Reviews November 2010 week two

Footnotes In Gaza s/c (£16-99, Metropolitan) by Joe Sacco.

“Let us not today cast blame on the murderers. What can we say against their terrible hatred of us? For eight years now they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and have watched how, before their very eyes, we have turned their lands and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home. Beyond the border surges a sea of hatred and revenge. Revenge that looks towards the day when the calm will blunt our alertness… This is our choice: to be ready and armed, tough and harsh – or else the sword shall fall from our hands and our lives will be cut short.” – Moshe Dayan, April 30th 1956

Over fifty years on, and little has changed except for the concrete. Early on there are eloquent visual contrasts between the fertility of the land the Palestinians once toiled, the arid yet still clean and beautiful Gaza Strip to which 200,000 of them fled in 1948, the neat rows of early cottages, and the packed sprawl of multi-storey breeze-block buildings complete with roof terraces, water towers… and a great deal of rubble. In fact, even if you were a fan of Joe’s labour-intensive art before (and I was), you will be still be deeply impressed by this new level of intricacy on top of superb portraiture and the most solid of forms.

FOOTNOTES sees Sacco back in Palestine in search of its population’s account of the Khan Younis killings in November 1956 and in the neighbouring town of Rafah around the same time, barely recorded at all in history’s ever-evolving, relentless momentum. Not just the massacres themselves, either, but the events leading up to them in order to provide context and, for want of a better word, an ‘explanation’: the raids and retaliatory counter-strikes across the border by the Palestinian Fedayeen and the Israeli army; the ambitions of Jemal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt, to assume command of a pan-Arab state with himself as its leader; the collusion of Britain, France and Israel against Egypt in order to regain the Suez Canal; and the consequent war that left the people of Gaza trapped in the middle and paying the price. It’s these people that Sacco seeks out to give them a voice they’ve not had until now, and to do so he listens to the Fedayeen themselves, widows and orphans now grown old, and the Wanted – those on the run from Israeli soldiers, changing homes daily and rarely sleeping in their own bed for more than an hour at a time. Overwhelmingly Joe let’s them tell their story – to provide their own footnotes – and so will this reviewer. But Joe does have some sobering, wider reflections of his own about the interminable conflict:

“No one doubts who has the power and who is winning. The only question now is how far the Israelis will push their victory or how far the Palestinians can take their defeat.”

Or, as one Palestinian says:

“What’s a guy with a Kalashnikov going to do against an Apache [helicopter]?”

Undoubtedly one of my personal top-five graphic novels of the year, this isn’t November’s COMICBOOK OF THE MONTH purely because I think you need to want to read this sort of work to enjoy it, not have the material forced down your throat. I only took an interest in history after I left school. That it’s a personal craving now doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s. Also, there’s the question of John Porcellino’s new book this month, and Mark would never have forgiven me if Page 45’s CBOTM was anything else! But this is history at its most eloquent, Sacco combining individuals’ accounts seamlessly on the page whilst being profoundly eloquent himself.

“History can do without its footnotes. Footnotes are inessential at best: at worst they trip up the greater narrative. From time to time, as bolder, more streamlined editions appear, history shakes off some footnotes altogether. And you can see why… History has its hands full. It can’t help producing pages by the hour, by the minute.”

The future, if there’s to be any hope in it, does need the details, however, and that’s what Sacco provides:

“Another footnote, another page. Here, where the ink never dries.”

SLH

Northlanders vol 4: The Plague Widow (£12-99, Vertigo) by Brian Wood & Leandro Fernandez…

“Most residents didn’t believe Boris and his theories on the disease. The sick were often outcasts, but the act of sealing the walls was almost too much to accept. Ours was a trading settlement, the river our lifeline. The doors and gates were open to all. The wilderness to the north bore pelts and iron ingots, reindeer antlers and slaves. The vast markets downriver returned silver and sword blades, fine fabrics dyed colours we could scarcely dream of. The forests gave us wood and meat, the rivers and streams bear fish, and the outlying farms grow apples and wheat. But the farms are looted and burned, the streams fouled by dead bodies. Firewood just out of reach, the waters of the Volga off limits. We are a city in self-exile, the decisions makers in bitter disagreement. And our winters last seven months.”

The finest NORTHLANDERS story yet in my eyes. Yes, there’s plenty of axe-wielding and head-crushing to satisfy the bloodlust of all you Viking lovers out there, but once again this is primarily a story of extreme privation and hardship, about doing what it takes to survive. Here the enemies are both outside and within the city walls, the plague having scourged the land and forced the inhabitants of the settlement to cast out those carrying the plague and then seal the gates, leaving those inside completely vulnerable to the greed and wickedness of the vile chief constable, in practice more the local crime boss, Gunborg.

Brian Wood scripts a completely believable and plausible tale of how, when times turn tough, some will choose to rise above the situation and help their fellow sufferers, whilst others will merely prey upon the weak for their own advantage and even amusement. Once Hilda’s husband, a prosperous iron merchant has succumbed to the plague, it’s up to her to fend for her daughter and try and survive as best they can. What comes across so strongly is the ability of humanity to tenaciously cling to life in even the most difficult circumstances such as those which were experienced widely across Europe during the times of plague, and also the greed, selfishness and cruelty of which some people are apparently so eminently capable of, almost without even pausing for thought.

You never know whilst reading this volume whether there’s going to be a happy ending for Hilda and her daughter, and I’m certainly not to going to spoil that for you here. What you do realise quite early on though, is that if they do somehow manage to make it through the long bitter winter, that life will have changed for them and the rest of the settlement forever.

Excellent art from Leandro Fernandez capturing the icy knife-edge upon which survival is balanced for the cast, and also a rare mention again for a colourist, Dave McCaig, who much like in volume 1 of NORTHLANDERS where the colours really do evoke coastal Scotland, here really manages to convey the grim and bitter nature of a hard winter by the Volga.

LINK

JR

Hellblazer: India (£10-99, Vertigo) by Peter Milligan & Giuseppe Camuncoli, Simon Bisley…

“These fine ladies and gentlemen in London and Shropshire… they read a few fucking Kipling yarns… and think they know what it’s like out here… They’ve no idea, Ma’am. They don’t know these people… this damnable country. They… they could never understand… what this place… does to a man.”

I have some sympathy with him actually, Colonel Burke of Victorian times, who ends up a tormented demon in our modern era terrorising the streets of Mumbai. It’s a funny old place, India, and indeed does odd things to your head, and body. After a few months there I personally could not wait to leave, yet within a week I wished I was back there in the midst of the madness.

Strangely enough, just after finishing this book – another perfectly spiced bite of Constantine excitement from Mr. Milligan (it’s now as consistently good as back is the Ennis era for me) – I literally came across a postcard on our huge and densely cluttered notice board in the upstairs office, which contains many a rum and uncanny item from the 16-year history of Page 45. I was looking at the postcard thinking it looked weirdly familiar, and I when I took it down and read the message on the other side I realised why. Now I would swear that it wasn’t there before but it must have been, maybe under something else that had recently been removed or fallen off.

You see, it was a postcard I had sent Mark, Stephen and Dominique from my visit to India some ten years ago. And I had carefully picked a design of Lord Ganesh, elephant-headed deity famed for being the remover of obstacles, an irony not lost upon those trying to navigate the Indian railway system, or indeed build a truly worthy website. Anyway, upon my return to the UK and very shortly thereafter Page 45, I was somewhat bemused by Mark showing me his Ganesh tattoo which he’d had done just a few days before my postcard arrived, possibly at exactly the same time I was writing it. A little piece of irony surfing the synchronicity highway as John would no doubt remark.

Still, it seemed strange this particular postcard would wait for this particular moment to make its presence known to me, after sitting not more than 3 feet away from it for the last two years whilst working on our website, in the very week it was launched. Who knows, perhaps the bearded one and Lord G were sat over somewhere over a cuppa having a little chuckle, and just making their presence felt about the last of the obstacles to the Page 45 website finally being ready removed. I enjoyed this volume of HELLBLAZER immensely by the way.

LINK

JR

Henry & Glenn Forever (£4-50, Cantankerous Titles) by Tom Neely, Scot Nobles,

Gin Stevens of the Igloo Tornado.

From the creator of THE BLOT, phenomenally successful here, something completely different and riotously funny. Henry & Glenn are housemates. Glenn’s on the road and sends Henry a postcard:

“Dear Henry,
“How are you? The tour is going ok. I miss you and the dog so much. Give her a kiss for me. Yesterday this lead singer slapped me. It hurt so much I wish you were there to have held me. Well I have to go there is a great documentary on about werewolves.
“Miss you,
“Glenn
“xoxox”

So much funnier when you realise that it’s Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig. As to neighbours Daryl and John… “Oh, I can’t go for that…”

66 pages of single cartoons, cry-fest diary entries, and the sort of notes you’d leave your housemate on the refrigerator. I’ve read the hatemail some humourless loons sent the creative crew, while Henry Rollins said:

“Has Glenn seen this? Trust me, he would NOT be amused.”

I rather think Henry might have been, though. In spite of the testosterone raging through his system, he’s a fiercely intelligent man whose NME interviews always made me sit up and take notice, while just the other evening/early morning I saw him on a panel of judges of some tranny talent contest (create outfit, perform song and dance routine; be inspired by a glowing Rue Paul). For all I know it was called the Y Factor.

LINK

SLH

Shuddertown h/c (£14-99, Image) by Nick Spencer & Adam Geen…

“Fenner was the first. But four days later, Coleman. Then Wilkins. Frazier.
“Four open cases. Conclusive DNA. Four dead perps, all before the fact.
“You don’t just tell people things like this. People will think you’re crazy.
“People will assume you’re post-traumatic from the shot you took
“People will see the DNA evidence and assume you’re screwing something up at the scene.
“People will take a closer look at you.”

Much like the Red Monkey Double Happiness case, I was starting to wonder if my gumshoe radar wasn’t on the fritz. Nothing made sense, not even after a second investigation of the evidence. Sure, on the face of it I had all the facts, now I just had to work out why they didn’t add up.

Well, I’ve done it to myself again, no one else to blame, though at least I didn’t mistake fiction for fact this time… Upon finishing SHUDDERTOWN I’d thought that the final page was either a) some highly stylised surrealistic ending I just hadn’t grasped at all, b) I had missed something glaringly obvious half-way through the story which would make it all make sense, or c) I had finally melted my brain with too much cape-candy.

So I re-read it through paying a little more attention for hidden clues this time, once again revelling in the street sharp Sopranos dialogue, and the gritty arthouse cinema feel of the motion and colours of the artwork… and yep, once again the ending made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Had I finally come across a case I couldn’t crack? Had working on the Page 45 website 24/7 finally tipped me over the edge? Come to think of it, the barista in Cafe Nero had looked at me kind of strangely this morning when I asked for six shots of espresso in my soya latte. But no, something was clearly amiss, and in true Holmesian fashion having eliminated all other possibilities, I reluctantly arrived at the conclusion the answer had to be c)… when I then noticed the vol 1 emblazoned on the spine. You see, I was under the misapprehension this was a four-issue, open-and-shut case… What a sap. Suddenly it all made sense, the final page wasn’t an ending at all… in fact it was a doozie of a cliffhanger…

LINK

JR

Bakuman vol 2 (£7-50, Viz) by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata…

“Why do you have my notebook with you?”
“Come on, don’t look so serious, it’s not like it’s a death note…”

Nice little in-joke from the creators of the multi-trillion selling DEATH NOTE in this, their follow-up manga. And it couldn’t be more different from that psychological thriller as top ranking student Akito begs the artistic but far less academic Moritaka to help him achieve his secret dream of becoming a manga master. Well, blackmails him into it really with the aid of Moritaka’s notebook which has several sketches of their classmate he secretly fancies. I enjoyed this first volume enormously, because whilst it is a little heavy on teeny romance for my personal tastes, the basic premise is extremely well explored, with a serious look at just what talent, and good fortune, it takes to even carve the beginnings of a career in manga. And happily the second volume tones the romance element down considerably, concentrating instead on looking at just what ridiculous lengths are involved in even getting one single story published in SHONEN JUMP magazine. It’s a fascinating insight into the grindstone world of budding manga creators. I can see BAKUMAN fast becoming a regular guilty pleasure of mine alongside YOTSUBA&!

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JR

March Story vol 1 (£9-99, Viz) by Kim Yang…

I got about half-way through this and gave up out of absolute, complete and total boredom. Which, when you’re riding the tram into Page 45 Central with only your mobile phone bill you’ve received that morning as competing reading material, is rather a feat. Everything that is so cleverly explained in vol 2 of BAKUMAN as being formulated to appeal to the widest possible readership is exhibited here. Except there’s absolutely nothing clever or appealing about it whatsoever. Fans of certain mainstream manga will therefore love it until the day they finally discover things like 20TH CENTURY BOYS or CHILDREN OF THE SEA and anything by Tezuka or Taniguchi. Me, I’m still waiting for the next volume of SUMMIT OF THE GODS…

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JR

Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies (£13-50, Wildstorm) by Ian Edginton & David Fabbri…

 “No, I don’t believe so. Look closer… at their clothes. They may not be à la mode, but neither are they ancient in apparel. The question is, who are they and why are they here in such numbers?”
“ Well frankly, I’m just relieved they are not ambulatory cadavers like that other creature.”

No, not the Stephen L .Holland Appreciation Society turning up in cowboy boots and ripped… sorry, ‘distressed’… leather trenchcoats en masse outside Page 45 to cosplay their semi-legendary hero’s capers along the length and breadth of Market Street, but Holmes and Watson eloquently expounding on the sudden appearance of the… gasp… undead upon the streets of London! Didn’t anyone tell them THE WALKING DEAD was being made into a tv show?!!

This is one of those strange mash-ups that just shouldn’t work, if just out of respect for classic literature, but in fact does so with spectacular aplomb, and that is entirely down to Edginton’s masterful storytelling and witty repartee, and Fabbri’s wonderfully clean yet appropriately revolting art. Never has a situation required so much exposition from our erudite detective to explain away to his dashingly devoted sidekick. And yet, it never ever strays into the bounds of ridiculousness, retaining all the while that peculiar sensibility of eerie Victorian creepiness, aided by a clever plot worthy of a Hammer House of Horror film (and I mean that in a fond way). And of course, there is a certain well educated nemesis at the dark unbeating heart of matters which never does any harm to the appeal of a Holmes story. This is as entertaining as HELLBOY or B.P.R.D. and would certainly appeal to fans of that particular brand of humorous horror fiction.

JR

[Okay, it’s more distraught than distressed, I grant you! – ed.]

Sense & Sensibility h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Nancy Butler & Sonny Liew.

A second of Jane Austen’s socio-political masterpieces, this one originally published in 1811, fifteen years after its early origins as a series of letters, and its title clearly announced the author’s intention of examining the antithetical traits found in the two sisters Elinor and Marianne: “a strength of understanding, and a coolness of judgement”, and an excess of barely controlled sensitivity and emotion. “Moderation in all things” might be a rather clumsy summary of the lesson to be learned, but certainly a consideration of others in deciding whether to speak your mind all the time and regardless of the consequences is no bad thing for the teenager which I was then to take on board.

If only I had, eh?

Anyway, I’m delighted to report that Sonny Liew is infinitely more suited to the task at hand that either the cover or interior artist on Marvel’s adaptation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. For a start he actually comprehends the contemporary dress code, and secondly his cartoon characters can act. Obviously this is going to be a heavily expurgated version and I’d rather go back and read the original myself, but if it introduces a single mind to the majesty of Jane Austen’s wit and her acute powers of perception, then hurrah!

LINK

SLH

Kill Shakespeare vol 1: A Sea Of Troubles (£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 read the first issue, I can see a certain appeal, and the art is perfectly 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.

LINK

SLH

The Boys vol 7: The Innocents (£14-99, Dynamite) by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson, Russ Braun, John McCrea, Keith Burns.

Seriously worried. More next week, probably!

LINK

SLH

Astro City: Dark Ages Book 2 h/c (£22-50, Wildstorm) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson…

“That’s it there? The 1984 Crisis Point?”
“The secondary Crisis Point. If we’ve interpreted the data correctly, yes. Historical records barely exist for the era, and our scanners… you know the interference we’ve encountered. That node… that’s the point where the Crucial Technology comes into play. But there are other points through time, greater crises.”
“Yes, we’ve been through that.”
“Alert! Alert! New Data! Flux-pattern altering, primary Crisis Point… new data.”
“Fractal souls, what is that?”

Well that would be the concluding half of Mssrs. Busiek and Andersons’ latest epic of ASTRO CITY action, THE DARK AGE of course. Will Charles and Royal Williams put aside their fraternal differences and finally get revenge upon the petty criminal who callously killed their parents without so much as a second thought? The only problem is that these days he’s become a serious heavy hitter having risen through the ranks of the nefarious Pyramid organisation, but that’s cool because the boys are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring the man down. Now if the universe doesn’t come to an end, or at least Astro City get wiped off the map in the meanwhile, they might just have half a chance.

It never ceases to amaze me how what in essence began as part homage, part pastiche if you will, to the classic comics of the ‘60s and ‘70s has ended up being something that puts to shame most of the current Marvel and DC output. You can tell Kurt Busiek loves, really loves, writing this book. It’s apparent from the sheer density of material that he manages to cram into every panel of every page. Not so much non-stop as perpetual motion. Not one single panel is wasted in moving along any one of the myriad sub-plots, nor an opportunity missed for some snappy dialogue. I was particularly amused by one of the Royal brothers’ habit of referring to every supervillain as ‘kitten’ whilst in deadly expositive combat with them. Even the final panel has a lovely little punchline featuring a road sign right down in the bottom corner saying, ‘You are now leaving Astro City, please drive carefully.’

It is extremely impressive how the same book can make you think so wistfully of a bygone comic era whilst simultaneously raising the bar right up into the stratosphere for modern superhero comics. And once again Anderson excels on art providing panel after panel of frenzied action. I love how much work he puts into the characters’ faces too though, never content to just draw them, but always wanting to convey the emotions they’re going through in any given crazy and chaotic situation Kurt has dreamed up to put them through. I just hope there’s more material on the way soon.

JR

X-Men: Nation X s/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Matt Fraction, various & Alan Davis, Greg Land, Terry Dodson, Whilce Portacio, Phil Jimenez and various…

“Are you alive?”
“No.”
“Are you a vegetable?”
“Yes.”
“You’re beer.”
“Dammit.”
“Wait a moment…”
“You consider beer a vegetable?”

Hmm actually, on re-reading this as a collected volume I did quite enjoy it, whereas picking through it piece-meal as the issues were coming out I wasn’t that bothered at all. Here collectively, Fraction’s wit and humour stand out, showing he can write an ensemble cast just as well as his excellent handling of Tony Stark in the on-going INVINCIBLE IRON MAN run. Whilst there’s nothing as dramatic happening as during the NECROSHA or SECOND COMING events, there’s plenty going on as the inhabitants of Nation X realise they’re all going to have to at least try the concept of getting along whilst living with one another. Which of course in true X-family style involves more than a few confrontations and cross words.

There are a few standout moments, mostly involving certain characters turning up at the new homestead by various random means or another, but it is all rather low-key including the return of ***** *****, which is all over and dealt with in the space of an issue. A shame really given how much effort Joss Whedon put into leaving them in a rather perilous predicament, and I am surprised Fraction didn’t take the opportunity to spin it into some rather more deservingly melodramatic. [Actually that took me completely by surprise plus, cruelly, it’s far from over, I promise you – read-ahead ed.]

The sidebar tales from various writers collected here are actually very entertaining. All of a similar vein, mostly taking a humorously askance look at life on Nation X (or in the case of Wolverine and Nightcrawler on a road trip) from different perspectives. Actually a fair few them could almost fit nicely into a STRANGE TALES collection they are that off-the-wall, particularly the Corey Lewis Cannonball one. Overall a nice change of pace from this collection compared to other recent ‘epic’ goings-on.

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JR

Siege s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Oliver Coipel with Michael Lark, Lucio Parrillo, Jimmy Cheung.

Please note: unlike the UK edition, this contains all the extra material originally published in the US hardcover. Full review here:

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SLH

Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man vol 5 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & John Romita Sr. with Don Heck.

“Face it, tiger… You just hit the jackpot!”

Ah, the immortal line is first uttered here by the beaming ray of beatnik sunshine that is Mary Jane Watson. For several issues Peter’s been swooning over Gwen whilst sweating it over his first meeting with MJ whom he’s convinced will turn out to be a dud. Err, no. She’s drop-dead gorgeous, up for some action and in marked contrast to the rest of the cast here she doesn’t worry about how she’s perceived nor second-guess others’ motives.

Speaking of which, one forgets how accurately Stan Lee used to nail neuroses. I don’t mean the melodrama of “What’s wrong with me? I’ve defeated some of the most powerful supervillains of all time – without batting an eye! But why do I have such trouble – just managing my own life…?”, I mean the little things like conversations that become unusually and unexpectedly awkward, stilted, and difficult to engage in as Peter’s does with former flame Betty Brant. They haven’t seen each other in ages and the connection is gone, Peter groaning his way through a casual cup of coffee, fully aware that neither of them is comfortable.

This is the point where I first came on board through the Marvel UK prints, spoiled on John Romita Sr.’s contemporarily hip art (and MJ’s ludicrously hip dialogue: “I never thought a tiger who wore his hair so short could be so dreamy! And you’ve got a bouncin’ bike too! Dad – you’re the end!”) and some of the most exquisite cover compositions in Marvel’s history. #50 in particular is that classic portrait of Peter walking towards us, face-down in dejection as above him looms the back-turned spectre of the Spider-Man identity he’s given up for good, whilst #42, #43, #45 and #46 boast perfectly arranged and thrillingly dynamic one-on-one confrontations between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson’s son, the Rhino, the Lizard and the Shocker, respectively. And although the adult in me is no longer that interested in superhero fist-fights (I’m more about the relationships), John Romita Sr. manages to find a surprising variety of ways to choreograph them, even if throughout these early years a bizarre proportion end in the death of a brick chimney.

It’s also refreshing to see how smoothly the stories flow through each other over the course of several issues, one event catalysing another: J. Jonah Jameson’s son is exposed to space spores bringing about first but not last transformation; the Rhino kidnaps him so the spores can be analysed by foreign military scientists; Peter seeks help from scientist Curt Connors to dissolve the Rhino’s hide; Curt Connors once more transforms into the Lizard. There’s a lot of J.J. Jr here, whilst his dad struts about puffing on his cigar and glaring around like a manically mardy Groucho Marx:

“That blasted wall-crawler sabotaged your capsule himself, in order to make everyone think he’s a hero by later saving you!”
“Dad! Who told you such a ridiculous story?”
“Nobody! I made it up!”

There’s a similar tag-team trio of issues with Kraven and the new Vulture, and it’s all a very far cry from the turgid log-jam of sub-plots which UNCANNY X-MEN became under Chris Claremont after John Byrne left. Lastly there’s Spider-Man’s famous audition for membership in the Avengers wherein Captain America sends him out to capture the Hulk, and the Wasp brings all her customary wits to bear on assessing his potential as a team-mate objectively, scientifically and with good grace:

“I vote no! I hate anything to do with spiders!”

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SLH

For more hilarity from the air-head bint, please see MARVEL MASTERWORKS: AVENGERS VOLUME ONE. Stan Lee was not a feminist, no.

LINK

SLH

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

There’s something a little McKelvie about Pier Gallo’s art, only without the chic. Still, it’s sweet (as in perfectly inoffensive) as is the title itself, and given his love of the farming community (see ESSEX COUNTY – no, I mean do see ESSEX COUNTY, it rocks), I can see why Lemire might want to write a story set around Smallville. And he does use its arable and nature pointedly in the very first issue – the livestock suffer too. Everything clipped along at a swift pace, establishing relationships and power sets, and the cliffhanger certainly took me by surprise as did “Coming soon…”

I’m just praying that this is a brief excursion for Jeff into superheroes for his forte lies elsewhere in straight, melancholic fiction like ESSEX COUNTY, lateral thinking like the Invisible Man riff in THE NOBODY and in harrowing speculative fiction like SWEET TOOTH.

SLH

Also arrived last week:

(Use our search engine – reviews will still follow for some; other softcover editions of previous hardcovers will already have reviews attached.)

How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less (£18-99, Vertigo) by Sarah Glidden
Cooper: Bent h/c (£16-99, Fantagraphics) by Dave Cooper
h day (£22-50, Picturebox) by Renee French
Whores Of Mensa #5 (£6-99, self-published) by Sarah McIntyre, Tanya Milkkitten Meditzky, Jeremy Dennis Day, Francesca Cassavetti, Patrice Aggs, Ellen Lindner, Cliodhna Lyons, Maartje Schalkx, Howard John Arey, Emily Ryan Lerner, Peter Lally, John Harris Dunning, Richard Cowdry, Mardou
Berlin #17 (£3-50, Drawn & Quarterly) y Jason Lutes
Batman & Robin vol 2: Batman vs. Robin: The Deluxe Edition h/c (£18-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke
Serenity vol 3: The Shepherd’s Tale h/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Joss Whedon,
Zack Whedon & Chris Samnee
B.P.R.D. vol 14: King Of Fear (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi
& Guy Davis
Punisher Max: Kingpin s/c £14-99 Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon
Batman: Battle For The Cowl s/c (£10-99, DC) by Tony S. Daniel, Fabian Nicieza &
Tony S. Daniel, Jamie McKelvie, Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, ChrisCross, Alex
Konat, Mark McKenna
Green Lantern: Agent Orange s/c (£10-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Philip Tan
Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago vol 2 (£19-99, Dark Horse) by Archie Goodwin,
Chris Claremont, Larry Hama & Carmine Infantino, Gene Day, Mike Vosburg, Steve
Leialoha, Bob Wiacek, Carlos Garzon
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed vol 2 (£9-99, Titan) by Haden Blackman & Omar
Francia, Manuel Silva
Good Neighbours vol 3: Kind h/c (£12-99, Graphix) by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh
Dragonball Z vol 9 VIZBIG Edition (£14-99, Viz) by Akira Toriyama
Panda Man To The Rescue (£5-99, Viz) by Sho Makura & Haruhi Kato
InuYasha vol 5 VIZBIG Edition (£14-99, Viz) by Rumiko Takahashi
A Bloody Kiss Tonight (£9-99, Doki Doki) by Makoto Tateno
Gin Tama vol 20 (£7-50, Viz) by Hideaki Sorachi
Choco Mimi vol 5 (£5-99, Viz) by Konami Sonoda
Shaman King vol 31 (£7-50, Viz) by Hiroyuki Takei
Maoh: Juvenile Remix vol 3 (£7-50, Viz) by Kotaro Isaka & Megumi Osuga
This edition of the Page 45 Mailshot Reviews has been a Jonathan Rigby Special with only mild impertinence from the wretchedly attired and wizened old man called Stephen. Each review is now initialled underneath. You got that, right?

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