Reviews June 2011 week one

One of the biggest biases is the thirst to report first rather than accurately; and how we react to later corrections – and truth and lies – is fascinating. She also explores the whole sorry saga of the US government’s and UK parliamentary hostility towards a free press… While we’re here, did you know that truth used to be no defence against libel?

 – Stephen on The Influencing Machine.

The Influencing Machine h/c (£17-99, W.W. Norton) by Brooke Gladstone & Josh Neufeld.

“The media do not control you. They pander to you.”

So true. The Daily Mail panders to its readers’ base prejudices by confirming their worst fears with histrionic fiction, whilst The Guardian panders to our moral outrage by decrying the Daily Mail as histrionic fiction. They’re all equally biased, just like me, as I’ve more than ably demonstrated there! The key is to recognise that, for this too is true:

“News consumers say they want objectivity, but they choose news outlets that reflect their views.”

No? I for one would only watch Fox News for comedy value – as indeed I did as Weazel News in Grand Theft Auto. This is why the outlets pander. They want the biggest possible audience so that they can attract more advertising, hence the media milestone in 1833 when the New York Sun slashed its price to a penny. It meant less revenue per copy but the circulation rocketed. Suddenly a whole new, less affluent readership had access to news, actual news! Well, advertising anyway.

This is the kind of material which Brooke Gladstone, eminently qualified to talk about, is in total command of here, and as illustrated by Josh Neufeld I was gripped from cover to cover. That’s no mean trick for what is essentially one long talking-head piece. The compositions are clear as Scott McCloud’s and as equally inventive, allowing Gladstone to concentrate on the salient facts backed up by case studies and quotations which she does with an admirable humour, coherence and brevity. So much here you may half-know, but never in my experience has it been evaluated in such a comprehensive yet accessible manner. In this instance its chosen medium helped me absorb what could otherwise have been information overload which, coincidentally, is something Brooke discusses towards the end: the fear that modern technology risks presenting us with Too Much Information. It’s been that way for centuries, going right back to the Gutenberg Press and revisited ever since during each technological advance! TV was decried as the enemy of the brain, and radio before it. At which point Gladstone quotes this pertinent observation by Douglas Adams:

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.”

Not so much now, perhaps – we stay young a little longer – but he knew what he was talking about. There are of course dangers in modern technology, but not necessarily the most obvious ones:

“The big threat of photoshopification is not that we will believe documents and photos that are fake. It’s that we’ll find it easier to disbelieve documents and photos that are real. When it’s convenient,” she writes… against a back-drop of tortured Iraqi prisoners.

Here you will learn of the origins of the political leak, press pass, press release, by-lines and the emerging distrust of journalists post-WWI as soldiers returned from the frontline with very different accounts to those force-fed to the public by papers during the war itself. Indeed there’s an extensive section devoted to war-time journalism, and it’s pretty damning. It takes in Vietnam, WWI, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the invasion of Iraq (the whole Saddam Hussein statue-toppling affair was a journalistic travesty orchestrated by US soldiers) and indeed Kuwait where being embedded with the troops had severe limitations:

“They could see where the missiles were launched… not where they landed.”

But Gladstone explains how easily war-time reporting is compromised for, having investigated the various biases affecting journalism (commercial, bad news, status quo, access, visual, narrative and fairness), almost every one shows up during war.

Access bias? The military can bar, expel, and jail reporters. It can also – this goes without saying – save their lives. Without friends in uniform, war reporters are more at risk.”

One of the biggest biases is the thirst to report first rather than accurately, and how we react to later corrections – and truth and lies – is fascinating. She also explores the whole sorry saga of the US government’s and UK parliamentary hostility towards a free press. In England newspapers were actually banned for six years then aggressively censored (though not as comically as detailed in Burma Chronicles) while even the First Amendment was effectively overwritten by President John Adams in his Sedition Act just a few years later. While we’re here, did you know that truth used to be no defence against libel? You want to read about Super-Injunctions? Try Nixon here.

If I were to pick out one section of so many (which in spite of my long-windedness I still don’t have room to discuss here) it’s on objectivity which at least brings us full circle. Not only does Gladstone explore whether such a thing is even possible as the “naïve empiricists” hoped, but also the ways that its failings has been or can be balanced either by self-awareness or full disclosure. There’s a very good reason beyond entertainment or vanity that we have a Staff Profiles section on our website: if you’re aware of our own biases you can judge for yourselves how much of what we say is coloured, and so filter our commentary accordingly!

“U.S. newspapers try to build a wall between the editorial pages and the news pages. They have different editors. In the twentieth century, it was a fundamental principle of journalism. Not so much in the twenty-first century.”

It’s all editorial here!

LINK

SLH

The Little Prince h/c (£15-00, Walker Books) by Anitone De Saint-Exupéry & Joann Sfar.

“You can only see clearly with the heart. What matters most is invisible to the eye.”

A beautiful, poignant and often very funny book as you’d expect from the creator of RABBI’S CAT, this adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic won the Youth Essential Prize 2009 at Angoulême, and deservedly so.

A pilot struggling to repair his aircraft which has gone down in the dessert is joined by a wide-eyed boy who’s travelled far across the stars from a planet so tiny it has but three waist-high volcanoes, which he dutifully swept, and a flower he found too demanding. He came in search of friends and the pair of them bond over the pilot’s drawings and the Little Prince’s ability to see beyond their surface. The Little Prince wants a sheep but the pilot draws a box, telling him the sheep is inside. Instead of complaining, the boy understands.

“That’s just how I wanted him. …Do you think this sheep will need a lot of grass?”
“Why?”
“Because it’s very small where I come from.”
“I’m sure there’ll be enough grass. I’ve given you a very small sheep.”
“He’s not that small… Look! He’s fallen asleep!”

The final panel in that sequence above is a perfect use of the comicbook medium, Sfar lighting up the child’s eye in stark contrast to the night, evoking the imaginative mind ticking over behind it, as the drawing he’s fixated on remains but a box!

As I say, the Prince has travelled a long, long way to be there today. In his travels he’d grown baffled at the absurd ways of adults and their warped priorities. There was a vain man demanding to be admired, a business man busied in counting the stars in an effort to own them. (Why are they his? “I thought of it first!” Territorially that has been the way, hasn’t it?!) He met a geographer recording the travels of others without once setting out to explore for himself, and another man trapped in the circular logic of a dysfunctional alcoholic.

“Why are you drinking?”
“To forget.”
“To forget what?”
“To forget I’m ashamed.”
“Ashamed of what?”
“Ashamed of drinking.”

My favourite by far was the king, however, who contrived to have every one of his royal degrees obeyed by tailoring them to his surroundings and adapting accordingly:

“It’s not polite to yawn in front of a king. Don’t yawn I tell you.”
“But I can’t can’t help it.”
“If that’s the case, I command you to yawn. What matters is that nobody disobeys my commands. Go on! Yawn again!”
“You’re intimidating me. Now I can’t do it.”
“In that case, you can yawn from time to time, but you have to stop once in a while.”
“Yes sir. Can I sit down now?”
“Sit down, I command you.”
“Your Highness… do you mind if I ask you some questions.”
“I command you to ask me some questions.”

Gradually, as the Little Prince meets more people, more flowers and a fox (drawn very much as the ethereal spirit of the creature with ludicrously long ears and the bushiest of tails that blow in the breeze), and he learns about the importance of rituals and reliability, it begins to dawn on him what he has left behind and starts to consider a return journey with the help – if you could call it that – of a venomous snake. There’s usually some darkness in the best children’s books, but this took me completely by surprise.

There’s too much here to distil into a single pronouncement of what this is about, I can only tell you how it spoke to me: about responsibility, creativity and nurture; caring for others in spite of their foibles for we each have plenty of our own, and cherishing what you have without losing the sparkle of youth to the mundane concerns of the purely practical:

“You’d be better off focussing on the serious stuff.”
“That’s what people used to say to me, when I was a child. I gave up drawing because of remarks like that.”

Instantly I thought of Lynda Barry and WHAT IT IS there!

It’s also a lesson in bereavement and the pain of separation – inevitable in any friendship on one side or the other, but the necessary price worth paying for love – delivered with warmth, tenderness and a little humour, with an emphasis on the consolation of shared experiences and memory. Here’s how the Little Prince says farewell to the pilot.

“When you gaze at the sky at night, I’ll be living on one of those stars, I’ll be laughing on one of those stars, and you’ll feel as if all the stars are laughing. You’ll have stars that know how to laugh. And when you’re feeling better (we always find consolation in the end) you’ll be glad you knew me. You’ll always be my friend.
“And your friends will be astonished to see you laughing when you look at the sky. I’ll have played a right old trick on you.”

Like Winnie The Pooh or Alice In Wonderland, this is a book full of wonder for children that will be read very differently by adults: a gentle reminder to some of us if we’ve perhaps lost our way in what can be a punishing adult world, of what is and isn’t important.

“It’s much more difficult to judge yourself than it is to judge other people. If you can judge yourself fairly, you’re truly a wise man.”

SLH

The Accidental Salad (£5-99, Blank Slate) by Joe Decie.

”You know those old signs and adverts you sometimes see painted on walls? I like ’em. Windows into the past and all that. It’s not really the history that’s important to me. It’s just those hand-painted letters were so much better than the generic die-cut stuff you see today.
“Guess I’m an imperfectionist.”

A triumph of autobiographical observation and absurdity much loved by Jeffrey Brown with a warmth, wit and gentle self-mockery that puts me in mind of Eddie Campbell’s ALEC – or at least the more family-orientated episodes.

Never more than two pages long, impossibly not one of them fails to elicit a smile of recognition or plain admiration for a man of many strange rituals, some of them to be taken with no more than a pinch of the posh salt which Joe steals from restaurants, wrapped like cocaine in £20 notes. All of us surely have found ourselves lost in the aisles of a supermarket without a clue what we came for; but not even Joe would pick up someone else’s shopping list, discarded on the floor, and take home a stranger’s ingredients instead. His girlfriend: “Oh Joe. Not again.” Funny, though.

His son is a sweetheart (“I love you, Granny!” “I love you, Mummy!” “I love you, broom!”) and so is Joe. I particularly liked the scene in which he’s walking down the road with a young man whom I take to be one of his students with learning difficulties, instructing Toby to stop before crossing the road, not to talk to strangers and emphatically not to push to button at the crossing. They’re not even going that way. “Yes, Joe. Yes, Joe. … Sorry, Joe.”

“Maybe Toby just likes pushing buttons or maybe it’s about asserting power in a world where he has little. Get it where you can.”

The production values on this lavish, over-sized package are impeccable with French flaps and quality paper stock perfect for the loose ink washes. Think Fantagraphics’ Ignatz line. Decie has a great eye for architecture as well as his son’s subtle expressions, and as for the compositions, they’re a constant surprise for there’s an epilogue after the broom-loving incident above.

Personal favourites apart from those quoted include ‘Small Print’ as Joe and his girlfriend curl up in bed, ‘Tokyo Onions’ wherein enthusiasm takes Joe a step too far, ‘Parenting Tips No. 19: T-Shirt Monsters’ and ‘It’s More Than OK, It’s Compulsory’:

“Goodnight then boyo!”
“Daddy!”
“Yes?”

Seconds pass as Joe pauses on the stairs.

“Is it OK if I dream about space missions?”
“That’s fine.”

LINK

SLH

Crossed 3D vol 1 (£6-99, Avatar) by David Lapham & Gianluca Pagliarani…

How to make the sickest comic of all even sicker? Well, apart from rampant paedophilia and incest amongst the survivors (no really, that is coming in volume two of the main series) there’s really only one way… make it 3-D…

Gimmicks aside, this mini graphic novel from the same creative team who took over the reins from Ennis and Burrows after CROSSED VOLUME ONE is sufficiently grim and disturbed enough that you probably won’t even notice the changeover. Probably because you’ll be too busy recoiling in horrific – yet morbidly fascinated – disgust…

I should also add this is actually the first graphic novel I didn’t feel comfortable getting out and reading on the tram to/from work, which is my usual transitorial habit. Mainly because I didn’t want to put the 3-D glasses on, which themselves have a graphic of the open sore of a Crossed on the front of them, to further draw attention to the depraved filth I was reading! Plus you can guarantee if I had done so, it would have been a delightful old granny that would have sat down next to me and probably had a heart attack on the spot. Or starting screaming for the police…

LINK

JR

Nonplayer #1 (£2-25, Image) by Nate Simpson.

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful! The lines, the dappled shadows and the lambent colouring, so rich and warm, evoke a fantasy land you really wouldn’t want to leave. There’s a giant cat whose chin nuzzles over the side of a horizontal tree trunk and gigantic, armour-plated dinosaurs along with their woollier, mammalian successors carrying the local aristocracy in a caravan whose warriors our heroine and her compadre are about to ambush for maximum XP points.

Yup, it’s all just a game you plug yourself into, an elaborate virtual reality Dana’s so addicted to, she’s constantly late for work. It’s a subject which Devin Grayson explored some time ago, and very successfully too, while Cory Doctorow gave me much pause for thought in his FUTURISTIC TALES OF THE HERE AND NOW. This isn’t just a retread of Devin’s old mini-series, though, and there are a couple of twists in store when Dana first exits the game and then sets out on her scooter through the grotty, concrete urban jungle to work: just a little something to make that journey more pleasant. I can’t say I blame her if such tech were possible, but it does raise a few questions about acknowledging, absorbing or escaping your environment. Also put me mind of Woodrow Phoenix’s thoughts on getting lost in your own little world while driving (see RUMMBLE STRIP).

Unfortunately I fear we may have discovered the new Josh Middleton both in terms of talent and schedule for this single issue took a whole year to create, he’s being courted by the comicbook corps, and ten years on we have yet to see the follow-up to SKY BETWEEN BRANCHES #0. Fingers crossed, though.

SLH

Approximate Continuum Comics (£13-99, Fantagraphics) by Lewis Trondheim…

“Whoa! I’m all screwed up!
“Get ahold of yourself.
“The door! Finally I reach the door.
“I can’t even grab onto the door handle.
“I’ve got to do something… I can’t breathe.
“I’m going to unbutton my pants a little. And I’m going to sit down.
“I feel awful. Really awful. No! I’ve got to tell myself I’m feeling better.
“It’s not letting up. I’m going to die.
“I should throw up. I’ll feel better after that.
“Ah shit. Moebius is looking at me. I must look really stupid.”

Reprinting material originally published in 1993-94 this is in essence LITTLE NOTHINGS vol 0, and fans of that series will indeed love this early work. If you’re unfamiliar with Lewis’ anthropomorphic autobiographical musings, this is possibly not a bad place to start, though the usual caveats, exemplified by the title of the later material, apply. Basically when he concentrates on actual events, such as panic attacks witnessed by the great and good of the bande dessinée crowd as above, wild parties thrown at his studio involving arooga-ing white rastas, or even just the minutiae of moving house, then it’s hilarious and engrossing stuff, but he does has a tendency to over-elaborate what’s going on in his seemingly never ending ‘glass half-empty’ thoughts the rest of the time for me, which I personally find far less interesting.

LINK

JR

American Vampire vol 2 h/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque, Mateus Santolouco.

Whoa! If you thought the first book had bite – and it did – this is on another level altogether: two tales so taut that a tourniquet would make no difference. Same goes for the blood-letting actually.

Las Vegas 1936: building the Boulder Dam has flooded the population with a sudden surge of 3,000 workers. Catering for them – and profiting from their presence – has tempted the local government to legalise prostitution and gambling. Temporarily, of course!

But the dam’s created a crime wave and Police Chief McCogin has been afforded no extra resources to help bail him out. Even the father he was deputy to was murdered a mere two months ago right outside The Frontier brothel managed by a certain Jim Smoke… who used to be known as Skinner Sweet.

Finally two Federal Agents have arrived to investigate, but they’re not who they seem. They have connections to The Vassals Of The Morning Star, a covert organisation with personal grudges against vampires, and they’re here just in time because, one by one, the four head honchos of the cartel building the dam are being desanguinated – which is a somewhat clinical term for ‘slaughtered’ but no less accurate for it. They’re just not here by coincidence.

I cannot begin to tell you how cleverly, how surprisingly and how satisfyingly the various interwoven elements within the first of these two stories evolve, but also how neatly they tie in to book one. Then you wait until you get to the second sequence!

Cracking art too: the aerial view of the dam is as monumental as the project itself.

Vampire books have seemed far too anaemic to me since BLOOD + WATER (although I did love LIFE SUCKS for its mischief) but unlike so many others, this doesn’t rely on the mere spectacle or gimmick, if you will, of the vampire, but is a fully fledged crime graphic novel that just happen to revolves around those orthodontically challenged.

LINK

SLH

5 Ronin h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Peter Milligan & Tomm Coker, Dalibor Talajić, Laurence Campbell, Goran Parlov, Leandro Fernandez.

“My nobles, you are aware of the situation. The ongoing campaign in Korea drained the coffers of the Shogun and his loyal Daimyos… Therefore I give you all a supreme honour. I shall raise your rice tax to forty-five percent. Are there any… objections?”
“N-no, great lord. Th-the Daimyo is generous…”
“And wise. Extremely wise.”

Good. Now get out of my sight.”

Landlords, eh? But if you think yours is a bastard try living in these feudal times where honour is scarce and treachery runs rampant across the Japanese province in question. Four men and a woman fall victim to the Daimyo in different ways and death and revenge become fixations. Which of them will find satisfaction first leaving the others to brood in the ruins of their lives?

There’s some magnificently moody art here from Coker, Campbell and Fernandez, so it’s a shame the atmosphere is breached in the Psylocke episode so abruptly. Yup, these are five short stories repositioning established Marvel characters in a single new setting without any powers, and a completely different take on Wolverine’s seeming indestructibility. In all honesty, though, Milligan has zoned himself into the project so effectively that it can be read as another samurai set-up without any knowledge whatsoever of the Marvel characters in question, so recommended to those who’ve enjoyed the likes of VAGABOND, Samurai Executioner, Path Of The Assassin, COLOUR OF RAGE, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, SAMURAI: LEGEND or LEGEND OF THE SCARLET BLADES. Although that last one would be my pick of the bunch.

LINK

SLH

Invincible Iron Man vol 7: My Monsters h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Salvador Larroca…

“Ridiculous. Next.”
“He didn’t even read…”
“I said no. Next.”
“No.”
“Too intelligent.”
“Blah.”
“Not sinister.”
“Mm.”
“Surely the real actors must be coming in soon, yes?”
“Nah.”
“Definite maybe.”
“No gravitas.”
“Too evil.”
“Yes! Yes! This is what Tony Stark looks like.”

I’m absolutely delighted the Iron Man annual has been collected in with this volume because it is one of the finest, and most hilarious villain-led Marvel stories, possibly the finest ever. The Mandarin has decided he would like to have a film made about his life – and what the Mandarin wants, the Mandarin gets – so he’s kidnapped a famous director to ensure a true blockbuster entails. With money no object you’d think it’d be a pretty easy project for a hot, talented creative to complete smoothly, except a certain executive producer keeps insisting on script alterations and last minute re-writes, usual to re-write history, in fact, erasing minor historical details like repeated defeats at the hands of one metallic meddler. And then there’s the casting, with the role of arch-villain Tony Stark proving particularly troublesome, though in the end the Mandarin finally finds someone dowdy and dweebish enough, in his eyes at least, for the role.

The rest of this volume is brilliant too as Fraction continues his peerless run, with Larocca as ever ensuring the 21st century Iron Man actually looks the part, rather than a flying tin can. Also included is a neat backup story from the Iron Man #500 issue involving a rather bleak dystopian future reality that Tony has inadvertently brought to pass. And it’s up to his descendants, including one rather red-headed young lady in particular (possibly suggesting her maternal lineage, methinks) called Ginny Stark to save the day. Always nice to see a hard edged speculative fiction yarn, even in this, the most technological of Marvel titles.

JR

Marvel Masterworks Daredevil vol 2 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & John Romita Sr., Gene Colan.

Reprints #12 to 21 featuring classic DD villains The Owl, The Gladiator, The Masked Marauder and… errr, The Little Shop Of Horrors:

“Killer plant waits… ready to strike! Ka-Zar must seize ju-ju berries with speed of serpent… with arm strong as mastodon.”

Yes, seize those berries and make Ju-Ju Juice, the breakfast drink that stutters.

That’s Ka-Zar, by the way, addressing himself in Hulk mode. I thought he was a rich lord or something. Spider-Man also guest-stars in a two-parter wherein he has Foggy Nelson pegged as Daredevil. Not so much a costume as a corset, then.

Gene Colan’s arrival gives the book a completely different atmosphere – well it gives it atmosphere – dark, menacing and claustrophobic with a certain degree of vertigo. Massively underrated, our Gene. Tomb Of Dracula would have been rubbish without him.

LINK

SLH

Ultimate Comics Captain America h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Ron Garney.

Excellent and unexpected. Not unexpectedly excellent, for this is Jason Aaron, just full of surprises and a great big bite.

After the first issue it turned out to be a very different sort of Marvel Comic – more about one man’s unconditional faith in his country and another’s total disillusionment. Same country: America. Of the more traditional first issue I wrote…

In which the author of Vertigo’s SCALPED and the modern John Buscema play beautifully with a certain DAREDEVIL storyline I deliberately haven’t linked to by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli because I want you to experience the surprise for yourselves!

Pyongyang, North Korea, and there appears to be a highly successful Super Soldier Project on the go. With all the trouble Banner’s team had before they found Captain America on ice in ULTIMATES VOL 1, how is that even possible? Time for a little international intervention courtesy of the S.A.S. and the Triskelion’s finest. Who will they find when they get there?

“Subject A-17 is showing no signs of cellular degeneration. This serum appears to be a vast improvement over your previous batch. Dear Leader will be pleased.”
“Just make sure Dear Leader remembers the rules. First sign of aggression he shows toward his neighbours to the south, I cut off his supply. I’m not setting him up with Super Soldiers so he can conquer South Korea.”

“Ah, then way are you doing it, my American friend?”
“That’s my business.”

Ron Garney’s always been reliable for the physical stuff and beefs it up further here, with a brilliantly timed reveal.

“I’ll show you what America really stands for.”

Uh-oh.

LINK

SLH

Deadpool Max: Nutjob h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by David Lapham & Kyle Baker.

Not one for the younger readers, no.

The creator of SILVERFISH joins forces with that of WHY I HATE SATURN and SPECIAL FORCES for something akin to Christopher Priest’s Black Panther: The Client and Black Panther: Enemy Of The State as Special Agent Bob checks in with his superiors over Operation Deadhead, which he was ordered to undertake in spite of his grave reservations regarding fellow field operative Deadpool. The aim was to assassinate Maggia boss Hammerhead by stealth and infiltration. Bob would infiltrate the bed of Bruno, whilst Deadpool… Deadpool can’t keep his trap shut for more than four seconds, so stealth was never going to happen. All of Bob’s hard knocks (Bruno’s a sadist) and creativity (the staff uniforms in Hammerhead’s tower consist of little more than a g-string or posing pouch to avoid concealing anything on their person, so copying the key to Hammerhead’s suite required a certain degree of lateral thinking) appear to lie in pieces – pieces of Deadpool’s corpse, as it happens – because of Deadpool’s reckless grandstanding and a craving for toasted crumpets, but this is a series not a one-shot so how do they get out of that?

This is Kyle Baker so the brutality in this Marvel MAX comic is actually more akin to cartoon violence than its myriad other series. The MAX label instead is used for the nudity, sex and the sexual content of the dialogue which isn’t a patch on Priest’s I’m afraid, but still infinitely preferable to anything else I’ve read in association with this character.

SLH

New Reviews For Classic Comics

Death: The High Cost Of Living (£9-99, Vertigo/DC) by Neil Gaiman & Chris Bachalo.

She’s funny, she’s sweet, she’s gorgeous and gothic. Death becomes human once every hundred years, to glimpse mortality from the other side of Charon’s coins.

Neil Gaiman takes his most popular SANDMAN creation on the first of two solo outings as a nihilistic sixteen-year-old contemplates suicide inevitably attracting a certain someone’s attention. Meanwhile Death herself attracts the attention of 250-year-old Mad Hettie who missed her last century and desperately needs her help:

“I want you to find me heart for me. Will you? Will you please find it? I’ve tried ever so hard, and I can’t do it on me own. I want you to find me heart.”
“And if I say no?”
“Then I cut the bonny boy’s nose off.”

Yep, I’d say that heart was missing, all right. Over the three chapters where Bachalo was at his peak – his is the definite Death – our disenfranchised teenager is shown the simple riches that life has to offer along with its grubbiness by the most ebullient guide imaginable.

“Get in, Sexton.”
“But we don’t know where we’re going.”
“Ah, that’s just part of the human condition. Isn’t it neat?”

LINK

SLH

I Feel Sick #1 reprint (£2-99, SLG) by Jhonen Vasquez.

“Crystal meth wearing off… personality fading.”

From the creator of JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC and SQUEE, a reprint of the 1999 classic whose finest scenes were set down a nightclub full of cheek-sucking, po-faced goths.

“Greetings. I am a vampire.”
“Really? How’d you do that smoke?”
“What I am is answer enough.”
“Are those smoke bombs?”
“Umm… yes.”

The gesticulations are a joy, as is the blank-faced timing here:

“You’re not gonna laugh are you?”
“What do you mean by “laugh”?”

My favourite is boss-eyed Oblivia, she of the crystal meth, with her purple hair buns and a mouth much in debt to Matt Groenig’s Simpsons:

“Devi, this unholy beauty is my friend, Oblivia. Oblivia, your hair looks really cool tonight.”
“I’m so fuckin’ high.”
“Hi. So, Oblivia, are you a vampire too?”
“No. Too trendy. I’m a mummy!”
“Ehh… okay. Do you do special effects like your friend Eric here?”
“Oh, no. None of that smoke bomb stuff for me. That’s vampire fare. I’m a mummy. I use BEES!”
“Mmm…. The honey of the night.”

I realise this is less of a review and more of a series of quotations. In for a penny, in for a pound:

“I think the lumps of assmeat poking out from between the wrapping are actually falling off.”
“Yes, but they are darklumps.”

SLH

I Feel Sick #2 reprint (£2-99, SLG) by Jhonen Vasquez.

Finale to the cheekily satirical comic containing an exquisitely funny and devastatingly accurate club scene where the teeny-goths get by on drugs in lieu of personalities. I know! I was there!

“You mean it was you!”

Shut up.

LINK

SLH

Also Arrived:

Softcovers of hardcovers may already have reviews in our shopping section; others may be reviewed next week.

Life With Mr. Dangerous h/c (£16-50, Villard) by Paul Hornschemeier
Luchadoras (£12-99, Blank Slate) by Peggy Adam
Citizen Rex h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mario Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez
Chico & Rita h/c (£15-99, Self Made Hero) by Fernando Trueba & Javier Mariscal
Buffy The Vampire Slayer vol 8: Last Gleaming (£12-99, Dark Horse) by Joss Whedon, Scott Allie & George Jeanty
Ziggy: 40 Years h/c (£18-99, Andrews McMeel) by Tom Wilson
Aliens Vs. Predator: Three World War (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Randy Stradley & Rick Leonardi, Mark Pennington
Green Lantern: Brightest Day h/c (£16-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke
Superman: New Krypton vol 4 s/c (£13-50, DC) by Greg Rucka  & Pete Woods, Ron Randall
Thor: For Asgard s/c (UK Ed’n) (£12-99, Marvel) by Robert Rodi & Simone Bianchi
Avengers Prime s/c (UK Ed’n) (£11-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Alan Davis
Osborn: Evil Incarcerated (£12-99, Marvel) by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios
Deadpool Classic vol 5 (£22-50, Marvel) by Joe Kelly, James Felder & Pete Woods, Walter McDaniel, David Brewer, Joe Cooper, Brian Smith, Mark Powers

Customers have asked me all day about the DC reboot. I hoped they meant Obama expelling Congress and starting again with human beings.

Alas, it was something to do with superheroes

 – Stephen

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