Reviews July 2012 week three

Daniel is all droopy and dreary, while Sue Bagnold is masterfully depicted in all her fatigued fragility, looking up optimistically through oversized glasses from above heavy wrinkles weighted with years of unrewarded stoicism. She wears baggy, he wears saggy. Also, he has no chin.

– Stephen on Days Of The Bagnold Summer

 

Blacksad: A Silent Hell h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido…

“I need to find Sebastian ‘Little Hand’ Fletcher.”
“The piano player? I love his music”
“For as long as I’ve known him, I’ve done everything I could for him, personally and professionally. But he’s been missing for months now.”
“That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in danger…”
“He’s a heroin addict. I’m afraid he’s in danger of doing something stupid. You see, I’m not just a patron to Sebastian… If anything were to happen to him it would be like losing a son…”

And so begins what appears, initially at least, to be a very straightforward case for private investigator John Blacksad and his right hand fox Weekly, to find a missing musician in the jumping, jazzy town of New Orleans, on behalf of the ailing owner of a prominent local record label, old goat Faust Lachapelle. Except very quickly, of course, Blacksad starts to realise everything isn’t quite exactly how it seems. For a start there’s the estranged son of the label owner, whose just a bit too friendly with the very heavily pregnant wife of the missing piano player, not to mention the loudmouth hippopotamus investigator who old goat Lachapelle hired and then promptly fired before retaining Blacksad’s services.

What does become apparent, though, is that someone wants ‘Little Hand’ to play his last note, and in fact they’ve handed off some strychnine to the local heroin dealers (who are horses, of course) to pass on to Sebastian to ensure he’ll soon be getting his very own jazz funeral, trombones, umbrellas and all. By the time Blacksad tracks the local dealers down with a view to finding Sebastian, they’ve already made the sale, making it even more imperative that Blacksad locates him as soon as possible. The down at the jowls boxer dog himself, meanwhile, oblivious to the hot shot he’s carrying around in his pocket, is determined to make a stunning comeback on the ivories with a brand new song he’s written entitled ‘Pizen Blues’. It’s a lament of sorts, for sure, but also a very incriminating one as well. And to make sure he delivers his damning message to perfection he’s not planning on shooting up until after he’s performed, if he can find a venue that will let him play these days that is, which means Blacksad still has a chance to save him!

This fourth instalment of Blacksad was certainly worth the wait, I must say! It’s as gripping a story from Juan Diaz Canales, if more straight crime and less socio-political than the previous three instalments collected together in BLACKSAD, with the usual extremely witty dialogue and interplay between all the characters. Though, of course, John gets to steal most of the best one-liners! And yes, Blacksad simply would not be Blacksad without Juanjo Guarnido’s breathtakingly beautiful art. I instantly enjoyed that this story was set in a new locale, giving the artist chance to do something with a very different background feel, and he really captures the slightly wild Cajun flavour of the Big Easy. Once again, though, his true genius is in how he brings his anthropomorphic creations to life, by simultaneously making use of their distinctive animal features for maximum dramatic and comedic effect, yet doing so in such an incongruous manner that you do forget at times it’s an anthropomorphic work, usually until he hits you with a classic sucker punchline. I do think the equine heroin dealers were my favourite creations, actually, they did crack me whenever they appeared!

BLACKSAD: A SILENT HELL could easily be read without having first read BLACKSAD. It’s completely standalone and you don’t need to know anything that has gone previously. If this is your first experience of John Blacksad though, I would think it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll be picking up the first work shortly thereafter. My only very minor gripe about this volume was that I didn’t realise that fully half of it was extras, where basically Guarnido performs a show-and-tell with various of his first draft sketches (mightily impressive in themselves) and a commentary as to how he then intended to work them up into the final panels, and what he was trying to achieve in each case. It’s all extremely interesting stuff, it’s just that I was so disappointed when I realised I’d got to the end of the story and I thought I was just about half way through, simply because I was enjoying it so much!

Do note, though, there are a couple of extra short stories not available in the French edition, the first of which has a very amusing and somewhat poignant twist, right at the very end of the book. Hopefully señores Canales and Guarnido are already hard at work on the next instalment, while the third Bryan Talbot GRANDVILLE book (BÊTE NOIR) is guaranteed for December 2012!

JR

Buy Blacksad: A Silent Hell h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Tale Of Brin & Bent And Minno Marylebone h/c (£15-99, Jonathan Cape) by Ravi Thornton & Andy Hixon.

This is one book you can judge from its cover: the interior art is rendered in exactly the same computer-generated way, and the work as a whole is creepy as fuck. Seriously, it is a very long time since a graphic novel disturbed me – worried me – as much as this.

Populated by grotesques – including the hair-shaved inmates of the old people’s home, the two titular psychopaths and girl who wanders into their sights – it is eerie and empty and as clinically clean as the indoor swimming pool which Brin and Bent bleach to oblivion then pump full of chlorine, burning the skins of those in their care. I can virtually smell the ammonia from here, and as the infirm reach out imploringly from their chemical bath you cannot help but think of Auschwitz. As for the scenes where the couple feast on each other’s lust, so much here is sexually implicit through the positioning of hands and teeth and the posture of the bodies without once showing genitalia. I rather think Jonathan Cape would have balked at that! Nonetheless, it’s like being trapped in a torture chamber custom-designed for the Marquis de Sade. Fans of Dave McKean’s PARTICLE TAROR – MINOR ARACANA will love it.

It is also quite mesmerising, thanks to Ravi Thornton’s sparse, dark poetry, also implying much more than is said. I should emphasise that this isn’t illustrated poetry, however; the lines are fully incorporated into the flow of sequential art.

“Disordered, destructive, sexually shambolic.
Apart they are extreme.
She is rattled.
He is loose.
They have tendencies they can neither deny nor nurture.
They are bewildered. Insular with their dreadful desires.”

They are also entirely silent. They communicate with looks and body language and pheromones alone, cooking up cruelty to satisfy their sadism. So what will become of young Minno Marylebone, the innocent angel who slips in at night, transforming the corrosive waters of the pool into a vast, celestial sea?

“Minno Marylebone comes through the back door.
Minno Marylebone does not see Brin and Bent.
Brin and Bent see Minno Marylebone.
They see a boy, a girl, a child androgyne.
They see their collective satisfaction.”

That Ravi alludes to an instance in her own life when “something bad happened to me” right at the front might have coloured the work as a whole but, as she emphasises, “It’s a psychological tale, metaphorical in every sense”. Still, it’s impossible not to wonder.

Here’s the soundtrack, by the way, which kicks off as creepily as you’d expect, but becomes something quite unexpected, just like the graphic novel itself. http://ravithornton.weebly.com/musical-scores.html

SLH

Buy The Tale Of Brin & Bent And Minno Marylebone h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Days Of The Bagnold Summer (£9-99, Jonathan Cape) by Joff Winterhart.

“There is probably no truer portrait of teenage and parental angst.”

– Posy Simmonds of TAMARA DREWE, GEMMA BOVERY etc.

This was the summer that Daniel Bagnold was supposed to staying with his dad and heavily pregnant step-mother in Florida, but this step-mother cancels at the last minute. Instead he’s stuck with his weary mother Sue who’s sure he must be devastated.

“Daniel Bagnold thinks of everything he will be missing this summer: a 14-hour plane journey, heat wave weather in all-black clothes, a father he faintly remembers, a stepmother he has never met but who still “would rather be seen as a friend”, a new born baby sister crying through the night and… 6 whole weeks of no ‘Kerrang’ magazine…”

There is a tiny, sly smile on his face. But he doesn’t let on. Instead Daniel daydreams of forming a band called Skullslayer he’s busy writing lyrics for. The gigs they’ll play will be mosh-‘mazing. He drew a really cool skull back in school.

This is a subtle, touching tale of a weary mum and teenage son living life together yet worlds apart. Daniels’s got it all to look forward. His mum finds she doesn’t like looking back. Or forward. Or in the mirror.

The dialogue – such as there is between the two – nails the contrariness of a sullen teenager determined to hide any happiness.

“You seem in a good mood.”
“No I don’t.”

By contrast, Daniel’s mate Ky is much more chipper and communicative, his mother positively effusive. Here Sue’s driven them to a signing by Ky’s favourite author (then been asked to stand well away – Daniel says she’s embarrassing them), and Ky’s now at the front of the queue.

“Can you put ‘To Kyran, from one genius to another’.”

That too embarrasses Daniel. Everything embarrasses Daniel. Being spotted by other kids from school. Girls. Conversation. He’s terminally shy and resolutely uncommunicative, especially at home. Some mothers will recognise this all too well:

“Over the last few days, Sue has noticed Daniel around the house a lot. Not that she has actually seen him any more than usual, but there are other ways of telling he’s in. [A pair of discarded trainers] The bass rumble of footsteps and music coming through the kitchen ceiling… the trail of black hooded tops left throughout the house… the frequently empty fridge… with the occasion grunted exchange on the landing…
“In again tonight, love?”
“Mmffh.””

Meanwhile poor Sue soldiers on, trying to make contact as best as she can. She doesn’t understand Daniel’s music. She mistakes the lyrics he’s transcribed from a Metallica song for his own existential angst about parental rejection, instead of burying her head in the sand, she takes the opportunity, however hesitantly, to ask if he really feels that way. Daniel declines to come clean.

All of which would be woefully tragic and poignant in its own right, but the art counterbalances what’s being said (and what emphatically isn’t being said) to exceptional comedic effect. Daniel there looks both to and past camera (a very neat trick to pull off), looking both sheepish and pathetic but above all recalcitrant and dumb.

This is yet another of those books whose style the ignorant will mock as “grubby” and “unaccomplished”. You know, “more badly drawn, black and white indie bollocks” or as Richard Emms, director of APCOMICS, once wrote to me (and I quote, without spelling corrections) “a de-caffinated black and white underground book printed on toilet paper… which you continue to support each month within your columns in CI”. Oh, how he made me laugh – and that’s a whole letter column begging to be reprinted!

But no. Daniel is all droopy and dreary, while Sue Bagnold in particular is masterfully depicted in all her fatigued fragility, looking up optimistically through oversized glasses from above heavy wrinkles weighted with years of unrewarded stoicism. She wears baggy, he wears saggy. Also, he has no chin.

This is absolutely tremendous and there’s nothing quite like it in comics to date. Unsensationalist, British and brilliant, it’s full of heart and humanity and please make it through to the end. Sue does.

The sequences which really broke my heart were those involving labrador Maisie. Once Daniel and Maisie were inseparable – he even insisted on her appearing in the family photograph (dad long since gone) but now he ignores Maisie who lies in his way, leaving Sue to walk her instead. She used to settle between them on the sofa, happy, content and much loved.

“Now she is too arthritic to climb up, so she just licks the place where she used to lie…
“Maisie no! Bad girl!””

Sigh.

SLH

Buy Days Of The Bagnold Summer and read the Page 45 review here

Parker: The Score h/c (£18-99, IDW) by Richard Stark & Darwyn Cooke…

“Well, hey, Parker. C’mon in.”
“The deal’s off.”
“What?”
“Someone was following me.”
“Oh that. That don’t mean anything.”
“He’s dead.”
“You killed him? For Christ’s sake, why?”
“He pulled a knife.”
“I don’t know, Parker, that’s a hell of a thing.”
“Tell me, Paulus, how did you know I was followed?”
“It was Edgars, he thought it was a good idea.”
“Who the hell is Edgars?”
“You don’t know him. He’s never worked an operation like this before.”
“Then what is he doing here?”
“He set this up.”
“An amateur? Goodbye Paulus.”

“Paulus! What’s the hold-up here?”

And so we, and Parker, meet Edgars. He’s got a plan, a plan so crazy that Parker immediately wants to walk away for a second time. And yet, it’s such a bold audacious scheme, he can’t help but find himself getting drawn in, responding to the challenge. Edgars’ plan is, quite simply, to knock over an entire town, a town called Copper Canyon, a very small self-contained copper mining settlement located in a box canyon, complete with its own tiny police department.

With a dozen good men, and the right leadership and precision planning (which is where Parker comes in), then robbing the mining payroll, the two banks and even three jewellery stores on the main street just for good measure, all seems eminently possible.

Certainly a less complex story than the previous two volumes, PARKER: THE HUNTER and PARKER: THE OUTFIT, this is very much just an out and out classic heist story. The ensemble cast of experienced villains Parker puts together are all consummate professionals who know their roles inside out and play them to perfection, entertaining both themselves and us alike, plus of course terrifying the locals, with a virtuoso performance of menacing armed robbery, all of which means that nothing should possibly go wrong then…? Well, let’s not forget there is an amateur on board…

Superb pulpy period art from Darwyn Cooke once again, who also handles the adaptation duties with aplomb. After picking blue as his primary colour to complement his pencils last time around, this time Darwyn goes for a dusty yellow, which gets you right into the gritty mood for a good dust up in the sandy, sulphurous hills. As before, you really do you just have to pause and marvel at his artwork, with Parker’s demeanour and mannerisms in particular just a delight to behold, with him barking orders and generally acting the alpha male hard-ass extraordinaire to keep everyone focused and most definitely not on the straight and narrow.

I would think this is probably the most accessible adaptation so far, actually, completely independent of the other two books, which are emphatically linked if not truly two volumes of the same story, just because it’s such a perfect, self-contained crash, bang, wallop of its own. What all three Parker adaptations do go to show, though, is just exactly what the right artwork can do to bring a story to life and grip you with just as much intensity as any cinematic experience, thus setting my forthcoming conclusion up nicely.

Ultimately, the other reason all these Parker graphic novels have been brilliant is Donald Westlake’s writing (Richard Stark being his pen name) and I’m sure I have read somewhere that Cooke was in correspondence with Westlake before his relatively recent passing telling him he intended to leave as much of his writing intact as possible. Sadly something that hasn’t really happened with any of the Parker film adaptations to date, of which I thought there had been six. It’s an odd fact but the main character in every Parker film adaptation has never been called Parker, at Donald Westlake’s request, as he insisted that it could only be used if someone did a series of Parker films, rather than loose individual adaptations.

Now the more astute of you will have noticed my comment that I had thought there had been six film Parker adaptations. Given that The Score is such a brilliantly simple idea, I was genuinely surprised it had never been made into a Hollywood film over the years as it seems perfect for one, so I decided to double-check and found it was actually pretty faithfully adapted in France in 1967 and entitled Mise à Sac (which translates as ‘pillaged’) though once again, the main character is called Georges rather than Parker! Apparently it was never released internationally, so I’ll probably never get to see it, but I am intrigued! It would have to be extremely good to be better than yet another peerless Darwyn Cooke adaptation, though. He initially signed on for three, but hopefully there will be more to come.

JR

Buy Parker: The Score h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Wild Children (£5-99, Image) by Ales Kot & Riley Rossmo.

“We’re in a two-dimensional sequential reality.”
“Inside a comic book.”
“We’re also outside. You see, we sent our agents out there.”
“Gentlemen? Can you please strip the colour from Lotte? Just temporarily? Careful, please.”

Sure enough, in the very next panel, the colourist mutes the man’s suit. Lotte’s quite startled, believe me.

A team of super-smart school children in search of a higher education rise up with one voice and spike the staff’s coffee machine with acid. They have guns, great big guns and a bomb. Although they’re the first to confess they’re not real, no one seems to believe them. Not the cowering teachers, nor the SWAT team assembled outside, glued to the live feed they’re generating. Bored with a sanitised curriculum designed to sedate, it’s time to teach everyone a lesson.

This is so eminently quotable I’m surprised I’m resisting the temptation. Won’t last long, believe me. With plenty of fourth-wall wiggling, it references Georges Bataille, THE INVISIBLES and Mark Twain (“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”) plus Kot has most certainly read Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s A DISEASE OF LANGUAGE. It’s like Joshua Middleton drawing Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If…’ spliced with Hickman’s NIGHTLY NEWS right down to the winking side-bars asterisked outside the panels:

“We thought about doing these for every page, but I’m on a deadline here so you’re getting calculated honesty instead. Fits the story better anyway.”

Please pay attention, class. These kids have some important ethical questions for you.

“Is this fair trade cocaine?”

SLH

Buy Wild Children and read the Page 45 review here

Dungeon Quest Book Three (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by Joe Daly…

A double-sized helping of the further adventures of Millennium Boy, Nerd Girl, Lash Penis and err… Steven, as they head out into the wilds in search of the remaining missing pieces of the mysterious Atlantean resonator guitar, with only garish armour, some extremely unlikely weaponry and various types of ganja and psychedelic mushrooms for sustenance. It’s really not supposed to make any sense whatsoever, nor be remotely politically correct be warned, but it is certainly utterly hilarious. Here the quartet’s quest is explained to them at last by the holy man Bromedes whose mystical penis sheath they managed to return at the end of volume two, before he sends them on their way into the path of further faux-antediluvian danger, debauchery and general all around mayhem, with a few additional quests tacked on for good measure! Joe Daly shows no signs of wanting to wrap this up any time soon, primarily because he’s having so much fun writing and drawing it I would imagine and I for one am absolutely delighted! DUNGEON QUEST VOL ONE and DUNGEON QUEST VOL TWO are in stock at the time of typing.. There is also some interior art on display for volume ONE for those intrigued as to what on earth this might be like.

JR

Buy Dungeon Quest Book Three and read the Page 45 review here

Revival #1 (£2-25, Image) by Tim Seeley & Mike Norton.

Wausau, Wisconsin, and the dead are coming back to life.

They’re not zombies, they’re fully sentient individuals, and most are as chipper as ever.

Rothschild, Wisconsin, is also within the quarantined zone. The C.D.C. has yet to ascertain if this “reviving” is a contagious disease and until they do, well, a whole country of people who simply won’t die…? It’s not as if they have an NHS to save money on. Benefit claims would rocket through the roof. The religious right, by the way, are having a field day.

Officer Dana Cypress, the sheriff’s daughter, is dressing for work while her son Cooper plays outside in the snow. Something drifts by – a bright white sprite with hollow black eyes. It notices him.

Officer Dana Cypress finds her sister alone on a bridge. Her car has run out of petrol. Maybe. Dana really shouldn’t take her younger sister on a case: their father would be so very pissed if anything happened to Martha.

A half-zebra, half-horse has bolted out of the stables, its mouth spewing blood, collapsing quite dead on the virgin white field. Someone has fed it some tablets…

Clean, sturdy and perfectly attractive art as you’d expect from Mike Norton (HOPELESS SAVAGES, QUEEN & COUNTRY etc.) which you can check out for yourself in this REVIVAL interview, but I’m giving you nothing except this: there is one scene of excruciating horror that really made me wince involving the pulling of teeth. It’s not a torture scene, no, but it is exceptionally well played by both writer and artist and, oh dear, Dana really shouldn’t have taken Martha on that case.

SLH

Buy Revival the old-fashioned way by driving a tractor into town, phoning 0115 9508045 or emailing page45@page45.com

Punk Rock Jesus #1 (£2-25, Vertigo) by Sean Murphy.

It begins with a prayer swiftly answered by violence. God knows where it will all end.

Ladies and gentlejokes, I give you the freshest, fiercest debut from DC since decade-old EX MACHINA. It’s 32 pages of story unblemished by adverts in radical black and white. <gasp>

You’ve swooned over Sean Murphy’s art on JOE THE BARBARIAN and HELLBLAZER: CITY OF DEMONS and this is every bit as thrilling in its post-Bachalo beauty, a comparison which holds true right down to the o’er-shaded nose tips. On the other hand, it was never a given that the man could write too. Court controversy on t’interweb, true, but that’s nothing compared to this, packed to the pulp paper its printed on with plot and sub-plottery destined to offend all and sundry. I fucking love it!

Ophis has announced a new reality show starring the first human clone in history: Jesus Christ himself. For the J2 Project they’ve hired Dr. Sarah Epstein, geneticist in service to saving the environment. In 2013 she clones polar bears in an attempt to stave off their extinction, then developed a hyper plant which fed off carbon dioxide faster than anything else. She even tried to pollinate the Brazilian rainforest before being stung by lawsuits from six fast-food chains. Now she’s determined to engineer new strains of algae to halt global warming but to do that she needs funds. Ophis’ funds.

“And if I have to resurrect Jesus Christ to do it, then I will.”

I’d note the language there – far from accidental. In fact there are loads of neat little extras, like the polar bear lying like a dog by Sarah’s hearth. Anyway, for this they need a self-sacrificial virgin (obviously it must be another immaculate conception) and some of our saviour’s DNA. And, you know, whatever happens next, this exchange on live television should certainly be born in mind:

“There’s never been any evidence that the [Turin] Shroud is as old as Christians would like to believe. And carbon dating has proven that. Most important here is no one outside of Ophis has been allowed to verify the validity of the DNA.”
“Blasphemy. Carbon dating is flawed – the Shroud is real and that proves Jesus was, too!”
“Is what Father Sterlins says true?”
“There’s no disputing carbon data. And there’s never been any empirical evidence that a person named Jesus Christ ever existed.”
“How dare you! Scientists are not to be trusted! Their arrogance has given us atomic bombs and nuclear waste. They tell us that we all come from monkeys, and insist on telling that to our children.”
“Evolution through natural selections is a fact. Fossil records prove it.”
“Evolution is just a theory!”
“So is gravity.”

So some of the Christian contingent seems all for it, while others protest vociferously outside Ophis’ HQ. Which is where our head of security comes in, born of sectarian violence. Yes, Murphy’s brought Northern Ireland into the mix: he’s a former member of the IRA! I think it was HELLBLAZER’s Andy Diggle who first said to Sean, “And Vertigo gave this the green light?!?”

Controversy, controversy, and the country’s in rapture. Whether or not the revolution will be televised, the countdown to the Second Coming is! And  just when you thought Sean had crammed enough plot threads into a series already packed with potential pandemonium, here comes another, just after the birth.

“How’s she doing?”
“She’ll be out in a few seconds.”
“Did any of the nurses see anything?”
“I can’t believe I agreed to this.”
“This is your fucking fault. If you hadn’t for the last nine months, we wouldn’t have to do this!”
“I lied because I knew what you’d ask me to do!”

Uh-oh. P.S. It gets worse.

SLH

Buy Punk Rock Jesus #1 by the power of prayer – psalm 0115 9508045 on page45@page45.com – or stagger in drunk and just nut us.

Demon Knights vol 1: Seven Against The Dark s/c (£10-99, DC) by Paul Cornell & Diogenes Neves, Michael Choi.

“I come from an island where men are castrated – and the women are pleased.”

Ladies, I invite to you introduce yourselves in precisely that manner to someone at sometime this week, then advise me of your reception.

So old, we’re told, but if I may be so bold, here be something new: a dragon age of sword and sorcery Paul Cornell-style, irreverently puncturing its form with contemporary slang and slotting its recombined cast of DC’s immortal entities into new roles and a fresh environment. So it is that Jason Blood, Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage find themselves reminiscing over a pint down the local tavern just as the locality finds itself the target of a queen’s invading horde. Sir Ystin, Al Jabr and the charming Exoristos – she of the gelded isle – have barely introduced themselves when the questing queen’s outriders burst in(n) through the doors which Savage has already vandalised and find themselves burned by the bad breath of Etrigan. If our sorcerous six want to wassail, they must smite for their right to party.

SLH

Buy Demon Knights vol 1: Seven Against The Dark s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Batgirl vol 1: The Darkest Reflection h/c (£16-99, DC) by Gail Simone & Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes.

Lovely, detailed art – here think Phil Jimenez – and Barbara Gordon looks great in her reclaimed role as Batgirl. Don’t worry, she’s very much aware of her spine-shattering fate at the hands of the Joker in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s KILLING JOKE. She may be stretching her legs now (we know not how but it’s coming) but if she’s healed physically it’s still left its scars on her psyche. And at one critical moment she freezes.

SLH

Batgirl vol 1: The Darkest Reflection hardcover

JLA: The Deluxe Edition vol 2 s/c (£18-99, DC) by Grant Morrison, Christopher Priest & Howard Porter, Val Semeiks, Arnie Jorgensen, Yanick Paquette, Gary Frank, Greg Land.

“Never underestimate the sentimentality of a Scotsman.”

Second, more substantial repacking on Grant Morrison’s definitive run on the Justice League facing increasingly monumental, transtemporal, pandimensional threats while staving off assaults from old enemies too.

Lex Luthor has formed a new Injustice Gang including the loosest cannon in the world who can’t stop messing with its members. That’d be the Joker, yes. They prove appallingly effective, chipping off younger members like Green Arrow Jr with ease and cutting off communication between the others. Meanwhile, just when they’re needed the most, the Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern are abducted by Metron and sent in search of the Philosopher’s Stone which he claims risks falling into the hands of Darkseid, but it seems to be one giant wild goose chase. Regrouping, they encounter meta-being Adam One of Wonderworld awaiting the threat of the Anti-Sun, Mageddon. Reluctantly he allows them to return to Earth where they discover Darkseid has already turned the planet into an infernal, industrial slave colony of his own. They’ve arrived fifteen years too late.

Oh, it’s a complicated one, this! Brilliantly, Morrison co-cast the team’s veteran heavy hitters – Superman, Batman, the Martian Manhunter (Wonder Woman currently deceased) – with rookies like Kyle Rayner’s Green Lantern who struggles to believe he’s not out of his depth. As far as the more confident cohorts are concerned it’s one big military exercise executed with lateral thinking and clipped precision which is where, I believe, we came in.

Loved Howard Porter’s super-shiny art on this run, and usually missed it whenever he left, but no one’s going to complain about a little Gary Frank, are they? Collects JLA #10-17, PROMETHEUS #1 and JLA/WILDCATS #1 during all of which, FYI, Superman was in his blue-and-white energy mode. Oh, you’ll see what I mean when you get here.

SLH

Buy JLA: The Deluxe Edition vol 2 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Fantastic Four vol 5 h/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting, Barry Kitson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ming Doyle, Leinil Francis Yu, Farel Dalrymple.

Hickman kicked off his inspired run and very long game with FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 1 which concluded FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 4 and a death in the family. What was left of the team re-grouped with FF VOL 1 and FF VOL 2 then FF VOL 3 where the kids came to the fore. This runs in parallel with that third volume, their conclusions dovetailing nicely, as the adults discover they’re out of their depth.

The Kree Empire attacks, the Negative Zone’s Annihilation Wave is loosed upon our world, and Galactus takes on the Celestials. Fortunately the Annihilation Wave isn’t the only thing to emerge from the Negative Zone:

Heeeere’s Johnny!

SLH

Buy Fantastic Four vol 5 h/c 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 as they are, temporarily, now.

 

Scalped: Knuckle Up (£10-99, Vertigo) by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guera

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

Not The Israel My Parents Promised Me (&19-99, Hill & Wang) by Harvey Pekar & JT Waldman

Wandering Son vol 3 (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by Shimura Takako

American Elf vol 4 (£18-99, Top Shelf) byJames Kochalka

The Adventures of Venus (£7-50, Fantagraphics) by Gilbert Hernandez

The Silence (£14-99, A&U) by Bruce Mutard

Avengers X-Sanction (£10-99, Marvel) byLoeb & McGuinness

Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates vol 2 h/c  (£18-99, Marvel) by Hickman & Ribic, Humphries, Ross

Ghost Rider: The Complete Series (£22-50, Marvel) by Rob Williams

FF vol 2 (£14-99, Marvel) byHickman & Tocchini, Epting, Kitson

Amazing Spider-Man: Ends Of The Earth hardcover (£22-50, Marvel) by Slott & Caselli, Ramos

Essential Web of Spiderman vol 2 (£14-99, Marvel) by Various

Skip Beat! Omnibus vols 4-6 (£10-99, Viz) by Yoshiki Nakamura

Hana-Kimi Omnibus vols 4-6 (£10-99, Viz) by Hisaya Nakajo

Men Of War (£14-99, DC) by Brandon & Derenick

Hellraiser: Heaven’s Reply (£10-99, Boom) by Clive Barker & Various

Punch Up! vol 1 (£8-99, SubLime) by Shiuko Kano

Awkward Silence vol 1 (£8-99, SubLime) by Hinako Takanaga

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