Reviews July 2011 week three

 

The Homeland Directive (£10-99, Top Shelf) by Robert Venditti & Mike Huddleston.

“You need to help us first, then we can talk about a phone call.”
“Help you with what? I don’t even know what I’m doing here.”
“You’re here because the United States government may be trying to kill you.”

Are you remotely concerned about all the personal details which a government or corporation may have gathered on you from your credit cards, loyalty cards, all the application forms you fill in, Facebook, medical records or – I don’t know – hacking into your phones? Ever wonder what they could or would do with all that private information?

Venditti and Huddleston have unleashed upon the public a gripping political conspiracy thriller, the mechanics of whose subterfuge – and the several ways it impacts on those struggling to expose the plot to save their very lives – is fiendishly clever. If I told you what I know, and in which ways three specific pages halfway through transformed what was already an irresistible page-turner into a “Holy Hell!” of an impressive set-up, you would snap this book out of my hands faster than I am wont to whip away your credit card.

Post-9/11, America is a country obsessed with national security, all too willing to jettison private liberties for the sake of public safety. Politically it is obsessed with being seen to do all it can to thwart acts of terrorism. But amongst those leaders for whom appearance is more important than conviction are those who burn with a passionate intensity and they’re generally the worst.

Homeland Security Secretary Albert Keene, disdainful of the strength and sincerity of his superiors, has taken it upon himself to issue a directive: to set in motion a plan that will once and for all leave terrorists’ trails transparent. That is, after all, his mandate. But in order to ensure its success two individuals need to be taken off the board: microbiologist Dr. Laura Regan and her research partner Ari. The latter is eliminated without difficulty but when Laura too is abducted after her keynote speech in New York, it’s by a rogue coalition and a race rapidly escalates to find the diabetic doctor, even if it means framing her for Ari’s murder. The media, as ever, are all too happy to help. Can Laura successfully disappear without a trace whilst constantly tracked using a profile so meticulously collated in advance? And how can she possibly hope to clear her name when she doesn’t even know why she’s a target?

Comparison points for the art would be Brett Weldele and early Ashley Wood, lithe figures sketched in ink on washed or spot-coloured backgrounds, but where Huddleston entertains is his eclectic choice of enhancements. Sure, we’ve seen Letratone used before by the likes of Eddie Campbell – that’s not uncommon at all – but there are patterns indicating flock wallpaper, photographs of buildings, graph-paper backgrounds and he’s even swiped some intricate line-illustrations from a Victorian bird book! That really made me smile, but the extraordinary thing is that, far from jarring, each trick works through the careful control of each page and its facing counterpart’s composition and colouring.

Recommended unequivocally to readers of THE KILLER, CRIMINAL and Venditti’s own SURROGATES, THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE is an all too pertinent graphic novel about the currency of information: its acquisition, utilisation and, above all, suppression.

“Tell me, Elliot. How will history judge me?”
“The goal is that history never knows there was anything to judge.”

What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?

Information is power.

LINK

SLH

Cowboys h/c (£14-99, Vertigo Crime) by Gary Phillips & Brian Hurtt.

Race, religion and money laundering as two men are sent undercover by two separate agencies – the police and FBI – to infiltrate two different factions tied to the same white-collar crime. Both men have to sever themselves from a home life that desperately needs them, and neither is aware of the other’s movements or motivations. As each from their own angle finally starts to uncover the evidence they need, they creep increasingly closer to stepping on each others toes and blowing the case completely, culminating in the bloodbath, confrontation and recriminations that form the opening half-dozen pages. It’s ridiculously complicated as it is, but every single one of those parties is being played and there is no way this will work out anything like you’ll imagine.

Another black and white book from the artist on THREE STRIKES which I was really very fond of, and which Ed Brubaker bigged-up at the time. I won’t lie to you: concentration is required and there’s a lot of race language but AMERICAN VAMPIRE’s Scott Snyder commends it to you, as does Mark Waid.

SLH

5 Is The Perfect Number (£12-99, Jonathan Cape) by Igort…

“You’ve brought hell into the family. You know that?”

So, amidst the myriad beat-downs, drive-bys, robberies, rape, murder and general all round mayhem that’s been going on in the resurgent, nay blood-bubbling-out-of-the-mouth, effervescent crime genre recently, it’s nice to see the return of an old face. Well, the reprint of an older work actually, but you were probably semi-following my Colombo-esque, meandering drift, I’m sure. This work will no doubt go undetected to the vast majority of flat-foot plodders out there who insist on their crime being all American apple pie razzmatazz and full technicolour gloss, but there is still a vast and mostly undiscovered continent of comics to us versed in la lingua Inglese, from which, if one is prepared to put down the lollipop for a moment, you just might you find you’ll love it, baby. And when something as brilliant as this actually gets translated for us, the least we should do is perk up and pay attention.

Peppino is an aged Mafiosi hitman who never questioned the bosses’ orders, no matter what the personal cost. Somehow he’s made it safely through the years of blood and bullets to a peaceful retirement spent fishing. He’s certainly not wealthy, though, merely glad to be alive, and also happy to be getting the chance to spend a little more time with his own actual family. The loss of his son, however, might just stretch his blood oath to his other Family well past breaking point. As he hunts for his son’s murderers, it becomes apparent to Peppino that despite whatever else he’s lost over the years, he still has his faith, though it’s of cold comfort to him, and it’s certainly not going to stop him taking his revenge. But will time and slowing reflexes catch up with the greying gunster before he even gets a chance to avenge his son?

It’s hard to explain the understated passion within this work, it almost has the feel of a romance, such is the deeply-locked-within yet evidently apparent emotions of the main character Peppino. He loves his family, he loved his other Family. Now he’s faced with choices he never anticipated having to make. Igort portrays his main character perfectly as the archetypal flawed anti-hero. We can’t hope to love him, he’s a cold blooded murdered after all, but we love his heart and commitment to his nearest and dearest. He’s the sort of man you’d want beside you when the trouble is starting rather than staring you down from the other side of the room.

Majestically inked in a palette of black and pale blue against nicotine yellowy paper, 5 IS THE PERFECT NUMBER is an entirely believable crime story which asks tough questions, both of its characters and its readers. What would we do, were we so heinously wronged like Peppino? Would we turn the other cheek in true meek and mild Christian fashion, or decide to get all old (Testament) school and choose the eye for an eye option? If we had the courage and means to do so that is, despite knowing the latter choice would cost us absolutely everything? For that is the dilemma which Peppino faces. For him, though, it’s no choice at all if he wants to be able to live with himself, and perhaps it might mean he’s finally able to be at peace with all the harm he’s caused over the years on the orders of others who’ve preferred to keep their own hands clean.

JR

Northlanders vol 5: Metal And Other Stories (£13-50, Vertigo) by Brian Wood & Riccardo Burchielli, Fiona Staples, Becky Cloonan…

Young lovers go on the run murdering all and sundry who disagree with their particular worldview under the pretence that they’d just like everyone to leave them alone. That’s NORTHLANDERS VOL 5: METAL in a hammer-obliterated priest’s nutshell for you. Consequently I wasn’t exactly getting the happy ending vibes as I began this fifth volume of what’s been an utterly engrossing series to date.

Young Erik who, looks-wise and possibly in the brains department too, seems to be a mix of Thor and err… Obelisk… isn’t feeling too well disposed towards the Christian priests who seem to be doing a remarkably good job of just breezing into village after village deep in the Norse heartlands, taking over with no more than the barely veiled threat of heavy cavalry lurking just over the horizon, should the locals fail to build them a church or two and generally put down the hammers and pick up the crosses. Well, after they’ve built the churches obviously… Still, getting Erik’s village elders to divert the nearby river so it runs immediately next to the newly built Church, just so the priests can wash themselves without having to be watched by heathens is probably taking the piss just a touch too much.

So Erik decides to do what any typical rebellious teen would do in the same position… take a shit load of drugs. Except, whilst Erik’s high on mushrooms, the Norse version of Mother Nature appears to tell him to turn up his satanic death metal internal soundtrack to eleven, and remove the Christians from her sacred lands. That he’s taken a shine to an albino nun who has clearly been forced to convert against her wishes probably tips the balance, and so he decides to tune up his axe and go on a rampage liberating Ingrid in the process, throwing in a few head banging solos along the way with his hammer for good measure.

In some ways this is the most overtly violent NORTHLANDERS story that Bryan has written yet, which is saying something in and of itself, but as ever it also delivers on the emotional content. For above all, that’s what this series has always had at its cold and frosty core in aplenty: fiery passion manifesting itself in deep loves and equally deep hatreds.

LNK

JR

Incognito vol 2: Bad Influences (£13-50, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips.

Second series of superhero noir this time dealing with the infiltration of a criminal organisation just like the creators’ magnificent SLEEPER. But the infiltrator here doesn’t have to switch sides. Actually he does, because Zack Overkill is now working for the good guys but before that he was idling in witness protection after switching sides from the bad guys. Now that he’s working for the good guys they’ve sent him to work for some other bad guys because the first person the good guys sent to spy on the bad guys switched sides. Will Zack switch sides too?

Meanwhile Zack’s now sleeping with the enemy (if you consider his original position, anyway) but it’s emphatically not a relationship so far as Zoe Zeppelin’s concerned. Oh, and Zack is targeted by an aged bomber who mistakes him for one of the other bad guys who once sent him undercover with another lot of bad guys who sussed out that he was indeed a bad guy but not once of theirs. He was a sleeper so they put him in a coma…

For sixty-six years! Can you even imagine? Going into a coma in your youth, then the next thing you know you’re waking up in a body that’s 80 years old?! That’d be such a dive that I’d start bombing too.

LINK

SLH

DC Comics Presents Batman: Gotham Noir (£5-99, DC) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips.

Fans of CRIMINAL, SLEEPER and/or INCOGNITO sit up and take note: DC’s print runs on these fulsome floppies is far from infinite so you need to pick this up now!

Originally appearing ten years ago as a DC Elseworlds one-shot (i.e. out of continuity), it’s a period piece with all the atmosphere you’ll have come to expect from this team supreme: a complex murder mystery which sees ex-police detective Jim Gordon carry the can for a crime he didn’t commit.

Boozed-up with a broken marriage, Gordon is now a Private Investigator who wanders around from bar to bar drinking whatever he can lay his hands on and sleeping wherever he falls. He’s haunted by an experience he shared with Bruce Wayne back in the war – a secret shame from which he has never recovered – and the unsolved disappearance on his watch three years ago of Judge Pitt.

Against her better judgement, then, Selina ‘The Cat’ Kyle, a chanteuse at her own Kitty Kat Club, hires her ex-flame Gordon to bodyguard an old friend called Rachel, now back in town after some time away. She won’t tell Jim why she fears for Rachel’s safety so he’s at a considerable disadvantage when he accompanies her to a High Society boat party and finds her the focus of everyone’s uneasy attention. Only one person seems perfectly relaxed in her company: Mayor DeHaven who’s currently making a play for Governor, a campaign backed by Bruce Wayne. Convinced the Mayor’s bent and in bed with the mob, Gordon quickly grows prickly after which the free booze is a disaster waiting to happen. He really isn’t good at making friends – or keeping them.

“Save it. You can have each other, and why don’t you take her, too? I’m sick of baby-sitting high-priced hookers…”
“What?! Well, I never — !”
“Like hell you haven’t.”

And the next thing a bleary-eyed Gordon is aware of is being found by the cops, lying in the low-tide mud next to Rachel’s dead body.

Half the fun in these alternate realities is seeing how the familiar elements of Batman’s world manifest themselves. Yes, you’ll get a Joker (and a strangely prescient one at that, given the recent film), Harvey Dent too, while Batman is considered no more than an urban legend. He’s drawn by Phillips as a jagged cloud of demonic smoke and plays his part very much like the Sandman in SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE. The crisp lines here are first-rate while the blacks are glossy and Dave Stewart’s colouring is warm and wonderful.

As a ‘bonus’ there’s a back-up drawn by Scott McDaniel which revisits the evening Bruce’s parents were murdered. Yes, mother’s lost her pearls again.

SLH

Casanova: Gula (£10-99, Icon/Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba.

“What the hell is “Zen Crime?””
“It’s like crime, only there’re no victims, and really, no crimes. It really just spreads a general sense of unrest.”

From the author of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN and one of the two Brazilian brothers responsible for DE: TALES and DAYTRIPPER, another blast of bombast and badinage so ridiculously dense in ideas and nomenclatural horseplay that you expect arch-neologist Grant Morrison to turn up any moment with a lexical injunction. Here be jargon, by George!

“I am the Supreme Director of E.M.P.I.R.E. – that’s why you’re handcuffed at the moment. My name is Cornelius Quinn. My son Casanova went missing from Timeline 919 while on a mission two years, two weeks, and two days ago. I’ve devoted what is, frankly, a ridiculous amount of time and energy following the breadcrumbs that led out of his disappearance. Breadcrumbs that led us to you, Miss Lisi. Missus Lisi?”
“Doctor. I have a PhD in Catastrophic Temporal Entropy Manipulation Theory.”
“What?”
“I’m a time traveller that loves to step on butterflies.”
“M.O.T.T.  – define it for me.”
“We’re the spacetime protectorate. We monitor the whole of the way things are and manipulate it for optimal results.”
“On whose authority?”
“In both literal and philosophical interpretations, I don’t think I’m qualified to accurately answer your question.”
“Why are you here?”
“There is a mystery in time – when is Casanova Quinn? – that we can’t answer. This cannot stand.”

I think they’ve just told you the plot. It took Fraction most of the first issue to get there, though, so don’t expect to be hand-held or patronised. Meanwhile Casanova’s sister, Zephyr Quinn has been field tested by the bad guys (keep it simple, Stephen) for work on a hit list of everyone who knows of the H-Element Generator powered by the electromagnetic supercharge released upon dying, and the first issue ends quite literally with a “Dum! Dumm! Dahhhhhhhh!!!” that may lead her to reconsider the gig.

Moon is on prime, Pope-esque form whilst Cris Peter (sic – no ‘h’) reserves colour for when it really counts, making you sit up and take notice. Lots of swagger, sex and the shooting of things. But when, exactly, is Casanova Quinn…?

SLH

The Red Wing #1 (£2-75, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra.

From the creator of NIGHTLY NEWS and current writer of Shield and FANTASTIC FOUR, a new science fiction series and a second stab at time travel, this one with far more space and lighter on the text. Here we’ve jumped back to the Tithonian Age where the slim ships have to navigate past vast, feeding dinosaurs:

“Just look at that, Captain. Over twenty tons of vegetarian monster the likes of which the world has never seen again… I wonder what they taste like.”

So much for evolution.

“Time travel should have ushered in the golden age of scientific discovery — It should have ushered in the golden age of MAN. Instead, we were reduced to using it for war. And in war total victory is not defined by simple dominance of the battlefield. Overcoming the enemy is not enough. In many ways, victory simply means bitterness and bile for the defeated — The genesis on a deep-seated hatred that is always seen again.”

That’s certainly how WWI turned into WWII, and there’s plenty more to give you pause for thought here in a series which promises some serious cleverness, for if you can wage war in four dimensions – if a battle really isn’t over until you say it’s over as long as you can cling to the technology to travel back in time and change its outcome repeatedly – when do you stop? At what point do you decide enough is enough for any given battle and at which point of time do you begin or go back to start your temporal chain reaction? Also, if your enemy is similarly equipped, surely the only option is to bomb them back into the Stone Age or obliterate them completely or they’ll just reboot things themselves? That’s a whole new frontier you’d need to constantly patrol: you’d need to defend not just your finite, physical borders but an almost limitless number of chronological borders too.

I don’t know if this series will end pursuing all these angles, but the concept alone has got me thinking wild thoughts that have never bothered my brain before. Instead the first issue’s focus is on Dominic, a new recruit flying in the wake of his father who went missing in action and so presumed dead, for no one has survived a shield failure during time travel. Mathematically it is so improbable as to be practically impossible.

“But ask yourself: isn’t a statistical improbability a massive number when standing in contrast to all of space-time?”

What happened to Dominic’s father? The clue’s in the review twice over.

Interview and art:

LINK

SLH

Avengers vol 2 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & John Romita Jr. with Bryan Hitch.

“I know when someone knows how to fight. This guy didn’t know hand-to-hand combat. He had power but no moves. A guy with a nice car and no license to drive.”

And that’s the very last sort of person you want loose on the roads.

The Infinity Gauntlet: a glove composed of Power Gems affecting space, time and reality, too powerful to be in the possession of any one woman or man. Thanks to Thanos – the ultimate necrophiliac, the lover whose passion is for Death – they almost brought about the destruction of the whole wide wibbliverse. Some years ago, therefore, the clandestine Illuminati composed of Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Professor Xavier, Namor, Black Bolt and Reed Richards secretly split the gems up then hid them. One of them’s just been found, it’s the most lethal of the lot, and it will make pilfering the others far easier.

It’s a massive cast for an epic battle including the Red Hulk here written somewhat differently. As in, written well with both rhyme and reason, while Romita excels at such titanic action and big, brutal forms.

Most importantly, however, after Iron Man promised to be on best behaviour to Steve Rogers with no more secrets, his role in the Illuminati and its clandestine history comes out of a closet so capacious you could fit half the last century’s light entertainment stars in it.  There will be ructions, but also two very clever final pages.

If all that wasn’t enough, also included is the Bryan Hitch prologue to something enormous a little later this year. How enormous? I am dying to tell you, but pick this up and find out first-hand instead. It’s not the Intelligencia, it’s what they’ve discovered which only becomes clear towards the end and whose import only really becomes clear to Tony Stark… because he’s seen what will happen already.

LINK

SLH

X-Men: Schism #1 of 5(£3-50, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Carlos Pacheco.

Is an arms race fought on foot? You’d really have to gun it.

Cyclops has come to speak at the international arms control conference in Switzerland. The arms he would very much like to control are the mutant-murdering Sentinels: giant, genocidal robots conceived in hatred a long time ago by a scientist called Bolivar Trask. Since then, he believes, the technology has spread across the globe though every nation denies it, one even refuting the very existence of Sentinels even in America.

But then there’s a blast from the Grant Morrison past and delegates experience an uncontrollable telepathic compulsion to speak up. It’s a scene you’re unlikely to see in the House of Commons, but wouldn’t it be cathartic if even a couple of MPs were occasionally this honest?

“I beat my children. I do it quite often, in fact, I… I do it because… well, because I enjoy it.”
“If I may interrupt, I’d just like to say that I am currently cheating on my wife of 35 years while she slowly dies from leukemia. And in the interest of verification, I will be emailing various sexually explicit videos to all major news organisations.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to list the various ethnic minorities I despise…”
“I, for one, am currently under the influence of the following illegal substances…”
“I am personally responsible for the deaths of the following individuals…”
“My fortune was pillaged from the poor!”
“My election was fixed!”
“I married a Doombot!”
“I once shot a man just to watch him die!”
“I’ve never believed in God!”
“I actually love America!”

“Yes, this is Ms. Frost. I’m afraid I’m going to have to cancel my 3:00 pedicure. On account of what? How about the supreme stupidity of everyone else in the world but me?”

It’s an assault designed to achieve the exact opposite of what Cyclops intended, and sure enough by the end of the day each and every nation activates its own variation of the Sentinel initiative: massive, humanoid killing machines flagrantly flying over the pyramids of Egypt, standing guard over Tianamen Square, looming over the Eiffel Tower and making military manoeuvres over North Korea and the Yellow Sea. But who is behind it, and why?

“Carlton Kilgore, as one of the world’s pre-eminent arms manufacturers, what is your reaction to today’s events?”
“I am outraged and appalled by such a cowardly terrorist attack. Hopefully we as a planet can come together and heal the wounds that were made here today. Until then, all Kilgore brand small arms are officially half-priced.”

In the car:

“Our website is processing a thousand orders a minute, and Kilgore stock has already gone up three points. Now that’s what I call an arms control conference. Here’s to the power of irrational fear! May the X-Men live forever!”
“I’ll drink to that.”

It’s not who you think. SCALPED’s Jason Aaron has played this magnificently, with a punchline that will please readers of Claremont and Byrne’s run no end, while Pacheco’s art is stronger yet softer than ever. Marvel have done themselves no favours with such a glut of supposedly life-shattering ‘events’ because I nearly didn’t read this at all. We will be reordering, yes.

SLH

Batman: Hush Unwrapped h/c (£29-99, DC) by Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee.

An indulgence, to be sure, but well worth your consideration for this is Jim Lee at his finest: in black and white pencils and wash. It’s lettered, with the sound-effects coloured, but basically it’s what inker Scott Inker saw before him: some of the finest neo-classical artwork in comics with some soft legs, lush lips and just-so fingers set against an intricately drawn cityscape with dazzling perspectives.

Obviously if you’d prefer the book in full inks and colour, we stock the regular edition of BATMAN: HUSH too. This is its review.

In which The Bat kisses The Cat, kicks The Croc, gets lively with Ivy… and runs away from Superman like a Big Girl’s Blouse.

Structured like a console game with End-Level Bosses, almost every friend and foe of Bruce Wayne becomes embroiled in a 12-issue mystery which goes right back to the boy’s formative years.

The further the flashbacks go, the more monochromatic the washes used in their telling. These are my favourite bits of art here, where Jim loosens up, but there’s no denying the quality of his figure work throughout. Certainly enjoyed the subtle Neal Adams homage during the fight sequence with R’as Al Gh — Ra’s All– that ancient chappie what likes a good soak.

Against his better judgement, Batman has allowed himself to fall for Catwoman, just as his life is turned upside down by what can only be an orchestrated series of catastrophes from the death of a friend to the resurrection of the second Robin. But even when he’s getting his tonsils tickled the man can’t bring himself to smile. Bruce, those endorphins… you’d feel the benefit, I swear.

LINK

SLH

Green Arrow: Brightest Day – Into The Woods h/c (£16-99, DC) by J.T. Krul & Diogenes Neves, Mike Mayhew…

Well, I’ve lost track of just how many attempts DC have had at making Green Arrow interesting. A fair few, dare I say a quiver full? He’s had his moments, I suppose, including  Brad Meltzer’s DC debut GREEN ARROW: ARCHER’S QUEST and Andy Diggle and Jock’s origin story retelling GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE, and also the heady days of the ‘Olly and Hal on the road’ stories from my youth. But, by and large, he’s a character that doesn’t particularly interest me, and I suspect many others.

Consequently DC have really pulled out all the contrived plot arrows to change that with this most recent series set in the huge forest which has mysteriously appeared in the centre of the devastated Star City in the aftermath of the BLACKEST NIGHT. And within this star-shaped (such imagination…) forest, which appears to have myriad magical powers and properties, including ghostly apparitions of the ethereal ladylike variety and a major oak emblazoned with a White Lantern symbol, Olly has made his new home.  But despite the presence of umpteen BRIGHTEST DAY-related guest stars like Green Lantern, Deadman, The Martian Manhunter and even randomly having Sir Galahad (last seen not passing Go and heading directly for the loony bin in Morrison’s Seven Soldiers Of Victory) for a treehousemate, this volume doesn’t seem to be really get off the bowstring never mind heading towards the bullseye.

The major oak replete with lantern will prove most significant, but in BRIGHTEST DAY rather than in this title. In fact you most assuredly don’t need to read Green Arrow to follow those events, making this one something for obsessive pheasant – I  mean bow – pluckers only.

LINK

JR

Batman: Bruce Wayne: The Road Home h/c (£18-99, DC) by Fabian Nicieza, Mike W. Barr, Bryan Q. Miller, Derek Fridolfs, Adam Beechen, Marc Andreyko & Cliff Richards, Ramon Bachs, John Lucas, Javier Saltares, Rebecca Buchman, Walden Wong, Pere Perez, Peter Nguyen, Ryan Winn, Szymon Kudranski, Agustin Padilla, Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens.

Not to be confused with Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne, this was a bunch of one-shots featuring the ancillary cast that preceded it. Not read ‘em, no.

SLH

Also Available To Buy Right Now:

Reviews to follow but s/cs of previous h/cs will already have their reviews on-site. You’ll find those particular titles in paler type below link to their shopping-page reviews. Cool, eh? I apologise for the lack of cover on most of the Marvel books below as of tonight. Be up shortly.

One Soul h/c (£18-99, Oni Press) by Ray Fawkes
Black Paths h/c (£14-99, SelfMade Hero) by David B
Who Is Ana Mendieta? (£13-99, Feminist Press) by Christine Redfern & Caro Caron
Ultimate Comics Captain America s/c (UK Ed’n) (£10-99, Marvel UK) by Jason Aaron & Ron Garney
Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Dale Eagelsham
Secret Avengers vol 1: Mission To Mars s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Mike Deodato Jr with Will Conrad
Deadpool: Pulp (digest) (£10-99, Marvel) by Adam Glass, Mike Benson & Laurence Campbell
Thunderbolts: Violent Rejection (£11-99, Marvel) by Jeff Parker & Kev Walker, Declan Shalvey
Incredible Hulks: Planet Savage (£14-99, Marvel) by Greg Pak & Dale Eaglesham, Tom Grummett
Captain America: Man Out Of Time (UK Ed’n) (£10-99, Marvel UK) by Mark Waid & Jorge Molina
Wolverine Vs. The X-Men h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Daniel Acuna, Jefte Palo
Daken: Dark Wolverine Vs. X-23 – Collision (£18-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way, Marjorie Liu & Giuseppe Camuncoli, Will Conrad, Sana Takeda, Ryan Stegman, Matteo Buffagni
Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps vol 1 s/c (£14-99, DC) by James Robinson, Peter J. Tomasi, J.T. Krul & Ed Benes, Eddy Barrows, Ardian Syaf
Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps vol 2 softcover (£14-99, DC) by James Robinson, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka & Eddy Barrows, Scott Kolins, Nicola Scott
Old City Blues h/c (£10-99, Archaia) by Giannis Milonogiannis
La Quinta Camera (The Fifth Room) (£9-99, Viz) Natsume Ono
Meet Mameshiba! (£4-99, Viz Kids) by Carrie Shepherd & Gemma Correll
Mameshiba: On the Loose! (£4-99, Viz Kids) by James Turner. Gemma Correll & Jorge Monlongo, Gemma Correll
Taro And The Carnival Of Doom (£5-99, Viz Kids) by Sango Morimoto
Soul Eater vol 6 (£8-99, Yen Press) by Atsushi Ohkubo
Death Note Black Edition vol 4 (£9-99, Viz) by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata
Nina Girls vol 6 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hosana Tanaka
Kimi Ni Todoke vol 9 (£7-50, Viz) by Karuho Shiina
Fairy Tail vol 14 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima
Arisa vol 3 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Natsumi Ando

Does anyone even read these hidden messages?

After dozens of years of self-denigration, I’m feeling unusually smug this evening on account of all the new books above and the reviews above them were added to our website’s shopping area by, err, me after but one training session ten days ago. I gleaned two thirds of the cover art in one go. Sorry about the bits missing. Jonathan will be back to sort that next week.

Now, if only someone could teach more how to use my new mobile phone, I wouldn’t feel such a technological moron. #technologicalmoron.

 - Stephen

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