Highlights include Guy Delisle’s JERUSALEM, a collection of Deadline’s HUGO TATE, a new series from Peter Bagge, a new book from NIGHT FISHER’s R. Kikuo Johnson, full-colour BEANWORLD, a spy thriller from Millar & Gibbons, and AMERICA’S GOT POWERS by Jonathan Ross and Bryan ULTIMATES Hitch! Also, quite obviously, this…
Comics & Graphic Novels for April 2012
Are You My Mother? s/c (£12-99,JonathanCape) by Alison Bechdel.
“My parents are most real to me in fictional terms.”
That was the telling quotation I pulled to headline my review of Bechdel’s previous triumph FUN HOME, one of the most literate autobiographies in comics, as well as one of the most fascinating, candid and revealing, in which Bechdel first sets out her dysfunctional family life in all its bizarre artifice before intertwining her personal development with her father’s past to explore what might lie at the heart of each. I relished it even more than my dearly beloved PERSEPOLIS, and you can read the full review with interior art by clicking on the title above.
This one obviously concentrates on her Ma, a “voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter goodnight, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.”
Pre-order Are You My Mother? s/c from Page 45by cutting the online apron strings and actively emailing email@example.com or phoning 0115 9508045.
Jerusalem h/c (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly/JonathanCape) by Guy Delisle.
Guy Delisle writes the best travelogues in the business. Witty, observant and beautifully drawn, PYONGYANG, SHENZHEN and BURMA CHRONICLES brought each city and country to daily life because, crucially, he didn’t just visit, he lived there. The man has a keen eye for the absurd and compassion for this fellow man. What, then, will he make of contemporary Jerusalem? It’s one of the most anticipated books of the year for me, especially after seeing all these sketches and photos on Guy Delisle’s blog whilst staying in Jerusalem. I should warn you that those book reviews linked to above are substantial. I love, love, love Delisle!
The Fairy Tales Of Oscar Wilde vol 5: The Happy Prince h/c (£12-99, NBM) by Oscar Wilde & P. Craig Russell.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, and so very poignant. This should be on every book shelf young and old, and in every school library. NBM is always good enough to post an interior-art preview, so here it is: THE HAPPY PRINCE. Easily my favourite of Oscar’s fairy tales, even reading the solicitation copy brings a lump to my throat.
“The Happy Prince is arguably the most famous and well loved of Oscar Wilde’s nine fairy tales, rivalled only by The Selfish Giant. It is also a very timely tale at a time of controversy over the increasing chasm between rich and poor…The Happy Prince has lived a life of opulence but has died young and his soul inhabits a beautiful ruby encrusted statue covered all over in gold leaf. From his perch high above the city he is witness to all the poverty, misery, and hopelessness in which his people have been living. When a small barn swallow in flight to the warm south ahead of the approaching winter stops to rest upon the statue the Happy Prince prevails upon him to delay his travels in order to remove his gold leaf a piece at a time and shower it upon the poor citizens. Out of love for the Happy Prince the swallow does his bidding. As the days pass the Prince’s beauty is stripped away and as winter sets in the bird’s fate is sealed. In the spring the townspeople finding only a dull statue with a broken lead heart and a dead bird consign the worthless objects to the ash heap. Only an emissary of God recognizes them as the most valuable treasures of the city and brings them to the gardens of heaven.”
Also available once more: vol 1: The Selfish Giant And The Star Child, vol 2: The Young King And The Remarkable Rocket, vol 3: The Birthday Of The Infanta, vol 4: The Devoted Friend And The Nightingale And The Rose.
Science Tales: Lies, Hoaxes And Scams (£11-99, Myriad Editions) by Darryl Cunningham.
Scott McCloud says: “Darryl Cunningham continues his comics crusade to untangle lies, myths, and misconceptions with a new book defending the science that’s grown fromDarwin’s theory of natural selection. As usual, he does so with wit, charm, and quiet persistence.”
We say: Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales was so good we made it Comicbook Of The Month. It’s been one of those books swept up by casual comics and non-comics browsers alike: relevant, accessible and humane. Here he deals with homeopathy, the MMR vaccine, electro-convulsive therapy, the moon landing, and science denialism. Honestly. Denial is just a river I’ve never seen. Here’s a preview of SCIENCE TALES I applaud with a passion.
Order Science Tales by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, phoning (0115) 9508045, dispatching a carrier pigeon or just praying to God. See which one works best.
Idyll (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Amber Albrecht.
Take a look at Albrecht’s beautiful, intricate art posted by Drawn & Quarterly. The shapes and the colours are so clean and delicate. I don’t actually care what this is about, I want it already. Given that you may want a hint, however… “Much of Amber Albrecht’s work is inspired by the dreaminess of childhood, whether expressing her cloudy recollections of the storybooks she read as a child or the forested West Coast landscapes that surrounded her. On the pages of Idyll, a series of interconnected myths emerges fully formed, each myth articulating a sense of wistfulness for a past that never was. Idyll employs female iconography in myriad way – many of these works feature female figures, the lushness of the natural environment, and female-associated textures. Albrecht’s Idyll communicates questions about loneliness, passivity, and loss through investigations of femininity and nostalgia for an imagined past.”
Reset #1 (£2-75, Dark Horse) by Peter Bagge.
HATE’s Peter Bagge returns to the realms of virtual reality. First there was the identity crisis of OTHER LIVES (highly recommended), now it’s that eternal question about whether – given the opportunity to relive major moments – you’d change any decisions you made in your life: things you did, things you said that you can never take back. Now you can, or at least washed-up actor and comedian Guy Krause can, after he signs up as a research guinea pig for a virtual reality experiment. Thing is, is he only going to make matters worse?
Tales Of The Beanworld 3.5 h/c (£10-99) by Larry Marder.
First full-colour collection of a series so beloved by Mark that he built eye-popping papier mâché figures of these most peculiar creatures for our window. How peculiar? There’s a preview of the BEANWORLD HOLIDAY SPECIAL here. This includes brand-new pages which begin the Summer Cycle of stories and collects the BEANWORLD HOLIDAY SPECIAL, plus rare material from ASYLUM #1-6 and the online-only MYSPACE DARK HORSE PRESENTS #14. So why are we so excited? Here’s this from my review of BEANWORLD VOL 2:
Larry Marder created a unique world with a fully realised ecosystem which operated with its own radically viable laws for construction, reproduction and sustenance. Its several species of inhabitants had their own hierarchy, its individuals their own roles, aspirations and priorities. They even had their own terminology/slang. With their passion for play, exploration, art and invention, if I were to try to capture the series in a single word, I’d try “Celebration”. If I were allowed a second word, it would be “Cooperation”. Both those concepts lie at the heart of any healthy and fecund friendship or sustainable ecosystem, so there were lessons to be learned way back then that would have put the human race much further ahead of the game than it currently stands. I’m going to stick my neck out to say something typically stupid too: it’s like a platform game. The Beans’ learning process is like a platform game. “Oh, this is what I need to find/create and fit in there in order to make progress…!”
The Shark King (£9-99, Toon Books) by R. Kikuo Johnson.
From the creator of Night Fisher so many moons ago (think David Lapham’s STRAY BULLETS, only quieter, more introspective), a young readers’ book that looks pretty powerful, and I’d expect nothing less from R. Kikuo Johnson. There’s an early preview on THE SHARK KING on Toon Books’ blog and I spy a certain Hernandez influence on the bottom page. “Meet Nanaue, a boy craving to be who he truly is. From the islands ofHawaii comes the electrifying tale of Nanaue, who has to balance his yearning for Dad’s guidance with his desire for Mom’s nurture. Award-winning cartoonist R. Kikuo Johnson transports young readers to the lush tropical shores of his nativeHawaii. Fluent or not, young readers will be thrilled when they experience the transformative powers of a stirring literary work.”
Courtney Crumrin #1 (£2-99, Oni Press) by Ted Naifeh.
Brand-new series and in full-colour too! Oni Press are about to start republishing the older volumes in colour, but our old reviews are still up for you to gauge their flavour, like Courtney Crumrin vol 3.Meanwhile: “Welcome to a world where magic and Night Things lurk behind every corner and nothing is as it seems. This is the world introduced to Courtney by her dear Uncle Aloysius – a master mage of unknown age and even more mysterious motivations. What started the Crumrin clan down the dark path and is Courtney strong enough to follow it all the way down?
Please note: I’ve seen a preview, and you may find your young ones take great delight in learning and then repeating as often as possible an endearing new phrase: “Bugger off.”
The Boy Who Made Silence (£17-99 AAM Markosia) by Josh Hagler.
Elements of Kent Williams in the hues, wash textures and some of the line work give way to some David Mack (i.e. Bill Sienkiewicz) tricks including collage and those familiar old triangles down the side of some panels. Fortunately, like Bill in his introduction to KABUKI, Mack likes what he sees and said so on the back of #1. See what I mean in this AAM Markosia preview. Here’s how the issue kicks off:
“When Nestor was ten years old, he fell from a bridge and into the river that swallowed his hearing, never giving it back. Whether Esme, the twelve-year-old girl who brought him out of the river, saved his life or gave him a new one, remains a point of contention among those who discuss such notions.”
The first chapter is actually a very interesting exploration of what it might feel like for the world to suddenly stop telling you things, floating on a ground that no longer audibly acknowledges your foot steps. When you can no longer hear your mother (“she is without the power she once had – the power to make all sharp things soft”). She doesn’t exactly seem the kindest of mothers in the first place, but there you go. I don’t know what the floating cat is all about, but yes, this did make me think. Whether the intentions have changed since the first few issues appeared in 2008, I know not, but my original preview spoke of a boy who ”creates silence around him which compels those nearby to experience each others’ memories. Hailed as a prophet by his local religious community, he comes of age, falls in love, then goes in search of his father.” Here’s Josh Hagler’s blogspot.
Deadenders (£22-50, Vertigo/DC) by Ed Brubaker & Warren Pleece, Richard Case, Jay Stephens, Cameron Stewart.
“In this stylish science fiction epic from award-winning writer Ed Brubaker, a drug-dealing car thief must discover the secret behind his visions to save the world. Twenty years after the devastating Cataclysm, society has been separated into sectors in which the rich are able to enjoy machine-generated weather and sunlight while the poor are forced to live an eternally dank and dark existence. Banished to the dismal Sector 5, the angst-ridden Beezer discovers that the corrupt city police are hunting him because of his experiential visions of a pre-apocalyptic world. Now Earth’s reluctant saviour must learn his true origin and the meaning of his visions before he is captured and killed. For the first time, Vertigo collects the entire sixteen-issue run of DEADENDERS, along with a tale from WINTER’S EDGE #3.”
Hugo Tate (£14-99, Blank Slate) by Nick Abadzis.
If the definition of DEADLINE hell was the day the UKmagazine folded DEADLINE heaven will be day that its HUGO TATE is reprinted. Dubbed “Britain’s LOVE & ROCKETS” by the Comics Journal itself, this complete collection from the creator of LAIKA includes a glowing introduction by Garth Ennis. There’s a preview of HUGO TATE on the Blank Slate website.
“Beginning life in 1988 as an acerbic humour strip featuring an eponymous stick man protagonist living in a figuratively-drawn world, Hugo Tate evolved into an intelligent look into the lives of a complex web of characters stretching fromLondontoNew Yorkand beyond. This collection includes the critically-acclaimed final story arc O,America!, in which Hugo finds himself on a drug-fuelled road trip across the nightmarish underbelly of theUnited States. Featuring a gallery of rare extras and all-new commentary from Abadzis and Deadline editor Frank Wynne.”
Departures (£10-99, Blank Slate) by Pierre Maurel.
Now that’s what I call an urban jungle! It’s like Swamp Thing’s come to town. Leaves, leaves, leaves. You know how we feel about leaves. Make sure you click on the link at the bottom to see the full DEPATURES preview here. “In his English-language debut, Pierre Maurel explores the effects of the global recession through three tales of twenty and thirty-somethings struggling at the bottom of the social ladder. An unemployed man suspects he is going insane as his everyday life is invaded by visions of sprawling vegetation, a bookseller debates joining a union the media describes as ‘local terrorists,’ and a couple prepares to begin a new life on the road together. All faced with the opportunity to make a difference in their lives, will they accept their situation or attempt find a new way of living?”
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score h/c (£18-99, IDW) by Darwyn Cooke.
Crime friction. Third book in the series following PARKER: THE HUNTER then PARKER: THE OUTFIT both reviewed and relished there by Jonathan. The Comics Journal’s Tom Spurgeon too poured praise on Cooke’s lavish treatment in this illustrated interview with Cooke and Ed Brubaker. “Parker becomes embroiled in a plot with a dozen partners in crime to pull off what might be the ultimate heist-robbing an entire town. Everything was going fine for a while, and then things got bad. Considered one of the best in the Parker series, The Score is the perfect vehicle for Darwyn Cooke to pull out all the stops and let loose with a book that has all the impact of a brutal kick to the solar plexus!”
Lost Dogs (£7-50, Top Shelf) by Jeff Lemire.
Originally published by Ashtray Press back in 2005 long before ESSEX COUNTY broke Jeff’s name to the general public, I took a punt and liked what I saw, previewing it thus…
You really need to see this guy’s art. The cover itself said Ted McKeever to me, but it’s a lot more fluid than that, and really hefty. The brush is laden with ink in places, as it’s swept across the page, and the cart scene at the docks is beautiful – a real sense of light, the scenery distilled to all that’s necessary. Fine use of grey as well, and I like the pale red on Ulric’s vest. So who is Ulric? He’s a hulk of a farmer, effectively mute, who finds his idyllic rural existence with his beautiful wife and daughter torn apart after a confrontation in the coastal town. I’m not entirely sure about the confrontation itself – I think the whole thing would be more powerful without any of the minimal script at all – but we’ll see where it goes.
You too can see a preview of LOST DOGS on Top Shelf’s website.
The Adventures Of Jodelle h/c (£33-99, Fantagraphics) by Guy Peellaert & Pierre Bartier.
Oh, Tom is just going to love this! Primary-coloured passion as evidenced here: beware, there be boobage! “Fantagraphics proudly presents Guy Peellaert’s long out of print 1960′s Pop-Art masterpiece The Adventures of Jodelle in a lush, oversized hardcover edition. A satirical spy adventure set in an eye-popping psychedelic ancient Rome of horsedrawn Cadillacs, billboards and vampires, Jodelle has been re-translated and re-coloured and features a huge annotated bonus selection of never-before-seen archival art and photographs.”
New York Mon Amour h/c (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by Jacques Tardi, Benjamin Legrand, Dominique Grange & Jacques Tardi.
“Many years ago, Jacques Tardi was introduced to American audiences with “Manhattan,” a grim and grimy story of depression, madness and suicide inNew York Citywhose appearance in the premiere issue of RAW magazine was instrumental in defining both that magazine’s virtuoso aesthetic and its dark sensibility. Three decades later, New York Mon Amour collects “Manhattan” and three other tales of the Big Apple — rendered by Tardi with just as much panache and you-are-there detail asParisor the trenches of World War I in his other books — in one spectacular volume. Aside from “Manhattan,” the centrepiece of the book is the graphic novel “Cockroach Killer,” written by Benjamin Legrand. This violent, surreal conspiracy thriller, starring a hapless exterminator named Walter, features a striking two-colour black-and-red technique unique in Tardi’s oeuvre, and remains one of the cartoonist’s most startling, confounding works. New York Mon Amour is rounded off with two short stories that have never been published in English, both written by Dominique Grange: “It’s So Hard” (starring John Lennon — but not that John Lennon) and “The Killing of Hung” (a story of revenge and redemption).”
3 Story: Secret Files Of The Giant Man (£2-75, Dark Horse) by Matt Kindt.
The secret history of the world’s unlikeliest, skyscraping spy! From the creator of Vertigo’s Revolver and the artist on Pistol Whip, an affordable introduction to 2009’s 3 Story: The Secret History Of The Giant Man graphic novel in the form of material previously only available online.
The Pterodactyl Hunters (In The Gilded City) one-shot (£7-50, top Shelf) by Brandon Leach.
As seen in BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2011 (now sold out!), Matt Madden (99 WAYS TO TELL A STORY) writes: “”Leach starts from a wacky premise, but once he sets it in motion he takes it seriously, and as in the best genre stories this comic is ultimately not about monsters but about family and finding your place in the world.” Preview Brandon Leach’s interior pages here.
“THE PTERODACTYL HUNTERS tells the story of Eamon and Declan Sullivan, young members of New York City’s Pterodactyl Patrol, a municipal organization protecting the city from the menacing pterodactyls that plague its evening hours. As theNew York Cityof 1904 moves into the modern era, only a few vicious pterosaurs remain. While Eamon makes headlines eradicating the final beasts, young Declan faces a future without the pterodactyl infestation, and without his anticipated role in a new generation of Pterodactyl Hunters.”
Secret #1 (£2-75, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Ryan Bodenheim.
This three-page SECRET preview looks pretty nasty! “A man gets shot in London, a law firm gets broken into in Washington, an accountant gives away the password to his computer, and something put to sleep 20 years ago awakens. What is the unsavoury relationship all these things share, and how could it bring down two of the largest governments in the history of the world? From the creators of A RED MASS FOR MARS, SECRET is an espionage thriller that takes a deep look into the shadow world existing between the government and private security firms.”
Baltimore vol 2: the Curse Bells h/c (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden & Ben Stenbeck.
Okay, we’ve learned our lesson: have you? The first volume’s hardcover shot out of the shop and straight out of print. We then had to wait months and months for a softcover. Of BALTIMORE VOL 1 Jonathan wrote (in part – click on the link for the full shebang):
“Is someone there?”
“You’ve made a terrible mistake…”
BALTIMORE PLAGUE SHIPS gives us the pustulent story of Lord Henry Baltimore, a man with more stiff upper lip than the troutiest, poutiest cosmetic surgery victim could ever wish for, and a never-say-die attitude to match. And it’s precisely that sort of British bulldog resilience that’s landed him in the living nightmare he now finds himself. Knocked unconscious on the field of battle in WW1 during a suicidalmidnightover-the-top charge, ordered by the idiotic top brass safely tucked away behind the lines at HQ, he’s appalled to come round and find gigantic bat-like creatures with glowing red eyes literally draining the blood from his dead and dying comrades strewn around him.
When one particularly loathsome specimen notices the waking Lord Henry and decides to make him the next tasty treat, he manages to fend the creature off with a bayonet in a last-ditch, desperate act, gouging the creature’s eye out in the process. Even so, were it not for the fast approaching sunrise, he’d still have been easy pickings for the enraged creatures who seem unnerved by the rapidly increasing light levels and flee the battlefield. Subsequently coming to in the middle of the night in a field hospital, minus an amputated leg, he’s approached by a cloak-clad fiend missing an eye who chillingly informs Lord Henry that whilst he and his vampiric brethren had previously been content to merely hide in the shadows, feeding on those who were dead and dying, that thanks to Lord Henry’s intervention, they are as of now at war with humanity…
Superb horror writing from Mignola and Christopher Golden, with appropriately atmospheric art from Ben Stenbeck, who appears to have followed the unwritten rule of illustrating a Mignola story, which is to evoke Mignola’s own art style.
The Secret Service #1 (£2-25, Icon/Marvel) by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons.
From the artist on WATCHMEN and the creator of the super-stylish The Originals and the writer of my all-time favourite superhero series (ULTIMATES SEASON ONE volumes one and two and ULTIMATES SEASON TWO volumes one and two), this is, quite simply, a super-spy book but with an added political dimension. Millar writes that’s it’s “the ramifications of [how] America is struggling on the world stage, funding is being seriously undercut to balance the books and some people are trying their best to take advantage of the fragile global situation.” There’s a great big illustrated interview on Mark Millar’s THE SECRET SERVICE here, and it looks soooo slick.
America’s Got Powers #1 of 6 (£2-25, Image) by Jonathan Ross & Bryan Hitch.
“Welcome toAMERICA’S GOT POWERS! It’s the biggest TV show on Earth, where the chance to win fame, fortune and get laid are dangled in front of a generation of super-powered teens. All they have to do is WIN. Who is the fastest, the strongest or the greatest? Who survives? Young Tommy Watt’s dreams of being the greatest hero of them all might just be shattered when the greatest show on the planetbegins to reveal its dark heart.”
Excerpt from a much bigger, illustrated Comicbook Resources illustrated interview with the pair: “Ross, who originated the concept, added that there’s an ugly undercurrent to the reality competition craze which fuels “America’s Got Powers.” “What interested me here is the exploitation of those who are encouraged to take part,” he said. “In ‘AGP’ there’s more than just a little pressure on them – these kids with powers don’t have that many other options in a society that finds them fascinating and irresistible but ultimately scary. So it deals a little I hope with the dark side of these shows – the way talent is used up and, when it no longer feels novel or fresh, thrown away. As for superheroes, well, as readers we love to see them in action, fighting, protecting the weak and smiting the strong. In this scenario, that’s a given. Like ‘Rollerball’ or ‘The Running Man,’ it’s built into the format – a certain amount of danger, of blood and guts. But it’s when it escalates and people get to see the REAL purpose of the show that things will get interesting.”
Animal Man vol 1: The Hunt s/c (£10-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire & Travel Foreman, John Paul Leon.
Bad dreams in the night – in black, red and white. Now that’s what I call capillary action! This isn’t a superhero book. Anyone worth their salt is going to make a Buddy Baker book all about family, and ESSEX COUNTY’s Jeff Lemire has written about family extensively there and even to a certain extent in SWEET TOOTH. Sure enough Buddy’s wife, son and especially his daughter Maxine are centre-stage as Maxine, forbidden a living, breathing pet, decides to exhume those buried round the neighbourhood and bring them back to some semblance of life. At the same time Buddy’s own powers go on the fritz, his family come under attack and it’s all very creepy. What’s wrong with the Red? Grant Morrison’s own three-volume run on ANIMAL MAN is an absolutely essential read, especially if you’re on board for this.
Batwoman vol 1: Hydrology h/c (£16-99, DC) by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman & J.H. Williams II, Amy Reeder.
BATWOMAN: ELEGY has been phenomenally successful and here its artist returns in an even more successful DC New 52 book. “Who or what is stealing children from the barrio, and for what vile purpose? Will Kate train her cousin, Bette Kane (a.k.a. Flamebird), as her sidekick? How will she handle unsettling revelations about her father, Colonel Jacob Kane? And why is a certain government agency suddenly taking an interest in her?”
Stormwatch vol 1: The Dark Side s/c (£10-99, DC) by Paul Cornell & Miguel Sepulveda.
A very different dynamic from the old days of STORMWATCH and the subsequent AUTHORITY. The Engineer remains firmly at the helm and Jack Hawksmoor is in charge. Jenny Q is still new but JLA’s Martian Manhunter has now joined them along with a few extras I’m unfamiliar with. The Moon is attacking Earth, there’s a giant horn in theHimalayas. So where are Apollo and the Midnighter? Apollo is a determined loner they’re finding it difficult to recruit. Recruiting theMidnight, on the other hand, will be murder. For more DC New 52 books see link at the bottom of the blog.
The Shadow #1 (£2-99, D.E.) by Garth Ennis & Aaron Campbell.
Not a project I would have expected from Ennis! “1938: The Shadow returns in a tale of blazing action and deadly intrigue, as a night of carnage on theNew Yorkwaterfront plunges the mysterious vigilante into a conspiracy involving the fate of the world itself. As storm clouds gather across the globe, American Military Intelligence meets with a certain Lamont Cranston, determined to beat a host of spies and assassins to the greatest prize of all… but what that might be, only the Shadow knows.”
Punisher: Homeless h/c (£14-99, Marvel Max) by Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon.
I will read and relish anything – anything – drawn by PREACHER‘s Steve Dillon. Even if it’s a shopping list. The Kingpin hires Elektra to keep the Punisher at bay, but becomes preoccupied with getting her into bed. The Punisher doesn’t have a bed: he’s homeless. Also, broke and without weapons. That’s not really going to stop him, though, is it?
Wolverine & The X-Men vol 1 h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Chris Bachalo, Nick Bradshaw.
In which a visit from the Department of Education school inspectors passes without incident. <snort> Everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong on the first and possibly last day of term at the new Jean Grey School For Higher Learning, and teachers will surely empathise. There is, however, a great deal more that can go wrong in a school full of mutant misfits which boasts the most dangerous boys’ bathroom in history. That Kitty Pryde is headmistress is not unexpected; that Wolverine’s a headmaster is insane. The Toad is their janitor, by the way, and will be spending some considerable time cleaning up that bathroom later on.
Following directly on from the mini-series X-Men: Schism (also by Aaron along with Vertigo’s SCALPED) wherein Cyclops and Wolverine stopped seeing eye to eye, there has been a mass evacuation from their island haven just off San Francisco, Wolverine opting to educate the children rather than have them fight. Joining their faculty is the Beast who stopped enjoying Scott Summers’ increasingly militant company quite some time ago plus Iceman, Gambit, Rogue, Rachel Grey, Cannonball, Chamber, Husk, Karma, Frenzy and Doop. Yes, Doop. He of the translatable alien language.
The schism was engineered by Kade Kilgore, school-aged son of a wealthy arms manufacturer who’s just inherited a fortune and multiplied it considerably by selling Sentinel technology on the back of the some pretty successful scare-mongering. It also secured him his seat as Black King of the Hellfire Club. His next move, then, is something of a surprise.
The whole of the first issue is played purely for laughs, and long may that continue. There’s even a school prospectus in the back complete with courses (Algebra Sucks: I Know, But You Still Have To Learn It is, of course, delivered by ‘Professor’ Bobby Drake who couldn’t even spell quadratic equation let alone solve one), extracurricular activities, special events and the proud school motto, “The best there is at what we do”. Chris Bachalo (DEATH, SHADE THE CHANGING MAN, GENERATION X) plays the perfect co-conspirator with cartoon comedy postures and expressions against backgrounds with an enormous attention to detail.
Reminder: these are our picks from the current crop, but you can read the whole of Diamond’s own comic and graphic novel PREVIEWS here. They’re divided into comics and graphic novels and then into publishers so if you’re only interested in particular publisher it’s all quite easy to digest. Apart from Marvel’s offerings this month which is: basically one big, convoluted cat’s cradle of AVENGERS V X-MEN tie-ins. Make sure you pre-order Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons’ THE SECRET SERVICE, though!
Caveat: I rather suspect that the last week in each month, when given as a due date, is Diamond’s way of saying “No promises!”