Reviews December 2011 week one

No one is safe: neither stand-up comedians nor fall-down pensioners; the police, the obese or those now deceased. Prepare for pointless conflict! There are dozens and dozens of maniacal short stories here filled with frenzy, fury and fist-fights, all effortlessly insane with comedy. We’re talking ART D’ECCO on amphetamines, SUGAR BUZZ on a sugar buzz.

 – Stephen on Milk & Cheese (expanded edition)

Solipsistic Pop #4 (£10-00) by Takayo Akiyama, Kristyna Baczynski, Dan Berry, Joe Blann, Stephen Collins, Rob Davis, Paul Harrison Davis, Joe Decie, John Cei Douglas, Oliver East, Nick Edwards, Marc Ellerby, Paul Francis, Katie Green, Isabel Greenberg, Howard Hardiman, Ste Hitchen, Tom Humberstone, Joe List, Lizz Lunney, John Miers, Kathryn Newman, Luke Pearson, Philippa Rice, Jenny Robins, Edward Ross, Alison Sampson, Anna Saunders, Matthew Sheret.

Maps – on the subject thereof. Maps help us plan a safe journey, discover where we went wrong and work out a way to get ourselves right back on track; they put us in context – geographical or historical like a family tree – and when you think about it, comics themselves are routes mapped out in panels, telling a story like an album of photographs.

The epitome of “lovingly hand-crafted”, this is the finest British comics anthology I can ever recall with most luxurious production values which speak of a true love of comics. And what’s more it’s a fun artefact with several layers to be peeled away before you begin to approach the contents.

First there’s a folder screen-printed in two tones of blue, a précis or prelude to a story within of a planet in danger of destruction. Its inside flaps explain the symbols employed, and it’s vital you know that “Comicbook readers share ninety-seven percent of DNA with humans”. These same flaps house three postcards (officially – we’ve added another of the cover and a rum badge to boot): one is an “I Spy” game of outdoors bingo which will come to no surprise to fans of Oliver East’s TRAINS ARE… MINT and BERLIN AND THAT etc.; a second employs a secret layer of glow-in-the-dark ink which when suffused with lamplight reveals the full story; the third is printed on a pulpy paper packed with seeds. Soak it, plant it, and see what springs forth! Destination Inspiration, what will take root?

I’m ever so sorry but we’re not done yet, for there’s a fold-out dustjacket in the vein of Chris Ware’s to MCSWEENEY’S 13 in which Kate Green provides a free-flowing collage of her life and craft which is evidently inspired by classical facades, candle-lit baths, old electric cookers and bees, trees and tiny teapots. As to the actual cover underneath, it’s a Metro-style map re-routed by Stephen Collins so that casual thoughts and life experiences are now stationed at stops. When will you decide it is time to change platforms or get off completely? You may be in for a bumpy ride.

“If I Look In The Window
“I Can Check Her Out
“Without Looking Weird
“Shit
“Busted
“Probably Thinks I’m A Rapist Now”

No way am I getting off at Busted. They sucked.

So now we come to the contents themselves: some of our favourite creators like Lizz Lunney, Marc Ellerby and Philippa Rice, with new discoveries employing lime, olive and pistachio green. Stephen Collins is back in a quiet condensation of the life and times of one Phyllis Pearsall, invenstress of the London A-Z, while Joe Decie (ACCIDENTAL SALAD) explores the dual territories of Always and Never: early praise and prohibitions which prove that Never land is a much bigger and more cluttered country than its northern neighbour Always. Always share and never pull hair – quite right! Never leave a mate behind, either. But wander round the seemingly limitless sprawling suburbs and back alleys of Never land and amongst the scant sage advice are the doleful dead-ends of Never Say You’re Sorry and Never, Ever Dance!

Prohibitions breed inhibitions and those would have been my favourite four pages were it not for John Cei Douglas’ tour de force ‘Footnotes’. Each silent page from the creator of BUFFALO ROOTS is a perfectly balanced composition of light, line and colour, the first three of which each find focus by dint of a borderless spotlight on a young couple together on a train station platform over a period of time. These are surrounded by train journeys to and fro, some shared, some solo, gazing out of the window with dreamy optimism or more melancholic doubt. Rarely have I seen these scenes through a carriage window so well conveyed; similarly the station and platforms themselves which, when empty, echo with a real sense of space. The expressions are as subtle as they are economical – we’re talking Andi Watson at the top of his game – but alas I can say little more when I have a dozen more sentences in me which desperately want to explain why this tale is so super. SPOILERS etc.

Small World by Alison Sampson, by contrast, is startling for its precise line, meticulous detail and wide open space even in the most cluttered apartment. Arrestingly, it begins with the line, “We’re letting you go”. Jenny Robins is in memory mode, casting her mind back to old photographs and the excitement of opening the unknown quantity which was the packet you collected from the developers, while Isabel Greenberg is in a far more fanciful mood, regaling us with the tale of early cartographer Mancini Pannini and his Genius Monkeys who (may have) produced maps of elaborate beauty, each of which was functionally useless! There are some truly surreal journeys on offer including the aspirations of an egg, but Matthew Sheret and editor/curator Tom Humberstone bring things firmly back down to earth by taking sober stock of an evening’s recent riots, mapping the events precisely across each street.

With a total of twenty-six stories inside the front covers, there is of course far, far more to explore yourselves. The only disappointment was the scant legibility of the otherwise exemplary pages by Luke Pearson (EVERYTHING WE MISS) who details his creative environment and mindset in a diagrammatical fashion reminiscent of Chris Ware, but we’re most of us going to need a magnifying glass later in life so I went out and bought one now. Well worth it!

At the time of typing we have SOLIPSISTIC POP 3, 2 and 1 still in stock. Supplies very limited.

SLH

Buy Solipsistic Pop #4 and read the Page 45 review here

The Strumpet #1 (£5-00, self-published) by Ellen Lindna, Jeremy Dennis Day, Mardou, Kripa Joshi, Patrice Aggs, Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg, Tanya Meditzky, Mardou, Katie Haegele, Maartje Schalkx, Lucy Sweet, Katie Haegele, Emily Ryan Lerner, Megan Kelso.

56-page all-female jam-packed anthology (apricot, raspberry and plum) on the theme of dressing up, but do hold your horses for these laydeez do comics like nobody else and I wouldn’t expect anything straightforward. Jeremy ‘Dennis’ Day, for example, is away with the fairies, dressing paper dolls with her sister while being plagued by demands from the imaginary Little Folk to update wardrobes too:

“By comparison, the little people were ugly, thread-bare, hopelessly outmoded. Bad clothes, rubbish shoes, musty, fusty and dull as November dishwater.”

“November dishwater” – one artfully placed word makes all the difference. Her sister suggests Sindy Clothes. “I tried that,” replies Jeremy, “They said they don’t do hand-me-downs.” Jeremy had been labouring away on a Dorset farm and her self-image and body were suffering as a result, and I guess this is the story of how she first discovered glamour in more ways than one. I just knew that her pages in NELSON would feature her trademark blue hair!

Ellen Lindna falls in love with the sari, and Kripa Joshi tells a seemingly traditional fairy tale with words while her pictures portray an altogether more modern affair, but the two dovetail so neatly I smiled throughout. Patrice Aggs’ Three Graces are far from divine in a chaotic, half-hour photo-shoot delineated with the sort of crisp, delicate lines you’re more likely to find in a European album. Tanya Meditzky, on the other hand… well, it’s Tanya MILKKITTEN Meditzky, isn’t it? It’s a close-up commentary as if filmed for TV about a key moment in British history on 5th November 2003 as Prince William and Kate Middleton share a plate of fish, chips and peas, and turn it into a military campaign waged with knives, forks, and quick, coy glances. There’s even a map of their manoeuvres so that historians can follow their advances and retreats across the battered plate before Kate lets loose with a blitzkrieg assault which secures her immediate victory and, potentially, the royal throne.

Finally for now, WHORES OF MENSA founding member Mardou weighs in with a mischief-ridden guide to the prospects of finding a beau amongst the collectors at a comicbook convention who might still be in ‘Mint Condition’:

“There’s no shortage of interesting folk to draw. I mean – take this guy! He’s got his little “wish list”! Hey, buddy how ‘bout putting me on that list, heh heh!”

Really?! There’s an interview, reviews of books that they love and far, far more as our Strumpets dress to impress, shop ‘til they shop and regale us with their undoubted expertise… after a fashion.

“This head-band is cute.”
“I think that’s a tube top…”

SLH

Buy The Strumpet #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Everything vol 1: Comics From Around 1978-81 h/c (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Lynda Barry.

Lynda Barry seems much invigorated following her renaissance in PICTURE THIS and Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month WHAT IT IS, and provides an introduction for her earliest comic strips in much the same style. What’s fascinating is that as far back as 1981 in the GIRLS & BOYS collection reprinted here Lynda was already providing instruction for catalysing creativity in exactly the same fashion as her last two books.

Her own early inspirations included Dr. Seuss, and I don’t think that ever left her because one of the most striking elements of her work here is she is at play – just like her TWO SISTERS, their imaginations running wild much to the irritation of a nagging, hypercritical, “Don’t do this!” mother, constantly trying to stifle the stuffing out of them. The Dr. Seuss books play with words in a way that’s liberating, letting them lead the story and one of the revelations Barry writes about when reading the likes of Ripley’s BELIEVE IT OR NOT (about human and animal oddities) and Robert Crumb’s ZAP! is that there are no constraints in what’s fit for comics.

All of which goes a long way to explaining the totally unfettered nature of the early Ernie Pook strips complete with – yes, you guessed it – a nagging mother, off-stage as always. There also are quizzes (“Test Your IQ Now! Which one would you eat?? 1. The dice 2. Miss Tina’s Dentures”) and tests:

“Test Your Self-Respect – a scientific system of testing developed especially for Earthlings.
 Check one:
 A. I’m so awful
 B. I’m so awful
 C. I’m so awful
 Why? (In your own words)………..”

Once more with the interactivity used throughout for satirical purposes, her dense, 8-panel checklist about Finding Your Perfect Love-Mate being a veritable essay in female subservience from which:

“Is It Love? How Can I Tell?
 1. Which of these things can you no longer do? A. Anything B. Everything.
 2. Do you think about “him” all of the time? Yes. No.
 3. Do you think about “him” all of the time? Yes. No.
 4. If he wrecks your car through inexcusable carelessness you say: A. That’s okay. B. Gee. C. Oh just leave it there, would you like some dinner?
 5. Do your find yourself agreeing with everything he says? A. Well, he and I do have a lot in common. B. If he says so. C. I don’t know, ask him.”

By the time we come to that final section, BOYS & GIRLS, Lynda Barry has really let rip with mean mouths full of tiny, sinister teeth, thick black lips and wild, ugly punkish hair as the battle of the sexes erupts into a full-scale war, while school and home life both get a great deal grimmer. By comparison the TWO SISTERS episodes – at first starring Evette and Rita aged 9, then Shirley and Judy aged 16 – seem positively dainty with prettily patterned wallpaper, sofas and dresses… although if you look closely Rita aged nine once wears a dress printed with scissors and in another strip I’m pretty sure those are either matches or cigarettes! During either period Barry’s very well versed in the lies we pass off as truths to impress others, those we tell simply to get out of trouble or with the sole purpose of landing others right in it – like, err, babies don’t feel pain! It’s very, very violent, which makes the accompanying photo from 1981 of Lynda signing BOYS & GIRLS to a mother and daughter all the funnier. The book signing appears to have been held in a bar, just like Page 45’s own first signing with Roberta Gregory a week before we opened. We should do that again sometime.

SLH

Everything vol 1: Comics From Around 1978-81 hardcover

Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Evan Dorkin.

“Gin makes a man mean!”
“Everyone booze up and riot!”

Massive, album-sized upgrade for barely more money, so much of this material has never been collected before, and the extras are unbelievable!

Love them with money or they’ll hate you with hammers! These dairy products gone bad are educating America – one moron at a time! This isn’t a review, it’s a misappropriation of Dorkin’s own comedy. If you love Jamie Smart (BEAR, UBU BUBU) then you need this book: scathing satire, mass destruction, immolation, incineration and if you’re an old-skool comic shop selling nothing more than superheroes to the painfully maladjusted, then you are in for a thorough kicking. No one is safe: neither stand-up comedians nor fall-down pensioners; the police, the obese or those now deceased. Prepare for pointless conflict! There are dozens and dozens of maniacal short stories here filled with frenzy, fury and fist-fights, all effortlessly insane with comedy. We’re talking ART D’ECCO on amphetamines, SUGAR BUZZ on a sugar buzz.

We used to have the gorgeous vinyl-figure set which included implements of devastation. On the back was the first new Milk & Cheese strip in yoinks although you could probably guess what happened (see “implements of devastation”). It’s reprinted here on page 214, concluding with the commendable exhortation, “You’re either buyin’ or you’re dyin’!”

On top of the previously collected strips, these are the upgrades:

80 pages of comics that have never been collected before. A 24-page section featuring all the colour M&C strips, a cover gallery (not just MILK & CHEESE but also DEADLINE, COMICS JOURNAL etc.), pin-ups, trading card an merchandise art. I have the beer mat that screams “Get that drink –“ “ – The @*#! Off of us!” A 24-page B&W supplemental section featuring pin-ups ups (neat Jill Thompson SCARY GODMOTHER crossover), t-shirt designs and more. The rare 1997 M&C Special Edition 16-page mini-comic featuring the expanded “Darth Vader Overdrive” strip and extras. A glossy new print quality that doesn’t suck!

You should also follow the man on Twitter. One of my favourites:

“Oh, comic book industry. You’ve gained so much experience, when will you level up?”

SLH

Buy Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Or else!

The Adventures Of Hergé h/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental & Stanislas Barthelemy…

Enjoyable biography of the creator of Tintin, frequently referencing the periods round the creation of each Tintin album. Hergé certainly had an interesting life, hobnobbing with Belgian royalty, attracting the ire of the likes of the Japanese government, glad-handing various celebs such as Andy Warhol and having many a dalliance with various ladies too along the way, often concurrently or even whilst married, the naughty boy. The art, appropriately enough, is very much a homage to his style.

JR

Buy The Adventures Of Hergé h/c and read the Page 45 review here

1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die (£20-00, Octopus) by various and edited by Paul Gravett.

You might imagine I’ve had a better head start than most. However, Paul Gravett is as ever so enthusiastic, so eloquent and persuasive that for every review that made me nod in agreement, having shared the same experience, another pops up which made me wonder how – after forty years of reading comics and twenty years promoting them professionally – I could possibly have missed out on that particular graphic novel! Admittedly not all books covered here are in print or in English, so there’s hope for me yet.

At 960 gloriously illustrated pages, this book measures over two inches thick, and on top of the reviews, Paul peppers most entries with extra nuggets of information from similar reads to original publishers, original language and awards garnered. What will relieve or frustrate certain readers is Paul’s admirable discipline: no review of even the most complex graphic novel is allowed to sprawl over its half-page limit. It couldn’t: this is two inches thick! If you want a more in-depth analysis of Urusawa’s PLUTO, for example, well that’s what our website is for: eight reviews for its eight volumes! On the other hand, however proud I may be of my review of Simone Lia’s FLUFFY, Gravett manages in a few short paragraphs to nail the essence of the book better than I did with much longer, rambling ones and several lines of quoted dialogue.

Paul, don’t forget, is the country’s ultimate ambassador for comics who gave us GRAPHIC NOVELS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE, MANGA: 60 YEARS OF JAPANESE COMICS and, with Peter Stanbury, GREAT BRITISH COMICS and THE LEATHER NUN AND OTHER INCREDIBLY STRANGE STORIES. He’s done it again: another beautiful book for us to sell which then persuades its readers to buy even more! I know my own wish list just got a whole lot longer.

The selections are arranged in order of publication date and run right up to Craig Thompson’s HABIBI which only arrived on our shelves three months ago! Almost every book mentioned is an absolute winner with the sole exception that I’ve spotted so far of WALKING THE DOG (pretend Paul’s right and I’m wrong, and please, please buy our only copy!) and although corporate superheroes are thin on the ground, I’m delighted to see my two favourites, Millar and Hitch’s ULTIMATES and Vaughan and Harris’ EX MACHINA, sitting proudly side by side. In fact, here’s a fun little game you can play: read what Gravett wrote then fire the same title or creator into our search engine in the shopping area (you can search by either, and neither needs be exact – best search engine ever!) and compare notes. Or buy. I do wish Paul had mentioned that!

SLH

Buy 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die and read the Page 45 review here

Derek The Sheep h/c (£7-99, Bloomfield) by Gary Northfield.

Signed and sketched in for free!

Yes, this book is now sold out at the publishers and we can only buy it directly from Gary himself, so I can assure you that all our copies now and in the future will have this demented man’s mark left indelibly inside the front cover.

From the pages of THE BEANO, then, thirteen full-colour short stories running at roughly half a dozen pages each in which Derek the sheep, surely one of the most sedentary animals alive, is traumatised by bees, bubblegum, bulls and bulrushes (oh, he finds a way!), forever tempted as he is by that grass which is always greener. “This is a really bad idea, Derek,” could come from any of these disasters waiting to happen wherein he digs himself deeper and deeper into doo-doo. Once quite literally.

Sheep are inherently funny as the eight-year-old in me instinctively discerned, for my own first comics featured a sheep called Shoop, for surely that it is its singular form? I only created Shoop because there was a void in the market back then. This is aimed squarely at eight-year-olds so, trust me, they want this! See also VERN & LETTUCE which won this year’s award as voted for by Leeds’ school children. Do you see what I’m saying?

SLH

Derek The Sheep hardcover

Batman: The Black Mirror h/c (£22-50, DC) by Scott Snyder & Jock, Francesco Francavilla.

As Grant Morrison pointed out in SUPERGODS, right from the earliest issues the Batman books featured a striking amount of drugs and mental illness. So it is here in a genuinely chilling story arc which spans the last eleven issues of DETECTIVE COMICS before the DC New 52 relaunch, and if you’re one of the thousands of readers who hopped on board with Scott Snyder’s BATMAN #1, I commend Scott’s work to you here in the strongest possible terms.

The Prodigal Son returns in the form of Commissioner Jim Gordon’s errant son James, dredging up memories and the nagging suspicion in his father – and the absolute conviction in half-sister Barbara – that he has always been “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. Now he returns with his cards on the table, confessing to his father that last year he admitted himself to Houston General’s Psychiatric Centre, was diagnosed as psychopathic, but is now on a clinical trial for a drug called Diaximyne. All early results indicate it’s a medical breakthrough, successfully stimulating peptide production in the part of the brain which experiences empathy. Barbara warns Gordon to go with her guts, but he cannot resist the glimmer of hope that she’s wrong. Is she?

The truth is far from straight forward. So well does Snyder play the evidence and exonerations, the memories and misdirections, that you’re in for some serious surprises as is Dick Grayson (still Batman alongside Bruce Wayne who’s busy recruiting internationally – hey, you do have to delegate). Indeed, one of the refreshing elements Snyder’s introduced here is Grayson’s own empathy which may prove his enemy – he’s not the same Batman that Bruce was. If that wasn’t enough, the subplot simmering steadily along boils right over when the Joker begins babbling and – like everything else here – it’s very far from random. Oh, how satisfying to read it in retrospect and see all the links laid early on!

As to ‘Hungry City’, dead in the centre here, this was the first time in years that we had to restock DETECTIVE COMICS: page after page of stunning artwork from Jock (HELLBLAZER: PANDEMONIUM, LOSERS) so meticulously composed that they will blow your brains out and blend them in a mixer before serving them back to you in a heady cocktail that is 99% proof and 1% circumstantial evidence. I mean it: not just the panels-within-a-panel, free-fall composition I raved about when the relevant issue first appeared, but an opening Killer Whale shot that totally redefines the term ‘splash page’. I’m loathe to waste any review, so this is what I wrote:

“So. You love the company you work for and you turn up for work two hours early. It’s that kind of a bank (rare these days) that’s both beloved and a six-year success story. Then the doors finally open and you’re confronted with the gaping jaws of an oversized, dead female Orca, beached on marble and now swimming in its own saliva. #badforbusiness as you’d say on Twitter. It’s also an elaborate message to squeaky-clean bank chief Sonia Branch whose personal assistant flops from the Killer Whale’s belly. Talk about being consumed by your competitors. But is it the bank’s competitors or someone else responsible for the sea-themed sabotage? Dick Grayson is called in to investigate by Commissioner Gordon only to be told that Sonia’s changed her name of late. She used to be Sonia Zucco, daughter of Anthony “Fats” Zucco. That’s the man who killed Dick’s parents.”

Coming back to the wider story arc, top marks too to artist Francesco Francavilla for his quieter, more intimate style when reintroducing James to his family and jogging Barbara’s childhood memories. Precisely what it called for, and his annotations in the extensive sketchbook section in the back made a great deal of sense.

SLH

Buy Batman: The Black Mirror h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Death Of Spider-Man Fallout h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer & Mark Bagley, Bryan Hitch, Eric Nguyen, Sara Pichelli, Salvador Larroca, Clayton Crain, Billy Tan.

“I once knew a young girl – a mutant – who could look at those clouds, and force them to part, just through the power of her own mind.”
“Yeah, well, where is she when we need her, right?”
Being lobotomised.”

The follow-up to ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN: DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN and Mark Millar’s Ultimate Comics Avengers: Death Of Spider-Man in which a funeral is held, Kitty Pryde, Bobby Drake and Johnny Storm move on, and Aunt May finally has her say when Captain America tries to apologise.

“The day he died… I told him he wasn’t ready. I told him he was a child and that he hadn’t yet earned the right to wear the uniform. And the… the gunshot… The… wound that eventually killed him… It was meant for me. He jumped in front of it to save me.”
“…”
“…”
“So after you emasculated him, even though he had proved himself a hero over and over and over again. After you told him he wasn’t worthy… He saved your life? Is that what you’re telling me?”

Aunt May frankly steals the show in the scenes that follow – she cups Steve Rogers’ chin in her hand in precisely the way that one does when giving a small child a real piece of your mind – but that’s far from all this is as the writers of the new line of Ultimate Comics join forces to set up their stalls for the future. The new, even younger Spider-Man makes his first appearance, Tony Stark receives a tempting if worryingly nebulous offer, Captain America reels from the wrath of Aunt May (there will be consequences, yes), Nick Fury and Hawkeye survey the growing unrest around Asgard and South-East Asia and… and Quicksilver goes into business.

“Tell me, Mister Hanstead – do you know what the most valuable good this country ever imported is?”
“Oil?”
“See, that is exactly what I thought myself. But no, actually – it’s slaves.”

Oh yes, and the biggest secret at the heart of Bendis’ ULTIMATE ORIGINS is about to be made public. I’d seriously pick that book up now, if you haven’t already!

SLH

Buy Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Death Of Spider-Man Fallout h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Mighty Thor vol 1 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Oliver Coipel…

“You bald and glinting bastard! I am having yet another in a string of bad days, and you’ve just given me every excuse to take them all out on you…”
“Now now boy. Kill not the messenger. At least not until he delivers his message.”
“Your threats carry no coin with me, Asgardian. Nothing you can do scares me. For I have fed the great gaping maw of Galactus.
“Your little hammer and temper tantrums will not save you from the hunger that does not cease.
“I will show you bad black days and blacker nights where no light shines little Asgardian. Your imagination will shatter when cast into the churning sorrows of his wake.”
“By my beard, are you both finished? While you measure manhood, I actually feel myself grow older.”
“Of course All-Father. I meant no disrespect. The Seed, All-Father. Galactus seeks the Seed.”

So… Galactus has discovered that The World Seed, the cosmic energy equivalent of the veritable all-you-can-eat buffet, more voluminous than even Volstagg could manage, is in Odin’s possession, hidden until recently for safekeeping under the roots of the World Tree, and he’d very much appreciate Odin just handing it over for him to snack on.

Well… obviously Odin has other ideas about that, and the Surfer and Thor get chance to have their hand-to-hand dust up, whilst Odin and Galactus go quite literally tête-à-tête, as each seeks to take control of the other’s sense of reality. It’s a truly epic confrontation that is executed with exquisite precision by Fraction. Mind you, demonstrating that it doesn’t always have to be hammer time, Thor does place a most verily magnificent headbutt on the Surfer’s chromedome which actually leaves a dent!

Meanwhile, back in Broxton, the locals are starting to get rather fed up with yet another round of destruction being meted out to their previously sleepy backwater, and led by the local preacher, have resolved to drive the Asgardians out. That particular preacher, experiencing a crisis in faith due to the Gods on his doorstep, has absolutely no idea just how much his world is about to change. And, aware that sometimes things take a less… direct approach, little Loki is implementing his own scheme to save the day. The main event though is undoubtedly the cosmic confrontation, and I’ll leave it to Odin just to make it clear to the Surfer how his… request… is going to go down…

“It is power… energy… beyond the boundaries that even language and mathematics can explain. It is the eternal soul of the All-God. No disrespect to your paradigm intended.
“You see, this thing… by the reckoning of Galactus… this thing could sate him forever.
“This could end Galactus’ hunger. You sit on a treasure that means the cessation of a million billion genocides destined to occur. You horde a bauble that means the lives of uncountable worlds. The cooing of innumerable babies. The arts and sciences of species yet untold.
“So. He is coming for it. I may have given the impression I was asking for your permission. I was not.”
“He cannot have it, you great and gleaming gimp.”

JR

Buy The Mighty Thor vol 1 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Marvel Masterworks: X-Men vol 4 (£18-99, Marvel) by Roy Thomas & Roy Thomas, Don Heck.

Antagonists include the Juggernaut, Mole Man, Tyrannus, the Blob, the Vanisher, Unus The Untouchable, the dreaded Spider-Man (!), plus there’s an extended subplot featuring Banshee and Professor X in thrall to Factor Three. Now that we’ve destroyed the ozone layer we’re all in thrall to Factor Four Hundred.* As it transpires, it’s an even longer sub-plot than it seems. SPOILERS, though. Witness Warren and Jean trying to con Welfare off the State so they can buy plane tickets to the Alps… and then drive off in a Rolls Royce!!

* Okay, it was me: I went through more hairspray than Duran Duran

Just so you know, all our MARVEL MASTERWORKS s/cs at least feature the fresh, shiny black covers rather than the one depicted here. Never liked that design: so cold. But we’ve left this one on to remind you that you can order that version instead if you want. Just email us at page45@page45.com!

SLH

Buy Marvel Masterworks: X-Men vol 4 and read the Page 45 review here

Aliens: Fast Track To Heaven h/c (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Liam Sharp…

The first Alien film ranks just behind Richard Burton’s The Medusa Touch as what scared the bejesus out of me most as a young child. I should add that my parents weren’t aware I was watching Alien on the television upstairs very late one night, but it would be fair to say it was my first experience with true terror as I lay shaking under the sheets that night. Actually, the second film, Aliens, I still find a slightly uncomfortable experience these days! Obviously therefore I’m looking forward to the 3D prequel James Cameron is currently working on. If there ever was a movie monster that really deserves to take its 3D bow, surely it is the ‘facehugger’? In the meanwhile to keep you going here’s a new original graphic novel written and illustrated by Liam Sharp.

JR

Buy Aliens: Fast Track To Heaven h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

Reviews to follow or already up if they’re softcover of hardcovers. Regardless, you can now go straight to these books in the shopping area simply by clicking on their titles! Hurrah!

Blood Blokes #1 (£2-99) by Adam Cadwell

Chloe Noonan Colour Special (£3-99, self-published) by Marc Ellerby

Nobrow 6: The Double (£15-00, Nobrow) by various

Rasl vol 3: Romance At The Speed Of Light (£10-99, Cartoon books) by Jeff Smith

My Skateboard Life (£8-99, Blank Slate) by Ed Syder

BPRD – Being Human (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, John Arcudi & Karl Moline, Richard Corben, Ben Stenbeck, Guy Davis, Andy Owens, Jo Chen

Deadpool Max: Involuntary Armageddon h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by David Lapham & Kyle Baker, Shawn Crystal

Halo: Fall Of Reach hardcover (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Reed & Felix Ruiz

Batman: Hush Absolute Edition (£75-00, DC) by Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee

Monkey King vol 1 (£7-50, JR Comics) by Wei Dong Chen

Sonic Select vol 4  (£8-99, Archie) by various

Negima vol 32 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

MPD Psycho vol 10 (£9-99, Dark Horse) by Eiji Otsuka & Sho-u Tajima

Maoh: Juvenile Remix vol 8 (£6-99, Viz) by Megumi Osuga

Bokurano Ours vol 4 (£9-99, Viz) by Mohiro Kitoh

Saturn Apartments vol 4 (£9-99, Viz) by Hisae Iwaoka

Bleach vol 37 (£6-99, Viz) by 0.195

…. Funny, that’s it’s weight!

Much shorter blog next week. Less time but also fewer titles. And let that sentence be a lesson to you in the King’s English!

– Stephen

One Response to “Reviews December 2011 week one”

  1. […] “The epitome of “lovingly hand-crafted”, this is the finest British comics anthology I can ever recall with the most luxurious production values which speak of a true love of comics” – Stephen Holland, Page 45 […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

spacer
spacer
spacer