this is a Plymptonesque tale filled with absurd, irresistible bittersweet humor.”

With a ‘u’.

Mark loved Bill Plympton. Have a preview: LINK.

Incal Classics h/c (£75-00, Humanoids) by Jodorowsky & Moebius.

Oh, behave! Classic European sci-fi much in demand – just not at that price. Still, look at the quality: LINK.

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Boxed Set (£53-99, Oni Press) by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

All six volumes, a free slipcase and a free exclusive poster! Absolutely no online artwork to show you! Yay!!!!

Echo vol 5: Black Hole (£11-99, Abstract Studio) by Terry Moore.

Science fiction conspiracy theory espionage action thriller with some seriously funny dialogue, as the semi-sentient metallic suit bonded to Julie’s body starts to manifest side-effects on Julie herself and anyone around her. With side-effects like those she can come stay with meLINK

Complete Paradise Too (£22-50, Abstract Studio) by Terry Moore.

Cartoon comedy fluff from the creator of STRANGERS IN PARADISE. Examples posted on August 12th on his blog: LINK.

Captain Easy vol 2: Soldier Of Fortune h/c (£29-99, Fantagraphics) by Roy Crane.

Second album-sized offering from the 1930s as our adventurer “fights for gold in the frozen north, is mistaken for a bandit, protects a formula for artificial diamonds, is stranded on a desert island, visits the tiny Balkan country of Kleptomania, and faces a firing squad!”. In the afternoon things really heat up.

For the vibrant colours, see at the bottom here: LINK

The Alchemist h/c (£18-99, Hyperion) by Paulo Coelho & Daniel Sampere.

Adaptation of the novel now in at least 67 languages.

“An Andalusian shepherd boy yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangier and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.” Listen to your hearts etc. Not easy with all those trinket traders pulling on your sleeves and bellowing in your face round the pyramids. Paulo talks about his novel under these links: LINK

Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale h/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon & Chris Samnee.
Right, according to our Tom (he knows stuff), this is the story you’ve all been clamouring for: how Shepherd Book found God in a bowl of soup. Apparently it was hinted throughout the series that there was more to the pastor than was actually revealed… and then in the film they killed him. Whoops. Now they’re killing me with the price they’re charging for 56 pages – such jokers. So no, not automatic for those down for SERENITY series, but feel free to order. Due out November 25th.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Tales h/c (£22-50, Dark Horse) by Joss Whedon, more & Tim Sale, more.

Early fanged franchise comics before Whedon really committed himself with Season Eight.

Walking Dead vol 13 (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard.

Due November 24th, so making it an ideal Valentine’s Day present should it have actually appeared by then.

Fade To Black (£11-99, Image) by Jeff Mariotte & Daniele Serra.

Artfully sandwiched between the books on either side, this is cannibal horror rather than cannibal comedy, as five spoiled actors who know bugger all about outdoor survival outside of what they’ve read in their scripts yet who decide to go on a camping trek to the middle of nowhere, and attract some less than savoury attention. Artist: LINK

Chew vol 3: Just Desserts (£9-99, Image) by John Layman & Rob Guillory.

Crime/cuisine comedy as detective Tony Chew uses his unique palette to solve murders by nibbling on the victims’ body parts etc. Gone down very well here. LINK

CBGB (£10-99, Boom! Studios) by various including Kieron Gillen & Marc Ellerby.

Anthology revolving around the famous music venue. Of #1:

A couple of short stories about the very real club that broke bands like The Ramones, Talking Heads and The Stilettos AKA Angel And The Snakes AKA Blondie. The first is called ‘A NYC Punk Carol’, and in it a modern vocalist, frustrated by his fellow band members’ lack of vision/ambition and depressed by 315 Bowery Street having been turned into a clothes shop, is visited by two bickering Ghosts of Punk Rock Past and a spectre in tatty bed linen. He’s then educated in the truth behind the club’s early days as a music venue beginning with Tom Verlain of Television, and punk’s parallel evolution in America and England as propounded by each of the ghosts with differing priorities. It’s an engaging way to teach us a little history and, as the writer of PHONOGRAM, Gillen’s credentials are impeccable. As to the Ghost Of Punk Rock Future and what he predicts, that’s executed with particular wit. ‘The Helsinki Syndrome’, meanwhile takes place in 1979 as a young lad called Larry is told to clean out his dead Uncle Willis’ flat, covered in wild diagrams, only to discover in CBGBs exactly who Uncle Willis was. Here’s Gillen’s post from ages ago: LINK.

Hewligan’s Haircut new edition (£8-99, Rebellion) by Peter Milligan & Jamie Hewlett.

Other than TANK GIRL, Gorillaz artist Hewlett has done few comics other than this. Big bag of coiffured crazy. Have an interview with Jamie: LINK.

Gravel vol 3: The Last King Of England (£14-99, Avatar) by Warren Ellis, Mike Wolfer & Mike Wolfer.

Third series called GRAVEL but we also have the other STRANGE KISS/KILLINGS books he starred in. Gravel’s a Combat Magician – think John Constantine in kevlar with guns. He’s taken over the Major Seven and Minor Seven (okay, taken them out) and filled the ranks of the latter with working-class occult detectives. No take-over fails to raise hackles, though, and one madman, passed up for selection, seeks revenge. As the body count of British citizens rises, Downing Street’s mood deteriorates.

Michael Moorcock’s Elric Of Melnibone vol 1 (£22-50, Dark Horse) by Neil Gaiman, Roy Thomas & P. Craig Russell, Michael T. Gilbert.

Sword and sorcery from one of Neil Gaiman’s early literary love affairs, hence Neil and Craig’s autobiographical story set at school which accompanies this reprint of the first two book’s adaptations.

Yesterday’s Tomorrows oversized s/c (£18-99, Image) by Grant Morrison, Raymond Chandler, more & Rian Hughes.

Rian’s probably the most mis-spelled comic creator in history after Sam Kieth and Ian Edginton (no second ‘g’). He’s also very stylish artist and versatile artist I spot elements of in D’Israeli (it’s a guess – I’ve never asked). The most renowned of his works reprinted here is probably the DAN DARE graphic novel he did with Grant Morrison – a very different take to that of Ennis & Erskine, yet in both the space pilot is a man at odds with his future. Really And Truly is “a high-octane, psychedelic road trip” from the pages of 2000AD, the Raymond Chandler adaptation is Goldfish, and finally The Science Service I’m sure I’ve read but I simply cannot place it. LINK

Rat Catcher h/c (£14-99, Vertigo Crime) by Andy Diggle & Victor Ibanez.

Yuss! Finally Vertigo Crime have found a writer who might match the quality of Azzarello’s FILTHY RICH (although I’m told FOG TOWN might already have done that) for Diggle’s HELLBLAZER run was exceptional.

“According to underworld legend, the Rat Catcher is a peerless assassin who specializes in silencing mob snitches. There’s just one problem—he doesn’t exist. At least, not according to the U.S. Marshals who oversee the Witness Protection Program… Now, there’s a pile of dead bodies in a burning safe house outside El Paso. The Rat Catcher has finally slipped up, and a washed up FBI agent has one last chance to hunt him down before he disappears forever. But as the two master manhunters spiral in towards each other in a deadly game of cat and mouse, each of them hides a secret from the other—secrets that could destroy them both.” Cover and preview: LINK.

Sweet Tooth vol 2: In Captivity (£9-99, Vertigo/DC) by Jeff Lemire.

Hmmm… guess that gives the ending to the first book away!

So yes, young Gus’ protector Jeppard sold him out to the scientists so desperate to work out what happened to the human race that they’re prepared to dissect living human-animal hybrids like Gus who appeared around the same time as the plague. There’s a pen full of them here, but Gus is slightly different to the others. He’s older – older than the plague – and he’s missing something.

A book that gets to me every single time.

Jeff’s blog with lots of interior art leading to previews etc.: LINK

Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 4 h/c (£18-99, Vertigo/DC) by Alan Moore & Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, John Totleben.

Also known as SWAMP THING vol 4: A MURDER OF CROWS s/c (still in stock @ 14-99) about which I wrote:

The fourth volume of Alan Moore’s southern gothic run finds John Constantine invading Swamp Thing’s turf and getting right under what passes for the Elemental’s skin. Finally the big bang which the Scouse’s been priming him for arrives, and it’s grim as Hell.
Alan Moore exhumes Caine and Abel for Gaiman to play with later, and we hear hints of the infamous Newcastle incident as it becomes increasingly clear that the unfazeable Constantine has been a big, behind-the-scenes bastard in the realms of DC’s occult for a very long time. As a postscript, one of the many things that stood out in this series was Moore’s magical ability to imbue John Constantine with enough charisma to make the callous bastard command readers’ undiluted affection. And, as entertaining as some of the HELLBLAZER series has been, particularly under Ennis’ everyday slight-of-hand, no one else has since matched the sheer presence one feels when the man appears on the page under Moore.

Planetary vol 4: Spacetime s/c (£13-50, Wildstorm/DC) by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday.

And about bloody time. One of finest pieces of science fiction in comics came to a cracking conclusion. Eventually. So good that we may even do a PROMETHEA on you and make it CBOTM. Here’s what I wrote about book one:

Sublime science fiction at its most imaginative.
Planetary is a research organisation whose field team consists of three metahumans. Together they excavate weird science left behind in the last century – nasty stuff of man’s own making or beautiful creations from elsewhere – just as Ellis excavates (and occasionally desecrates) comicbook history, plundering it for (and warping it to) his own narrative ends. He incorporates archetypes from Doc Savage to Tarzan, nods towards the Godzilla films, rips the piss out of Vertigo (watch out for the red and green glasses!) and you wait until you see his inversion of the Fantastic Four. As the series kicks off Elijah Snow is invited to lead the field team unaware that he’s done so before, then as it progresses there’s a gradual coalescence of previous, seemingly unconnected events, into the revelation of the identity and whereabouts of their mysterious Fourth Man.
Majestic visuals, with considered space and timing, and the most glorious colouring as seen especially in the shift-ship they discover deep underground consisting of fluted gold pillars and crystal.

December 2nd is the question you’ve all been asking.

Have a preview of book 2: LINK

Starman Omnibus vol 6 h/c (£37-99, DC) by James Robinson & Peter Snejbjerg.

That’s it, over, final volume.

Hitman vol 3: Local Heroes (£13-50, DC) by Garth Ennis & John McCrea, Carlos Ezquerra, Steve Pugh.

Third volume of Ennis’s lesser known work for DC, irreverently tackling their superhero universe with a sawn-off shotgun. This time Green Lantern receives the unorthodox treatment when he’s duped by the government to bring the Hitman in. Idiot. Also featuring a zoo full of zombie penguins and zombie seals, being blown to bits.

Boys vol 7: The Innocents (£14-99, D.E.) by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson.

Sex, violence and superzeroes with wee Hughie and his girlfriend caught in the middle as the Butcher forges on in his crusade to bring down the biggest capes of all.

Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange vol 1 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko.

From the creators of Spider-Man, a moustached magician with a lot of alliterative trinkets.

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers (£18-99, Marvel) by Rob Rodi & Esad Ribic.

“I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? …I will revenge my injuries: if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.”
– Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.
Loki the Deceiver wasn’t so much Thor’s half-brother as adopted sibling. All he craved was affection; what he received was careless dismissal or, from others, outright hostility. Tragically, defensively, the young boy reacted in kind, and so began a vicious, accelerating cycle which he tried to reach out from and break, but something always went wrong. Even now that he has conquered all of Asgard and enslaved the God of Thunder, when Hela, Goddess of Death, demands Thor’s execution he risks all to thwart her, but history has a habit of repeating itself…
Surprisingly affecting insight into the heart and soul of the embittered trickster god, accompanied by speeches that successfully evoke the required sense of the arcane as opposed to the traditional Marvel “Norse” hogwash. Add to this the ultimate in post-Frazetta fantasy art, and you have a book tailor-made for the mythologists, role-players and Hobbit-botherers out there. The scenery is monumental and Loki’s twisted, gnarled, and constantly snarling face comes with bloodshot eyes and a goblin-like, gap-toothed mouth that’s exquisitely repulsive.

This new incarnation comes with extra material including the original series pitch, sketches and THOR #12, JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY #85 and a bit of #112.

Amazing Spider-Man By JMS Ultimate Collection Book 5 (£25-99, Marvel) by Straczynski & Garney, Quesada, Kirkham.

Final repackaged volume containing the CIVIL WAR issues, BACK IN BLACK and ONE MORE DAY. Tony Stark convinces a doubtful Peter to unmask on television as part of his pro-Registration Act campaign. At which point Peter swiftly decides he’s backed the wrong horse and ends up on the run. Without any legal or physical protection, and every one of his enemies now knowing his identity, it’s only a matter of time before his worst fears come true.

If you’ve yet to read this do not read the preview below.

Spider-Man: One Moment In Time h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Joe Quesada & Paolo Manuel Rivera, Joe Quesada.

Far more imaginative and complex than anyone had anticipated, the past is finally revealed post-ONE MORE DAY. In that final Straczynski story arc [SPOILERS! Did you hear me? I said SPOILERS] Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker agreed to sacrifice their marriage to Mephisto in order to save Aunt May, and in the blink of an eye history rewrote itself: they had never been married. Instead they were estranged, and no one wanted to talk about what happened. For over a year the BRAND NEW DAY carried over into other developments as it became clear that no one other than Mary Jane remembered that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. Yet, as is revealed here, yet CIVIL WAR still happened. Peter had unmasked on television, and Aunt May had, as a direct consequence been shot at the behest of the Kingpin and hospitalised. Mephisto changed none of that. So what. Actually. Happened?

Started off so unpromisingly I was disinclined to continue, but it does pay off.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man vol 2: Chameleons h/c (£18-99, Marvel) buy Bendis & Miyazawa, Lafuente.

Similar scenario in a different situation to recent events in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, both of which were well done. Here the shape-shifting Chameleon kidnaps Peter and assumes his identity without knowing his secret one. And then he finds out and, boy, does he fuck things up for Peter’s private life. The sort of dramatic irony that has you shouting “Noooooo!”.

Daredevil By Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Book 3 (£25-99, Marvel) by Bendis & Maleev.

I was perfectly happy with my old reviews, cheers.

Finale to the finest run ever on DAREDEVIL, turning it into a tense, psychological crime thriller. Not a happy ending, no.

Captain America: the New Deal h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by John Ney Rieber & John Cassady.

PLANETARY and ASTONISHING X-MEN artist John Cassady on a post-9/11 terrorist storyline that, for the time, seemed remarkably good. Who knew that Brubaker was going to come along later on and set the bar higher? I probably have a review somewhere for when it appears.

Captain America: The Bloodstone Hunt (£14-99, Marvel) by Mark Gruenwald & Kieron Dwyer.

Who could possibly want that?

Thor: Godstorm h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Kurt Busiek, Tom Defalco & Steve Rude, Mike Mignola.

HELLBOY’s Mike Mignola doing Thor. You want? Reprints the titular mini-series and THOR #408-409.

Thor: Siege Aftermath (£11-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Richard Elson, Doug Braithwaite.

Conclusion to Gillen’s run in which Mephisto, Loki and Hela haggle their way into contracts before wriggling out of them. Expect a lot of red.

Punisher: Franken-Castle h/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Remender with Way, Liu & John Romita Jr., Tony Moore, James Harren, Stephen Segovia.

Dead Frank Castle as a stitched-together, reanimated corpse. Collects DARK REIGN: PUNISHER, PUNISHER #11-16, FRANKENCASTLE #17-21, DARK WOLVERINE #88-89.

Soulfire Definitive Edition (£29-99, Aspen) by Turner, Loeb, Krul & Michael Turner, Joe Benitez.

376 pages. Of #1 I wrote:

Now, before we begin half-baking, we should ensure we have the right ingredients.

Mysterious, cowled woman? Check.

Sorry – mysterious, cowled, hot chick? Yes, yes, check.

Mysterious, cowled, hot chick’s equally fit and opposite half? Check.

Fire-breathing dragon on the rampage? Check.

Fighter pilots in less than stealthily-coloured, futuristic flying hardware? Check.

A Chosen One, young and good at computer games? Check.

Chosen One in jeopardy, rescued in the nick of time, and the adventure is about to begin? Check, check, check; checkity check.

Let’s understand one another: you’re buying it for the art.

Battlechasers Anthology h/c (£75-00, Image) by Joe Madureira.

Once popular fantasy horror which petered out while Joe designed games or something (it was a common curse of comics at the time – see J. Scott Campbell) and I’m not convinced the story was even finished. #0-9 @ £7-50 per issue.

Madman Atomica! h/c (£95-00, Image) by Michael Allred.

But you do at least get 900 pages for your money. Crazy, retro, superhero shenanigans.

Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet vol 1: Sins Of The Father (£14-99, D.E.) by Kevin Smith & Lau.

Adapted by Kevin ‘Clerks’ Smith from his own film script that was never used. Period crime with masks and capes, kind of like the Spirit in green (I have no idea).

Shockrockets h/c (£18-99, IDW) by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen.

Reprint from a good ten years ago when I wrote:

Looking at the cover by all-new, all-improved Immonen (and he did go up a notch during SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY, finding his own, personal flair), your immediate impression is ‘Boys’ Own’. And it’s a perfectly targeted cover too. This is sci-fi Top Gun for young teenagers, wherein a bright young lad joins by accident an elite squadron of aerial fighters built from alien technology, and finds he fuses far more comfortably with his ship’s controls than anyone else before him. Just as well, as Earth’s previous saviour is about to embark on a massive coup de monde. Immonen was already an attractive artist, and propels the story along for a bright and breezy ride.

Hack/Slash: My First Maniac (£7-50, Image) by Tim Seeley & Dan Leister.

The new Image mini-series as opposed the older material due out again as omnibuses soon.

“16-year-old Cassie has just been forced to kill her mother, the undead murderer known as the Lunch Lady! Now faced with overwhelming guilt, she must decide if she can make a life with here foster parents and at her new school or if she should use her new-found slasher killing skills to save other screaming teenagers!” Christ, but we make our children grow up early these days.

Axe Cop vol 1 (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Malachai Nicolle & Ethan Nicolle.

Webcomic about a cop on a dinosaur mounted with machine guns, its selling point was that it was written by a five-year-old and illustrated by his brother, twenty-four years his senior. LINK

Dead Space: Salvage (£13-50, IDW) by Antony Johnston & Christopher Shy.

An original graphic novel written by the game’s own author (see also WASTELAND and DAREDEVIL) and painted by a man whose goth-o-vision doesn’t just match Ben Templesmith’s but surpasses it. Picks up where the first game left off, deep in outer space. Antony is on board to script its sequel and doubtless talks about it somewhere here. LINK

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by David Mack & Pascal Alixe.

Of the first two issues, Tom wrote ~

Garson Poole’s life as a high-flying exec at a large corporation is the modern ideal, until a car accident lands him in hospital with an untreatable condition: he’s a robot. Specifically an “Electric Ant” planted to keep his job, “his” company running smoothly. Upon realizing he’s nothing more than a glorified marionette, Garson begins to pull the strings. Opening his chest he begins to effect his perceptions of reality by tampering with the micro-punched tape informing his senses. Adding new holes and cutting sections out of the tape he appears to effect more than just his perceptions, but reality itself. And I’m pretty sure that’s not covered in the warranty.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this adaptation since Mack first mentioned it in the back of KABUKI, pointing me towards the original short story (which is in HUMAN IS, ISBN 9780575085831, by the way). Easily the most mind-bending story of Dick’s I’ve read so far, Mack is perfectly qualified to adapt this story to comics, as it touches on themes of identity, and the deconstruction of identity explored in his own stories.

It’s a shame then that Pascal Alixe is illustrating this as I’m constantly revolted by his lack of proportion, inappropriate expressions, and off-putting character designs like the “Carry On” Doctor and Nurse in #1. Quite disappointing that a story so reliant on its abstract imagery must be handed to an artist who can’t leave the shadow of Blade Runner, just what the hell is Electric Sheep Productions thinking? How does this homogenizing of a name synonymous with imagination help their brand at all? They need to adjust their perception filter.

Hatter M vol 3: the Nature Of Wonder (£10-99, Automatic Pictures) by Frank Beddor adapted by Liz Cavalier & Sami Makkonen…

Of vol 2 Jonathan wrote:

“Thank you. Once again my belief is confirmed that no matter where I travel in this world, men who deal in head gear are to be trusted above all others.”
Yes, the millenary master of martial mayhem Hatter Madigan is back once again battling the sinister ne’er-do-wells that would prevent him from finding his royal charge Princess Alyss. Meanwhile Queen Redd’s evil Black Imagination is this time stirring the pot of civil unrest in 1860s America and helping to ensure the war between North and South gets into full swing. All that’s left for Hatter M to do is battle his way through sweet shop bullies, circus freaks, confederate-clad monkeys, a particularly unpleasant asylum for the criminally insane… oh, and a voodoo and whip-wielding albino. Will Hatter M manage to follow the Glow and find Alyss? Will the evil Queen Redd succeed in causing mayhem in the Americas? Will anyone notice Ben Templesmith isn’t doing the art in this volume? Well, probably not actually because despite my disappointment at seeing he wasn’t on the credits for this volume, I have to say Sami Makkonen has picked up exactly where Templesmith left off, even lending a slightly grimmer and grimier edge to proceedings which strangely enough put me in mind of the Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown story (painted by Jon J. Muth AND Kent Williams no less) from a very long time ago collected in WOLVERINE LEGENDS vol 2. If you liked the first volume of HATTER M you’ll also enjoy this one for sure.

Horrors: Great Stories Of Fear And Their Creators (£18-99, MC Farland & Co.) by Rocky Wood & Glenn Chadbourne.

Lord Byron, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Wollstonecraft scaring themselves shitless. Here’s a gallery: LINK

XKCD vol 0 (£13-50, Breadpig) by Randall Munroe.

Another of those web strips we’ve been asked about, this one written and drawn by an ex-NASA scientist, hence the maths, physics, pie-charts and circuit boards. Also stick figures. He’s not exactly Matt Feazell (that’d be Matt Feazell) but you may laugh. Book includes secret codes and puzzles. LINK. Alternatively, Matt Feazell’s Cynical Man: LINK.

Kill Shakespeare vol 1 (£14-99, IDW) by Connor McCreery, Anthony Del Col & Andy Belanger.

“What FABLES does for fairy tales, KILL SHAKESPEARE does with the greatest writer of all time,” says a hired hand.

Unfortunately they’re not wrong.

Hamlet is exiled from Denmark (there’s something rotten in the state of it), attacked by pirates (by the end of which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead), then washed up on the shores of Richard III’s England. Dick enlists Hamlet to kill Bill thus:

“Hamlet, do not damn my people to the terror of Shakespeare.”

His people being GCSE students, then.

It’s… okay. I can see a certain appeal, and the art is serviceable. The three witches adapt a quote or two and now it’s off to see the wizard, for that is how Shakespeare is described, and steal his magic quill.

FEEBLES sells in ridiculously high quantities as trade paperbacks here, and I invite you to make a mockery of my misgivings in this instance also. Collects #1-6. #7 goes on sale the same day. LINK.

Peter & Max: A Fables novel s/c (£10-99, Vertigo/DC) by Bill Willingham.

In the beginning, a long, long time ago, there was a sentence so twee it was sickening.
Then there was a moment of foreshadowing so blindingly obvious it was like being poked in the eye by a sparkler.
~ ~ ~
Somewhere in New York City, there’s a deathly dull explanation of what the comicbook series is about, but since reading that is the only reason you’ll have been tempted to pick up the novel, it’s redundant.
Now for a sentence with “love”, “quaint”, “cosy” and “cottage” in it. Do have a muffin; here’s jam…

a r t   b o o k s   e t c

Arthur Rackham: A Life With Illustrations h/c (£25-00) by James Hamilton, Arthur Rackham.

Big fan, me. Biography/art book with excerpts from letters etc. SWOON.

The Hunting Of The Snark: An Agony On Eight Fits (£10-99) by Mahendra Singh.

Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem, illustrated. LINK

Krazy And Ignatz: The Sketchbook Strips 1910-1913 h/c (£55-99, Fantagraphics) by George Herriman.

Facsimile of the sketchbook Herriman kept wherein he’d drew his first versions of the strips before redrawing them for print. Also included for comparison: a supplemental booklet containing some of the final versions, and a substantial essay to go with them.

Krazy Kat & The Art Of George Herriman h/c (£22-50) by Bill Watterson, more.

Well of course I’m going to list the creator of CALVIN & HOBBES. Art, essays, memorabilia.

Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life In Comics h/c (£19-50) by Michael Schumacher.

304 biographical pages as viewed from a racing car at 353 miles per hour.

Sophie Crumb: Evolution Of A Crazy Artist h/c (£20-99 or, get this, £200 if you want Sophie, Robert and Aline to sign it!) by Sophie Crumb.

Sophie’s the daughter, remember, not the missus. She appears in MOME a lot, and here are her drawings, aged 2 to 28. LINK

Denys Wortman’s New York (£22-50, Drawn & Quarterly) by James Sturm, Brandon Elston.

“After cartoonist, educator and editor James Sturm discovered the vintage book, Mopey Dick and the Duke, he set off to find more about the author, the deceased and unknown cartoonist Denys Wortman. Sturm immediately took note of the masterful drawings – casual, confident, and brimming with personality and wondered how this cartoonist escaped his radar. After some online sleuthing, Sturm connected with Wortman’s son, Denys Wortman VIII, who relayed that an archive of over 5000 illustrations literally was sitting in his shed in dire need of rescuing. For over 35 years, the illustrations had been fighting such elements as hungry rodents, rusty paperclips and even a blizzard. Wortman VIIII [his grandson?] also had drawers full of his father’s correspondences including letters and holiday cards from William Steig and Walt Disney. Original artwork by artists and personal friends including Peggy Bacon, Milt Gross, Isabel Bishop, and Reginald Marsh were also saved. Considering that Wortman’s luminary peers held him in the highest regard coupled with his artistic prowess, makes his absence from both fine art and comics history puzzling. So, Sturm and Brandon Elston set out to create a beautiful tribute to the forgotten master.
“Denys Wortman’s New York is not only a tribute to Wortman, but it is a tribute to New York, the city that sparked Wortman’s voracious creative output. From coal cellars to roof tops, from opera houses to boarding houses, Wortman recorded the sailors, dish washers, con artists, entertainers, pushcart peddlers, construction workers, musicians, hobos, society matrons, young mothers, secretaries, and students who collectively make New York the city it is.”

Magnificent. LINK

also scheduled:

Mascots (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Ray Fenwick. LINK

Twilight Of The A-holes (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Tim Kreider.

Meltdown Man (£13-99, Rebellion) by Hebden & Belardinelli.

Sky Doll: Space Ship h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Barbucci, Canepa & De Longis, Acciari

Night & Fog (£13-50, Studio 407) by various

Fables vol 14: Witches (£13-50, Vertigo/DC) by Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham, David Lapham, more.

Killing Pickman h/c (£14-99, Archaia) by Jason Becker & Jon Rea

Return Of The Dapper Men h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by jim McCann & Janet Lee

Brody’s Ghost vol 2 (£4-99, Dark Horse) by Mark Crilley

Sci-Spy: the Complete series (£12-99, Image) by Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy

Dark Shadows: The Complete Series vol 2 h/c (£37-99, Hermes) by Donald Arneson & Arnold Drake, Joe Certa

The Crusades vol 2: Dei h/c (£22-50, Image) by Steven T. Seagle & Kelley Jones. #10-20

Elephantmen vol 1: Wounded Animals, revised and expanded edition (£14-99, Image) by Richard Starkings & Ladronn, Moritat, Bachalo, more

Rip Kirby vol 3 h/c (£37-99, IDW) by Alex Raymond

Peaceful Warrior (£10-99, KJ Kramer) by Dan Millman & Andrew Winegarner

28 Days Later vol 2: A Bend In The Road (£9-99, Boom! Studios) by Michael Alan Nelson & Declan Shalvey, Marek Oleksicki.

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep: Dust To Dust vol 1 (£7-50, Boom! Studios) by Christ Roberson & Robert Adler

Sherlock Holmes vol 3 (£13-50, IDW) by Doyle & Kelley Jones

Spawn Origins vol 8 (£10-99, Image) by McFarlane & Capullo, Daniel

Artifacts vol 1 (£7-50, Top Cow/Image) by Ron Marz & Michael Boussard

Vampirella Archive vol 3 h/c (£37-99, D.E.) by Archie Goodwin, others & Neal Adams, Wally Wood, more.

Twisted Toyfare Theatre vol 11 (£9-99, Wizard) by various

Avengers: The Origin h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Joe Casey & Phil Noto

Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Duane Swierczynski & Jason Pearson

Iron Man: War Of The Iron Men h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Fred Van Lente & Steve Kurth. IRON MAN: LEGACY #1-5 and IRON MAN: HARD RAIN.

Thor: Quest For Odin h/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Len Wein & John Buscema, Tony DeZuniga, Walt Simonson

Thor by Dan Jurgens & John Romita Jr vol 4 (£22-50, Marvel) by lots of other people as well

Thor: Across All Worlds (£22-50, Marvel) by Dan Jurgens & Any Kubert. Carries on from the above.

Supreme Power: Hyperion (£14-99, Marvel) by Straczynski & Dan Jurgens, Staz Johnson

Spider-Man: the Osborn Identity (£10-99, Marvel) by various

Spider-Man: Complete Clone Saga vol 4 (£29-99, Marvel) by many

Lots of softcovers versions of previously released hardcovers

Batman: Dead To Rights (£10-99, DC) by Andrew Kreisberg & Scott McDaniel

Azrael: Angel In The Dark (£13-50, DC) by Fabian Nicieza & Ramon Bachs

Batgirl: Greatest Stories Ever Told (£14-99, DC) by various

Booster Gold: The Tomorrow Mystery (£13-50, DC) by Dan Jurgens

Batman Chronicles vol 10 (£10-99, DC) by many

Blue Beetle: Black & Blue (£13-50, DC) by Pfeiffer, Sturges & Norton, more

Justice Society Of America: Axis Of Evil (£10-99, DC) by Bill Willingham & Jesus Merino

R.E.B.E.L.S.: The Son And The Stars (£13-50, DC) by Tony Bedard & Claude St. Aubin

Showcase Presents: Our Army At War vol 1 (£14-99, DC) by Kanigher & various

Superman/Batman: Big Noise (£10-99, DC) by Joe Kelly & Ardian Syaf.

Superman: Last Stand Of New Krypton vol 2 h/c (£14-99, DC) by James Robinson, Sterling Gates & several

Teen Titans – Fresh Hell (£10-99, DC) by David Hine, Sean McKeever & Georges Jeanty, more

Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps vol 3 (£14-99, DC) by Steve Englehart & Joe Staton, Bruce Patterson

John Carter Of Mars: Weird Worlds (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Marv Wolfman & Howard Chaykin, Murphy Anderson, Gray Morrow, Sal Amendola

Occult Files Of Doctor Spektor vol 2 h/c (£33-99, Dark Horse) by Donald Glut & Jesse Santos

Sinfest: Viva La Resistance (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Tatsuya Ishida

c o m i c s   f o r   n o v e m b e r

Pebble Island h/c (£10-00, Nobrow) by Jon McNaught.

Oh, I was so excited about this. So, so excited. And then I realised it was only 38 pages long. 38 pages for £10-00. Still, see for yourselves why I was excited and decided whether you’re £10 excited. LINK

Henry & Glenn Forever (£4-50, Microcosm Publishing) by Tom Neely.

From the creator of THE BLOT, phenomenally successful here, something completely different. Copy first, explanation second:

“HENRY & GLENN FOREVER is the love story to end all love stories! Henry and Glenn are very good “friends”. They are also “roommates”. Daryl and John live next door. They are Satanists. What follows is ultra-metal violence, cry-fest diary entries, cringing self-doubt, and mega-hilarious emo-meltdowns. Terrifyingly cute. Cutely terrifying.”

Funnier when you realise that it’s Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig. As to Daryl and John… 66 pages. See hatemail, Danzig’s reaction, cover and interiors here: LINK

27 #1 of 4 (£2-75, Image) by Charles Soule & Renzo Podesta.

“Hendrix, Cobain, Joplin, Morrison. All belong to the ’27 Club’, which admits only the most brilliant musicians and artists… and kills them dead in their 27th year. Will Garland is a famous rock guitarist, secretly unable to play due to a neurological disorder afflicting his left hand. He’s also 27.”

I smell something decidedly Faustian here. In the four pages I’ve read (with Podesta coming over all Ted McKeever – and David Hines in STRANGE EMBRACE) Will goes from 60 to 0 in six months; from adored on the stage to the end of his tether: “There’s a couple of cures. Surgery where they chop out the nerves that went bad, but then your hand never works right again. You might as well just cut it off. The other’s called “Get So High You Can’t Remember Your Own Name.” Cue evasive mad scientist, strange apparatus and Arabic lettering. Still, probably beats homeopathy. LINK

Adventures Into Mindless Self Indulgence one shot (£2-99, Image) by Mindless Self Indulgence & Jess Fink.

Sticking with the music theme: allegedly true stories of on-the-road horror as told to Jess Fink by the band themselves. Artist: LINK

Yonchi #1 (£2-99, Machine Gun Bob Comics) by Richard C. Meyer, Carlos Silva & Alan Robinson.

A week ago I received the following email:


I am Richard C. Meyer, co-writer of “Yonchi #1” from Machinegun Bob Comics. Our comic was deemed to be “Certified Cool” in the current issue of Diamond Previews and we hope you agree. I’ll be brief, since I know that you are busy.
Click on this link to read the entire issue for free:
Click on this link to see the CERTIFIED COOL page at Diamond:

Book code (SEP101063)

Catalog (SEP 10 for NOV 10 shipping)

Catalog Page (Pg 288)

Sale price: $3.99

Full color, 24 pages.

Company: Machinegun Bob Comics
AUDIENCE: Fans of SCOTT PILGRIM, THE GOON, CHEW and INVINCIBLE would probably enjoy this book.”

I replied:


Everything we could possibly need at exactly the time we need it! Bravo.

Impressive art with more than a hint of Walt Simonson, and I chuckled merrily away. The SCOTT PILGRIM comparison’s pushing it but yeah, it did remind me of CHEW.

Good luck and thanks so much of the info.”

Creators may find that useful.

Hellboy: Double Feature Of Evil one-shot (£2-75, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola & Richard Corben.

Richard Corben, back again. Do you want one, Steve? 😉

Untouchable one-shot (£4-50, D.E.) by Mike Carey & Samit Basu.

Fanged, demonic horror from the writer of UNWRITTEN, LUCIFER etc. 56 pages.

Vertigo Resurrected: The Extremist (£5-99, Vertigo/DC) by Peter Milligan & Ted McKeever.

Long-lost early Vertigo mini-series at a very attractive price: all four issues for £5-99. Sex, death and gimp suits. LINK

Victorian Undead II: Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula #1 of 5 (£2-99, Wildstorm/DC) by Ian Edginton & Davide Fabrice.

Sherlock Holmes’ penchant for the poppy leads to him to believe that vampires actually exist. Then he goes out and sleuths them. From the writer of SCARLET TRACES and the recent Holmes adaptations.

Superboy #1 (£2-25, DC) by Jeff Lemire & Pier Gallo.

Quite what Jeff’s playing at escapes me, and I fear a distraction on a similar scale to Dylan Horrocks’ when he took on BOOKS OF MAGIC. Jeff’s sales are in orbit here (ESSEX COUNTY, MR. NOBODY, SWEET TOOTH) and I pray this is just a sideshow. A side of Smallville not even Superman knows about, apparently. Cool cover by not-the-interior-artist: LINK.

Batman, Inc. #1 (£2-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Yanick Paquette.

Last thing I heard, Grant had a whole new season of BATMAN & ROBIN up his sleeve but as of November Peter J. Tomasi’s writing that whilst Grant shifts his attention to this new title. We’ll keep you abreast (or a wing or a drumstick – please state your preference). A few teasers down the page here: LINK

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 (£2-99, DC) by David Finch.

David Finch (AVENGERS: DISASSEMBLED etc.) writes and draws a new monthly, which is a pretty tall order for an artist of that calibre. One of Bruce’s childhood friends is killed in a horrific murder. Why can’t anything nice happen to him? LINK

DC Comics Presents: Batman #2 (£5-99, DC) by Ed Brubaker & Scott McDaniel.

BATMAN #591-594, never reprinted before.

Batwoman #0 (£2-99, DC) by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman & J.H. Williams III, Amy Reeder.

As promised last month by Jonathan, Batwoman gets her own title; some sequences drawn by PROMETHEA’s Williams, some by Reeder. What a beautiful cover: LINK

Batman/Catwoman: Follow The Money one-shot (£3-50, DC) by Howard Chaykin.

From the creator of BLACK KISS and AMERICAN FLAGG.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #1 (£2-99, DC) by Nick Spencer & Cafu.

Nick Spencer has done nothing but impress me recently (see EXISTENCE 2.0/3.0 last month), and here takes on a group of individuals who are, for one reason or another, so far at their wits’ end that the prospect of becoming a superhero looks golden even if their powers will kill them. LINK

Bullseye #1 of 2 (£2-99, Marvel) by Charlie Huston & Shawn Martinborough.

Charlie Huston successfully wrote Marvel hero MOON KNIGHT as a psychopathic nightmare. Imagine what he’ll do with one of Marvel’s most psychopathic nightmares.

Osborn #1 of 5 (£2-99, Marvel) by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Warren Ellis & Emma Rios.

Following the events of SIEGE, Norman Osborn is rotting in prison. A prison so secret that not even Rich Johnston knows about it. How long do you think that’s going to last? Six-page all-new back-up by Warren Ellis.

Generation Hope #1 (£2-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Salva Espin.

From the writer of PHONOGRAM and the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN. See SUPERBOY #1 for prayers.

When Hope, the only mutant born since The Scarlet Witch declared “No More Mutants!, returned from the future in X-MEN: SECOND COMING, she catalysed the appearance of five new, slightly different manifestations on the mutant detector Cerebra. Four have been accounted for and here they join Hope and Rogue in search of the fifth in Japan, where Cyclops and Wolverine are waiting to boost sales. Expect “body-horror and hot making-out” (Gillen).

Astonishing Thor #1 of 5 (£2-99, Marvel) by Rob Rodi & Mike Choi.

From the writer of Vertigo’s CODENAME: KNOCKOUT and FOUR HOURSEMEN but more importantly the mighty fine LOKI now reprinted in a new format (see THOR & LOKI, above). The return of Ego The Living Planet in a twenty-third Thor title.

Warriors Three #1 of 4 (£2-99, Marvel) by Bill Willingham & Neil Edwards.

From the writer of FABLES, a twenty-fourth Thor title this month. I tell you what – now would be a good time to release a film…

Captain America: Man Out Of Time #1 of 5 (£2-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Jorge Molina.

Consider it CAPTAIN AMERICA: YEAR ONE POINT FIVE, as we journey back to Steve Rogers’ first days after being pulled from the ocean by the Avengers and dragged into a disconcertingly modern society full of black and white television sets, ticker-tape print-outs and washing machines.

Strange Tales vol 2 #2 of 3 (£3-50, Marvel Max) by Jeffrey Brown, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier, Farel Dalrymple, Tony Millionaire, David Heatley, Jon Vermilyea, Paul Maybury, Sheldon Vella.

Further acts of sacrilege to make you smile.

Kull: The Hate Witch #1 of 4 (£2-75, Dark Horse) by David Lapham & Gabriel Guzman.

STRAY BULLETS only with fewer guns and more battle axes. Doubtfully. One of Robert E. Howard’s other barbarians.

Dungeons & Dragons #1 (£2-99, IDW) by John Rogers & Andrea Di Vito.

Twentieth attempt to sustain any interest in this roleplaying franchise, this one by replicating the Lord Of The Ring film cast on its cover.

Assassin’s Creed: The Fall #1 of 3 (£2-99, Wildstorm./DC) by Karl Kerschl, Cameron Stewart.

Our virtual time traveller leaves Codex-weary Leonardo in peace to go bother some genius in 19th Century Russia instead.

Let’s hope for fewer lutes – I lost a lot of cover slicing the throats of those stupid bloody minstrels. I couldn’t stop myself – the response was positively Pavlovian. LINK