Reviews January 2013 week five

He glided across the street to the fenced perimeter of Central Park and slipped between its bones like a knife.

 – Warren Ellis, Gun Machine

The Books Of Magic: The Deluxe Edition h/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman & John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson.

“Magic grants no freedoms, friend pupil. Everything it buys must be paid for.”

“Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common meaning. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore.”

In which Neil Gaiman explores what magic means and what it can do; the myriad legends that it has already created, to which Neil now adds another. With almost impossible dexterity Gaiman gently folds DC’s established tall tales and occult-orientated characters into the wider mix of fantasies outside that specific setting, and binds them together while embracing all aspects, all variations on a theme, so that Christian stories of Heaven and Hell with their angels and archangels and its celestial city sit comfortably and compatibly alongside Egyptian, Chinese, Greek and British mythologies as well as DC’s own demons and The Dreaming et al. It’s a pretty neat trick to pull off.

Magic is the power of man’s imagination so, as ever with Neil Gaiman, this is also about stories: about the art of storytelling by conjuring carefully chosen words, so shedding light on the darkness. It’s about communication, and there is a great deal to be communicated here with some sense of urgency, for a young boy called Timothy Hunter has been identified as the most powerful mage of modern times, potentially. Whether he will be a power for creation or destruction is unclear, which is why the Phantom Stranger, Dr Occult and Mister E have taken it upon themselves to educate Tim Hunter, and dragged a reluctant John Constantine in too.

“Just what the world’s been waiting for. The Charge of the Trenchcoat Brigade.”
“I heard that, John Constantine.”

Constantine absolutely makes the book, so well is he played by writer and artists alike. DC’s cheeky chappie and ultimate rogue, he is neither a team player nor strong on reverence. He is reckless, he is dangerous, but in some ways he’s the safest pair of hands you can imagine. Although try telling that to the ghosts of his friends. Such is his history that he’s made welcome nowhere here except by Zatanna, and there’s a single-panel, snort-inducing sight-gag by Scott Hampton, which if you blink you will miss, after John visits the restroom and returns with a stinging, livid-red slap on the cheek.

A pomposity-puncturing iconoclast who rankles at authority, Constantine is immediately drawn to Tim Hunter’s cynical, sceptical and spirited defiance: Tim’s initial instinct is that his new mentors are a bunch of mack-wearing pervs. It is John’s role to introduce Tim Hunter to the contemporary cast of the DC universe: the Spectre, Jason Blood, Madame Xanadu, Baron Winter (Boston Brand AKA Deadman introduces himself, several times over, in a riotous running joke), and all of them have something to say about magic including Dr Fate, he of the hungry helmet:

“The imposition of order on formless chaos, the release of joyous chaos into the grey monotony of order… This is the true magic. All else is shadow.”

Hmm. I’d caution against judging until you learn the destiny of Fate.

This is the DC readers’ crowd-pleasing chapter, without once alienating those who’ve never bought one of those books before. Instead Neil neatly slots these characters into the story he wants to tell within its own context. Painted comic art was relatively rare in those days, so that helps set the alternative tone too. Almost everyone he encounters has dire warnings for Tim about the price he would pay, as do they all in the past.

The past is the province of the Stranger, illustrated by John Bolton who did a bang-up job of maintaining yet blending the pair’s physicality with the limbo-like nature of what they half-glimpse around and beyond them. There are layers and layers of painting art here, executed long before they could be all shot separately then blended by computer like ALICE IN SUNDERLAND. So much of it will have been in the script but not in the dialogue, so letting your eyes wander pays dividends.

As to Charles Vess who depicts Tim’s journey with Dr Occult through the rule-ridden, trap-laden land of Faerie, his line is as solid as his washes are ethereal; his colours so soft, yet as sharp and bright as you like. There is a spectacular, shepherd-delighting, early evening sunset over a lake that goes on forever; his Goblin Market is as fine as anything you saw in STARDUST; and Queen Titania’s palace is an exemplary essay in architectural jade.

Gaiman is perhaps at his finest in Faerie. Its appearance in SANDMAN: DREAM COUNTRY won him a World Fantasy Award in 1991, while he returned to the etiquette involved in INSTRUCTIONS, both also illustrated by Charles Vess. There’s something about Neil’s writing when it comes to these legends and lore which is far from portentous but Demanding You Pay Close Attention – a bit like capitalised phrases in AA Milne’s Winnie The Pooh!

It is here that a naïve Tim makes his most worrying mistakes, proving beyond doubt his need for both education and guidance; and it is here that we return to the vital aspect of magic as mind-altering alchemy in the hands of wordsmiths worldwide. Here’s Queen Titania:

“You wish to see the distant realms? Very well. But know this first: the places you will visit, the places that you will see, do not exist.
“For there are only two worlds – your world, which is the real world, and other worlds, the fantasy. Worlds like this are worlds of the human imagination: their reality, or lack of reality, is not important. What is important is that they are there.
“These worlds provide an alternative. Provide and escape. Provide a threat. Provide a dream, and power, provide refuge, and pain.
“They give your world meaning. They do not exist; and thus they are all that matters. Do you understand?”
“No.”

No, Tim doesn’t, not yet. He may never get a chance to understand if other forces succeed. He’s yet to see the future – his possible future and those far beyond – but he’ll be led there by a blind man fixated on the darkness around him: the darkest aspects of the human heart. You’ll be alarmed by whom Tim meets in his future; but you will love it when you see who turns out the lights. Who does turn out the lights at the end of the universe? It’s not necessarily who you think, but sleep tight.

Comparisons have been made between this and the subsequent Harry Potter books by JK Rowling. Some would say “consequent”, but not me. Not in those scolding terms, anyway, for both writers have been charitably generous and, besides (totally besides), this too is a book based on (and informed by) stories which have gone before. That is its whole raison d’être.

Searchers will see by just one look that the opening sequence shows the two poles apart. However unloved, Harry Potter is lured from his relatively safe suburban surroundings into the privileged life of a boarding school, whereas Timothy Hunter is first seen skateboarding alone and vulnerable round the concrete jungle of a deserted industrial-estate market, its closed shops desperately crying about “Crazy Price Clearance” sales. It is bleak, it is barren, and the jaws of its pitch-black underpass gape wide.

Into the abyss, Tim Hunter. Into the abyss.

Timothy Hunter will need to make some smart and swift choices, not least of which will be whether to accept magic at all. He will hear conflicting stories of fortune and free will. He will see things which no fourteen-year-old was ever meant to see. And he will need to make those choices informed not by The Truth (for there is no such singular thing) but by truths, and by stories.

As Uncle Alan Moore once famously pronounced, “All stories are true”.

SLH

Buy The Books Of Magic: The Deluxe Edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Gun Machine (£13-99, Mulholland Books) by Warren Ellis.

“He glided across the street to the fenced perimeter of Central Park and slipped between its bones like a knife.”

Behold the hunter, a predator subsisting on what little is left of Manhattan’s nature, a man more in tune with its past. The present is virtually toxic to him. He is a creature of ceremony, of meticulous preparation and exact execution, successfully stalking both the streets and his targets undetected for years. He is a man with a mission, and it has just been rudely interrupted.

Detective John Tallow has been jaded and weary but he’s waking up now with a start. His partner’s had his head blown off by some random naked guy with a shotgun. Another blast strayed and sprayed into an apartment wall through which John can see guns: hundreds and hundreds of guns arranged in a precise pattern of rows and spirals and… there appear to be gaps yet to fill. They’ve all been used. They have all done their duty, the purpose for which they have been precisely selected. And now they are Tallow’s problem. He should be on sick-leave on compassionate grounds, but for some reason his Lieutenant has kept him on the case. He’s being set up to fail, and he’s now on the hunter’s radar.

John Tallow is in deep, deep shit.

If you love your language, you’re in for a treat. What struck me very early on was that Ellis has changed voices for this second prose novel, not altogether but enough to set this apart from CROOKED LITTLE VEIN and indeed almost all of his comics to date bar Planetary. The one sequence that did put me in mind of CROOKED LITTLE VEIN was when Tallow snaps on the police radio to shut everyone up, and it surely does.

“All at once, horror tumbled out of it.”

Crime after almost inconceivably grotesque crime floods from its speakers in a relentless slurry of casual sadism and cruelty. It’s like a condensation of FELL: FERAL CITY. But beyond that the lurid sex-talk and angry bombast which amuses me no end has been set aside for now, replaced by two alternating narratives, one following Tallow, the other the hunter.

It’s as much about observation as anything else, for here we’re presented with two preternaturally perceptive individuals able to read the world and the people around them, albeit in radically different ways. I doubt my tells would get past either of them.

“Emily seemed to be sliding into a state of… he wouldn’t say emotionlessness, but certainly distance and apathy. Her voice came from somewhere deep inside her, somewhere dusty that was a long drive away from being present in the world. The same remote point that he has sometimes, in rare self-aware moments, heard his own voice coming from over the past few years.”

The dialogue is as deft as you’d expect, for which Ellis supplies two new assistants, albeit slightly less filthy that TRANSMETROPOLITAN‘s, except when Tallow’s just bought them coffee:

“Oh my God,” Bat prayed. “I love you. I would let you have sex on me and everything. But I am very tired and would prefer not to move.”
Scarly killed a cup lid with feral fingers and chugged a third of the container. Her eyes flexed weirdly in their sockets. “Oh, that’s the stuff,” she said. “That really is the stuff.”
Bat was weakly pawing at the lid of the cup nearest him. Tallow reached over and took it off him, abstractedly wondering if this was what fatherhood felt like.

The history and geography of Manhattan lie at the book’s heart, and possibly its future too, for there’s a very neat use of security cameras. Above all else, however, I can promise you a killer the likes of which you’ve never encountered before, and I hope you never will. There’s probably one out there waiting, though.

SLH

Buy Gun Machine and read the Page 45 review here

Young Avengers #1 (£2-25, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie with Mike Norton and Matthew Wilson.

“I fell in love with a superhero.”

And I fell in love with this series: sharp, chic and oh, so sexy. Contemporary too. Goddam, Noh-Varr’s black pants as his hips grind and fingers snaps in synch to a sixties’ beat. In fact it wakes up in bed, just like Kate Bishop who’s listening to her new lover enthuse about close-harmony girl groups.

“I lie in the strange bed and watch this beautiful alien boy dance to the music my parents love and think… This is everything I always hoped for.
“At which point, the Skrulls attack.”

Haha! Cue blistering NEXTWAVE flourish: a double-page spread crammed with kinetic panels of a spaceship dogfight and four big, bold statements. Oh, these two are in orbit.

I mean Kate Bishop and Kree kid Noh-Varr, but also Gillen and McKelvie, the creators of PHONOGRAM: RUE BRITANNIA and PHONOGRAM: THE SINGLES CLUB in which music is magic, and magic is what we have here. The magic of teenage romance and, well, magic itself. New readers start here (and you can):

Half-Kree, half-Skrull Hulking and Wiccan, the son of the Scarlet Witch, are in love. Wiccan’s adoptive parents are letting them both lodge under their roof (if not quite in the same bed). For Wiccan that means keeping a low profile to avoid scaring the horses or at least alerting the neighbours. But Hulkling can’t help himself: helping others is part of who he is. He’s not ashamed of his heritage any more than he’s ashamed of his sexuality.

“I’m not going to spend the rest of my life in the phone booth. I’m not living a lie.”

It’s during this outburst that Hulking mentions his mother who’s dead, and how lucky Wiccan is to have two sets of parents. And Wiccan, or Billy, takes that to heart. He’s here to help others too, and if he can’t help his own boyfriend, then what even is the point? And you know I mentioned Billy was the son of the Scarlet Witch, she of the reality-altering powers…? In a panel which winkingly references another from PHONOGRAM: THE SINGLES CLUB Billy starts scanning alternate realities to see if he can’t make things better.

Meanwhile magic attracts magic, and that’s where kid Loki comes in. From the word go in his first JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY volume, Kieron Gillen’s Loki has been fascinated by modern Midgard technology and social idiosyncrasies. It’s no surprise then, having spent thousands of years feasting in an opulent Asgardian refectory, that Loki now spends so much time in an urban diner, in this instance arranging sausages, fried eggs and baked beans into a scrying sigil.

“Time to pay for the food you’ve spread on the table, cosplay boy.”
“Please, sir. I’m the actual God of Mischief! Asgard variation! Haven’t you heard of me? My brother’s terribly famous. Big strapping blond fellow. Fond of his hammer.
“If you knew me even slightly, you’d know that I never pay for what I’ve done.”

No, this time someone may pay for what someone else is doing. Fortunately kid Loki is here on the side of the angels; unfortunately Miss America doesn’t believe him.

The first story arc is called ‘Style > Substance’ which, for those failing algebra, is an equation wherein Style Is Greater Than Substance. That’s just typical of Team Phonogram: oh so knowing and irrepressibly mischievous for there is plenty of substance and, boy, is it delivered with style! It is a beautiful and nimble thing to behold – a bit like Gillen’s dancing.

And dance this does. McKelvie’s art is bursting with energy without once risking accessibility and perfectly controlled for the quiet, tender moments where there is so much heart and humanity. Yes, there is canoodling!

It is a very modern superhero comic: just gawp at the cover! Rarely has Marvel attracted such design sense, let alone encouraged or endorsed it. The colours within and without are so fresh and fruity you can almost taste them. Seriously: black currant, lemon, strawberry, lime. It’s like a stained glass window arranged out of Opal Fruits made to make your mouth water.

Love all the tiny canine teeth.

SLH

Buy Young Avengers #1 by sashaying into the shop, singing down the telephone (0115 9508045) or tapping out a tune via page45@page45.com

Gaboon’s Daymare (£12-50, self-published) by Tobias Tak.

“It feels as if I’m stuck in some bad dream.”

Disorientating, fantastical trials, gauntlets and sundry abductions evoking nursery rhymes and fairy tales you never read.

Winsor McCay was already at the back of my mind when I stumbled on ‘Don’t Forget To Remember Not To Forget’, an ingeniously laid out loop and self-perpetuating Helter Skelter ride up and down and round about a gnarled old tree. It is the Tree of Forgetfulness into which witless wizard and alchemist Gaboon blithely steps in search of a way home. He emerges mind-wiped to follow the only option, clambering back up the branches to find what he lost: his memory. Now, if only he could refresh it…

Art Spiegelman, Joost Swarte, Peter Bagge and Robert Crumb each speak highly of the craft, and I can see exactly why Kim Deitch is attracted. He singles out Gaboon’s sultry companion, the vampish Miss Schlenzy who sets all in a frenzy with but a glance from her heavy-hooded eyes. She looks like Marlene Dietrich drawn by Dame Darcy.

The tinted pieces at least look a century old, and I missed those colours when they were gone.

Piff the Prancing Pixie had me scratching my head until I worked out what the five-legged beast was. However, my second-favourite quest follows gormless git and seeming life-long victim Mr. More-On on a disastrous day’s shopping which sees him used, abused, deceived and generally taken advantage of. He accommodates everyone, thanking them for their duplicity. Truly the man is lost.

I’d would be disingenuous of me not to add that some the of earlier art without the refined pen line is a lot less to my liking, but we’ve popped the first page I described up in the book’s shopping page where you can blow it up and marvel at its wit and majesty.

SLH

Buy Gaboon’s Daymare and read the Page 45 review here

New Softcovers of Hardcovers

Shortcomings s/c (£9-99, Faber & Faber) by Adrian Tomine.

Have you ever known a couple who are plain bad for each other? A couple who seem perfectly capable of being fun and friendly apart, but who really shouldn’t be together because one’s constantly winding the other up?

Ben and Miko are one such couple, except that Ben’s not so good at the fun bit. Fractious, judgemental, and constantly critical, Ben thinks he’s an iconoclast but he’s more of an inconsiderate snob. There’s no “off” button in his tirade of opinionated diatribes, the result of a boiling well of hang-ups and prejudices he ascribes to others, particularly when it comes to race and relationships, sex and sexuality. Ben, you see, is Asian-American and size in particular matters to him. Here’s Ben wishing he never mentioned it to his best friend, Alice:

“Can we talk about something else?”
“Come on. I’m curious.”
“Look… stereotypes don’t just materialize out of thin air, okay? Haven’t you ever heard that stupid joke? Uh… “What’s the difference between Asian and Caucasian men?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“”The Cauc.””
“Ew.”
“I actually heard a girl tell that joke in college! I was standing right there and she – ”
“Okay, okay… How small are we talking here? In inches.”

Alice is the perfect puncture to Ben’s obsessive neuroses. Armed with a quick, dry wit, she too is Asian-American but with a Korean heritage rather than a Japanese one, and has absolutely no qualms about or difficulties in successfully flirting with every girl in sight. She just gets on with it. Ben, on the other hand, can’t even talk to another girl without making presumptions about “types” or look at a mixed-race couple without analysing their hidden agendas in being together, as if love of one unique individual for another couldn’t possibly form the sole and simple equation. His girlfriend, Miko, isn’t immune to this either and, as an American Asian, feels personally affronted by his evident predilection for white girls. Their relationship’s in a downward spiral because they seem to care neither for nor about each other, and when Miko is offered an internship at the Asian-American Independent Film Institute for four months in New York, all Ben can think about is himself.

“Four months? Are you kidding me?”
“I know… but it’s an amazing opportunity.”
“Well, forget it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It seems like an amazing opportunity because it’s in New York.”
“Yeah!”
“God… I hate the way everyone in The Bay area worships New York! Trust me: it’s highly over-rated.”
“Well…”
“Look… there’s no way I’m moving to New York for four months, okay?”
“I know. I wasn’t really asking you to.”

So it is that Miko moves, leaving Ben behind on the understanding that they’re taking “time off”. But when Alice visits Brooklyn to clear her head, she discovers something that Ben needs to see for himself…

Over the course of three chapters, Tomine delivers a perfectly observed exploration of young, complex and conflicted individuals in conversation as they try – or don’t try – to relate to each other and the world at large. The dialogue’s rhythm is as natural as its language, and the exchanges are as realistic as the inconsistencies they reveal.

The crisp art is stylish and tender, the thoughts behind the eyes and mouths subtly evoked by a sly line here or a deft one there. It’s such an attractive read not least because – I don’t know how many critics comment on this element of Tomine’s work – it’s actually very funny, and however harsh Miko and Ben can be to each other, Tomine’s never harsh to them. He’s always been a sympathetic observer of human nature, whatever its flaws and foibles, far less cynical than some of his peers.

My one regret about the softcover is that it has eradicated the funny and very telling joke hidden under the hardcover’s dust jacket. It involved Ben’s biggest hang-up, most physical shortcoming, and a ruler. Oh, you’ve all done, it guys!

SLH

Buy Shortcomings s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Wonder Woman vol 1: Blood s/c (£10-99, DC) by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins.

“This storm, Hippolyta… Its fury – ”
” – Is of a woman scorned.”

Yes, serial philanderer Zeus has been at it again, and this time he’s no longer around to sort out the fall-out. Instead he’s left a power vacuum and a very angry wife.

Although I’ve yet to read BATMAN VOL 1: COURT OF THE OWLS which Jonathan is so enamoured with (Snyder’s BATMAN: BLACK MIRROR was chilling), I hereby declare this by far the best of the DC New 52 relaunch that I have read. Completely accessible to those who’ve never read nor wanted to read a single Wonder Woman story in their lives, it plays instead on Greek mythology so, so well. Hera, Hermes, Hades, Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo – they’re all here, amongst others.

Being the Tom Waits of comics, Brian Azzarello is the last creator you’d expect to take on WONDER WOMAN but he’s thrown himself into it with gusto, and the word-play above and the finishing-off of each others’ sentences you may already recognise from his gritty crime masterpiece 100 BULLETS. It’s almost Shakespearian in its punnery.

“Why, if Zeus were here, he would break your bones.”
“He’s not, though, is he?”
“No, he isn’t. Gone into the ether, it seems. Heaven has left his throne wanting an ass to warm it. And though both of you certainly qualify in that regard, neither of you measure up to mine.”

Yes, there be bawdiness to boot. I told you it was Shakespearian.

“There is a price to laying down with my husband.”
“Which no one knows better than you, hmm? Where are they now?”
“That cockless coop, improperly named… Paradise Island.”

Paradise Island is the home of Hippolyta and her daughter Diana (AKA Wonder Woman), and all of the rest of the Amazons. Legend and DC lore has it that Diana was created from clay, willed into being by her mother Hippolyta. Everyone knows that, for there are no men allowed on Paradise Island, hence the “cockless coop”. But now a shameful secret is revealed that will turn everything on its head and allies against each other. With a mortal woman also visited by Zeus trapped in the middle, it’s all-out war. Yet stand-offs threatening even more violence occasionally disperse into moments of unexpected tenderness as the women console each other in their shared sense of violation and betrayal by men. One man in particular, for the titular “blood” is not one of gore but of lineage.

Neither Chiang nor Akins are artists of the testosterone-fuelled variety and thank gods for that. The photo-realists and sugar-buzz spectaculars have their place, but here they’d get in the way of what is essentially a humane tale of improvised camaraderie and a battle of wits. Instead this boasts some highly imaginative design work like Lord Hades, his head lit up as a massive candle, its wax dripping down to obscure his face and, perhaps, his intentions.

Jaw-dropping climax.

To be continued. Oh very yes: to be continued indeed!

SLH

Buy Wonder Woman vol 1: Blood s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Batman Incorporated s/c (£14-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham, Yanick Paquette, Michael Lacombe, Scott Clark, Cameron Stewart, Dave Beaty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SLH

Buy Batman Incorporated s/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.
 

Legend Of Zelda Hyrule Historia h/c (£25-99, Dark Horse) by various

Johnny Red vol 3: Angels Over Stalingrad (£14-99, Titan) by Tom Tully & Joe Colquhoun

The Freddie Stories h/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Lynda Barry

Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism (£14-99, St Martin’s Press) by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden

Snarked vol 3 (£10-99, Kaboom!) by Roger Langridge

Dear Beloved Stranger (£14-99, Top Shelf) by Dino Pai

Global Frequency (£14-99, Vertigo) by Warren Ellis & various

The Eye Of The World: The Graphic Novel vol 3 h/c (£18-99, Tor) by Chuck Dixon & Marcio, Francis Naught

Justice League vol 1: Origin s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee

Justice League vol 2: The Villain’s Journey h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee, Gene Ha, Carlos D’Anda

Batman: The Dark Knight – Golden Dawn s/c (£10-99, DC) by David Finch with Grant Morrison & David Finch with Jason Fabok

X-Men: Blank Generation s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Wood & David Lopez, Roland Boschi

Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Tom Raney, Steve Kurth, Scot Eaton, Mark Brooks, Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Ultimate Comics: X-Men vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Paco Medina,Carlo Barberi

Naoki Urasawa’s 21st Century Boys vol 1 (£8-99, Viz) by Naoki Urusawa

07-Ghost vol 2 (£6-99, Viz) by Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara

Sailor Moon vol 9 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

Loveless 2-in-1 Edition vols 3 & 4 (£9-99, Viz) by Yun Kouga

Loveless vol 10 (£6-99, Viz) by Yun Kouga

Negima! Omnibus 1: vols 1-3 (£14-99, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

 
Fascinating local film footage from 1902: Nottingham city centre with wrought iron gas lamps, old-school trams, and everyone wearing hats and moustaches. IT WAS THE LAW.

New Luke Pearson comic which you may not want to be reading at work.

And finally Page 45’s new window and prize competition. Multiple prizes of various sizes, and entry is totally free!

– Stephen

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