Reviews April 2012 week three

“What is important for you to offer your customers?”
”The credit card terminal.”

 – Stephen in the new Page 45 interview for Sequential Highway What a clown.

League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier s/c (£14-9, Knockabout) by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill.

1958, and Britain has only just rid itself of Big Brother. Mina Murray and Allan Quartermain have severed their ties with MI5 and are currently considered rogue agents. Now they are back, sent to steal the Black Dossier secretly stashed in MI5’s Military Intelligence Vauxhall HQ. The Black Dossier, compiled from intelligence records and fragments of fiction, contains every known record of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s various incarnations and its constituent members across the centuries.

Disguised as actress Oodles O’Quim, Miss Murray plays on the vanity of a womanising Secret Service agent licensed to thrill, who can’t keeps his hands off her. Snatch it they do, and from that moment on it’s one long chase up the Thirty-Nine Steps to Greyfriars, the boarded-up boarding school cared for by one William Bunter, then onto Birmingham’s spaceport where Roger The Robot awaits. Unfortunately so do the agents dispatched by the mysterious M. Will you recognise them before they recognise Mina? And what national secrets can the Dossier possibly contain that MI5 is so desperate for it back?

As you’ve probably inferred, like all the other LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN books, everything here is a cut-and-paste collage of previously published fiction, and half the fun is spotting the references. No one other than Alan can be expected to get them all, but merely catching a nod to one of your favourite books like Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies is quite the fuzzy thrill. What is utterly mind-boggling is not only Uncle Alan’s breadth and depth of cultural knowledge, but the ingenuity with which he’s reweaved his unpicked threads into a brand new tapestry which holds so well together. Also, Moore’s ability as a literary chameleon and mimic.

For within THE BLACK DOSSIER lies The Black Dossier containing, amongst many gems, part of a previously undiscovered piece of Shakespearian bawdiness called ‘Faerie’s Fortunes Founded’ starring Masters Shytte and Pysse; ‘What Ho, Gods Of  The Abyss’ by Bertie Wooster; the erotic ‘New Adventures of Fanny Hill’; and ‘A Prospectus Of London (1901)’ from which this description of Freemasons Hall, Vauxhall made me laugh:

“While architecturally an acquired taste, this riverside landmark is an undoubted benefit to the community, as the worthy fraternity within are believed to occupy themselves mainly with organising charitable jumble-sales and similar altruistic activities.”

Naturally Orlando is as ubiquitous as he always claimed!

Also included is a set of 3-D glasses for when Alan and Mina reach Ye Blazing Worlde with its extra dimension, and at this point we really do doff our battered top hats to artist Kevin O’Neill whose art on this series has always been riddled with detail worthy of what must be the most gargantuan scripts imaginable. The 3-D sequences, however, with the likes of the Effervator (an effervescent elevator travelled on via bubbles) is a triumph on another level entirely.

Finally, big love to Knockabout who finally published this in the UK after DC’s Paul Levitz banned it from our shores to spite Alan Moore, thereby rewarding all DC’s loyal readers – and their loved ones buying presents – with petulant contempt, and depriving Page 45 alone of thousands of pounds worth of Christmas revenue. Oh yes. The book gets pretty pugnacious too:

“What’s that he’s wrestling with?
“I – I think it’s poetry. They must be rehearsing for later. Ooh, look at that! It dazzled him with imagery, then beat him over the head with a blunt metaphor!”

SLH

Buy League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Gloaming h/c (£14-99, Pocko) by Keaton Henson.

“I spent my childhood alone with views of rooftops and chimney stacks,” writes Keaton Henson, “wondering where all the creatures from my storybooks were, why I couldn’t see them in the suburban landscape where they so clearly belonged.”

Clearly!

A haunting, wordless narrative of restless, lonely giants and wispy black wraiths drifting away from the towns and out through the countryside where they try, tentatively to unite. Subtitled 23 Years Of Seeing Things, it starts with a poem evoking a blurring of the boundaries between sleep, dream and the waking world for those who bring their slumbering senses with them. If you succeed, you’ll find the streets stalked by strange and silent somnambulists; naked, sweaty and saggy-breasted giants, their black, greasy hair drawn over their face like the girl in The Ring, slumped over the rooftops of whole neighbourhoods. An enormous, exploratory finger pokes through your bathroom window, like a mildly inquisitive ape’s.

Goodness this is beautiful. The lines are clean, with pools of black ink printed on a thick, creamy stock. There’s a tremendous sense of weight even when the Gloamers take to the air, their limbs undulating or dragging on the ground. It’s also stricken with a terrible melancholy, broken only occasionally when the spirits attract new attention.

The first thing Tom said was, “That’s very Tom Neely”, and he’s right. A little research tells me it was inspired by Scandinavian folklore and Japanese Kwaidan (ghost stories) from the Edo period, and also the films of Hayao Miyazaki. It is its own thing, and it’s great.

SLH

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

Lizz Lunney Greeting Cards (£2-20 each, UK Greetings) by Lizz Lunney.

FAQ: “Do you sell greetings cards?” WE DO NOW!

If Lizz Lunney was ever actually on a trolley, the cart has long since sped away, careered down the mountain and jettisoned Ms. Lizz into Page 45’s gratefully open arms.

These, then, from the creator of DEPRESSED CAT: NINE MISERABLE LIVES and all those shiny badges we mercilessly market like boiled sweets in a bowl right next to the till. And the delightful thing is that so many of these are comics: short stories told through sequential art! Each classy card comes matt in two or more colours, and enhanced with a slither of foil. Also, envelopes: you get a free envelope! I can’t tell you how much giving away free stuff sticks in my craw.

The cards weren’t in for five seconds before Jonathan bought CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE NOT DEAD YET! and ONE YEAR CLOSER TO EXTINCTION for each of his parents. I’m praying for a week free from irony.

And some of the others are beautifully observed. Everyone’s going to relate to PEOPLE YOU DON’T WANT TO SIT NEXT TO ON A BUS, though I would like to apologise for my initial antipathy towards Facebook given MR FACEBOOK and the fact that I now love Page 45’s. MY MATE PRIMATE is just so stoopid it’s cool, but the pick of the bunch for me and anyone else at the mercy of the technological cynosure that is the bloody computer will be able to relate to this, the DEPRESSED CAT card where he’s hard at work in the office, tap-tapping away for panel after silent panel, hour after hour, sighing his way from 9am to 3pm at which point:

“Due to an internal error all of your work has been deleted.”

Please note: 10% Student Discount applies to these too in the shop, making them the most affordable greetings cards you will probably find around town. Neat, eh? Alas, unlike our DEPRESSED CAT books, none of these cards come signed. YOU HAVE TO DO THAT YOURSELVES!

Take a look at all twelve lovely designs at the link below. If you can’t read the card click on the interior art below it because it zooms up beautifully!

SLH

Buy Lizz Lunney Cards and read the Page 45 review here

Courtney Crumrin vol 1: The Night Things h/c (£14-99, Oni) by Ted Naifeh.

Complete colour hardcover upgrade for which Oni Press have pulled out all the stops: the paper stock is thick and silky, the front matter and end pages are a dark, rich plum printed with silver ink, just like the matt cover hardcover with its spot-varnish and smooth and glossy portrait inlaid. As to the colours themselves – beautiful!

So let’s meet Courtney herself, here dressing down a doppelganger who’s taken her place and impressed her parents. They’re not very impressive parents.

“My Mom would kiss a diseased mollusc if it could get her into a cocktail party. They’re both selfish morons.”
“You have no friends. I made friends…. Cathy Keller says I’m cool.”
“Congrats! You can kiss ass. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. Just the fact that your lame performance actually fooled these people should tell you what nitwits they are.”
“What do you mean, lame?”
“If you wanted to become Courtney Crumrin, you should have done a little homework. I’m rude, bad-tempered and basically, I don’t like people.”

That’s because of the people poor Courtney finds herself surrounded by. Her new classmates are snobbish and superficial bullies, her parents are clueless and indifferent… only the initially austere Great Uncle Aloysius breaks the spell of utter isolation Miss Crumrin feels now that they’ve moved into his creepy old mansion. Gradually, though, young Courtney finds she rather likes creepy, and although she has a knack for biting off more than she can chew she has a few key qualities on her side: resilience, pluck, and a practical approach to problem solving.

Over the course of four self-contained stories Courtney negotiates her new territory with its goblins, changelings, faeries and night things, and learns the lesson of the The Beguiling Glamour. The lesson being, don’t cast it: being too popular brings a whole new set of problems. Much better to be yourself.

The pen lines and character designs are exquisite, the lessons sometimes harsh (at one point it looked like Crumrin was going to give Constantine a run for his money with the body count), and if as many people read comics as books, Ted Naifeh might be almost as rich as J. K. Rowling. He certainly deserves to be.

SLH

Buy Courtney Crumrin vol 1: The Night Things h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Courtney Crumrin #1 (£2-99, Oni Press) by Ted Naifeh.

“Butterworm! I thought I told you humans are off limits.”
“I weren’t gonna eat all o’ her. Just a few bits.”
“Bugger off.”

Brand new series, this time in full colour as a new girl called Holly Hart moves into the neighbourhood and – much to her surprise – Courtney finally finds she has a friend. More surprisingly still, she finds she likes it. Ingeniously Ted mirrors the whole of the first book, as Holly too gets drawn to the woods, to the casting of spells and to the Goblin Market. But she’s taking it all far too fast and Holly has no Great Uncle Aloysius to guide her. And although our Courtney finds her company compelling, she is older and wiser these days and something to her seems ‘off’. She’s going to wish she’d trusted her instincts.

SLH

Buy Courtney Crumrin #1 the old-fashioned way by visiting our Goblin Market Street, casting the spell of email alteration page45@page45.com or pressing the arcane glyphs 0115 9508045 and intoning politely.

Secret #1 (2-75, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Ryan Bodenheim.

Brutal, industrial, back-door espionage that begins with a break-in and a certain extraction. Continues with extortion which will result in a quite different extraction, then far more break-ins as a direct result. Extortion, extraction, it’s just a distraction.

That’s one way to drum up trade.

Just buy it, it’s brilliant: a series with teeth. In more ways than one. Let’s eat!

SLH

Buy Secret by your powers of persuasion on 0115 9508045, page45@page45.com or visit and just look at us funny.

The Secret Service #1 (£2-25, Millarworld/Icon/Marvel) by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons.

“Anything new on the kidnappings?”
“Nothing we can figure out. That’s six cast members from the Star Wars films, four from Doctor Who, eight from Battlestar Galactica and five from Star Trek.”
“The originals of the JJ Abrams version?”
“Oh, the originals, of course. But Lady Hunt and I watched the new one on pay-per-view last weekend, and I have to say I was very impressed. I resisted the idea of a remake at first, but the chap playing the doctor was practically channelling DeForrest Kelly.”

Ha! That’s the first thing I ever say about that version too!

This is James Bond with a substantial twist: Jack London is not a public schoolboy. His sister and nephew live in Peckham, southLondon, and they are all kinds of disasters waiting to happen. The father’s a paranoid, violent thug encouraging his young son to roll up his doobies, and that nephew may well object – and be brave enough to voice his objection and stick up for his mum – but he’s out joyriding and about to get nicked yet again, relying on Uncle Jack’s get-out-of-jail-free card. NeitherLondon nor Millar mince their words, and I’m all for that. Let’s “press the issue”, shall we? Plenty of well reasoned abuse on all sides, except for the dad. Thing is, they all think Uncle Jack works for the Fraud Squad, but one of them is about to find out otherwise.

With art by WATCHMEN and indeed WATCHING THE WATCHMEN’s Dave Gibbons, it’s a classy affair with a superb piece of early misdirection which plays with the traditional James Bond opening to perfection. Guest-stars Star Wars’ Mark Hamill.

Buy The Secret Service #1 and read the Page 45 review by looking above, then report for debriefing on 0115 9508045 or page45@page45.com

America’s Got Powers #1 (£2-25, Image) by Jonathan Ross & Bryan Hitch.

A) My favourite superhero artist of all time, THE ULTIMATES’ Bryan Hitch.
B) Yes, that Jonathan Ross, but on infinitely better form than TURF.
C) Double-sized issue for £2-25
D) Very well structured.
E) Something to say.
F) Funny.

This is spectacular stuff set in San Francisco seventeen years after a giant blue stone lands there, and every pregnant mother within a five mile radius successfully gives birth. No matter how pregnant, they all give birth at exactly the same time. To children with gifts. With powers. Every single one. Except Tommy Watts, brother to Bobby, the boy who burned out on TV. See, there’s a TV show now called America’s Got Powers which is a bit like Gladiators but without the – which is exactly like Gladiators: preposterous posturing, rabid crowds, and the biggest star is the biggest dick! So anyway, Bobby Watts won all his battles but it cost him too much and he died.

Which was absolutely fantastic for ratings!

Reacting accordingly, the producers of the new season ofAmerica’s Got Powers have lifted all limits on the level of violence permissible! The mechanical Paladins will be bigger and operating at maximum force, and the combatants can use all that they’ve got. Of course, there may be some military motivation behind the rule changes that nobody’s thought about…

There’s so much merely hinted at so far: the San Francisco Power Riots that prompted the development of these TV tournaments in order to channel the children’s attention and give them a controlled outlet for their potentially destructive gifts; the military’s beef with the project’s head scientist Professor Syell; and Syell’s latest discovery which sounds ominous. Anyway, I can assure you it’s all going to go to hell in a helicarrier.

Some of the best bits, even visually, are set high above the stadium (which I note is adjacent to Alcatraz); also in the cash-cow gift shops of the super-mall surrounding the arena, which sounds odd when one considers Hitch’s gift for hyper-dynamic fist-fights which are totally stunning here, but I’ve always loved his architecture, his everyday faces and civilian clothing. Oh, there are no masks: good. Not necessary. 

Jonathan Ross has relaxed and really thought this through: the timing is excellent from the 8-page introduction right through to the punchline right at the bottom of the panel. The chirpy commentators’ blithe blood-thirstiness as combat goes disastrously wrong is perfect and far from overplayed – the key being “blithe”, oblivious to their own crass, crowd-pleasing cretinicity and indifference to everyone’s health and safety including innocent bystanders. Tommy is spontaneously iconoclastic without being a relentlessly rebellious smart-arse and – given the reputation of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury– I love that the teenagers who received their gifts from that big blue stone are called “Stoners”.

Gentle reminder: £2-25 for full-colour, double-sized quality. Have you bought it yet?

SLH

Surrender to Stephen’s outrageous huckstering and half-arsed neologisms by grabbing that phone and hammering 0115 9508045 or emailing page45@page45.com NOW!

Batman Incorporated h/c (£22-50, DC) by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham, Yanick Paquette, Michael Lacombe, Scott Clark, Cameron Stewart, Dave Beaty.

“You heard the rumour the Dark Knight has become a kind of God?”
”He’s only a man. Let him build his army. We are ready for war are we not?”
“The first 500 are in place. Each trained to imitate the actions of a virus. Infiltrate. Contaminate. Destroy.”

Following directly on from Batman and Robin vol 3 at the end of which Bruce Wayne returns, summons his cohorts and declares war on crime financially, internationally and technologically, this substantial, oversized hardcover reprints the entire first series of BATMAN INCORPORATED including its climax, the Leviathan Strikes one-shot.

Grant has weaved an enormously dense and complex tale in this worldwide saga taking inAfrica,Argentina,Australia,ParisandJapan. Old allies in the Batman family reaffirm their allegiance; others have their faith sorely tested; and new ones are recruited all around the globe. The plan is to be everywhere at once. But all the while Batman knows he’s not the only hunter, for the great beast called Leviathan, with its multitude of fiercely cunning killers, has its eyes set on world domination and settling one particularly personal score. Over and over again, it’s strike and counter strike on both sides as each army attempts to pre-empt the other.

It kicks off in seriously old-school fashion with giant robot rats and the first of so many increasingly ingenious death traps as Bruce hires Selina Kyle to slink alongside him and burgle a criminal mastermind. Then it’s on to Japan to find and train a new Batman but the man he’s set his sights on is dead, his hands and face melted away by nitro-hydrochloric acid by Lord Death Man, a sadist in a skeletal Halloween costume who seems one step ahead of everyone including the boy who escaped him earlier. Maybe Batman will have to settle for a Japanese Robin. You know, if Catwoman survives the giant, carnivorous octopus!

I love the way Grant threads each climax through with teasers for next issue. Thankfully they’re all still here. Never seen it done quite like that before and it works like a dream.

My favourite sequence, though, is the attack on the internet which is, let’s face it, the frontier so many criminals have now set their sights. Bruce Wayne’s scientists have developed Internet 3.0 a virtual version of most major business cities of the world in mind-boggling detail. He and his investors are admiring it from within. Suddenly they’re assaulted by malware, a zombie virus in the form of cadaverous avatars smashing through the virtual pane glass windows, armed to their skeletal hilts. But wait until you see Batman Incorporated’s anti-viral software!

“I’m scanning for a signature, but it’s polymorphic. And there should be a mutation engine somewhere to make all this work, but I haven’t found it yet. All I know is somebody brought the engine through my firewalls. Which means one of your investors is a Trojan Horse… and we need to test the system. But you knew that, didn’t you?”

It climaxes with two final chapters, the first following one of Batman’s many minions to girls’ school where it’s all a bit Morning Glories, a control cult of mass indoctrination training and supplying spy girls to whoever can afford them – which is just where Leviathan wants them. Your master of secret ceremonies is a chip off the old block, but which tree he fell from I will leave you to discover yourselves. The second chapter takes no prisoners at all – well, except two Batmen and both Robins in the labyrinth of Doctor Dedalus – as Grant Morrison puts them and indeed you through the disorientating ringer with much misdirection before Bruce finally figures it all out. Uh oh! I promise you, when the true identity of Leviathan is finally revealed, it all makes perfect sense.

The book features a superb set of artists including Chris Burnham doing a fine impression of Frank Quitely, while Scott Clark with Dave Beatty on the virtual reality chapter will dazzle your eyeballs for daze. There are pages of preliminary sketches in the back along with a guide by Grant Morrison just in case you lost track of things the first time round and want to go back with hindsight and new set of clues.

“We take our memories for granted, never imagining the day must come when they, too, will walk out on us, one by one, like the lovers and friends we never truly appreciated until we are alone.”

Now there’s a frightening thought. I can already see my memories waving good-bye from here.

SLH

Buy Batman Incorporated h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Alan Moore & Steve R. Bissette, John Totleben.

Exceptional piece from Jonathan here, only so far down because it’s a reproduction of his hardcover review. But that was ages ago, so enjoy!

“It’s raining in Washington tonight. Plump, warm summer rain that covers the sidewalk with leopard spots. Downtown, elderly ladies carry their houseplants out to set them on their fire escapes as if they were infirm relatives or boy kings.”

The new softcover version of the first part of the classic Alan Moore reworking of the SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING, during which DC finally gained enough balls to take the shameful self-censoring Comic Code Authority Seal Of Approval stamp off the cover of one their titles for the first time, and fully let loose the monster that is Alan Moore’s imagination on its readers. To be fair, you have to give due credit to whoever made that decision at DC, because it certainly helped in beginning to change corporate comics at the time.

For me, Moore’s run on SWAMP THING is some of his finest storytelling ever as he takes over a previously peripheral DC character and creates a wondrous, beguiling and captivating story that is truly mammoth in its vision and scope, so vast it’s impossible to summarise everything it encompasses. It is truly worthy of the description ‘epic’, a saga indeed. True to the original Len Wein origins of the character, there are some genuine moments of real horror which are very unnerving and very uncomfortable stuff to read, with potentially nightmare-inducing artwork. But there are also moments of genuine tenderness, as a very unlikely inter-species romance unfolds between the Swamp Thing and Abby Cable. We are transported along utterly, emotionally and spiritually, with this entity that is on a quest like no other to understand his place and at times simply survive, in a very confused and unforgiving universe.

In short, the writing is everything you would expect ofMoore. From excursions to the very depths of hell, the heights of heaven and the myriad realms in-between. Reaching down to the ancient roots of the earth and the forgotten, timeless elementals that dwell there, to the void-filled outermost fringes of the universe where life exists but not as we could have ever imagined it. With metaphysical explorations of the very nature of insanity and enlightenment and the sometimes infinitesimally fine line that divides the two. The truly amazing thing is that all this takes place within the costumed mainstream DC universe and it just works perfectly. Yes, we get the obvious more mystical characters cropping up such as Boston Brand / Deadman, the Spectre, the Phantom Stranger etc. but we also see Swamp Thing go toGothamand take on an uber-fascistically depicted Batman (“You ever threaten my city again, I’ll kill you…”), and we also see him in Metropolis encountering an ignorant, almost arrogant Superman. We even see him encountering Adam Strange on the dying desiccated planetof Rann during his enforced off-world sojourn. Mind you, we also get plenty of madness with incestuous villains that just refuse to die and when they finally do confound the very demons of hell by being happy, underwater vampires, a cabal of South American tribal magicians with seriously ambitious plans to change the order of things through more than a few unwilling sacrifices, not to mention an island-sized technology-based alien life-form rapist drifting lonely in the vastness of interstellar space.

It’s just that when Moorechooses for the Swamp Thing’s path to intersect with those of the costumed characters he does it so seamlessly, always seen from the Swamp Thing’s perspective which has become ours so completely, that it works perfectly. Again and again we feel the sadness and confusion of a being who quite frankly would just like the world at large to leave him alone, but sadly – as is very much true for all of us – life just doesn’t unfold as smoothly as that, does it? And let us also not forget that we see the first appearance of a certain John Constantine, serene, dapper, cocksure and at his most arch and manipulative, indeed at the very top of his game. In fact Constantine is a very central character throughout the entire run once he has made his dramatic first entrance in volume three and anyone who has ever read HELLBLAZER and enjoyed it should not miss out on reading SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING. One of my favourite moments is at the end of one particular storyline as Swamp Thing and Constantine are stood by the side of a road preparing to part company and John is repeatedly teasing Swamp Thing about a great vegetable joke he’s got but it would be completely wasted on him due to his lack of humour. In the end the frustrated Swamp Thing is basically manipulated into asking him to tell the joke. John feeds him the opening line whilst Swamp Thing’s back is turned (“How do you baffle a vegetable?”) and when Swamp Thing turns in exasperation having answered that he doesn’t know and received no reply, Constantine has simply vanished into thin air.

Masterful stuff and a neat example of the counterpoint humourMooreincorporates to the horror and seriousness which lightly punctuates and delicately seasons his writing to perfection.

This first new softcover edition includes the very first Moore issue which was never included in the original softback collection simply because it actually concludes a story started by Marty Pasko who himself put together a very creditable 19-issue run and established many of the minor characters used throughout the Saga by Moore and later Rick Veitch. Then we get Moore’s start proper, his reboot origin tale for Swamp Thing told very cleverly and obliquely within another story featuring a most obscure DC villain, Jason Woodrue the Fluoronic Man, who inadvertently awakens to the underlying consciousness connecting all plant life on the planetand promptly goes mad. We also get a most amusing cameo from a very baffled and helpless JSA which neatly sets the tone for the disdainful and delightfully dismissive manner in whichMooretreats the super-heroes whenever and wherever they crop up throughout his entire run. This collection concludes with a disturbing horror story wherein Jason Blood and his alter-ego, the rhyming Demon Etrigan, are tracking down a very, very unpleasant fear demon which has recently moved into the Louisiana Bayou.

I personally can’t recommend SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING highly enough. If you like horror writing, you’ll love it. And If you liked intelligent explorations of topics such as heaven and hell, enlightenment, the nature of reality and relationships as only Alan Moore can in works like PROMETHEA, you’ll love it too. The SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING is definitely an oft-overlooked part of his canon that deserves much more praise.

As to the art: as orgasmic as it is organic. And it is set in a swamp…

Buy Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Daredevil: Season One h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Antony Johnston & Wellinton Alves.

“Well. I didn’t see that coming.”

Another of Marvel’s original Season One graphic novels taking you back to each character’s earliest days, this one written by Wasteland’s and THE COLDEST CITY’s Antony Johnston.

Here blind defence lawyer Matthew Murdock is still leaping around in his black and yellow costume wondering why his foes are so far from afraid of him. Closer to home, and Matt’s fallen in love with secretary Karen Page. He’s about to mention it to business partner Foggy Nelson when Foggy pre-empts him: he’s going to ask Karen to marry him. Which is awkward.

All of which has been firmly established in Marvel history. What’s new is a distraught Father Samuel Mullen, Matt Murdock’s Catholic priest, turning up at their office. City Hall claims the lease on St. Finnians will expire next year, and it’s going to evict them. That lease should be good for another twenty years but the original documentation’s gone missing. Meanwhile Councilman William Doyle – who’s on the Land Board himself – is campaigning for mayor on a ticket that involves freeing up land for lucrative property development. A little bit obvious, wouldn’t you say? Ah, but no. It’s far more complicated than that, because the lease isn’t the only paperwork missing…

X-MEN: SEASON ONE drawn by Jamie McKelvie was particularly beautiful. Here too the art is clean and shiny. Shame about their impenetrably stodgy covers, then.

SLH

Daredevil: Season One hardcover

Essential Avengers vol 8 (£14-99, Marvel) by Jim Shooter, David Michelinie & George Perez, Dave Wenzel, John Byrne and more.

Prime old-school AVENGERS boasting one of my all-time favourite AVENGERS covers, recoloured to perfection, as Henry Peter Gyrich – who will go on to be a thorn in the X-Men’s side – dictates to everyone assembled round the coffee table exactly who will be the new members. Trust me, it doesn’t go down well. And it really is a very full house at that point for this black and white monster package incorporates THE KORVAC SAGA which required every extant Avenger bar the Hulk.

Prior to that it also includes the sequence in which Count Nefaria, currently appearing in Brian Michael Bendis’ Moon Knight, first sends off for the Charles Atlas programme, and Hank Pym’s oedipal offspring, the robot Ultron, creates a lady friend for himself using the brain patterns of his ‘mother’, the Wasp, just as he used the brain patterns of Wonderman when he created the Vision. Wonderman himself in his original gaudy costume is having doubts about his courage/manhood (doesn’t get any better in his new, red-leather-jacket edition), Ms. Marvel arrives, and Thor struggles with memory loss as that KORVAC SAGA subplot kicks in as the Avengers, both here and abroad, start blinking out of existence one by one.

Visually what’s interesting is seeing what difference an inker makes to John Byrne’s art. Pablo Marcos fleshes it out with sinew, Gene Day stays true while adding texture, while Klaus Janson goes for a whole new moody approach. I like all three.

Collects AVENGERS #164-184, Annual #7-8, and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Annual #2.

SLH

Buy Essential Avengers vol 8 and read the Page 45 review here

A Game Of Thrones vol 1 h/c (£14-99, Harper) by George R.R. Martin, Daniel Abraham & Tommy Patterson.

Surely this is going to sell itself?

Good, because I know nothing whatsoever about this or what it’s based on. Feel free to write your own review.

SLH

Buy A Game Of Thrones vol 1 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

 

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

Reviews already online if they’re new formats of older books.. Otherwise the most interesting will come under the microscope next week, while the rest will remain with their Diamond previews acting in lieu of reviews.

The Shark King h/c (£9-99, Toon Books) by R. Kikuo Johnson

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland h/c (£16-50, Top Shelf) by Harvey Pekar & Joseph Remnant

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror (£13-50, IDW) by H.P. Lovecraft, Joe R. Lansdale, Robert Weinberg & Peter Bergting, menton3

Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924: At Last My Drim Of Life Has Come True (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by George Herriman

Cinderella vol 2: Fables Are Forever (£10-99, Vertigo) by Chris Roberson & Shawn McManus

Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief (Graphic Novel) (£9-99, Puffin) by Rick Riodan, Robert Venditti & Attila Futaki

Abe Sapien vol 2: The Devil Does Jest And Other Stories (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Patric Reynolds, Peter Snejberg, James Harren

BPRD Plague Of Frogs vol 1 h/c (£25-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola & Guy Davis and many others

BPRD Plague Of Frogs vol 2 h/c (£25-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola & John Arcudi, Guy Davis and many others

American Gods UK edition (£8-99, Headline Review) by Neil Gaiman

True Blood vol 2: Tainted Love hardcover (£18-99, IDW) by Marc Andreyko, Michael McMillan & Joe Corroney

Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War (Complete) (£22-50, DC) by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, Peter J Tomasi & Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Gleason, Angel Unzeta

Batman: Venom (£10-99, DC) by Dennis J. O’Neil & Trevor Von Eeden, Russel Braun

Six Guns (£10-99, Marvel) by Andy Diggle &  David Gianfelice

Wolverine And The X-Men hardcover (£14-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Chris Bachalo

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man vol 4: Death Of Spider-Man s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley

Red Hulk: Hulk Of Arabia (£10-99, Marvel) by Jeff Parker & Patch Zircher

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force / The Deep h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Rob Williams, Cullen Bunn & Simone Bianchi, Lee Garbett

Cross Game vol 7 VIZBIG Edition (£10-99, Viz) by Mitsuru Adachi

Dorohedoro vol 6 (£9-99, Viz) by Q Hayashida

Katsuya Terada’s The Monkey King vol 2 (£12-99, Dark Horse) by Katsuya Terada

Gantz vol 22 (£9-99, Dark Horse) by Hiroya Oku

 
r.e. The Lizz Lunney greeting cards reviewed above: today someone literally did ask, “By the way, do you sell greetings cards?” He bought this one, about knitting your own beard.

 I don’t think Mark would have approved!

 – Stephen

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