Reviews March 2011 week four

 

If you’re allergic to superheroes – and some of you can’t help it; it’s a chemical reaction – then please note the brand-new STRANGERS IN PARADISE review below them!

 

The Adventures Of Unemployed Man (£12-99, Little Brown) by Erich Origen, Gan Golan & Rick Veitch, Ramona Fradon, Michael Netzer.

“Look!
“Up in the sky!”
“It’s a bird!”
“It’s a plane!”
“Nah – it’s just some dude getting fired.”

There’s a definitional difference between a cynic and a sceptic; I’m neither, though I doubt most agree.

The superhero genre is crammed full of characters that defy the cynic: altruists prepared to put themselves in harm’s way in order to help the helpless and challenge iniquity whenever they encounter it. That’s why books like THE BOYS and BRATPACK, full of vile, self-serving thugs marketed to the public as heroes cause such a stir: they turn reader’s expectations of the genre right on their heads and then, for good measure, throw the resultant depravity in their faces. And we love it!

However, it’s also what makes the superhero genre perfect as a vehicle to satirise the self-serving greed and callousness of real-world CEOs, banks and other corporate institutions which rake in an abominable amount of money at the expense of the wider population, and the sort of Republican policies that enable or even promote their agenda. In the current economic climate of sweeping redundancies and daily scandals over Chief Executives claiming obscene bonuses on top of bloated salaries even after being bailed out by governments using tax payers’ money, the timing here could not be more perfect.

But what about the execution? Many are the mockeries I’ve read of the superhero genre that fall flat on their faces on account of being thin on jokes, bereft of a talent for comedy or the jokes themselves are so esoteric they mean little to anyone.

Firstly – and most importantly – this is not a parody of the superhero genre. Instead it’s using the trappings of that genre in order to expose the cold reality of so much economic smoke-screening. Secondly, it’s done with a perfect understanding of those trappings whilst keeping it all iconic – no self-indulgence here – because it’s aimed squarely at the Real Mainstream interested in the broader joys of satire. Thirdly, it is not scattered but positively crammed full of jokes that nail each iniquity on its head.

The titular Unemployed Man is Bruce Pain, A.K.A. The Ultimatum, a masked missionary patrolling Hell’s Kitchenette in the American Dream Machine, crusading against the Dark Forces of Destitution he sees all around him by handing out self-help literature. Which isn’t much use when you’re homeless, except to throw on the fire. To him poverty is “another symptom of poor mental hygiene”. But he’s in for three harsh wake-up calls. As President of Paincorp he once teamed-up with The Firing Squad and “disbanded” 5,000 employees; he discovers another shameful secret at the heart of Paincorp contributing to wider economic misery; and then finds out that he’s merely a mascot and is promptly fired.

It’s only then that he experiences for himself what the majority of the population have had to years. There’s The Coming of… Kollectus followed by the arrival of the Fantastic Fourclosure and he just can’t get a job. He does manage an interview with FIAS CO (Financial Insurance, Analysis & Stuff) whose terrifying panel members consist of The Human Resource, Optimystique, the Silver Lining etc., each of whom dismiss his super power of “looking on the bright side” as redundant to their cause. One of my favourite sequences is his encounter with a family tied to rail tracks as “a streetcar named bankruptcy” thunders towards them. Super Lotto descends to save the day, but instead of untying them he force-feeds them false home in the form of lottery tickets as the ruinous economic train continues its untrammelled approach. One propaganda battle later and its only when Wonder Mother arrives (“Fighting for working mothers everywhere – in all that “spare time” she has!”) that Unemployed Man realises Super Lotto’s ruse:

“Wow. I gotta hand it to you, Super Lotto, you’re really good at distracting me from the real problem!”
“What can I say? That’s my job.”

Stylistically it’s very much in the more naïve vein of the superhero so-called Silver Age, with advertisements for Blind-O-Vision goggles and Self-Pulling Bootstraps, and hand-dandy recaps of the history of The Just Us League which helped increase the salaries of the corporate CEOs from merely 78 times those of minimum wage earners to 4,000 times more. The secret origins of the other heroes who’ve found themselves thrown on the societal scrapheap are scathing indictments of so many different financial impediments thrown in the way of those most likely to help others: teachers, librarians, policemen, social workers, and once more it is wit, wit, wit all the way. When a lethal overdose of Fox News Rays turns overworked Bruce Tanner into a rampaging beast of bigotry and self-destruction, he ends up helping to break things he needs himself  (universal health care, unemployment insurance, bank regulations, progressive tax and public transport) “ just to be sure they wouldn’t be shared with those I was told to hate.”

In all honesty I arrived at the table expecting an ill-informed, gagless gimmick, not an eloquent, pithy and piercing diatribe against American prison rates, a mendacious media and its power to divide. Not because I’m a sceptic, you understand, but I need proof of the pudding before passing it on. I have now eaten thereof. Bon appétit.

LINK

SLH

Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921: A Kind, Benevolent And Amiable Brick (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by George Herriman.

The second of three years of the Sunday strips, annotated at the back with contextual explanations for more obscure references, an extra full-colour commission no one seems to know much about, an illustrated account of the characters’ early life by Bill Blackbeard and an account of George’s cartoons for the Los Angeles times (along with examples of those same cartoons) by Bob Callahan.

Here you’ll find the triangle as eternal as ever between Officer Pupp, Krazy the cat, and Ignatz, the brick-throwing mouse. Krazy is still convinced they’re tokens of affection, which is one way of coping with rejection. Here you’ll find Krazy moved to tears by the plight of a caged canary denied all the joys of free-flying fowl which he demonstrates one by one… outside of his cage. You’ll see him creep around on behalf of a pig begging for pennies after Ignatz dobs him in, the sneak. You’ll witness the sublime stupidity of Pupp and Ignatz investigating a dark cave with eyes, right under (or above) Krazy’s nose. But most of all, there’s them thar bricks aflyin’.

I’ve mentioned before my adoration of Herriman’s love of language. We share a similar passion for mischievous neologism but what may surprise some is that Herriman’s sounds so modern – or that our own neologisms may be no more than subconscious repetition! “Thumbage” was how Herriman described the action of sticking your hand out to hail a lift. He gleefully writes dialogue like “Maybe, I was mistooken” and “Golla, something has gotta be did”.

Here Ignatz discovers a brick (yes, “A brick!” – he’s so excited!) and finds a familiar home for it with dialogue that will defy your spellchecker, but I know what I type.

“What a beauty it is too, a black beauty, heavy and solid – I will lean every ounce of its ebony lovliness against that Krazy Kat’s koko. Fortune favours me, he comes to his doom.”
[Singing]:
“There’s a lotta sand in Kaibito,
 And a lotta moon in Oljeto,
 And I’d give half of my bigto
 If I could be in Kaibito
 Either there, or Oljeto,
For I’m a hoopintootin Navajo yo-ho –“
<ZIP>
“Ah, a ainjil’s wisitation – a message from cupid. A ‘black brick’. Golla, the l’il dahlink must be buying his ammunition from a new brick yard.
“Look, Offissa Pupp. Look at the swell black brick Ignatz has osculated me with just now. Aint he getting to be regla l’il dude?”
“Here’s a nice new dollar for you, Krazy – use it, and be happy you old dear.”
“?”

Regardless of gender, it’s probably the strangest love triangle in the world.

Osculate is a real word, by the way, meaning to “kiss”. So the next git who tries to tell you that comics are illiterate…? “Osculate” him with the hardcover version of this.

LINK

SLH

The Hunger Of The Seven Squat Bears h/c (£9-99, Yen) by Émile Bravo.

All-ages hardcover from an occasional contributor to MOME with some cute, wide-eyed cartooning which appropriates several riffs from other firm favourites which work best when they’re not sign-posted. It kicks off, for example, as the seven impecunious bears, having built themselves a house from wooden slats, grow bored of living off the milky produce of their sole possession and take the cow to market to sell her for butter.

“And some honey gingerbread to spread it on!” they call to the hapless cub assigned to the task.
“For crying out loud! Buy some bricks!!” warns their neighbour, not for the first time. He’s a pig; one suspects he has two little brothers somewhere who’ve already learned their lesson.

It’s told in a chatty style and yes, you’re right, the cow never makes it to market but is instead given away by the dopey bear under the assumption that he is being robbed by an old man. He isn’t.

“The old man told him an incredibly boring story about a giant bean, a castle with an ogre, and a lot of treasure and, honestly, I can’t even remember the rest… anyway, the bear wasn’t really listening. He was terrified.”

In spite of his traumatised incapacity, the bear returns to the fold with the magic bean but typically they fail to do anything with it. Instead the witless wonders are persuaded by a roving Puss In Boots to sacrifice their friend – to drag him out of bed and lose him in the snow white forest – in order to take his last bowl of milk. So Puss In Boots takes both the bear and the milk… and the magic bean for good measure. It’s only as part of the bread trail the cat leaves behind in order to find his way back that the bean is planted at all!

Thanks to Little Red Riding Hood the bear is indeed abandoned in the winter woodland only to be lured into a gingerbread house by a glutinous, lard-arsed Hansel and Gretel who in turn fall prey to Mister Wolf. This leaves the cub to stuff himself senseless on the candy-coated domicile then return home where he finds the giant beanstalk has grown way up into the sky. Have the six remaining bears climbed it to reap their rewards? Have they heckers-like. They’ve gorged themselves on bean stew instead.

As a tale of bumbling bewilderment this all ties together beautifully with more than a touch of Jeffrey Brown in its execution. The only thing that doesn’t work are the early references to Poucet which get lost in translation. I’m assuming he’s Le Petit Poucet, a character similar to Tom Thumb created by Charles Perrault (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty) but only because I have access to the internet. Wouldn’t have had a clue otherwise.

Oh yeah, and not that it really, really matters, but what is the point of a dust jacket identical to the hardcover it wraps itself around? Superfluous, surely? Dust jackets: not a fan anyway.

LINK

SLH

Battle Royale : Ultimate Edition vol 1 h/c (£18-99, Tokyopop) by Koushun Takami & Masayuki Taguchi -

Whew, high octane. Take the story you (might) know from the film, add extra character background including plenty of school memories, change a few things around and you’ve got an amazing read.

For those who haven’t seen the film, the idea is a reality show taken to extremes. A class of Japanese school children are forced to whittle their numbers down from 42 to 1 over the space of a few days. They’re set down on an island, given a random weapon each, a collar packed with explosives and told to get to it. Japan is disappointed with its youth, the traditional values are disintegrating rapidly so the lesson is shape up or we disown you. Different factions in the class react in different ways. Some band together and try to ignore the rule that if there’s more than one left at the end of the game all the collars explode. Some take to it naturally. The tagline for the film was something like “Could you kill your best friend?” It’ll be interesting to see how the manga tackles the lighthouse scene, one of the most intense pieces of celluloid I’ve witnessed.

Not sure if this is adapted from the original novel or taken from the film but Giffen does an excellent job with the English language version – well done to Tokyopop for drafting him in. Often in manga, an artist has a few different stock faces and he merely piles different hair and clothes around them. The kids all have the same uniform so Taguchi (I’m guessing) has made an almost Gilbert Hernandez-like stretch of keeping everyone separate. He manages to keep everything sharp and clear while still exaggerating the pupils’ faces so the sweet and innocent are distinct from the dangerous or damaged. His art is glossy and shiny and almost hyperreal, particularly during the – rather messy and close up – killings.

Also, this is quite a change from Western adaptations. If Dark Horse are doing an Aliens book it’s a four-issue mini series, probably coming out at under a hundred pages. If DC do a Batman, it’s less than that, got all the big fight scenes and you go away thinking “Well it looked like Michael Keaton” but that’s about it. Here we have the first two-hundred-page book of a fifteen-part series and it’s giving you more than the film, not less. Much more.

[Editor’s note: you actually get six-hundred pages here in a taller, wider format because this is the first three softcovers in one. The softcovers are going out of print, and I don’t anticipate a reversal in Tokyopop’s implosion so if you want this seriously I’d make it sooner rather than later.]

MAS

iZombie vol 1: Dead To The World (£10-99, Vertigo) by Chris Robinson & Michael Allred…

“TRICK OR TREAT!”
“You… what? But…”
“Quit stalling. Make with the trick or treat already.”

Part sitcom, part Scooby Doo, part Buffy, which makes iZOMBIE sounds like the veritable Frankenstein’s monster of a comic. Errr… well in fact, a Frankenstein’s monster would seem to be the only classic horror character that hasn’t shown up so far in Roberson & Allred’s kitsch supernatural detective comedy as we have Gwen, a zombie who daylights as a gravedigger, her bee-hived and mini-skirted ghostly friend Ellie, forever trapped in the ‘60s, Spot the were-terrier who has a very unrequited crush on Gwen, Amon the suave and mysterious mummy who lives in the creepy house at the end of the street, the paintballing vampire minxes who hang out in the clubs as well as the woods, and the bickering, white-suited monster hunters Horatio and Diogenes, who’ve started to realise that Eugene, Oregon is rather more interesting a place to visit than its boring name would first suggest. Yes, Roberson has certainly wasted no time in establishing a crazy cast of characters with which to craft his spooky tale.

I like the concept of this book a lot, and there’s certainly endless possibilities to be had exploiting these modern day versions of the horror archetypes we’ve all come to love (and perhaps not be so frightened by any more over the years) for comedic gain. Plus on a slightly more serious level we have the central character of the somewhat sardonic Gwen, and her attempting to come to terms with being undead, with a little assistance from the timeless Amon who has more than a millennium or two of firsthand experience of precisely what that entails. Then we also have the wider stories of the various nocturnal goings-on that need some investigation from Gwen and her friends, as well as the monster hunters of course. I can’t say for sure yet if iZOMBIE is going to hold my attention but it’s certainly off to a strong start, ably assisted by Allred’s colourful poppy art, which removes any last vestiges of sinister from the story and certainly ramps up the camp.

LINK

JR

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Warren Ellis & Kaare Andrews.

Wolverine, Emma Frost, then Cyclops:

“How come we all have to wear your G.I. Joe uniform of the week and Emma gets to wear what she likes, Cyke?”
“Darling, if you were sleeping with the leader of the pack, I’m sure that you too could wear what you liked. Presumably a fresh animal skin of some kind.”
“There’s beer on the plane, Logan.”

The X-Men are off on a field trip to Mbangawi in Africa on the other side of Lake Victoria from the Serengeti plains where Ororo grew up. Her husband King T’Challa has reported a phenomenon of so-called mutant births, babies manifesting explosive powers straight out of the womb. Hospitals have been destroyed, mothers have been killed by their own children, and as for the children themselves, it is to weep. Even though it is scientific fact that the X-gene only powers up at puberty, Cyclops is in denial. There are no more mutants being born around the planet, and he’s desperate for that to change. But Dr. Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast is far more pragmatic, determined to be thorough, and something just pinged. It isn’t good news.

The final book in Ellis’ ASTONISHING trilogy in which we’re treated to a sobering history lesson courtesy of Logan and some magnificent African landscapes and balletic athletics by one the most versatile artists in comics. You are advised, however, to read the first of Ellis’s ASTONISHING X-MEN books, GHOST BOX first (at the time of typing we still have it in both h/c and s/c), because it’s what they’ve encountered there that has come back to bite them.

Storm, Wolverine, then the Beast:

“I’m taking him out of here. You deal with that. Try diplomacy first, please, but the issue is containing them.”
“You wanna try diplomacy, or do you want me to?”
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you stab anyone diplomatically before.”

For those interested in the construction of comics, there’s the big bonus of the first issue’s original script at the back, and its startling execution in black and white inks and sandy tone before colouring. With no lettering at all, they are some of the most beautiful, crisp and clean art pages I’ve seen.

Also I think Ellis is the first person to amuse us with the blindingly obvious r.e. Emma Frost: her English accent is fake! Blindingly obvious now that he’s mentioned it, anyway.

Not to be confused with Ellis’ second in the trilogy Astonishing X-Men Exogenetic, also superb.

SLH

Fear Itself Prologue: Book Of The Skull one-shot (£2-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Scot Eaton.

Out in the Egyptian desert lies a secret fortress buried deep beneath the sands, and in it lies a book bound in pale blue skin carved from the backs of dying Atlanteans. Within the book lies another secret which, like the book and fortress itself, used to belong to the Red Skull, the hate-mongering Nazi now presumed dead. All three now belong to his twisted daughter whose appetite for terror is as repulsive as her father’s, her face even more so.

The secret is this: in February 1942 something was summoned from the heavens which landed in Antarctica; something the Red Skull craved. Had he been able to make use of it, WWII would have belonged to Germany. But he couldn’t, for he could not even lift it, this hammer that fell from the sky…

In all honesty – and quite unexpectedly – this was extremely dull. I didn’t know Brubaker could actually ‘do’ dull. I’ve been a keen reader of his from LOWLIFE through THE FALL (pencilled by Jason Lutes of BERLIN, JAR OF FOOLS and Houdini fame) to GOTHAM CENTRAL onwards. Apart from one book guest-starring Namor, his Captain America run has been sterling. This guest-stars Namor, and it’s not even much to look at, sorry.

I am, however, still very much looking forward to the FEAR ITSELF main event by Fraction and Immonen.

SLH

God Of War (£10-99, DC) by Marv Wolfman & Andrea Sorrentino.

Barking blades and butchery game finally gets its own comicbook spin-off, and much “tohewen and toshrede” there be!

Also chains (two), Hellspawn (legion), and a goatee. I always assumed that Kratos was voiced by Star Trek: Next Generation’s Michael Dorn who played – and may even still play – Klingon growly-man Worf. When alone and at home. Or not alone, I don’t know.  “It… amuses me.” Turns out it was Terrence C. “TC” Carson.

Anyway, it all looks thoroughly Christopher Shy, he of Goth-O-Vision Inc. (see ASCEND etc.), there are great big brutes with sharp gnashing teeth for kohl-eyed Kratos to lay into, and I’ll slay he does. It’s a total mascara!

I was going to delve back in to the PS3 edition and type up some more console-game in-jokes but then realised that my pretty gay barista has singularly failed to return the copy I leant him. Still, if you can locate the head of Medusa on page twenty-three and point it at the break between panels two and three of Page 45 whilst pressing both R1 and O, you may find yourself gazing into the cavernous jaws of our till. I’d have at least one of Charon’s coins handy if I were you, or you may end up floating down River Penury without that proverbial paddle.

(The words “tohewen” and “toshrede” come to you courtesy The Knight’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer. Hack and slash in modern mundane parlance.)

LINK

SLH

New Review For An Earlier Classic

Page 45 has been reviewing books on a monthly basis since 1999. Before that there was the occasional Recommended Reading list but earlier works had nothing archived for me to edit; I ended up writing a good dozen of the CEREBUS reviews a mere fortnight before the website launch, and from memory, because some works deserve more than a trite two-liner. STRANGERS IN PARADISE is definitely one of those. This one I am re-reading, though, starting here:

Strangers In Paradise Pocket Edition vol 1 of 6 (£13-50, Abstract Studios) by Terry Moore.

“I don’t know what to feel anymore. You confuse me.”

Rarely am I allowed the luxury of re-immersing myself in our one my favourite series of all time: there are so many new comics and graphic novels each week which demand fresh reviews. But occasionally a window appears and I defenestrate myself immediately. And that’s very much akin to what the cast experience here: free-falling in love and experiencing one hell of an emotional turbulence.

Twenty years ago there was a relative paucity of comicbook fiction in the US and therefore UK readily accessible to women. Of course there were exceptions – LOVE & ROCKETS, EXIT, SANDMAN, CONCRETE – but exceptions they were and I could show you one hundred women I know personally whose first experience of comics, followed by an immediate love affair with the medium, was STRANGERS IN PARADISE.

Drawn by an artist who loves women as women and not stick insects, who can see the beauty and grace in a curvaceous thigh, and written by a man unafraid to be kind (I’ll put that into context with volume two), it had a heart of untarnished gold, embracing love as the one thing worth living for – and, if necessary, dying for – when so many play games with affection instead. Don’t get me wrong: there are those who play games here, there are those who are proud and stupid and nasty. And what one tends to forget is that actually Terry was really pretty damn saucy. Seriously: lots and lots of sex jokes. Do not denude Terry of his naughtiness!

Indeed the first three-issue mini-series was very much a slapstick burlesque in which we find the main protagonists Francine and Katchoo renting a house together. Katchoo is quite evidently in love with Francine, but Francine is in love with Freddie. Freddie is in love with no one but himself and only after one thing: sex. Francine knows that, Francine tells him that, which is why she won’t sleep with him. Instead, aghast at Freddie’s philandering, she spends most of her time in the fridge. Katchoo meanwhile is so irascible she shoots alarm clocks. Imagine what she will do to Freddie Femur when she finds out he’s cheating on the absolute love of her life? It’s really quite cathartic.

But what arrested me on the Market Square the other morning whilst passing onto the main series itself, early morning coffee and a cigarette in hand, is that I had forgotten how utterly shocking it was when the real story first kicks in and the comedy is buried under the weight of the protagonists’ past. I’ve typed twelve sentences here already, but I just don’t want to spoil it for you. Instead I will simply tell you that the following scene takes place round a bed nursed by nuns as Katchoo visits the one person in the past that showed her kindness while they both worked as high-class call girls for a certain Mrs. Darcy Parker. Emma is dying of AIDS.

“How you doin’, Chewy? You okay?”
“I’m fine, Emmie. Looking forward to seeing Canada with you when you get out of here.”
“Then you better grow wings.”
“Shhh… don’t talk like that.”
“Really. It’s okay. I talked to God.”
“…”
“I’m worried about you, Chewy.”
“Me?”
“So much… anger. It’ll eat away at you till there’s nothing left. You need to let somebody… in here.”
“You’re there, Emmie. You’re there.”
“I mean somebody who’ll stay with you..”

Katchoo has boundaries and they’ve been built pretty high. The only person she’ll let in is Francine who, let’s remember, is slightly distracted by a) Freddie Femur and b) the fridge. She has no idea how Katchoo really feels. Then along come David; sweet, doting David; puppy-dog David with whom Katchoo has a little fun. They meet in an art gallery and then in the rain (always, always in the rain) and no matter how many times he’s rejected he won’t go away, he just will not give up. He’s fallen head over heals in love with Katchoo, and he believes.

Which brings us to another of this series’ exceptional qualities: the arguments are long. They’re played out in all their confused complexities then exhumed later on, whereas in so many other series they’re merely nodes in a simple plot device. And they almost always end in rage, remorse and tears. Nothing is linear here. When is life ever that straightforward? Here’s David and Francine when Katchoo suddenly sends herself straight off the radar.

“So what was the deal?”
“I don’t know! You tell me! You’re the one who was with her! You’re the one she’s buddy-buddy with these days! You’re the one she talked to about that whole Emma thing! I’m just her best friend! She doesn’t tell me squat!”
“Francine, the only reason Katchoo talked to me’s because I was there and she really needed someone to talk to.”
No sir! I’m not buying that! I’ve been here all along! She can talk to me!”
“She’s afraid to, okay?! She’s afraid if you find out what she’s done, you’ll hate her or something.”
“That’s absurd! I mean, we’re best friends! I could never…”
“I think that’s the whole point, Francine. Whether you want to admit it or not, what you two have goin’ on here is more than just friendship!”
“Of course it is! We… wait a minute! What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“I mean I’ve tried to fit in here and believe me, there’s no room!”
“I told you Katchoo wasn’t interested in men! She’s gay! You idiot!”
“Oh, I’m not so sure about that, but I definitely know why she’s not interested in men or anybody else right not… She’s in love!”
“With who?!”
“With you, of course!”

So when I so casually used to type that David is in love with Katchoo who is in love with Francine who is in love with Freddie Femur, it never did justice to this title. Francine is jealous of David’s place in Katchoo’s life, and wonders for a while if she may even be in love with David herself. Katchoo is absolutely dedicated to Francine but David is like no other young man she’s ever met. He’s kind, he’s considerate and sensitive. But David… David is not who he seems. Which brought about what was quite possibly the finest-ever cliffhanger in comicbook history.

“RUN!! FRANCINE! RUN!!”

Please note: so many of the pre-PKT EDITIONS are now out of print that we’ll be discontinuing that line as soon as what we have has sold out. However, the POCKET EDITIONS are such incredibly good value for money we think you’ll prefer them anyway. This reprints the first three of those older books in their entirety with an extra short story to boot.

LINK

SLH

Also arrived:

Reviews next week for many of these fine publications! Definitely FINDER: it’ll be one from the vault from the magnificent Mark!

The Finder Library vol 1 (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Carla Speed McNeil
Demo vol 2 (£13-50, Vertigo) by Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan
Dungeon Quest Book Two (£9-99, Fantagraphics) by Joe Daly
The Unwritten vol 3: Dead Man’s Knock (£10-99, Vertigo) by Mike Carey & Peter Gross
Stumptown vol 1 h/c (£22-50, Oni) by Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth
To Teach: The Journey, In Comics (£11-99, TCP) by William Ayers & Ryan Alexander-Tanner
Owly & Wormy: Friends All Aflutter h/c (£11-99, Atheneum) by Andy Runton
The Artic Marauder h/c (£12-99, Fantagraphics) by Jacques Tardi
The Sky Over The Louvre h/c (£14-99, NBM) by Jean-Claude Carriere, Bernar Yslaire & Bernar Yslaire
Titans: Villains For Hire (£10-99, DC) by Eric Wallace & Fabrizio Fiorentino
Iron Man: Rapture (£10-99, Marvel) by Alexander Irvine & Lan Medina
Ultimate Comics New Ultimates: Thor Reborn h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & Frank Cho
Essential Captain America vol 6 (£14-99, Marvel) by Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Don Glut, Steve Gerber, , David Kraft, Peter Gillis, Roger McKenzie, Roger Stern & Jack Kirby, George Tusca, Dave Cockrum, Frank Giacoia, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Mike Zeck, Mike Esposito
Spawn Origins vol 10 (£10-99, Image) by Todd McFarlane & Greg Capullo
Twin Spica vol 6 (£8-50, Vertical) by Kou Yaginuma
Tezuka: Black Jack vol 1 s/c (£12-99, Vertical) by Osamu Tezuka
Tezuka: Black Jack vol 3 s/c (£12-99, Vertical) by Osamu Tezuka
Rosario + Vampire Season II vol 4 (£6-99, Viz) by Akihisa Ikeda
NGE: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project vol 7 (£7-50, Dark Horse) by Osamu Takahashi

We’ve also just added some bits of pieces of old merchandise to the web. More on that next week. Also: THE RIME OF THE MODERN MARINER review in advance of publication on April 7th. It will knock your gorgeous socks off! (Warning: please wear socks or it may amputate your foot.)

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