Reviews September 2012 week one

For those in love, the worst sin is silence, inaction the absolute killer. The good news is that Courtney and silence are far from synonymous, but will she be listened to in time?

 – Stephen on Courtney Crumrin vol 2 Colour Edition

Also this week: Amulet vol 5!

Building Stories boxed set (£30-00, Jonathan Cape) by Chris Ware.

The biggest, heaviest chocolate box you will ever buy. Chocolates not included.

“This is not a playhouse, understand?”
“Yes’m.”
“No… it’s not a playhouse…”

BUILDING STORIES is constructed around a single, century-old, four-storey tenement house and its occupants: their pasts dredged up during their routine, day-to-day present with barely a hope for the future. From time to time the building offers up its own often whimsical perspective, and there’s also a bit of a bee tour.

Their stories are spun out in different directions within fourteen separate segments of this enormous boxed set: two hardcovers; a huge four-piece portrait that folds out like a games board; thick, broadsheet newspaper comics, several more tabloid-sized affairs and some assortedly formatted mini-comics. Naturally in Chris Ware’s diagrammatically obsessed hands, the back of the box is itself an entertainment, suggesting whereabouts in your own well-appointed living quarters you might “set down, forget or completely lose any number of its contents”.

Opening your own copy of this box that keeps on giving is like no other experience in comics, with colours that will dazzle, particularly the enormous broadsheet whose cover comes with the lushest of greens if a leafy, summer suburb in a well-to-do neighbourhood. The hardcovers alone would set you back thirty quid, so I have no idea how Cape can afford this. Still, just in case my euphoria is proving contagious, however…

“Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else,” writes Ware, “this book is sure to sympathise with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle- and upper-class literary public (and which can return to them in somewhat damaged form during REM sleep).”

That’s a pretty accurate overview of this catalogue of lives lived alone, including if not especially the couple whose light in their love life has long since gone out. The man imagines bringing home an unusual anecdote to which she responds with interest… but instead can’t resist another in a long line of snide remarks designed to destroy her self-confidence, and it all goes irreparably wrong. Over and again his first, ill-considered jibe is, “You’re not going out in that, are you?” before, “Hey! Hey, I was only joking.” He’s the sort of guy who’s jovial on the phone before putting it down and muttering, “Asshole!” What a dick.

The tenants never speak to each other, just of each other when they are speaking at all. Instead they hear each other move about through paper-thin walls, increasing the boxed-in isolation, while the spinster who looked after the building while she still could, who failed to seize on romantic gestures she forgets were ever offered, now thinks of her widowed, bed-ridden mother she cared for until death.

“It must’ve been dreadful being confined to these walls, living under the footsteps of those able to go out into the world.”

It is a work of the most extraordinary empathy. Ware astonishes with his ability to put himself in other people’s shoes, as these individuals dredge up their pasts rather than face any future. As they do so we begin to understand why.

Its centrepiece is a new, slightly larger edition of the long-out-of-print ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY VOLUME 18 (review reprinted below).

At the end of the second hardcover, however, (a day in the life of the building’s inhabitants told in hourly updates) ACME 18’s still unnamed protagonist dares to find hope in an old friendship rekindled during a rare interaction. The tenement in its wisdom poo-poos her optimism for it understands the cold hearts of men and dislikes their disruptive intrusion. It knows Phil won’t call, and if you’ve already read ACME 18 by this point (there is no set order of reading but I suggest you start there), you too will fear for the woman whose only boyfriend up to that point left on a world tour without even saying good-bye. Well, he did say good-bye and also he told her he loved her. But he never came back and he never called it off, the coward. Its epilogue, then, is very well played. I’d look at the date quite carefully.

The epilogue also informs several more of the comics in ways which I never saw coming and I wonder how cryptic I need be? There’s certainly plenty for parents to ponder on here, for Ware is an expert on generational issues, of histories repeating themselves often with increasingly fucked up, quantifiable consequences – as JIMMY CORRIGAN amply demonstrated, and the Rusty Brown saga is in the process of proving. There nature and nurture worked in tandem to compound problems in early childhood which go on to manifest themselves throughout those sorry lives, and one fears for any of Ware’s fictional progeny. Absentee fathers are so often at the root of things, and even during this rare ray of sunshine, so unexpected, that cloud looms large on the horizon during the longest landscape mini-comic here, a comic which is emphatically silent.

Structurally apposite, it is time for a brief, comedic interlude and a look behind the building’s historical curtain to learn what it’s racked up over its 100-year history:

13,246 lightbulbs
68,418 orgasms
32,655,497 water drips
6 suicide notes
2 Heimlich Manoeuvres

The sequences seen from the building’s perspective boasts some immaculate narrative paths, up its stairs then down its corridors and out of half-open windows. It’s seen a lot of tenants come and go over the years, but we never expected one particular tenant to leave except maybe in an ambulance, post-pill-popping. That she had any future, let alone this one, is astonishing.

It is, however, in her nature to dwell, whether alone or not, and Ware recognises the pull of the past: paralysing remorse for things long past, hot flushes of guilt when struck by a sudden resurgent memory. Especially when it’s too late to make amends.

Mortality looms large here: there’s no avoiding it, whether its parents, pets or friends snatched out of the blue, and I think if Ware has something to say it’s appreciating whom and what you’ve got while they’re still there, whilst understanding how swiftly such moments of clarity can be eroded by new irritants, and how easy it is to let friendships get buried under the weight of day-to-day details while you totally loose track of time.

“”I just talked to her, like, a month ago*, you know?”
“Mom. Mom are you going to come back out?”
“I know… I know…”

* Actually, four months — Ed.”

Communication – or lack thereof – is another recurring theme. No one really listens to each other in Ware’s works, and so often here the relatively comfortable couple in their new suburban enclave sit opposite each other, absorbed in their own individual laptops or tablets which light up their faces, their attention focussed on anything and everything except each other.

BUILDING STORIES, as it says, “requires some assembly”, but the order in which you assemble then devour each segment is entirely up to you. As you do so you’ll find they do fit together, scenes in one component being revisited in others, shedding light on a scene you thought perfectly complete or after wondering what Ware was getting.

It’s all wonderfully indulgent, including The Daily Bee, a newspaper devoted to Branford, the Best Bee In The World, himself in a marital crisis born of way too much self-awareness and a moral conscience to boot. And then a window’s reflection of a flower fools him and, oh dear, bees are stupid, aren’t they? Also, in his mini-comic: why you should never drink out of a Coke can in summer.

Many, many thanks to Joe at Jonathan Cape for securing me a rare advance copy of the single comics project I have most desperately wanted to get hold of in my entire career. At the time of typing it is assembled in all its three-dimensional glory behind the Page 45 counter. Come in and gawp, we implore you!

Acme Novelty Library 18 (included in Building Stories)

“I am entirely, 100%, horrifyingly alone.”

From Chris Ware, Master Craftsman, his strongest work yet. A self-contained volume, it opens with a young woman lying alone on her bed, curled up all foetal, trying to block out her own black thoughts which go round in circles but which boil down to this: “Is it possible to hate yourself to death? If it is, I’m trying…”

Beds prove to be the way that she measures the phases in her life. In only two of them is she not alone: one at the apartment of the boyfriend she once had, one in her old room at her parents’ house, where she takes that boyfriend at Christmas. Now…?

“Whenever I go home, I sleep on a sofa bed, since my Mom turned my old room into an office a few years ago. I don’t mind, though… because it helps me keep all the pieces in place.”

And there she is at four different times of her life in four different places in that single room. Over and over again we see her lying largely on her back staring up at the ceiling, until the final, silent page plays itself out…

It is one long, adult lifetime of isolation and loneliness as she rakes over her memories, and you might notice I’ve used the words “she” and “her” rather a lot so far, because in so surprisingly few panels is she ever being talked to that I don’t think we ever even learn her name. Her mother calls her “honey” a couple of times, and the family she lives with briefly after minding their house for a year on her own, refers to her solely as “Nanna”. Otherwise she lies, sits or stands alone, boxed in by the panels like the ripe and colourful fruit boxed in at the market.

Flowers recur throughout the book as well. The first is a daisy-like flower which she plucks from beside her tenement’s stone steps, carries upstairs to her apartment, “arranges” alone in an old jam jar and then sits and stares at. (She is very sedentary, and with good reason, but since it only dawns on you gradually within the book, I’ll leave that for you to discover). She works at a florists, which she opens on her own, having been left a note by the owner/manager. There the blooms are splendid sprays of beauty and colour, the lilies like labia – and if you think I’m stretching things there, I can assure you I’m not and must warn you of one particularly explicit image here in case you leave it lying around the family home before reading it – in marked contrast to her own dowdy and sexless existence. Although she did have a boyfriend once, if you remember, and therein lies a secret…

Now, I’m very aware that all this talk of depression, loneliness and despair sounds like a bit of a downer. It is. It is, if that is your life through no fault of your own. For once, you see, Chris has created a character who is neither culpably repulsive nor feeble nor socially inept. This woman is actually kind, compassionate, and yet her treatment (when she is being treated at all) has left her entirely without hope for her own happiness or future. It’s a terrible existence and it is upsetting, but it is some individuals’ existence and well worth reading about. It’s certainly very affectingly accomplished.

As lavish and lovingly coloured as ever, the pages here are a contrast of fixed, ruled lines around soft, shapely bodies. It’s the very pinnacle of ligne claire. They also range from large double-page spreads as a tenement building charts its own history (“”It’s been a good life,” it thought, shedding a shingle”) to densely patterned pages of tiny panels, and herein lies my caveat for those unused to the trickier compositions of comics, for even I had to spend some time on a few of the pages pre-planning what order to read the maze of memories in. I’m thinking specifically of those spent as Nanny to the family’s son. These double pages are arranged around a central photograph. If you look closely you’ll see a few helpful directional lines, but mostly it’s a matter of simply reading the left hand page and then the right, rather than being seduced across the spread.

If this is your introduction to Chris Ware, fantastic. I try not to use the word “genius” in reviews except glibly, but you are about to be introduced to someone whose own power of imagination and level of skill equals, in its own unique way, that of Alan Moore or Dave Sim. At which point people right-minded do tend to use the word “genius”.

SLH

Order Building Stories (Boxed set) by Chris Ware from Page 45: available October 4th

The Voyeurs h/c (£18-99, Uncivilised Books) by Gabrielle Bell…

Collection of mostly new material from one of comics’ self-professed mildly neurotic and slightly depressed creators. Not quite up there in the excruciating ‘I’d probably rather not have known that but I’m glad you told me’ honesty stakes of say, Joe THE POOR BASTARD Matt, this is still a very amusing and simultaneously enervating  look into the mind of a comics creator. Gabrielle perfectly captures the gently tortured soul of the OCD-afflicted procrastinator, we’re just fortunate that keeping a journal is one of her obsessions!

I wish I’d read the sections involving Anders BIG QUESTIONS Nilsen before he came to sign at Page 45 as I would have loved to ask him about his recollection of their conversations depicted here. I get the impression that if he’d been impolite enough to pro-offer an answer (which, knowing the mild-mannered, genial chap he is, I suspect he wouldn’t have), the response would have been ‘intense’. It’s alright though as I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the sense Gabrielle was intending to convey!

Unless you’re a serious aficionado and / or follower of her website, probably the only material in this collection you might have chanced across, if you were having a good forage in Mark’s alcove, is in her mini comic SAN DIEGO DIARY, detailing her experiences as an unexpected special guest (to her at least, she can’t understand why she was invited) at said Convention. I shall therefore, without further ado (other than the comment that I wish her publishers would get CECIL AND JORDAN IN NEW YORK STORIES and WHEN I’M OLD back in print forthwith) leave you with my review of that work…

“Those guys over there are discussing some movie rights deal. Everyone here is pursuing their fantasy, confined within this hypercapitalistic world…
“Is there anyone here who believes in creativity more than commodification? Who would walk away from the temptation and think for themselves?
“Like Alan Moore when he said, “I will not allow my name to be associated with this movie. This is not what I do.””
“Maybe only people who can afford to can make such a statement.”
“I don’t think so. I think somewhere in the world someone is happily drawing pictures in the sand on a beach and when the tide comes in and washes it away he draws a new picture the next morning.”
“That person doesn’t exist, capitalism reaches every part of the world.”
“I disagree, because I believe there is magic in the world.”

Ever imagine what a comic convention must be like for a lesser-known creator? For someone who isn’t one of the slavering fan-boy favourites? Well, wonder no more as Gabrielle Bell takes her friend Tom to San Diego to ‘enjoy’ the delights of Comic Con in all its gaudy glory. Insightful, amusing auto-biographical material finely pencilled in a style which is what probably Chester Brown would be exactly like after 6 beers. That is, of course, a compliment.

JR

Buy The Voyeurs h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Courtney Crumrin vol 2: The Coven Of Mystics h/c (£18-99, Oni Press) by Ted Naifeh.

Courtney Crumrin desperately needs help to save the innocent faun-like Skarrow from summary execution at the hands of The Coven Of Mystics. That information may rest in the shadows of Radley Hall and the mind of dead demon Tommy Rawhead. But how to get in? Leave it to mystic moggie and actual cat burglar Tobermory – he’s getting intruder window.

“As ray of moonlight passes glass, so shall Tobermory pass.
“Take a note, Miss Crumrin. It’s much simpler to trick a spell than to break it.”

Young Courtney Crumrin will be taking a lot of notes here about how the world works around her: it’s full of self-interest and hate in the human heart. For those in love, the worst sin is silence, inaction the absolute killer. The good news is that Courtney and silence are far from synonymous, but will she be listened to in time?

Love, love, love this series, now in full colour and the covers so far have been in potion purple and library green. Ted Naifeh’s moonlit Council of Cats is like Kelley Jones’ equivalent work in SANDMAN: DREAM COUNTRY after an infusion of Mike Mignola and a wide- and shiny-eyed dose of his own design flair for a Crumrin transformed into cat. That which she finds sheltering in fear from two arcane archers is quite magical and long been the stuff of my dreams. Naifeh does soft, sleek and otherworldly to perfection; his monsters are hideously twisted. He is exceptional at making you believe in impossibly large things lurking in improbably small cabinets, like the next one you’ll foolishly open.

Following COURTNEY CRUMRIN VOL 1, this finds our belligerent young lady in her second year at school and under close supervision from Ms Crisp, a teacher with close ties to Uncle Aloysius but who understands that isolating yourself from the real world comes at a cost. That is a lesson which will be most painfully learned by all.

A demon has been summoned which dispatches whole families. A curse has been placed on witch Madam Harker, rendering spoken words into a cascade of frogs. When she tries to write, her hands become wriggling serpents. Someone is silencing all and sundry, while a mute woodland creature called Skarrow seeks sanctuary in Uncle Aloysius’ once well respected domain. Instead the villagers move in, their metaphorical pitchforks in danger of becoming cold steel. What under earth is going on?!

It’s time to convene the Coven Of Mystics, the council by whom all will abide. Wrap up warm, my lovelies; I’m afraid it’s about to grow chilly.

SLH

Buy Courtney Crumrin vol 2: The Coven Of Mystics h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Amulet vol 5: Prince Of The Elves (£9-99, Scholastic Press) by Kazu Kibuishi.

In which the cycle of violence is followed back to its most incendiary sources, and all-out war finally erupts while our heroes are still far from ready.

AMULET has long since stolen even BONE’s golden crown here as our biggest-selling series to young readers, and each new instalment is met with a chorus of excitable squeals.

An epic fantasy infused by the spirit and visual flourishes of Hayao Miyazaki (all his Studio Ghibli films art books in stock!), it all began when young Emily and Navin rushed to save their single Mum who’d been abducted into a world full of bizarre and often deadly creatures. Now they are stuck in the middle of a brutal war perpetuated by centuries of resentment and retaliation between the two nations and, as history now reveals, neither side can lay claim to the moral high ground. But Emily… Emily is beginning to suspect the conflict’s true source.

The landscapes are as majestic as ever, the library in the lake in particular: surrounded by pale, mist-shrouded mountains, the ancient Gulfen structure was built on the back of a gigantic stone sculpture of the Erlking, the Elf nation’s very first leader, his face masked like each king to this day. Speaking of Elf Kings, the current one has two fierce new weapons at his disposal: race-traitor and stonekeeper Max – who is a great deal older than the teen he appeared last volume – and his own ancient ally, the hideous spider-legged and dragon-winged mountain giant, Chronos. But what was that turned Max against his own people? Oh, how we reap what we sow!

High in the sky in the city of Cielis, the Nation of Windsor has its own disillusioned enemy on its side: Elf prince Trellis. Like old Vigo, Emily and Max, he too is a stonekeeper, able to wield its vast power both offensively and defensively. But here a new aspect to the mysterious Mother Stone is revealed: a shared dreamspace made up of the stonekeepers’ memories which, if adept, they can enter. And if it’s composed of memories, it’s possible to meet up with your past. It’s amazing what you can learn there, as Trellis is about to find out.

Oh, it’s all terribly exciting, with new, giant mechs for Navin to pilot as both sides clash in an aerial battle to thrill. Our heroes have accumulated quite the motley crew of allies in their journey so far, and they’re going to need all the help they can get. A shame, then, that not every weapon at their disposal necessarily has their best interests at heart.

“Does Max’s stone have a voice?”

SLH

Buy Amulet vol 5: Prince Of The Elves and read the Page 45 review here

Rat Pack vol 1: Guns, Guts And Glory (£14-99, Titan) by Gerry Finley-Day, John Wagner, Pat Mills & Carlos Ezquerra, Massimo Belardinelli plus more…

“So… we are not free! This has all been a dirty trick! I fix you… Major Taggart!”

No, not a biographical look at the colourful lives and loves of Frank Sinatra, Sammy David Jr., Dean Martin et al, but instead the reprise of another squad of Battle Action’s finest fighting men… and err… Ronald Weasel. The basic premise of RAT PACK being that their leader, one Major Taggart, needed a suicide squad of commandos to undertake missions that only the truly insane would countenance trying – or perhaps those facing long sentences in the glasshouse for committing military crimes.

Thus, in the first instalment after ‘helping’ his unlikely bunch to escape their prison, he reveals his offer: serve with him and probably die, rather quickly and undoubtedly painfully, or spend several more years in the clinky hole. It speaks volumes about the psychopathic tendencies of three of his choices, Kabul ‘Turk’ Hazan, Ian ’Scarface’ Rogan and Matthew ‘so hard I don’t even need a nickname’ Dancer, that they decided the first choice sounded somewhat better than the second…

The fourth, reluctant member of Taggart’s men, needed a little ‘friendly’ persuasion from Turk to enlist on this madcap scheme, rightly thinking that spending eight years in an uncomfortable but safe cell sounded the rather more prudent option. But, falling squarely into the role of comedy relief / punching bag, I always had a soft spot for the ‘expert safebreaker’ and master coward, Ronald Weasel. Always the first to try and run away from even the merest hint of any violence, yet contriving to save the day on a surprising number of occasions, even by accident once or twice, he added a certain slippery finesse to the rest of the nutjobs whose primary, secondary and tertiary motivations seemed to be kill, kill and kill, which was obviously precisely the reason the strategic genius of Major Taggart had specifically chosen him (and them).

I had great fun re-reading this, including the foreword by John Wagner, which clearly states nothing serious was ever intended by this strip, unlike CHARLEY’S WAR. Every week was a different mission, each more improbable and ridiculous than the last, the premise often lifted and barely disguised from various war films. I did chuckle actually when Wagner commented it was quite difficult to come up with something different every week, and therein probably lies its weakness in comparison to CHARLEY’S WAR and even JOHNNY RED. Or I guess even DARKIE’S MOB which had a definite beginning, middle and end to the story in its one volume. It’s great fun, but it’s really the war equivalent of the gag strip, with no ongoing narrative, other than the various pack members increasing desire to bump off Major Taggart. Still great fun, though, and brought back some fond memories reading this and chortling as a kid. Awesome art in places from Carlos Ezquerra and Massimo Belardinelli, though the odd guest artist looks like they’ve hacked their panels out in about two minutes flat, armed only with a blunt black felt tip! Still, Turk probably ‘fixed’ them as most of them didn’t seem to get invited back…

JR

Buy Rat Pack vol 1: Guns, Guts And Glory and read the Page 45 review here

Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Doug Braithwaite.

“I see your future, and it is knee-bound, tear-faced and bloody-lipped. It sees your eyes dancing at the end of meaty cords and your tongue sore-crowned in the belly of a beast. You are in the hands of Loki. You are deep in the land of Hell. From where you will find yourself, you will not even be able to see mere misery. You will gift me secrets and I will gift you death. You don’t, and you will truly know Loki.”
“…”
“…”
“The scroll’s seal is released. Inside you will find details of all The Serpent’s plans for Hel.”
“Good. Your death will send the clearest messenger to your master. That there’s more to fear than he.”
[A bucket of blood sprays across the room.]
“Oh, ick. Though… “more to fear than he!” Oh, Tyr! I do so enjoy this villainous talk!”

There’s nothing else quite like this in comics right now: a sparklingly literate fantasy from a writer well versed in mythology and with such an evident love of storytelling that it put me in mind of Neil Gaiman. In the hands of PHONOGRAM‘s Kieron Gillen, Loki as a cunning, mischievous and eloquent young tyke is infinitely more interesting than he ever was as a bitter and malevolent adult. He’s naughty, irreverent, gleeful and funny and here on the side, if not of the angels, then at least of the gods. As Thor and Odin do battle against the Serpent and his minions in Fear Itself, young Loki gathers his wits to marshal his resources in the form of Mephisto, Hela et al. But the King of Hell and Queen of Hel are no mere pawns – except in the hands of the ultimate trickster. Indeed Loki manoeuvres each of his pieces across a board only he can see clearly with an ingenuity that will make your smile crack into a big, broad grin.

Loki’s guile, of course, is completely dependent on Gillen’s and Kieron is thinking right outside the box. The very idea that a shadow can be transported, and that wherever the shadow goes so much what casts it, is a brilliant way to smuggle something out of captivity. Similarly Loki’s early quest to find himself – quite literally – is both far from obvious, taking on the form of a most original treasure hunt. All this Loki must accomplish without true allies, for after his last lifetime as a liar, trickster and revolutionary, no one in Asgard, Hell, Limbo, Midgard or Hell trusts him. Only Thor acts as his benefactor, his protector in a universally hostile environment. He’s like a kindly foster father and it’s this new dynamic which first makes the book. Here Thor’s caught Loki texting on a Stark Phone he bought with the proceeds of gambling:

“… Were you cheating, Loki?”
“Yes! But they were too! Cheating was the game, and I triumphed unfairly most fairly.”
“I do not think I approve.”
“There was no harm! Unlike this! The humans of the internet are uncouth. When I said I was an Asgardian God, they called me a troll!”

Braithwaite judges the young lad’s expressions to perfection and Thor’s body language, leaning down conspiratorially as he points out Loki is half-giant, is actually quite touching. While we’re on the subject of Braithwaite, this is like nothing I’ve seen from him before, coloured as it is straight over his pencils, and full of the requisite eerie light for these fantastical otherworlds. It’s a book of intrigue, machinations and so full of surprises; also big ideas and a real love of language, as here when Volstagg, in defence of Loki, unexpectedly takes the blame for Thor’s escape:

“But why? You hate me.”
“I hate Loki. You have destroyed us all, time and time over. But… I have children, Loki. A great, prattling, squelching brood who exist to do nothing but create smells and trouble and joy. I love them all. And by the eternal droppings of Huginn and Munnin, I find myself sentimental about even the worst of you little monsters.”

Oh yes, sorry, there’s also a great deal of dung.

Most importantly, however, you don’t need to read FEAR ITSELF to enjoy this separately: Loki’s feast of deceit may be in service to the gods’ fight against The Serpent but it’s another quest altogether. Even though Marvel have called it something different this book is most emphatically JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY VOLUME ONE, and continues in what Marvel calls JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY: FEAR ITSELF FALL-OUT. That’s important because I should warn you that the story itself ends on a cliffhanger a couple of dozen pages before you’re expecting it to, followed as it is by pages of Marvel Thor history, interviews with Gillen and cover art etc.

SLH

Buy Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Wanted (£14-99, Image) by Mark Millar & J.G. Jones.

Top-tier and indeed top-shelf Mark Millar freely available again with its original non-movie cover. If superhero comics are wish-fulfilment fantasies for young men, then this is the ultimate superhero comic.

Wesley Gibson lets people walk all over him: he lets his bullying  boss walk all over him during the 9-to-5, dead-end endurance test he calls a job, and he lets his girlfriend walk all over him when she’s not shagging his best mate – so I guess his best mate’s leaving footprints across his badly bruised back as well.

Then one day the veil is lifted when he suddenly discovers his lineage, for his father was a master assassin – no, THE master assassin – from a cadre of supervillains whom nobody knows exist because they stole our memories both of themselves and of the heroes they’d slaughtered. Now they control the world behind the scenes whilst pirating other dimensions, but one faction amongst them’s growing reckless: someone who misses random cruelty and sadistic joy, and wishes to start dishing it out again. Probably should have begun before Wesley found out what he could do, because now he’s going to do it. In fact, now he’s going to do whatever he fucking well wants to whomever he fucking well pleases. The man has skillz.

Millar mocks us all in our mundane worlds, but don’t take offence, relish it. For those who like toilet humour, there’s a creature made from excrement that dishes out “death by dysentery”.

You’ll like the artwork too: spectacular. If J.G. Jones had drawn The Matrix as a comic, you wouldn’t have needed to see the film.

SLH

Buy Wanted 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.

 
McKean: Postcards From Bilbao (£11-50, Hourglass) by Dave McKean – SIGNED!

McKean: Postcards From Perugia (£11-50, Hourglass) by Dave McKean – SIGNED!

Dal Tokyo (£25-99, Fantagraphics) by Gary Panter

Incognito: The Classified Edition h/c (£33-99, Icon) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

The Manhattan Projects vol 1 (£10-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra

Prophet vol 1: Remission (£7-50, Image) by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis

Thief Of Thieves vol 1: I Quit (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer & Shawn Martinbrough

Glory vol 1: The Once And Future Destroyer (£7-50, Image) by Joe Keatinge & Ross Campbell

Wet Moon vol 6: Yesterday’s Gone (£13-50, Oni Press) by Ross Campbell

Heartless h/c (£14-99, Ontario Arts Council) by Nina Bunjevac

Aya: Life In Yop City s/c (£18-99, D&Q) by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie

Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files vol 4 (£19-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Mark Millar, Pat Mills, Alan Barnes & Peter Doherty, Henry Flint, Trevor Hairsine, John Hicklenton, Colin MacNeil, Mike Perkins, Bryan Talbot and more…

Aquaman vol 1: The Trench h/c (£16-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard, Peter J. Tomasi & Doug Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham, Fernando Pasarin, Ed Benes

Teen Titans vol 1: It’s Our Right To Fight (£10-99, DC) by Scott Lobdell & Brett Booth

Batman: Knightfall vol 3 ( New Ed’n) (£22-50, DC) by Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Jo Duffy, Denny O’ Neil & Mike Manley, Graham Nolan, Bret Blevins, Ron Wagner, Tom Grummett, Jim Balent, Joe Rubenstein, Barry Kitson, Mike Vosberg, Mike Gustovich, Romeo Tanghal, Lee Weeks, Phil Jiminez, MD Bright, John Cleary

Thunderbolts: Like Lightning s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jeff Parker & Kev Walker

Ultimate Comics Ultimates vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Esad Ribic, Brandon Peterson

The Stand vol 4: Hardcases s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Mike Perkins

Message To Adolf part 1 h/c (£19-99, Vertical) by Osamu Tezuka

Bunny Drop vol 6 (£8-99, Yen) by Yumi Unita

GTO: The Early Years vol 14 (£9-99, Vertical) by Toru Fujisawa

Oreieo vol 1 (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Tsukasa Fushimi & Sakura

Chi’s Sweet Home  vol 9 (£10-50, Vertical) by Konami Kanata

The Melancholy Of Harui Suzumiya vol 1 (£8-50, Yen) by Nagaru Tanigawa & Gaku Tsugano

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys vol 21 (£8-99, Viz) by Naoki Urusawa

Fairy Tail vol 10 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Gunslinger Girl Omnibus vols 11-12 (£12-99, Seven Seas) by Yu Aida

Starstruck (£25-99, IDW) by Elaine Lee & Michael William Kaluta, Lee Moyer

Optic Nerve #11 restocks?! (£2-99, D&Q) by Adrian Tomine

 
Street art: some astounding optical illusions linked to by Emma Viecelli.

New art-orientated Page 45 interview I gave to the wonderful Scarlett Daggers of Nottingham’s Dr. Sketchy’s! Includes a Page 45 secret never revealed until now. I probably shouldn’t have, but she was ever so lovely and did kind of ask! What can you do, eh?

Finally, a very important blog by Heidi MacDonald exposing the horrific internet stalkings of a particularly pathetic piece of misogynistic pondscum (tautology, I know) who – thanks to Mark Millar – may be about to receive his comeuppance. Let’s hope it’s a deterrent to others, and even if it’s not, it’s a start.

 – Stephen

One Response to “Reviews September 2012 week one”

  1. […] I wish I could represent the genre fourteen-component-parts-is-a-mind-melt but Chris Ware’s Building Stories would fill my suitcase on its own. And I’m bringing a suitcase, yes, like an old-school […]

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