Reviews July 2012 week one

The monster morphs like Stephen Bissette’s Swamp Thing, filling the grandmother’s dead living room, its shoulders hunched to the corners of the ceiling, threatening to burst through the plasterwork. It blots out the evening sky outside in the garden, black on black, still leaving much to the imagination as all nightmares should.

 – Stephen on A Monster Calls.


Journalism h/c (£17-99, Metropolitan Books) by Joe Sacco…

“Somebody ordered it, somebody did it, and somebody tolerated it. And all are guilty.”

Essentially a collection of all the shorter journalism comics Sacco has done for various publications like Time Magazine and also anthologies such as I LIVE HERE over the years, so you may well have come across some or all of it before in various forms, particularly if you are a fan. However, it is also an ideal Sacco primer for those unfamiliar with his work, because it covers so many areas of conflict he’s reported on, be it outright warzones such as Chechnya, also less militarily intense conflicts, though certainly not emotionally so, such as the Israeli-Palestinian one, down to his reflections upon the efficacy, or lack thereof, of international war crime trials at the Hague, through to the effects of the influx of African migrants onto the small island of Malta. The latter situation obviously being close to Sacco’s heart, Malta being his birthplace.

Sacco throws in a quote from a celebrated British journalist in concluding during his own foreword which is intentionally rather revealing about his own sensibilities and reasons for pursuing this particular aspect of comics which is, “I always say that reporters should be neutral and unbiased on the side of those who suffer.” That certainly comes across in the most straightforward reportage pieces on Chechnya and Palestine, and fair play to him because anything which helps raise awareness of the plight of those suffering, either directly or indirectly, at the hands of the idiots responsible for these conflicts is most assuredly a good thing.

The great thing about Sacco, though, is he is a journalist first and foremost, not merely someone who is attempting to highlight particular plights through his illustrative abilities, so consequently when he’s embedded with US forces in Iraq, you therefore get a fascinating insight into the somewhat monotonous daily life of a typical grunt, charged with ensuring a particular strip of road remains IED-free.

But I do like how he isn’t afraid to make it clear, in some circumstances, what his own thoughts on a given subject are. For example, with respect to the (still ongoing) war crime trials pertaining to the Balkan conflict, clearly considerably more crimes were committed than it would ever be possible to realistically bring to court, but he does find it rather troubling that there seems to be far more emphasis on nailing a few big names, instead of actually bringing as many criminals to book as possible. Plus neither do the Western governments and their lamentable inactivity in dealing with the conflict quickly enough escape his ire. The quote he uses from a Bosnian lawyer, which I opened with, who survived the siege ofSarajevois particularly telling.

I think my favourite piece, though, is the one on the influx of migrants ontoMalta, simply because here, he clearly can see the argument from both sides. That of the Africans desperate to escape grinding poverty, but also the Maltese whose society is being irrevocably changed at an extremely rapid pace. It neatly sums up the problem of modern global inequalities in microcosm and the absolute impossibilities and impracticalities of current attempts by the EU to deal with illegal economic migrants from the African continent.

It’s handled with sensitivity but he manages to convey the real anger felt on both sides: the Africans at their treatment upon arrival, simply put straight into detention for up to a year, and the Maltese at the problems their sudden explosion in the population of non-Maltese on their tiny island is causing. It’s very clear from Sacco’s excellent piece that tension and friction is building considerably on both sides, which is inevitably going to come a head at some point in the not too distant future, one suspects. It’s thought provoking stuff, and one of his best for me. I would defy anyone to read it and not come away glad they’re not one of the people trying to come up with a solution to the problem. I’m the first one to think that all politicians are power-mad ego-maniacs, but to try to actually get yourself elected into jobs where you have to solve intractable problems like this clearly proves they have to be masochists too!


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

A Monster Calls (£8-99, Walker Books) by Patrick Ness & Jim Kay.

“You will tell me the fourth tale. You will tell the truth.”
“And what if I don’t?” Conor said.
The monster gave the evil grin again. “Then I will eat you alive.”

On Sunday I read this cover to cover and wept. It’s possibly the single most affecting piece of prose I’ve ever read, which spoke to my deepest fear which I have lived with all my life. I suspect I’m not alone. It’s a book about nightmares – both waking and dreamt – and about isolation, communication, death and denial. And when you finally learn the truth which has been plaguing Conor since his mother first fell ill, you will understand why he must speak it or be eaten alive forever.

“The monster showed up just aftermidnight. As they do.”

Conor is living alone with his Mum, learning to be increasingly self-sufficient. His father moved away toAmericasix years ago with his new wife, and his mother is undergoing yet more treatment. The first round didn’t work, nor did the second. It makes her ill and leaves her tired. Conor understands this – he knows that it will all make her better – but he too is tired because he’s been having the same nightmare over and over again, almost every night since before his mother’s hair fell out, since before she was first hospitalised, since, it seems, forever: the darkness and the wind and the terrible screaming…

Now the monster comes calling when Conor is awake. This is not the nightmare; it is a different beast altogether. It is the churchyard yew tree crawled to life, bellowing through his bedroom window and threatening to break in. It is dark and gigantic, bristling with branches, its coiled muscles creaking and cracking and groaning like the walls of Conor’s house under its thunderous weight. But Conor’s not afraid of its bark or its bite. Conor is afraid of the truth.

The prose we’ll come to momentarily but I bought this in originally based on Jim Kay’s art. I’d been enthusing to a new customer about Bernie Wrightson’s FRANKENSTEIN and its layers of intricate linework, talking about Franklin Booth and Gustave Doré before him, and she reciprocated with page after page on her mobile of these terrifying, pitch-black illustrations which bleed right to the edge of each double-page spread with the power you’d expect from Bill Sienkiewicz. The monster morphs like Stephen Bissette’s Swamp Thing, filling the grandmother’s dead living room, its shoulders hunched to the corners of the ceiling, threatening to burst through the plasterwork. It blots out the evening sky outside in the garden, black on black, still leaving much to the imagination as all nightmares should.

That the prose is so powerful is for us pure serendipity but the reason I’ll be buying it for everyone. It’s not in the language, it’s in the delivery. Moreover it’s in Patrick Ness’ comprehension of the psychology of it all, particularly the resistance to truth, the isolation at school when rumours of his Mum’s illness first start spreading and he can actually see them spreading in schoolyard whispers out of the corner of his eye, and the way special treatment on compassionate grounds renders Conor virtually invisible. Here he’s just made himself very visible indeed.

He was going to be punished. It was finally going to happen. Everything was going to make sense again. She was going to exclude him.
Punishment was coming.
Thank God. Thank God
“But how could I do that?” the Headmistress said.
Conor froze.
“How could I possibly do that and still call myself a teacher?” she said. “With all that you’re going through.” She frowned. “With all that we know about Harry.” She shook her head slightly. “There will come a day when we’ll talk about this, Conor O’Malley. And we will, believe me.” She started gathering the papers on her desk. “But today is not that day.” She gave him a last look. “You have bigger things to think about.”
It took Conor a moment to realise that it was over. That this was it. This was all he was going to get.
“You’re not punishing me?” he said.
The Headmistress gave him a grim smile, almost kind, and then said almost exactly the same thing his father had said. “What purpose could that possibly serve?”

The fracturing of friendships, the bullying at school, Conor’s resentment of a seemingly stringent grandmother getting in between Conor and his Mum: that’s all played so well. And as for the agonising avoidance of communication… well, there’s a constant sense of ellipsis throughout, both during the day between Connor, his mother, his grandmother and his newly Americanized Dad, and at night as the monster keeps calling and insisting that after his three stories which initially confound Conor, Conor will have to tell his.

Patrick Ness keeps you in agonising, chest-knotted suspense right until the end and oh there’ll be tears or you’re dead inside. Some things are better left unsaid. Other things need to be spoken.

“Stories are wild creatures,” the monster said. “When you let them loose, who knows that havoc they might wreak?”


Buy A Monster Calls and read the Page 45 review here

Gloriana h/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Kevin Huizenga –

First it was a self-published zine, then OR ELSE #2. From the creator of GANGES, THE WILD KINGDOM etc., now it’s reproduced as a neat little 6 x 8 h/c, including its original gatefold whose outer flaps themselves form a double-page spread in their own right! It is a stunning piece of design worthy of Ware. Ask in the shop and we’ll show you! Also included: the original fold-out to SUPERMONSTER #14, its back cover, OR ELSE #2’s back cover and a note on how to pronounce his name: “HIGH zing gah”.

Mark’s review from 2005:

One of the problems facing comic artists is what should be left in and what should be left out. Jeffrey Brown, in AEIOU, shows us a relationship but leaves out important facts in the same way that his character was not told the whole story. There’s a track by Love where words are left off the end of lines but it’s obvious from the rhyming pattern as to what’s left out and it brings more attention to them. In Kill Bill, the main character’s name is bleeped out, again forcing our attention to what’s missing. Some comics give you a single page and you’d swear that you’d read ten. The opposite side of this is that we’re never given the whole truth of a moment. If you want to truly understand any moment in time you’d have to have all the facts presented to you.

The central story of this issue (“The Sunset”) gives 20 pages over to a split second of Glenn Ganges looking out of a library window, seeing a feather fall and catching the full blast of the rays of the setting sun. One line, “Earlier I was at the library and the sun was setting…”, is chopped up and repeated throughout, pulling us back and forth throughout the moment. We see different views, people in the library, birds outside and the images left on his optic nerve as the light pours in. It’s a dizzying experience and quite a trick to pull off. If that was the only section of the book it would have still made my ‘best of 2002’ list when it originally came out. Even the way he segues into the final chapter’s calm after the storm is wonderful (“The Moon Rose”).

The first part has Glenn & Wendy unpacking the groceries. Wendy is pregnant and their minds drift to the future, when the baby is a year or so old. Both end up worrying that something bad will happen but realise that there’s a way out of it.

“Come here. She’s kicking. There. Did you feel it?”
“… Then?”
“You don’t feel that?”
“Uhh… Nope”
“Here… wait a second.”

Then we cut away and then back to find that it’s Glenn carrying the baby before we’re onto the next panel where they’re both sitting down at the dinner table, talking about relations. Then the phone rings and it’s just Glenn unpacking the groceries & he’s been daydreaming about him and his wife daydreaming about the baby. By now we’re all disorientated and possibly in the right frame of mind for “The Sunset”. Viewing this book in isolation we’re not sure if Wendy is pregnant or if Glenn is actually married. It’s Wendy that’s phoned him, so she’s real enough. Outside of this book, in “28th Street” (from Drawn and Quarterly Showcase vol 2) they’re still trying to conceive and in OR ELSE #1 they appear to have had a miscarriage or lost the child in infancy.

This is a grand book and I’m glad that it’s been reprinted. Huizenga is definitely one to watch.

“Huizenga is definitely one to watch.” Funny. That’s why we never doubted Mark!


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

Baggage (£9-99, dfb) by the Etherington Brothers…

Relentless mayhem for the younger reader, which I found to be a surprisingly dense read. And I mean that in the detailed not stooopid way. It’s certainly action-packed with non-stop escapades as Randall the disaster-prone lost property officer is set a seemingly impossible task by his cantankerous boss to avoid getting the sack. All he has to do is return the oldest item in the warehouse, a battered old suitcase, to its rightful owner before the end of the day. Should be simple, right, if he puts his mind to it? Cue much slapstick shenanigans as his treasure hunt takes him all over the city before ending up in a most surprising location. I can see why DFC entitled this as a ‘Lost And Found mystery’ as the Etherington Brothers have certainly done an excellent job turning such a simple idea into a well crafted and entertainingly illustrated yarn, as poor old Randall follows tenuous clue after tenuous clue in his desperate search for the suitcase’s owner.



Monkey Nuts vol 1: The Diamond Egg Of Wonders (£9-99, dfb) by the Etherington Brothers…

More frenetic-paced frolics from the Etherington Brothers set on Isla De Monstrea which according to the blurb is… “home of the world’s only tap-dancing, banana-loving, rust-fighting, coconut-talking, crime-busting organisation…” And yes, it really is as bonkers as it sounds with our unlikely dynamic duo of Sid the monkey and Rivet the robot thrown in at the deep as a strange signal begins to turn everyone on the island even more mental than they were already. Absolute nonsense and errr… I loved every second of it! I was slightly disturbed by the more than passing resemblance Rivet has to SCUD THE DISPOSABLE ASSASSIN, but I soon got past that and immersed myself in the fun. At the end of it, I must admit to feeling slightly like I do after an hour with my tyrannical toddling daughter, which is happy but exhausted. Both these books by the Etherington Brothers are clearly designed to appeal to younger kids who like their cartoons… which is probably most of them!


Monkey Nuts vol 1: The Diamond Egg Of Wonders

Anna And Froga: Want A Gumball? (£10-99, Enfant) by Anouk Ricard.

“Anna and Froga and all their friends are the most perfect combination of unbelievably adorable and total jerks… Anouk Ricard is a genius.”

 – Sara Varon of ROBOT DREAMS and Bake Sale – recommended!

“ANNA & FROGA is the best kind of children’s book… sweet and tart, with a crunchy bite to it. Just like the perfect wild apple picked right off the tree.”

 – James Kochalka of American Elf and FANTASTIC BUTTERFLIES – recommended!

“I don’t get it.”

 – Stephen L. Holland of Page 45 – what a moron!

Full colour comics for kids starring Anna and her anthropomorphic friends playing catch in the sea, misappropriating each others art and passing off painting by numbers as original art masterpieces. I did like the way that one worked out, and do like the way Froga is drawn with some pretty priceless expressions. It’s popped on the page in a pleasingly child-like manner and maybe the kids will lap these antics up. This adult found it flat. I’d describe the interactions as way too plinky-plonky if I knew what the hell I even meant by that, but it just seemed so obvious and oh, the ultimate crime: dull.

“A whale!”
“Hardly! Have you ever seen a whale? I’m a tuna!”
“I thought you looked fishy! Ha! Ha! Just joking! What’s your name?”
“Johnny. Yours?”



Buy Anna And Froga: Want A Gumball? and read the Page 45 review here

Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens h/c (£14-99, Dynamite) by Grant Morrison, Barry Sonnenfeld & Mukesh Singh…

Looks like Grant Morrison is finally going to get over his Millar-envy as one of his projects will be made into a film! No, not ANIMAL MAN, not indeed THE INVISIBLES or indeed even WE3, but instead we’ll see semi-intelligent but rapidly evolving dinosaurs taking on highly advanced insectoid aliens in a secret world war that was “never recorded in Earth’s history books”. Well no, because dinosaurs can’t write, can they? And I’ve never actually seen a fly that can hold a pen! This, then… is the trailer… err… I mean graphic novel! Well, the first part at least.

Sigh, I shouldn’t be so sceptical, I suppose, but when “acclaimed [not by me, mind you, but hey ho] director” Barry Sonnenfeld of Men In Black fame decided he wanted to do a film about dinosaurs fighting aliens, then obviously the logical thing to do was a graphic novel about it, because everyone knows that’s how you get a film made these days, isn’t it, write a graphic novel? And who better to get to write it than someone who seems desperate to make it toHollywood?

I was therefore, you might have surmised, despite the presence of Morrison, expecting a right royal cosmic car crash. Obviously there is a UFO crash as that’s how the aliens end up landing on Earth, leaving them with the simplest of choices – to fight or die – against the previously warring two tribes of dinosaurs, but happily this thinnest of premises is made to work rather slickly (ah Grant, I can’t believe I ever doubted you!) and by the end I was hoping I won’t have to wait too long for the sequel… err… I mean next volume.

Fabulous art from Mukesh Singh (and I would suspect numerous denizens of Liquid Studio) which, whilst it quite obviously has one Tyrannosaurus Rex-sized eye and several million alien insectoid compound eyes too on said film pitch, is quite breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly detailed in places. But I guess when you don’t actually need the graphic novel to make any money, and all its production costs are but a mere drop in the ocean of the marketing budget of the forthcoming film, presumably you can afford a whole studio as well as artist to illustrate and colour your book…

Fans Of Aliens, Predator, Aliens Vs. Predator et al will no doubt love this. I’m more of an AGE OF REPTILES man myself, but this certainly has potential. Meanwhile, far more exciting, to me at least, is the news that Steve Bissette is returning to TYRANT!! Come on fella, you know we want it!!!


Buy Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Kick-Ass 2 h/c (£18-99, DC) by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr….

What do you really need to know about this book? Did you like KICK-ASS? If yes, you will love this just as much, probably more, as the violence, profanity and frankly utter insanity reaches new levels, as the wannabe supervillain Red Mist decides to destroy Kick-Ass, one family member and friend at a time. Go on, buy yourself a gimp suit and a rubber truncheon and get out there fighting crime, you know you want to. If you hated KICK-ASS and thought it was the most puerile thing you’d ever read, buy this anyway, make us and Millar that little bit richer (or just less poor in our case!), and then run and tell the Daily Mail, see if we care. All their readers wear gimp suits anyway, that’s a known fact.

Please note, not suitable for children… The Daily Mail that is…


Buy Kick-Ass 2 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Batman: The Black Glove h/c (Deluxe Ed’n) (£22-50, DC) by Grant Morrison & Andy Kubert, J.H. Williams III, Tony S. Daniel.

In fact collects the material that was in the BATMAN & SON and BLACK GLOVE Black Glove softcovers, so now is the starting point of the Morrison run.

BATMAN & SON by Stephen:

In which Batman learns he may have a son, and a fairly brattish one at that. Raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul, amongst international terrorists, he is of course just another weapon in Talia’s silo, and you wouldn’t normally take a ticking time bomb home with you, would you? It’s not good news for Robin (Damian: “He was my rival.”), but it does give Alfred further opportunity for arched eyebrows and the odd bon mot. And then there are the other two Batmen which Bruce has encountered, with a threat of a third, tied somehow to the Black Book whichWaynecomposed of all the weird stuff he’s encountered that he couldn’t logically explain. Both so far were cops, one berserk on steroids, and there’s a cover up in progress.

Kubert’s art is some of the most attractive I’ve seen on this title. In some ways he’s a straightforward superhero artist with enormous panache, and so succeeds here in opening up and reinvigorating the tired and murky proceedings, just as Morrison has done with his flash and brash James Bond approach. This isn’t the “difficult” Morrison some enjoy of SEVEN SOLDIERS or INVISIBLES. It’s just as confident, not at all “lite” and certainly not lacking in surprises, as evidenced by part seven set in the future, and that grotesque gothic prelude set in Arkham Asylum. Instead, it’s as slick and clipped as an Ellis script, only slightly more reasonable and with room for a little tenderness. Together, Grant and Andy have created something rather sexy.

BLACK GLOVE by Alex Sarll:

I think it was the Chinese general Chiang Kai Shek who, when asked in the mid-twentieth century whether the French Revolution had been a good thing, said it was too soon to say. Likewise with Morrison’s Batman: at time of writing the second act has only just begun, with Dick Grayson attempting to fill Bruce Wayne’s shoes in BATMAN & ROBIN. After which, presumably, we will find out about Bruce’s return from the enigmatic position in which FINAL CRISIS left him. And then, we’ll be able to assess whether the whole story made sense, was any good, and so forth.

That has more impact on the second half of this book, a set of stories teasing and setting up developments in the misnamed BATMAN R.I.P. and beyond; ‘Joe Chill in Hell’ is a fevered psychological chiller, but the three stories about fake Batmen have still yet to reveal all their secrets. The first half, though – the first half may tease and set-up and so forth, but even taken in isolation, it’s a thing of wonder. The run had pretty pedestrian art at times, but here we welcome JH Williams III, probably Frank Quitely’s only rival in the field of astonishing page layouts since Tim Sale went formulaic – and no slouch at the old ‘pictures’ bit of the job either. To keep him occupied, Morrison brings out one of those obscure bits of Bat-lore which dot his run (and about which you need no more than he tells you) – the Club of Heroes, aka the Batmen of All Nations. The Legionary! The Knight! The Gaucho! And various other ethnically-stereotypical Batmen knock-offs from a fifties issue, now pushed into the modern day, each of them a commentary on a way Batman could have lost it if he weren’t, well, Batman. Cue murder, mystery and betrayal. And, as I may have mentioned, some absolutely gorgeous art.

SLH / Alex Sarll

Buy Batman: The Black Glove h/c (Deluxe Ed’n) and read the Page 45 review here

Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men vol 5 (£18-99, Marvel) by Chris Claremont & John Byrne, John Romita Jr.

Corruption and seduction and genocide. Keep your enemies close and your friends even closer: this one will gut you for good.

Jean Grey was a kind, gentle soul, and one of the five original students at the countryside School For Gifted Youngsters. It was a quiet and secluded safe haven for those feared and persecuted just because they were different. They grew up together as a loving family under the paternal gaze of Professor Charles Xavier, an extraordinary, optimistic man whose vision for a future free from the anger and anguish of bigotry was indomitable. Each student was gifted or cursed at birth with a special power that lay dormant until puberty. And, truth be told, Jean Grey’s was the weakest: regardless of her sex, she was a telekinetic who struggled to move more than a chair.

Scott Summers was another of the school’s five original mutants. A blast of pure energy out of his eyes left unchecked could literally level a building. And so it was that he held himself back, and hid behind ruby-quartz glasses. He suppressed himself. In spite of all that, as they battled alongside, Jean Grey and Scott Summers gradually and naturally fell in love. They were the happy ending which Charles Xavier originally envisioned.

But in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 2 Jean Grey almost died and rose again as The Phoenix, transfigured into a woman of now limitless telekinetic and telepathic power. It worried her. It worried the new generation of mutants too: Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and even Professor Xavier who helped install psychic circuit-breakers, effectively suppressing Jean’s mutant abilities to manageable limits until she’d grow able to handle them. But for months now she’s had a mental intruder, a dashing aristocrat called Jason Wyngarde who’s been seducing her slowly in Cyclops’ absence, seemingly spiriting her away to an ancestral past which they shared. The truth is that they’ve been too distracted, and this is where everyone pays…

Claremont managed the mechanics of the subplot there (and so too here, with a shadow and a smile) to perfection, keeping Scott and Jean apart for far too long while Wyngarde made his move. It spanned nearly forty issues, but – with the above introduction – you’ll find everything here that you need. It’s overburdened with captions just as this review is overburdened by background, but the dialogue is still pretty haunting, and John Byrne was approaching the top of his game as the halfway house between Neal Adams, George Perez and Jim Lee. Even the speech balloons had their role to play, Jean’s chillingly distanced from the others’ in an otherworldly, far darker ripple as she grows increasingly remote in her own, angry world, punctuated by tantalisingly brief but poignantly intimate moments. And if you’re wondering why I’m expending so many words, it’s because this is a superhero classic: the defining X-Men saga for thirty-odd years before Morrison, Whedon and Ellis came along.

The X-Men have just been reunited in time for Cerebro to register two new mutants: Kitty Pryde and Dazzler. They tried to make contact but so did the elite and nefarious Hellfire Club in the form of cold Emma Frost, The White Queen. Licking their wounds, the X-Men regroup now set about infiltrating the Hellfire Club. It’s a good plan and it might have worked. Except that amongst their members lies Jason Wyngarde, and he has an ace – or a Black Queen – up his sleeve. And the cards, they come tumbling down.

So many key moments here which I refuse to ruin, but the best thing about this? That’s just the beginning. It just grows bigger and bigger and bigger. Each victory proves pyrrhic and just when you think they are winning it all grows disastrously worse. Then worse. And then, I swear to God, heartbreakingly worse. It really wouldn’t matter if they didn’t all love each other.

Reprint UNCANNY X-MEN #132-140, ANNUAL #4, and BIZARRE ADVENTURES #27, the black and white magazine which I don’t think has ever been reprinted before, as Jean’s sister Sara visits her grave and recalls their childhood together.

Also here: PHOENIX: THE UNTOLD STORY with its original ending to #137, and the interview with Claremont and Byrne, and editors Shooter and Salicrup on why they insisted the ending be changed plus, gloriously, what would have been the first page to #138 if Jean had lived, which was originally printed, uninked, in the John Byrne art book thirty years ago. It’s absolutely beautiful, and infinitely more poignant in retrospect.


Buy Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men vol 5 and read the Page 45 review here


Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

Reviews already online if they’re new formats of previous 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.

Wizzywig: Portrait Of A Serial Hacker h/c (£14-99, Top Shelf) by Ed Piskor

Batman: Earth One h/c (£16-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

Fables vol 17: Inherit The Wind (£10-99, Vertigo) by Bill Willingham & various

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser vol 2: Requiem (£10-99, Boom!) by Clive Barker, Christopher Monfette & various

Halo: Fall Of Reach: Invasion h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Reed & Felix Ruiz

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 vol 1: Freefall (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss & Georges Jeanty

Invincible vol 16: Family Ties (£12-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Corey Walker, Ryan Ottley

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors s/c (£10-99, DC) by Peter Tomasi & Fernando Pasarin

Suicide Squad vol 1: Kicked In The Teeth s/c (£10-99, DC) by Adam Glass & various

Batman And Robin vol 1: Born To Kill h/c (£18-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason

5 Centimeters per Second (£13-99, Vertical) by Makoto Shinkai

Skip Beat! Omnibus vols 7-9 (£10-99, Viz) by Yoshiki Nakamura

Hana-Kimi Omnibus vols 7-9 (£10-99, Viz) by Hisaya Nakajo

Kobato vol 6 (£8-99, Yen) by Clamp

My car went in for its MOT yesterday. Bit worried since its tax disc had already expired. No problems, though, until the dealer handed back my car keys.

“A clean bill of health, “ he declared, encouragingly. “For your car,” he added. “Not you,” he said. “Obviously.”

It was the way in which he looked at me as he said that.

 – Stephen

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