Reviews November 2011 week three

For it seems that not only are those people who arrive at the sheltered cove on this lovely sunny summer’s day prevented from leaving by some unexplained force, but they also begin to age far more rapidly than is normal, at a rate of years over hours.

- Jonathan on Sandcastle

Nelson (£18-99, Blank Slate) by Paul Grist, Rob Davis, Woodrow Phoenix, Ellen Lindner, Jamie Smart, Gary Northfield, Sarah McIntyre, Suzy Varty, Sean Longcroft, Warwick Johnson–Cadwell, Luke Pearson, Paul Harrison–Davies, Katie Green, Paul Peart–Smith, Glyn Dillon, I.N.J.Culbard, John Allison, Philip Bond, D’Israeli, Simone Lia, Darryl Cunningham, Jonathan Edwards, Ade Salmon, Kate Charlesworth, Warren Pleece, Kristyna Baczynski, Harvey James, Rian Hughes, Sean Phillips, Pete Doree, Kate Brown, Simon Gane, Jon McNaught, Adam Cadwell, Faz Choudhury, JAKe, Jeremy Day, Dan McDaid, Roger Langridge, Will Morris, Dave Shelton, Carol Swain, Hunt Emerson, Duncan Fegredo, Philippa Rice, Josceline Fenton, Garen Ewing, Tom Humberstone, Dan Berry, Alice Duke, Posy Simmonds, Laura Howell, Andi Watson, Dave Taylor.

“It was never supposed to be this way. We were supposed to be a team. You and me against the world. You left me, Sonny. Left me to do all this on my own.”

Oh, just pick your favourite UK creators: they’re virtually all there. Yes, you read the credits right, even TAMARA DREWE’s Posy Simmonds has joined in and half the joy of this unequivocal masterpiece is anticipating which top-tier artist is coming next!

This isn’t, however, an anthology: it’s a single story told by a relay race of craftsmen somehow coordinated with remarkable precision and dexterity by original instigator Rob Davis (DON QUIXOTE) and the mighty Woodrow Phoenix of RUMBLE STRIP fame. Each artist has been allocated up to half a dozen pages to recount a snapshot day in the life of one Nel Baker from 1968 to 2011, and the variety of styles is as delightful as the baton-passing is fluid. Not one single transition jars. Sean Phillips, for example, has switched styles accordingly from his detailed twilight to a no-less-expressive burst of open summer sunshine for a family confrontation over a barbeque. It’s absolutely seamless.

What’s more it is even appropriate that this book shifts styles, for each of our own differing days are coloured by our mood swings, our environment, the company we keep, the opportunities that arise, the maturity we muster… the drugs that we take, whether medicinal or otherwise. Harvey James’ evocation of a first rave fuelled by ecstasy is sublime, whilst the choice of Philippa Rice (MY CARDBOARD LIFE) to illustrate Nel’s recuperative holiday on ‘happy pills’ after Fegredo’s dark watercolour washes is absolutely inspired.

Nel Baker was born on June 15th 1968. Her dad anticipated a son and heir he was going to call Nelson. He even bought a hollow statuette of the navy commander to commemorate the day. Turns out that Jim and Rita Baker had twins, so they divided the one name in two: Nel and Sonny. Unfortunately Sonny lasted all of five months, leaving young, rebellious and hyperactive Nel with a vacuum in her life – a feeling of loss – which she is instinctively aware of from an early age, compensating with an imaginary substitute she blames for her own misdemeanours and which, after a series of hard knocks, will return to plague her later. As Nel grows older her one dream, vital vein and passion for Art is rubbed raw against both the pressures to earn a decent living, the supercilious antipathy of her tutors towards true individuality, and finally her materialistic younger sister’s badgering to give up, “grow up” and compromise; to settle down and live a life like hers with a husband, two kids and an extension. Her mother doesn’t give up on the idea of more grandchildren, either.

“Just part of “Operation nail Nel’s feet to the floor.””

Nel’s journey, like anyone else’s, is no straight trajectory. Friendships flourish, then some wither away; others are rekindled later on. Sometimes it’s the least likely ones whose bonds are strongest. Tabitha, raised in relative seclusion by her domineering, hyper-religious parents would seem an odd match for Nel but some rebellions start later than others and it may be the very clandestine nature of their friendship, conducted whenever they can, which appealed to the rogue in Nel. Sex has a habit of complicating things, even early fumblings. There’s a great scene drawn by D’Israeli, set on some swings as a fifteen-year-old Nel buckles under the threat of extra maths tuition at the expense of her afternoon Art lesson and she falls against Les, stealing a kiss. Surprised, he returns the passion only to get smacked in the face and called “perv!” But as Nel walks away her sly satisfaction is obvious…

Moments which appear random turn out to be key when reprised later on. The big ones I’ll keep to myself, but one of my favourite moments occurs when clearing out Aunt Kitt’s house. Nel would be sent to stay there occasionally as a child – why, she only discovers as an adult – and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell does a bang-up job in four short pages of breathing a ridiculous amount of complexity into the seemingly strict old lady.

“Do you remember my rules?”
“I am very welcome here and I am not to touch your things.”

But this same Aunt Kitt – who makes Nel wash up, peel the spuds and then pluck a chicken – merrily chuffs on a pipe all day, falls asleep in her armchair after a bottle of booze and has a house filled with exotica including a lavishly illustrated, leather-bound copy of 1001 Arabian Nights. And (just as I defaced my early LPs with wax crayon) Nel can’t resist scrawling all over the two beautiful pages before hearing Aunt Kitt stomp up the stairs. Gasping, she quickly returns to the book to the shelf. Thirteen years later and Nel’s back in that bedroom, and there on the shelf is the book with her juvenile drawings. A note falls out in Aunt Kitt’s handwriting… which will certainly make you smile!

Bursting with social history, this is virtually the story of our own lives too. Anyone living in Britain during this period will recognise the political events and cultural artefacts that in so many ways informed our existence: the overt racism of a previous generation that found its way into the home; the first moon landing, an event of such significance that whole families would congregate around their first TV set; energy shortages and three-day week; space hoppers, Daleks, ‘I Spy’ books; taping the Top Twenty by microphone on early cassette recorders, dancing to Mud’s Tiger Feet; the Notting Hill Carnival whose sound pounds on the pages thanks to Paul Peart-Smith; horrible orange and brown wallpaper; “Coal Not Dole” stickers, the Socialist Worker and mass unemployment; the rise of the vegetarian movement; the fall of the Berlin Wall; raves and ecstasy; September 11th… Facebook!

It’s familiar, it’s funny and halting in places, and I loved every single page by every single artist.

It’s also a very special book in that all the profits go to Shelter, the charity for the homeless (http://www.shelter.org.uk/) – both the publisher’s and some retailers’ as well. We took no discount but paid the cover price ourselves. So why not give a little Christmas cheer to those who need it most, and discover a new favourite artist at the same time, then pop them into our search engine to see what else they’ve created? I know I have. I’ve then followed them on Twitter!

SLH

Buy Nelson and read the Page 45 review

Hark! A Vagrant s/c (£12-99, Jonathan Cape) by Kate Beaton.

Witty jabs and stabs at history, science, art and literature, these anarchic strips always make me chuckle, whether its puncturing pomposity, mixing contemporary with ancient settings or having a full-blown go at our modern-day ticks and obsessions. Here Kate confounds a bewildered Jane Austen with her legacy:

“Dearest Jane! I found this today at the bookshop, I thought you would be most pleased.”

It’s a bumper book called Pride And Prejudice And Monster Trucks. Later:

“I saw this and thought of you!”

It’s Sense And Sensibility And Mister Darcy And Sharks In Space Riding Motorcycles Plus There Is A Time Machine. I’d take to the bottle too.

I loved the 15th Century Romance Comics (prospects limited), the extended Jane Eyre sequence (bad Mr. Rochester!), and the assorted attempts at judging a book by its cover. Meanwhile in Lindisfarne Monastery back in 793AD…

“Brothers, I fear an attack by the men of the north is upon us. We must hide. Save what you can. And pray.”

Two initially stern Vikings:

“Gyrth – come in here.”
“Like, I am busy setting this on fire.”
“Omigod no you have to see this. Illuminated manuscript.”
“Omigawd to die for. Did you even see the communion chalice I found?”
“Omigod omigod omigod.”
“Dear Diary – Lindisfarne trip…”
“SO AMAZING.”

SLH

Buy Hark! A Vagrant s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Sandcastle h/c (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Pierre Oscar Levy & Frederik Peeters…

Like a Roald Dahl penned television episode of Tales Of The Unexpected, this work starts with, on the face of it, a most mundane scenario – that of a typical family day out to the beach – and by adding only the slightest of twists, turns it into something far more sinister and horrifying. For it seems that not only are those people who arrive at the sheltered cove on this lovely sunny summer’s day prevented from leaving by some unexplained force, but they also begin to age far more rapidly than is normal, at a rate of years over hours. And as the various protagonists waste time, first pointing fingers at each other, then speculating increasingly wildly about outlandish theories as to why on earth this is happening to them, the sands of time keep moving ever more quickly, eventually with deadly results.

Penned by film-maker Pierre Oscar Levy, I really didn’t know what to expect from this work, as I’m not remotely familiar with his cinematic output at all, but this is great stuff, and perhaps his artistic background is responsible for making me think of Tales Of The Unexpected, thinking about it. Especially as sometimes with speculative fiction, it isn’t really about the ultimate ending, or indeed even getting to the truth of the matter of how exactly we arrived at the situation we find ourselves in, but about how the various characters react and interact with one another, that makes it so fascinating. That’s exactly the case here, as yes, we get some of the typical stereotypes sounding off to amusing effect, but also unexpected points of connection and tenderness, as the seriousness of the situation becomes ever more apparent.

Excellent art from Frederik Peeters, whose autobiographical work about his developing relationship with his HIV positive girlfriend (BLUE PILLS) we stock and highly recommend. I had forgotten how well he does facial expressions, and it’s certainly used to good effect here as the cast of characters goes through pretty much the full range of human emotions in what turns out to be one very long drama-filled day. I think this would probably appeal to those of you who enjoyed works like DAYTRIPPER and ONE SOUL as this is also something that’s a little bit different, but not too detached from the real world. As with those works, this is all about the people involved.

JR

Buy Sandcastle h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec vol 2: The Mad Scientist And Mummies On Parade h/c (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Jacques Tardi…

The no-nonsense mademoiselle Blanc-Sec returns for another round or two of occult mentalism and monster-mash madness as first we have the Frankenstein-esque resurrection of a surprisingly suave and well spoken Palaeolithic man demanding vintage cognac and fine cigars upon his wakening, rapidly followed by the escape of all the mummies in the Louvre, plus the one Adele keeps in a display case in her lounge! Don’t expect it to make any sense, you clearly won’t if you read and loved VOLUME ONE of Adele’s extraordinary adventures as I did. Indeed much like, what seems an odd comparison on the face of it I’ll grant you, UMBRELLA ACADEMY you just have to enjoy the ever mounting sense of the ridiculous jammed in page after page, which Tardi is an absolute master at. I also now know why there was no sequel to the ARCTIC MARAUDER as I pondered after reading that fantastic work, as several characters make a brief Benny Hill-style chase reprise here, which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, but did make me chuckle.

JR

Buy The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec vol 2: The Mad Scientist And Mummies On Parade h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Metamaus: A Look Inside A Modern Classic h/c with DVD (£25-00, Viking) by Art Spiegelman.

“In a story that is trying to make chronological and coherent the incomprehensible, the juxtaposing of past and present insists that past and present are always present – one doesn’t displace the other the way in happens in film.”

 - Art Spiegelman, when asked “Why tell MAUS in comic form?”

Enormous resource for MAUS readers, those studying or wanting to learn about the Holocaust, or those looking to learn about the craft of comics in general.

The book itself features illustrated interviews about everything from the craft of MAUS – its panel composition, sentence compression, the materials used, early versions – to its and Spiegelman’s own reception in various different countries. Spiegelman’s asked why he chose to work in comics in the first place (early influences include the scribble game he played with his mother wherein she’d draw some random lines and he had to turn them into a coherent image with lines of his own; he also wanted to move into a zone that wasn’t his parents’ domain) and then why he chose this particular medium for this particular story (it would be opaque to his dad, so he could work on it without interference). Something he talks about which Bryan Talbot also insists on: that the images shouldn’t merely illustrate the words – why repeat what’s already there? – but tell stories in their own right. There’s a transcript of some of the recordings Spiegelman made of Vladek (his father), a chronology, interviews with Spiegelman’s children, his wife and RAW collaborator Françoise Mouly, and women who knew Anja in the camp. The illustrations themselves are worth the price of admission alone: complete comic stories published in The New Yorker, a wealth of preliminary sketches, photographs and publishers’ letters.

All that’s before we come to the DVD! This features the complete MAUS itself (fully searchable by page or phrase), thousands of preliminary drawings, essays, audio interviews with Vladek, two rare 1946 booklets of drawings and cartoons by death camp survivors, Art and Françoise’s Auschwitz home movie, 7,500 “barely sorted” sketches, drafts and documents… and more, more, more.

SLH

Buy Metamaus: A Look Inside A Modern Classic h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Vess: Drawing Down The Moon: The Art Of Charles Vess s/c (£22-50, Dark Horse Books) by Charles Vess.

At last master fantasist Charles Vess is given the art-book treatment he so richly deserves, and the production values could not be more lavish, each section introduced by a gold-framed translucent tracing of its initial full-colour reproduction.

Trees were never more knotted, fauns more nubile nor satyrs more shaggy and sylvan than under Vess. Fairies are never fey except in its truest sense, and there are few who can match Arthur Rackham’s visual successor when it comes to lighting up or casting the shadows of a wood. A particular treat for me was to discover the book-end illustration to A CIRCLE OF CATS (sadly out of print) blown up over a double-page spread and glowing with its newfound gloss. If you’re a fan of STARDUST then I must improbably inform you that almost every other illustration here is even more beautiful – although I could live without seeing the Spider-Man shots again.

Two hundred pages of enchantment, then, with the occasional comment and an introduction as astute as you’d expect from a writer of Susan Clarke’s calibre.

SLH

Buy Vess: Drawing Down The Moon: The Art Of Charles Vess s/c and read the Page 45 review

The Zombies That Ate The World vol 1: Bring Me Back My Head! h/c (£18-99, Humanoids) by Jerry Frissen & Guy Davis…

“Mr. Neard, you should know that Pop-Pop is my wife’s father and we are still very fond of him.
“But we can’t keep him here any longer. He’s incontinent!
“…And there’s our two children… how can I teach them the basics of healthy life and sound moral values with a dead… I mean a life-impaired man in the house, you see?
“Here’s the money, $500, like we agreed. And there’s an extra $100 for you to forget about it afterwards.”

In a world where zombies are returning from the dead with increasing rapidity, but not showing any interest in eating human flesh – just trying to continue their lives as before, albeit with rather less brain power – it’s been decided by the idiots in charge that they deserve the rights and respect given to living humans. There are, however, always those families who, having been rather happy to see an elderly relative finally shuffle off the mortal coil, are more than a little disappointed to see them spring right back up to undead life again. And so an underground service has sprung up for the illegal cremation of the… life-impaired. One such person who now makes a living performing this illicit service is Karl Neard, who likes to dress like a big game hunter, complete with safari suit and hat.

This is a very funny black comedy by Jerry Frissen, who I must admit I’m not familiar with, as the dubious services requested of Karl get ever more ridiculous, including tracking down the body of a famous zombie movie actress for a collector who is keen to add her to his harem of undead starlets when she rises from the dead. <SHUDDER>. It doesn’t go… quite as expected. But then it never seems to for Karl and his equally hapless crew as things get gradually more and more surreal and sublimely ludicrous. The art from Guy BPRD Davis, manages to add a suitably putrid feel to proceedings too, and believe me, this is one book that will leave you feeling decidedly less clean when you’ve finished it, given some of the rather necrophilic pursuits the more deranged characters – and that’s just the living ones – get up to!

JR

The Zombies That Ate The World vol 1: Bring Me Back My Head! hardcover

Princess Knight vol 1 (£10-50, Vertical) by Osamu Tezuka…

“So then I wanted to add a velvet ribbon to the yoke of the blouse. What do you think?”
“Huh, interesting. That’d be like pouring curried rice onto a cream puff.”
“?”
“Well, if you’re going to babble nonsense I’ve no choice but to reply in kind.”
“Grrrr.”

Born with both spiritual girl and boy hearts in a female body after a cock-up in the angelic department responsible for dishing out tickers to new souls heading down to Earth, Sapphire is forced to pretend she’s a Prince in order to inherit her father’s kingdom and constantly thwart the devious Duke Duralumin’s dastardly plans to put his dimwit son Plastic on the throne instead. Having a boy heart as well as a girl one means that whilst she’s a feminine lady through and through, Sapphire is also a consummate fencer and brawler more than capable of holding her own against the most unpleasant ruffians.

What follows is a non-stop farce of mistaken identity and mischief aplenty as Sapphire manages to stay one step ahead of her foes, with the aid of guardian angel Tink who’s been sent to Earth to retrieve Sapphire’s boy heart, thus rectifying his own mistake. In fact God isn’t going to let him into heaven until he’s done so, but it’s just with trouble lurking around every corner requiring Tink to help keep Sapphire safe, there never seems to be a convenient moment for him to fulfil his divine mission. This is Tezuka on much more light-hearted, in fact positively whimsical form. So whilst it certainly doesn’t rank up there with his masterpieces like MW or ODE TO KIRIHITO for me, it is still jolly good fun. There are only two volumes, and it is possibly just as well, as it’s difficult to see how the premise could get stretched out much further without it becoming a little tedious.

JR

Buy Princess Knight vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Rachel Rising #3 (£2-99, Abstract Studios) by Terry Moore.

“Okay, wow, you look freaky. It’s cool, though. You got the screw-me lips with the screw-you eyes. Totally bitchin’.”

They are pretty freaky eyes that Rachel has now. Also, it seems, the ability to see death looming. Well, she has been dead herself. Why is the silent blonde who’s shadowing Rachel causing so much corruption, death and destruction in those who should love each other? Best issue yet with at least three jaw-dropping moments of total shock, one of them the best action sequence from Terry so far. But it’s the silent gazes that are the most haunting.

All three issue currently in stock at the time of typing. Available to order by phoning 0115 9508045 or emailing page45@page45.com

SLH

Chronicles Of Wormwood: Last Battle s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by Garth Ennis & Oscar Jimenez

Danny Wormwood: king of the American TV, worth a small fortune.
Danny Wormwood: now heavily in lust; it might even be love.
Danny Wormwood: owns a pet rabbit and is best mates with Jesus.
Danny Wormwood: is the Anti-Christ. And that rabbit is one filthy animal.

Danny won’t let his foul-mouthed rabbit mate for fear he’d make up for lost time and fill the flat with fluff – hundreds and hundreds of equally profane baby bunnies – while Danny himself, ecstatic to be back with his ex-girlfriend Maggie, is doing precisely that: making up for lost time and going at it… well, like a rabbit. So guess who’s pregnant? Uh-oh.

CHRONICLES OF WORMWOOD itself was a good start but this is infinitely better. Amongst all the horror and the laughter, Garth has some serious concerns well expressed by his cast about having babies, the responsibilities of raising children, self-determination versus indoctrination, capitalism, socialism and Americans’ propensity for taking words like oregano and murdering them. Also, the love of Jesus versus his probable reception by evangelical radio phone-in hosts. Funny. 

See, Danny and Jesus, who spend most of their time drinking in an otherwise empty bar, have both decided to ignore what’s expected of them and plough their own furrow. Danny’s actually a thoroughly decent human being, responsible and loving and determined to make this relationship with Maggie work. Regardless, however, how would you react to discovering you’re dating the Anti-Christ and pregnant with the son of the son of Satan? The horror (which will be the big draw for some) I can take or leave; it’s Ennis’ exceptional ability here to let his cast talk things through, thoroughly and with heart.

Meanwhile… one of Danny’s less successful media moguls has been outed in print and on television by his gormless, attention-seeking ex-wife as being into pre-op transsexuals after she’d gone post-op to please him. It didn’t. He kicked her out so she sued his ass off, taking the house and half his earnings. Now, just as he’s at his lowest ebb with a gun in his mouth, the TV starts sending him messages from a potential sponsor. It’s a very tempting offer.

Oscar’s rabid rabbit is enormous fun. His lines are crisp and detailed, while Juanmar’s lighting, when at its best, can be golden. You don’t have to have read the first book or CHRONICLES OF WORMWOOD: LAST ENEMY either (I haven’t read that, as it happens); this will work perfectly well for you on its own.

SLH

Buy Chronicles Of Wormwood: Last Battle s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Boys vol 9: Big Ride (£18-99, Dynamite) by Garth Ennis & Russ Braun, John McCrea, Keith Burns.

“You see, what I did… my crime… was to give Butcher a war. A self-sustaining, never-ending conflict in which he can mete out the brutality and cruelty that lie at his core: forever. He can’t kill them all and he doesn’t want to. All he wants is to go on hurting the people that he believes hurt him.”

There’s a very funny opening splash to #58: a wall full of famous Marvel and DC covers with the protagonists pictured naked. Saucy! There’s also more of the sexual depravity you’ve come to expect from this series, and more than the odd bloodbath.

But some of this is sobering stuff as the tension mounts in an increasingly fragile stand-off between the Seven – the world’s most lethal team of superhumans – and The Boys who are determined to be their nemeses. There’s also division in the ranks as wee Hughie’s eyes begin to open and two of the Seven go off the deep end with catastrophic – truly catastrophic – results. If that wasn’t bad enough there’s a third force conspiring now to pit one against the other, and they’ve begun to make their move.

Also: what happened when Vought American Consolidated first foisted ill-disciplined superheroes without any military training nor comprehension of the chain of command on a tank regiment licking their wounds on The Line during the last winter of WWII? Garth Ennis knows his wars. And how will Annie react when she learns the truth about Hughie after he treated her so poorly himself? You’ve been worrying about that yourselves, haven’t you?

It’s a chunky one, this: twelve whole issues, #48-59.

SLH

The Boys vol 9: Big Ride

New X-Men vol 7 (Digest) (£10-99, Marvel) by Grant Morrison & Phil Jimenez.

“Xorn… why is that map upside down?”
“It’s a picture of the future, Charles… I call it Planet X. I’m teaching my students to imagine tomorrow, and giving them the tools to take them there…”

The penultimate volume of Grant’s inspired run on a previously brain-dead title before Joss Whedon then Warren Ellis took over in ASTONISHING X-MEN and raised the game even further.

Previously: the human race is dying out, replaced by mutants which themselves are evolving further; Cassandra Nova, Xavier’s twin, sends mutant-killing Sentinels to commit genocide in Genosha, wiping out Magneto in an instant; the school acquires a new teacher in iron-masked Xorn; Jean Grey begins manifesting the power of the Phoenix once more; Cyclops succumbs to the sexual charms of the sybaritic Emma Frost; Wolverine learns more about the Weapon X programme (it’s not the letter ‘X’ but the Roman numeral ten); Xavier comes out as a mutant (he is), the Beast comes out as gay (he isn’t); a new power-enhancing, lethally addictive drug surfaces; there’s a riot, a girl dies and now…

Xorn takes off his helmet.

“Logan… what’s happening here?”
“Get outta here, Jeannie! It’s a trap! Don’t you recognise this place?”
“Oh… Oh my God. Asteroid M!”

Yes, I’m very much afraid it is.

SLH

New X-Men vol 7

Punisher Max: Bullseye s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon.

“But, how did you…”
“Your Russians should’ve never let me through the front door. Doesn’t matter if I’m unarmed or not. Hell I could kill you with this toothpick. See?”
“AAAH!”
“Don’t be an idiot. I can’t kill you with a toothpick. But I can with this…”
BANG!

After the über-intense retelling (thinking about the rats scene still gives me the shivers) of the rise to power of one Wilson Fisk in PUNISHER MAX: KINGPIN, this equally relentless and brutal volume opens with the new Kingpin of crime looking for some heavy firepower to take  Frank Castle out… before the Punisher gets the chance to take him out. Enter Bullseye, here reworked as an uncostumed and rather more disturbingly realistic – though no less psychotic – hitman for hire with a somewhat… unorthodox approach.

Rather like a method actor, Bullseye feels he can’t undertake the act of killing Frank until he understands what makes him tick, and to do so he needs to ‘become’ the Punisher. This includes kidnapping a mother and her two children (after having shot the father) and taking them to Central Park to be massacred by some of the Kingpin’s lackeys in front of his eyes whilst they’re all ‘enjoying’ a lovely picnic. Unsurprisingly it doesn’t work, and the Kingpin begins to increasingly question the wisdom of employing an even more unpredictable headcase to rid himself of the one who’s on his case. Mesmerised by Frank’s relentless killing ability, Bullseye begins to fall almost in spiritual love with his quarry, and becomes all the more determined he has to be the one to kill him.

Whilst no one should be surprised that someone writing something as downright mean and moody as the brilliant SCALPED can produce the incessant, ever more innovative violence that should always be on the menu for this title, it’s great to see Jason Aaron ladles out the sick humour with just as much gusto as Ennis ever did, which combined with the foil of Dillon’s artwork always serves to make Punisher Max a dish best served… from behind a bulletproof serving hatch.

JR

Buy Punisher Max: Bullseye s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Full Metal Alchemist vol 27 (£6-99, Viz) by Hiromu Arakawa

Final volume.

Which, I grant you, doesn’t really qualify as a review.

SLH

Buy Full Metal Alchemist vol 27 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!

Depressed Cat: Nine Miserable Lives (£6-99) by Lizz Lunney

Hanuka: Overkill, The Art Of Tomer Hanuka h/c (£22-50, Gingko Press) by Tomer Hanuka

The Fracture Of The Universal Boy h/c (£20-99, Eidolon Fine Arts) by Michael Zulli

Juxtapoz: Illustration vol 2 h/c (£22-50, Gingko Press) by various

Scalped vol 8: You Gotta Sin To Get Saved (£13-50, Vertigo) by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guera, Jason LaTour, Davide Furno

Wasteland vol 6: Enemy Within (£10-99, Oni) by Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten, Remington Veteto

Captain Swing And The Electrical Pirates Of Condery Island s/c (£13-50, Avatar) by Warren Ellis & Raulo Caceres

Hi Fructose Collected Ed vol 1 h/c (£25-99, Last Gasp) by various

Unhuman h/c: The Elephantmen Art Of Ladrönn (£22-50, Image) by Richard Starkings & Ladrönn

Hip Flask vol 1: Unnatural Selection h/c (£22-50, Gold) by Richard Starkings, Joe Casey & Ladrönn

Hip Flask vol 2: Concrete Jungle h/c (£22-50, Image) by Richard Starkings, Joe Casey & Ladrönn

Elephantmen vol 1: Wounded Animals Revised Ed s/c (£14-99, Image) by Richard Starkings & various

Elephantmen vol 2: Fatal Diseases s/c (£18-99, Image) by Richard Starkings & various

Elephantmen vol 3: Dangerous Liaisons s/c (£18-99, Image) by Richard Starkings & various

Elephantmen vol 4: Questionable Things s/c (£18-99, Image) by Richard Starkings & various

Who Is Jake Ellis? vol 1 (£12-99, Image) by Nathan Edmondson & Tonci Zonjic

Mangaman vol 1 h/c (£13-99, Houghton Mifflin) by Barry Lyga & Colleen Doran

Mazeworld (£17-99, 2000AD) by Alan Grant & Arthur Ranson

Astro City: Dark Age Book 2 s/c (£14-99, DC) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson

Batman: A Death In The Family s/c (New Edition) (£18-99, DC) by Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman & George Perez, Jim Aparo, Tom Grummett

Batman & Robin vol 2: Batman Vs. Robin s/c (£13-50, DC) by Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke

Flash: The Road To Flashpoint h/c (£16-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins, Francis Manapul

Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns h/c (£22-50, DC) by Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard, Peter J. Tomasi & Doug Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham, Fernando Pasarin, Ed Benes

Deadpool vol 7: Space Oddity softcover (£11-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way & Carlo Barberi, Sheldon Vella, Bong Dazo

Thor: The World Eaters s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Pasqual Ferry, Salvador Larocca

Ultimate Comics Doomsday s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Rafa Sandoval

Deadpool Team-Up vol 3: Bffs softcover (£11-99, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn, Rob Williams, Shane McCarthy, Rick Spears, Tom Peyer, Skottie Young, Stuart Moore & Tom Fowler, Matteo Scalera, Nick Dragotta, Phil Bond, Jacob Chabot, Ramon Perez, Shawn Crystal

X 3-in-1 Ed vol 1 (£14-99, Viz) by Clamp

Inuyasha vol 9 Vizbig Edition (£13-50, Viz) by Rumiko Takahashi

Twin Spica vol 10 (£8-50, Vertical) by Kou Yaginuma & Kou Yaginuma

Fairy Tail vol 16 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

The Legend Of Zelda Box Set (£49-99, Viz) by Akira Himekawa

Reminder: I will be on stage and “In Conversation With” Bryan Talbot at 2.15pm until 3pm at the Bury Theatre in the Royal Amouries, Leeds, this Saturday 19th November. Both unrehearsed and uncensored, alarmingly the under 12s get in free.

 - Stephen

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