Reviews October 2011 week two


Reed Richards isn’t just brooding, he’s hooked up to his machines like some reclusive techno-junky, leaving his wife to feed fake fish, his careless, callous brother-in-law to preen and party, and Ben Grimm, the most insecure of the lot, in temptation’s way.

– Stephen on Fantastic Four 1234 by Grant Morrison & Jae Lee. It really is exceptional

The Show Must Go On (£14-99, Boom!) by Roger Langridge.

“Spud, I could kiss you if I hadn’t diagnosed your hepatitis personally!”

Welcome to Professor Langridge’s Theatre of the Absurd (otherwise known as Mugwhump’s Palace of Varieties), here to teach you muppets how to steal the show, play on words and make a total farce of yourself while treading the boards and making them squeak. It’s one long pantomime starring pug-ugly numbskulls including Fred The Clown, Knuckles The Malevolent Nun, Frankenstein’s Monster and Shirley Temple. Also Franz Kafka:

“I never metamorphosis I didn’t like!”

Journey to Hell and back with Jack Shit, the devil in the detail and dissembler supreme! (Please note: he lied about the “back”.) Shield your fury from Doc Spin, Agent of A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. as he dances dangerously close to Marvel Comics copyright infringement while saving its comicbook universe from the dreaded Continuity Bomb!

“Look, Spingirl, he’s making his escape through that hole in the plot!”

Then betide your woe at Doctor Sputnik’s faithless assistant Spud:

“I had a kitten once but I broke it.”

From the pratfall punster behind FRED THE CLOWN and ART D’ECCO, it’s one big cacophony of cartoon craft and background clatter. Exuberance and euphoria are just two words I know beginning with the letter ‘e’. This artist exhibits more!

Buy The Show Must Go On by Roger Langridge and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

Daniel Clowes’ The Death-Ray h/c (£14-99, Jonathan Cape) by Daniel Clowes.

“Who’s this?”
“My Mom.”
“I didn’t know you had a Mom.”
“How could I not have a Mom?”
“Where is she?”
“Dead from a blood clot in the brain.”
“So then is Pappy your Dad?”
“Nope – my Grandpa.”
“Where’s your real Dad?”
“Dead too. Dead from cancer.”
“…”
“…”
“I wish my parents were dead.”

From the creator GHOST WORLD, WILSON, MISTER WONDERFUL, DAVID BORING, ICE HAVEN etc., album-sized and in full colour, this is familiar, old-skool Clowes before that crack of optimism crept in, but it’s been considerably enhanced since its appearance as EIGHTBALL #23. For example, directly inside the front cover you’ll find a bespectacled bod with a horrible hair-don’t shouting, “PENIS!”

Delightful.

That would be the first young gentleman here called Louie, best friend of the main protagonist Andy, and a total dickhead. Almost all of Andy’s actions are triggered in one form or another by Louie – usually by direct request. They’re both school outcasts but Andy is as resigned to that as he is to everything else. After the death of his mother then father then grandmother, Andy is pretty much left to his own devices because his Pappy’s mind strays and he doesn’t look long for this world, either. His girlfriend’s in California and hasn’t written to him for so long that his letters to her are embarrassingly limp affairs signed (as if reminding her), “Your boyfriend, Andy”. “I guess that’s just the way it is,” could almost be his motto.

No, it’s Louie who mumbles and grumbles and then starts provoking and not from any moral high ground, either. I’d punch the toe rag too. But when he goads Andy into his first cigarette, the effects are immediate: he pukes. No, no, the wider effects are less immediate but far more substantial: self-confidence and super-strength. It transpires that his father, the famous scientist who died from cancer, once gave Andy a serum which ensures that whenever he smokes a cigarette he gains superstrength! What’s more, he’s bequeathed him a gun synchronised specifically to Andy which will eradicate anything on anyone in his path. So, with great power, will there come great responsibility? There really won’t, especially with Louie around:

“You’re lucky to have me around, Andy. I’ll keep you honest.”

Hmmm. See, Louie loves picking fight: at the dinner table, with complete strangers in the street, and once with a squirrel. He even lies down on the ground in front of school bullies just to get the shit kicked out of him in the hope that Andy will use his gun to obliterate them once and for all: the epitome of passive aggressive!

Now, as Mark once pointed out, the origin itself isn’t that far from Marvel’s traditional routine: radiation, a killer, giving you superpowers. It’s something Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen addressed in IT’S A BIRD. But unlike the pumped-up protagonists of Marvel Comics, Andy has absolutely no ambition and the ambition of those around him stretches no further than immediate grudges and gratification. No, with Andy’s great power comes even greater mediocrity. Twenty years later you’ll find him, vaguely misanthropic, sitting on benches and walking the dog. But at least he’s given up smoking.

In spite of the cover you won’t get much of a costume here. Apart from one hilarious, superhero-style double-page spread, it’s a decidedly downbeat affair told in a series of snap-shot set pieces with a palette that swerves from the more vividly modern to stark flesh and blue, as if faded under sunlight. I can see the title sequences having been an enormous influence on Chris Ware (“What Do You Think Of Andy?” They really don’t care. “Thank You.”) while the “Choose Your Own Adventure. How Will Our Story End?? You Decide!” is the perfect anti-climax to the story of a man whose opinions rarely exceed “I guess”.

Buy Daniel Clowes’ The Death-Ray h/c by Daniel Clowes and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

The Armed Garden And Other Stories h/c (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by David B.

War and disorder from the creator of the much-admired EPILEPTIC and, more recently, BLACK PATHS, visually styled to each story’s setting. The first was my favourite to look at: a forest of spears, a torrent of arrows and a swirling sandstorm of bleached bones and skulls against a velvety, light mushroom brown – a tremendous sense of space.

In it ‘The Veiled Prophet’ manifests himself in the form of a humble dyer of cloth who’s visited by an enormous floating bed sheet which glues itself to the poor man’s mug like a face-hugger from Alien. Holy men debate seeing various prophets in its folds – blokes like Jesus and Mohammed – so immediately he acquires followers (it’s always about followers) and a reputation for being a bit of a basilisk should anyone dare to peak under his veil. The Caliph’s a bit miffed about this latest shift in the local hegemony so it’s not long before an army is raised, but the Prophet has one of his own… Nice twist at the end.

‘The Armed Garden’ is Paradise supposedly rediscovered by a blacksmith in Prague whose mental furnace evidently overheats because he believes himself host to Adam then Eve who invites him to chow down on that apple from Eden and then get a taste for Paradise between her thighs. Who out there thinks this is going to end well? Immediately he sets off, naked as the day he was born, in search of the old Eden acquiring equally naked followers (I told you it was all about followers) as he goes. Once more it’s the number of followers which proves the bone of contention between the religious leader and a military one, this time one Jan Zizka of the Taborites who are working “toward the establishment of God on Earth by massacring their enemies”. Which does seem to have been something of a tradition, doesn’t it? The Adamites escape, convince themselves they’ve found Paradise, then promptly go off their rockers in an orgy of rape and pillaging and self-gratification, the blacksmith justifying it all thus:

“We are now one with God; we are no longer held to observe the commandments. We have the right to satisfy all our desires! If you refuse me, I shall kill you but you will be the one at fault!”

It doesn’t end well for them, no.

The third and final episode, ‘The Drum Who Fell In Love’ revisits the Taborites after Jan Zizka has popped his armoured clogs. So much do they love their leader that they bully a knacker, a tanner and a musical instrument maker into fashioning his skin into a drum: a drum they beat which compels them to set about more of that massacring they’ve acquired a taste for while they wait for Christ. Zizka’s spirit, you see, is very much alive but it’s not before long that his very followers (those fickle followers!) turn on him and chase the drum and his hon’ up and down dale and yes, you guessed it: a massacre. Jesus turns up, by the way, just in time to be too late: no one is waiting for him anymore.

So there you have it: religion, jealousy, conflict and a great deal of transmogrification. Oh yes, death; a great deal of death too. Discuss. I’m all discussed out after HABIBI.

Buy The Armed Garden And Other Stories h/c by David B and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

Best American Comics 2011 (£18-99, HMH) by Gabrielle Bell, Kevin Mutch, Gabby Schulz, John Pham, Michael Deforge, Angie Wang, Robert Sergel, Joe Sacco, Dash Shaw, Joey Alison Sayers, David Lasky, Maired Case, Sabrina Jones, Chris Ware, Jillian Tamaki, Jaime Hernandez, Julia Gfrorer, Dave Lapp, Kate Beaton, Noah Van Sciver, Peter Hoey, Maria Hoey, Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, Brendan Leach, Danica Novgorodoff, Benjamin Percy, James Ponsoldt, Kevin Huizenga, Eric Orner, David Lasky.

Annual introduction to some of the best – and often elusive comics – on offer. Some are one-page shorts, some are longer and some are extracts from extant works you may be curious about. Either way, it’s always an illuminating sampler, necessarily reflecting the delightfully eclectic tastes of Matt Madden (99 WAYS TO TELL A STORY), Jessica Abel (LA PERDIDA) and their guest-curator.

This year’s curator is Alison Bechdel (FUN HOME, DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR and, soon, ARE YOU MY MOTHER?) who provides an illustrated introduction and overview (you’ll also find notes from contributors at the back). Understandably then, you’re in for material of the Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly and similarly independent nature.

Visually styles vary from the delirious colour dreamscape of Angie “Fruit Loop” Wang through the experimental tripiness of Dash Shaw (it’s a chapter from BODYWORLD) to the monochromatic washes of Brendan Leach and the black and white Rotring precision of Robert Sergel.

Although you may (you may not) be familiar with the material from GANGES, RASL and Footnotes In Gaza a lot of this was completely new to me or new to print. Gabrielle Bell’s contribution’s ‘Manifestation’ from her website, and it’s a great big basket of mischief which will make feminists and comicbook creators, I think, smile broadly. Maybe even her mother!

I loved every second of Peter and Maria Hoey’s ‘Anatomy of a Pratfall’. Six silent pages a few seconds apart of a single street divided into 12 separate panels. In each grey and peach panel something significant is happening, and after disaster strikes in a domino effect you’ll want to go back and laugh yourself senseless at the window cleaner’s seemingly unfinished artistry.

Finally – for I’m still reading this, dipping in and out – Gabby Schulz manages to put down on paper everything I love about New Year’s Eve parties (scoring potential goes through the roof – that’s about it, frankly) and everything I loathe about them (it’s just a random day of the year, the desperately drunken bollocks being trotted out and, of course, the morning after). Here Rory (I assume) introduces a ridiculous ceremonial cleansing with a bottle of whiskey:

“I’m going to pass around these papers and on them you can write down the worst thing that happened to you this year. And then you can take a sip of the Magical Elixir of Renewal…”
“Unless you have herpes.”
“Ha ha.”
“Uh, yes… unless you have herpes!”
“Then – without showing anyone… toss your paper into the fire! … And this will ensure that 2005 will be the best year ever!”
& so
“Psst – Ken – what’d you put?”
“It’s a secret – Hey!”

The note reads “I gave Rory herpes”!

Best American Comics 2011

SLH

The Magic Of Reality h/c (£20-00, Bantam Press) by Richard Dawkins & Dave McKean.

You remember that advertisement with an amphitheatre full of children asking seemingly simple questions you’d actually have difficulty answering with any degree of conviction or coherence?

“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why do bad things happen?”
“Why must we study trigonometry?”
“If the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, what will happen in the next ten seconds after I flick Mary-Beth’s pigtails?”

Now Richard Dawkins and Dave McKean have teamed up for a book of scientific enlightenment both for those of school age and those of us who failed to pay close enough attention in class. Dawkins proposes that reality is even more magical than myth, although McKean does have enormous fun illustrating both. Yes, he’s brought the entire contents of his usual bag of tricks into play from line and colour to photo-collage. You wait until you meet your 170,000,000-greats-grandmother (she so scaly!).

The myths themselves are pretty special, like the origin of the rainbow. Those of a Christian, Jewish or Islamic persuasion will know the story of Noah well, the rainbow appearing post-flood as a promise from God not to get so tetchy on our asses in future. But this is actually just a retelling of a Sumerian legend from Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago: part of the epic of Gilgamesh. It’s almost identical apart from God’s wrath stemming from us being absolutely beastly on all fronts, whereas the multiple gods in the first version were merely kept await at night because we all kept our tellies on too late and too loud.

Anyway, I love refraction and Dawkins explains not only the real truth behind rainbows (both refraction and then reflection within each drop of rain which is why you need the sun behind you; also, each rainbow is a circle – it’s just that half of it is ‘underground’ – and it’s a lot more complicated than I thought), but also the steps behind Newton’s ingenious series of experiments to prove that white light is composed of a spectrum of colours using multiple prisms, a lens and a very thin slit. Am I the only person who still uses ROYGBIV to remember the order of the colours?

He also talks about evolution and the definition of species in a way I do now recall (to be part of the same species you must be able to breed and produce fertile offspring; a horse and donkey can produce offspring but the resultant mule/hinnie is infertile, whereas poodles and spaniels successfully interbreed all the time – poor spaniels!). He explains the sun, the seasons and what things are made of… earthquakes and aliens… and there really is a chapter called “Why do bad things happen?” That’s a bit existential for science book, isn’t it? Coming back to the possibility of life on other planets, the man makes a very good case for why – if they’re there – they may well look familiar, and it’s not just a lack of imagination on our part.

Perhaps most fascinating for me was the introduction in which Dawkins talks about telescopes and time and three definitions of magic: ‘supernatural magic’, ‘stage magic’ and ‘poetic magic’. He’s delightfully blunt about charlatans. Above all, although the two creators here have made the book thoroughly entertaining and accessible to those a third of my age, do not expect as an adult to be given a free pass. Concentration will be required by you all! It’s pretty complex stuff, reality.

Buy The Magic Of Reality h/c by Richard Dawkins & Dave McKean and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

Undying Love vol 1 (£10-99, Image) by Tomm Coker, Daniel Freedman & Tomm Coker.

Hong Kong. Tong’s Medicinal Remedies and Herbs.

“Let me guess. Boy meets girl, falls in love. But boy can’t take a vampire home to meet Mom. So what does he do? He loads his guns and fills the gas tank. Heads to a foreign land with the hopes of killing the vamp that made her – setting her free so the two of you can be together? Forgive my tone, Mr. Sargent, but the story is nothing new.”

No, but the execution is all, and this is gorgeous.

For a start, there’s exquisite nocturnal art from BLOOD + WATER’s Tomm Coker. It’s like Tim Bradstreet inked by DEATH’s Chris Bachalo or HELLBLAZER: CITY OF DEMONS’ Sean Murphy: slick, glossy and mesmerising. For love-struck former mercenary John Sargent, think John Constantine spliced with Garth Ennis’s Punisher heading straight into the den of one of the oldest and most powerful vampires in China. He wants to get his attention.

“Sir, if you wouldn’t mind… These are VIP guests and I must not permit you – -“
“Return to your post.”
“It’s not for me to decide, sir. This is my job. What would you have me do?”
“I’d have you alert your staff that an evacuation is imminent.”

It really is imminent!

Deceptively young-looking Tong has pretty much summed it up at the top, by the way: whilst on duty working for a US-employed security firm in Syria, John Sargent freed the beautiful Mei from being sold into sexual slavery. Now they’re heading back to where Mei’s immortal path began, but there’s a foxy lady (she’s both fox and foxy) surrounded by samurai desperate to keep them away and she’s more ally than enemy! No, their real opponents are fiercer, feathery, obsidian shapeshifters, more vampires than you can shake a stake at, and Shang-Ji himself, Mei’s own maker who is very much surprised to discover she’s alive.

Superb action sequences and a sympathetic design including chapter breaks which masterfully maintain the mood, plus much mirth from young Tong and a permanently drunken reprobate singing Elvis Presley in a slurred Chinese accent.

“Buh-eye-can-herp-fra-ring-in-ruvwit-you….”

Vertigo missed a trick with this; can’t wait for volume two! As Duncan Fegredo pointed out, “great storyboards/commentary by Coker” in the back.

Buy Undying Love vol 1 by Tomm Coker, Daniel Freedman & Tomm Coker and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

All Star Superman s/c (Complete) (£22-50, DC) by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely.

Hands up how many of you have actually read a Superman comic? I know when I did read one when I much younger, the awful Death Of Superman, I was aghast and utterly confused. Having grown up loving the films, I just could not recognise the mindless caped atrocity fighting Doomsday for what seemed like ever. Who was this guy? Where was the soul of the icon I knew?

Because although Superman was created for comics, he became an icon through other media. A phenomenon which spread through radio, cinema serials and later TV and film, that’s why everyone knows the character, the “S”, why people refer to their weaknesses as Kryptonite rather than Achilles Heel, and why bald men are inherently evil geniuses. (Sorry, Stephen, but it’s true!)

But how many of you have read the comics? And to be honest why would you? Superman and his real power have been diluted with each incarnation until he was nothing more than a wholesome mascot for the American way. To the cynical he is a naive, empty character because of this, and attempts in comics to balance that perception with numerous gritty storylines over the years have only alienated and/or confused potential fans. It’s a crisis of identity for a seventy-one-year-old character, clearly suffering from some form of dementia, a parallel Steven T. Seagle makes in his book IT’S A BIRD…, one of a very few other Superman books we would recommend.

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have unequivocally grasped the essence of Superman, what makes him work, and his real power: to inspire. Grant’s love for the character is utterly apparent to the point where it’s obvious he has managed to restrain himself just enough to deliver a story that has its moments of genius bordering on mad but never loses his focus. Balancing a character that more often fights with his wit and intelligence than his fists, Grant lets Superman reflect humanity with an outsider’s eye. Being the ultimate immigrant aspiring to better understand his adoptive home, faults and all, while his own failings become increasingly pertinent now that his life is drawing to an untimely end.

For after being exposed to a lethal overdose of solar rays in volume one, Superman has gained awesome and unpredictable new powers. Unfortunately the same overdose placed too much strain upon his body’s ability to process the yellow sunlight, giving him scant months to live. Having accomplished seven of the twelve labours he was retro-prophesised to complete, Superman tries to find a way to save himself, but not before escaping from Bizarro Earth, coping with being replaced by some unexpected survivors from Krypton, growing a parallel dimension, and seeing Lex Luthor to the electric chair. All of which sounds rather ambiguous and standard silly I grant you, but I promise it comes together in the most amazing way. Besides that’s not what makes this series so perfect. It’s the little moments like when Superman prevents the suicide of a girl. There’s no fall or dramatic swooping in to catch her in the nick of time, because that would still be too late. Superman just does what anyone would do, and helps her find strength.

This complete edition collects both previous volumes in one.

Buy All Star Superman s/c by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely and read the Page 45 review here

TF

Fantastic Four 1234 h/c (£14-99) by Grant Morrison & Jae Lee.

Oh this was good. It was so, so good and having read the FF part of Grant Morrison’s SUPERGODS I now feel better informed. Ten years or so ago, I wrote…

“Sue. It shouldn’t sound like that. It’s not raining outside…”

“That’s not thunder, is it…? It’s under the ground….”

“Johnny, I love what you do to me, but these are third degree burns…!”

“Shut up. Stop trying to hurt us, you stupid, lonely, ignorant man!”

There’s a storm brewing over Manhattan, and Marvel’s most dysfunctional family, wandering through the echoing chambers of their soulless, high-tech skyscraper, are coming apart at the seams. Someone’s playing a game of chess with their lives. It’s rigged, of course, with a scattering of rogue pawns lying in wait across the board. One by one husband and wife, brother and friend are being isolated and taken down by their own hopes, fears and inadequacies. Reed Richards isn’t just brooding, he’s hooked up to his machines like some reclusive techno-junky, leaving his wife to feed fake fish, his careless, callous brother-in-law to preen and party, and Ben Grimm, the most insecure of the lot, in temptation’s way.

Morrison and Lee strip away all comfortable elements of this superhero family team title, with its preposterous dialogue and garish colours, leaving some vulnerable, emotional individuals to crash and burn by their own hands. Once again, it’s time to ignore the publisher and trust the creators, for, like the INHUMANS, this is far more Vertiginous in style and content, and you’re going to kick yourself if you let the title dissuade you from grabbing another slice of prime Grant Morrison. Jae Lee has once more risen to the challenge of adapting his art to the task at hand. The backgrounds are relentlessly slate or green-grey, with a mass of sharp, angular blacks, crumbling sympathetically with its occupants. It’s a miserable, neo-Gothic environment for miserable, 21st Century people.

“Richards. In one short evening, I’ve taken everything. The boy is blinded, crippled and enslaved. The monster is shattered, lost, his lover now the Mole Man’s bride in his kingdom of filth. Your wife is drowning in the deep fathoms of her adulterous frenzy. And all that remains… is Doom. While you’ve been locked away, I’ve been busy destroying the life and loves of your family forever, Richards. Tell me… what have you been doing?”
“Well, Victor… I’ve been thinking.”

It’s cold out there. Get ready to shiver.

Buy Fantastic Four 1234 h/c by Grant Morrison & Jae Lee and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

Spider-Man: The Return Of Anti-Venom h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott & Giuseppe Camuncoli, Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, Barry Kitson, Lee Garbett, Emma Rios.

It’s all about the two-tone: Anti-Venom and Mr. Negative are back in black and white, and things are about to change for both! Anti is the original Venom by the way, Eddie Brock, but he’s the only one who knows who Mr. Negative is. Can he convince a sceptical Spider-Man to give him the time of day let alone listen to him for five minutes? Given Aunt May’s daily proximity to Mr. Negative, it’s quite excruciating. Meanwhile Eddie Brock appears to have a new ally also determined to say no to Mr. Negative: The Wraith AKA Captain Jean DeWolff RIP. As in dead, quite dead. Is she a ghost?

An Additional story guest-stars Spider-Woman and Shang-Chi, then there’s a very bad day for Betty Brant. FYI Anti-Venom made his first appearance in SPIDER-MAN: NEW WAYS TO DIE which was rather fine.

Spider-Man: The Return Of Anti-Venom hardcover By Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli, Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, Barry Kitson, Lee Garbett, Emma Rios

SLH

The Stand: Captain Trips s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Stephen King, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Mike Perkins.

Gripping adaptation of the Stephen King classic, in which a man and his wife narrowly escape an emergency lock-down on a top-secret Californian military base before its gates can close and quarantine them. You’ll soon wish they never made it through, as will all those swigging beer in the remote Texan petrol station which the car crashes into. What they find within will shorten their life-spans considerably. All across North America, meanwhile, individuals continue to lead their own lives oblivious to the fact that their current problems – romantic, financial, and relationships with their family – are going to seem utterly trivial by comparison when the viral strain catches up with them. And it will. All the same, there’s one particular conversation that will leave you shaking your head with horror and/or dismay in the Goldsmith’s family lounge between a young woman who’s learned that she’s pregnant but won’t marry her boyfriend because of it, her sympathetic father, and a mother whose grief for her dead son has left her cold to the family still living.

Earthy art from Perkins keeps what could so easily become a reality very real indeed. It’s soft, sympathetic and then by contrast truly repulsive when required. The unstoppable pandemic’s progress is cleverly conveyed by following the intricate details of some individuals’ transmissions, and you’ll start washing your hands more, I can tell you. Also the military is never going to own up to its actions but takes every step to cover its tracks, no matter how draconian. You’ll be surprised how different America looks after this first volume.

Interior art here:

Buy The Stand: Captain Trips s/c by Stephen King, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Mike Perkins and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

Axe Cop vol 2: Bad Guy Earth (£9-99, Dark Horse) by Malachai Nicolle & Ethan Nicolle, Dirk Erik Schulz.

“Written by a six-year-old and drawn by his thirty-year-old brother!”

That’s Dark Horse’s selling sentence right there, and it works. For more about how it was written – at play with Malachi and his brother bouncing off the walls and each other – please see my review of the original AXE COP collection. This is the Dark Horse mini-series which will be new to those who only seen this online.

Breathlessly, then…

Earth is in danger of being squished by the Bad Guy Planet, but Axe Cop and Dinosaur Soldier have forgotten all that because they’ve just found a machine that turns Bad Guys into Good Guys and turned a crook into Handcuff Man who can throw handcuffs on a bad guy and electrocute him. Then they get their car fixed using Uni-Man’s Unicorn Horn and put Handcuff Man to bed because it’s night time. The Psychic Bad Guys from the Psychic Planet sneak in and decide to kill Handcuff man and steal the Good Guy machine, so one of them turns into a scorpion. After changing the Good Guy Machine into a Bad Guy Machine they turn into giants to steal the whole of the Earth’s army while they’re asleep and make them Bad Guys. Frustrated, Axe Cop lies down and takes his daily two-minute nap. He dreams about a T. Rex… that’s crying.

“The dinosaurs are in trouble! The need our help! We have to go back in time!”

Meanwhile, on a chicken farm…

It’s almost impossible to transcribe but I think I’ve done it justice enough: the way the story veers off on A.D.D. tangents and anything can happen. Did I think the storytelling was inventive, captivating, thrilling? Was I wowed by the art? No, no, no and no…

The story was inventive. Highly inventive. The project is inventive too. As an exercise and a reminder of all things six-year-old, it’s highly amusing and even informative for those studying psychology. And in any case, as a bit of fun – to put your playtime adventures with your younger brother up on the web for you both to chortle over and entertain passers-by – it’s not just utterly harmless, it’s positively sweet. If you’re looking to me for permission to buy it then you’re just plain weird; on the other hand, if you’re looking to me to dissuade you from buying it then you’ve come to the wrong guy.

Something that proclaims itself to be a ground-breaking work of art that falls dismally short of being even mediocre is what gets my goat. Cynical huckstering by comicbook corporations of yet another formulaic, barely literate load of same-old junk is what pisses me off. Neither Dark Horse nor the brothers themselves have done any such thing.

“Written by a six-year-old and drawn by his thirty-year-old brother!”

It does exactly what is said of the kin.

Buy Axe Cop vol 2: Bad Guy Earth by Malachai Nicolle & Ethan Nicolle, Dirk Erik Schulz and read the Page 45 review here

SLH

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

Reviews to follow or already up if they’re s/c’s of h/c’s. Regardless, you can now go straight to these books in the shopping area simply by clicking on their names.

The Great Northern Brotherhood Of Canadian Cartoonists h/c (£18-99, D&Q) by Seth

Billy, Me & You (£12-99, Myriad) by Nicola Streeten (actually not on sale until 27/10/11)

Pope Hats #2 (£4-99) by Ethan Rilly

Troop 142 (£14-99, SA) by Mike Dawson

World Of Warcraft: Curse Of The Worgen h/c (£16-99, DC) by Micky Neilson, James Waugh & Ludo Lullabi, Tony Washington

Immortals: Gods And Heroes hardcover (£14-99, Archaia) by various including Paul Tobin, Jock, Ben Templesmith

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven & Other Stories h/c (£12-99, IDW) by Edgar Allan Poe & Sam Kieth

Victorian Undead 2: Sherlock Holmes Vs Dracula s/c (£10-99, DC) by Ian Edginton & Davide Fabbri

Black Metal vol 2 (£8-99, Oni) by Rick Spears & Chuck BB

Twilight: The Graphic Novel vol 2 hardcover (£14-99, Yen) by Stephenie Meyer & Young Kim

Absolute Identity Crisis (£75-00, DC) by Brad Metzler & Rags Morales, Michael Blair

Batman: Arkham City h/c (£16-99, DC) by Paul Dini, Derek Fridolfs & Carlos D’Anda, Dustin Nguyen, more

Batman: Life After Death s/c (£10-99, DC) by Tony S Daniel & Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Flarea

Carnage: Family Feud softcover (Uk Ed’N) (£10-99, Marvel) by Zeb Wells & Clayton Crain

X-Men Legacy: Lost Legions h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Mike Carey & Khoi Pham

Punisher Max: Frank hardcover (£18-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon

Ultimate Comics Avengers vol 3: Blade Vs. The Avengers s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Mark Millar & Steve Dillon

New X-Men vol 6 (Digest) (£10-99, Marvel) by Grant Morrison & Phil Jimenez, Chris Bachalo

Battle Angel Alita Last Order vol 15 (£7-50, Viz) by Yukito Kishiro

Cross Game vol 5 VIZBIG Edition (£10-99, Viz) by Mitsuru Adachi

I really must blog about being on stage with Bryan Talbot at Thought Bubble in November. Let’s just get this Sunday’s Anders Nilsen signing and slide-show fully accomodated first: LINK.

Also, does anyone actually read these bits in the end? Just curious.

– Stephen

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