Reviews June 2013 week two

Yippee! Page 45 announces Window Competition Winners and artists permanently featured in our window!

  – Stephen in all the news and previews at the bottom of blog. Warning: there are also a photo down below of the goon at Alton Towers, screaming like a big boy’s blouse.

The Shadow Out of Time: A Graphic Novel (£14-99, Self Made Hero) by H.P. Lovecraft & I.N.J. Culbard…

“Oh dear God, no!”
“NO, NO, NO! Remember, for God’s sake, remember.”

Yes, yes, yes! Another gloriously sanity-shaking adaptation from Mr. Culbard to tip us even further into a state of irreparable discombobulation. I really do marvel at his ability to produce such cogent works from such… steeped… source material. The original novella is probably one of my favourite Lovecraft works, simply because so much is revealed of the various Elder races and the prehistory of Earth before humanity became the dominant lifeform. It isn’t that straightforward a read, though, and I think Ian has done an exceptional job portraying what is revealed to the main protagonist, Professor Nathaniel Peaslee of Miskatonic University, as his mind is snatched from his body and replaced by that of another.

There is some speculation amongst Lovecraft biographers that certain elements of this character are auto-biographical or perhaps inspired by Lovecraft’s father, or that the idea for this story came from repeatedly watching a 1933 science fiction film called Berkley Square. In any case, what he wrote is one of the most chilling pieces of speculative horror fiction I have ever read. One of Lovecraft’s great talents lay in his unparalleled ability to make the reader feel truly insignificant, a veritable speck in a total alien and unfathomable universe, which in turn induces a genuine sense of trepidation in the reader. It’s horrific because of its very subtlety to infiltrate your mind, engendering a sense of unease.

Ian has captured that perfectly here as poor old Peaslee is well and truly put through the wringer both physically and mentally. The PLINK sound effect above, for example, is the sound of a torch going out leaving the poor chap very old in the dark, in somewhere he really, really doesn’t want to linger. Then, the sequences during which we learn precisely where Peaslee’s mind was during the period his body was occupied by… the other… are truly stygian in their alienness. It’s a quite literally mind-blowing reveal and you really get the grandiose sense of scale involved from the artwork, which is a real feat. I keep thinking Ian can’t raise the bar even further with Lovecraft material, but he keeps on managing it.

I am therefore delighted to report Ian has already agreed to do at least one more Lovecraft adapation for Self Made Hero, though I was unable to prise from him precisely which work it will be. I am planning on bodysnatching him, though, with a mind-swap device I keep in my laboratory on the fourth floor of the shop, so rest assured, dear readers, I will let you know more soon enough <fiendish cackles repeated with mild reverb tapering off in a most disturbing fashion>…


Science Tales h/c (Revised Edition) (£11-99, Myriad) by Darryl Cunningham…

New revised edition including an extended chapter on fracking, which for those not familiar with the term is slang for a relatively new gas and oil extraction technique, which has revitalised the fossil fuel industry in recent years. It’s clear this is a topic Darryl is especially passionate about exploring as he goes into great detail eloquently explaining the technique for the lay person, weighing up the technical pros and cons, before getting into his real concerns on the matter. The fact that, despite the genuine possibilities of us now being able to extract vast natural resources which were previously unviable in financial terms, there are some very serious safety concerns, with the potential for causing huge irreparable damage to the heath of a huge section of the population. That these concerns are being blithely swept under the carpet and ignored, indeed actively suppressed.

And precisely who is doing this, both in the UK and US, which are of course leading the way in fracking? Well, the titans of the gas and oil industry whose very deep pockets have, through campaign donations, other lobbying mechanisms and general old-school-tie chumminess, managed to ensure their chosen politicians of every stripe are steering the debate and more importantly legislation, in their desired direction.

For example, did you know that Lord Howell, an energy adviser at the Foreign Office is also president of the British Institute of Energy Economics, which is sponsored by Shell and BP? He’s also George Osborne’s father-in-law, a man who in 2012 cut wind energy subsidies by 10% whilst giving a 500 million pound a year tax break to offshore drilling. Perhaps more shocking is the case of Lord John Browne, 30% owner of the UK fracking company Cuadrilla, who is an unelected member of the Cabinet Office, with powers to appoint non-executive directors to government departments, including the Treasury and the Departments of Energy and Climate Change plus the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as he sees fit. Conflict of interest, or just business as usual, you decide.

It’s an exposé which, whilst not remotely surprising to me, does sicken me even further that despite the appearance of us living in a democracy where we have control over the executive who make decisions on our behalf, supposedly for our benefit, it is a sham that ensures the same old snouts stay in the trough and damn the consequences. And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking there are any political alternatives available to us under the current voting system which would make a difference, because there are not. The mainstream political parties are all in bed with big business to a degree which is beyond disturbing, but until we start seriously dealing with the culture of corruption that pervades Westminster, that will never change.

So, are we all going to have to deal with the possible consequences to our health and the environment that Darryl outlines, which the fat cats keep lining their pockets? Probably, but as Darryl points out, the truth does eventually out, as the tobacco industry, another group that was extremely adept at manipulating the political landscape, eventually found out to their cost. Hopefully it’ll be somewhat quicker this time. And on a personal note, equally hopefully, Nuclear Fusion projects like the ITER test reactor, scheduled to be complete sometime around 2020, which will produce around 500 megawatts of output power for 50 megawatts of input power, i.e. ten times the amount of energy, will finally ensure the true clean energy boom begins in earnest, and fossil fuels can at last be consigned to history. Here’s hoping.

What follows below is my review of the previous edition without the fracking chapter.

This time around we find Darryl in full-on debunking mode, as he takes on the scientific lies, hoaxes and scams that annoy him the most, those being: electroconvulsive therapy, homeopathy, the moon landing, climate change, evolution, chiropractic, the MMR jab debacle and the general denial of irrefutable scientific evidence. I personally would have included shampoo adverts with their pseudo-science, made up chemical names and definitive surveys based on massive sample groups of errr…100 people, but that’s my own personal bugbear!

It’s well researched by Darryl as in each case he goes to great length to not only show how preposterous the various claims are, but also how just unreliable the particular people making those assertions are themselves, and in the case of climate change the infinitely more sinister aspect of just who it is that’s funding the idiots. But this is no diatribe, instead it’s a meticulous picking apart of the ridiculous web of half-baked facts and fiction that’s often woven around one or two grains of truth, usually completely taken and distorted totally out of context, to prove his case. Anyone who enjoyed Darryl’s previous work, PSYCHIATRIC TALES, which was a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, will definitely enjoy this. Darryl also employs the same understated clinical yet also slightly comical art style this time around, once again inserting himself as a talking head from time to time for additional narrational emphasis.


Buy Science Tales h/c (Revised Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

John K Presents Spumco Comic Book h/c (£25-99, IDW) by John Kricfalusi and friends.

“Ah… the Lord loves an idiot.”

The return of the creator of Ren And Stimpy, this reprints the two outrageous, oversized issues much beloved by Mark and originally published by Marvel (good grief!) and Dark Horse some twenty years ago. The latter makes a lot more sense: Dark Horse published Dave Cooper, after all (COMPLETELY PIP & NORTON). There’s extra material in the back which, at an educated guess, probably began life as a third, subsequently aborted edition.

To be clear: this may look as if it’s for kids but it’s almost as foul as PETEY & PUSSY for although the salacious shenanigans are really no saucier than a seaside postcard, there is a great love of turd on display. There, I have said it – or at least I have typed it. I’ve dropped the big one, and so will a dog before having it forced back up his bum, and then so will Jimmy who adopts it as his baby. Actually, now that I’ve typed all that, I’m not sure that it is unsuitable for kids, but on your parental heads be it.

It’s eye-watering, scatalogical slapstick featuring stoopid people, and so evidently the work of an animator: you can almost hear the sound effects as eyes pop out of heads or characters explode into their component colours leaving an empty outline in their wake.

Mark would have written a far more informed review peppered with behind-the-scenes secrets but, on the whole, I think I’ve at least accurately indicated what you’re in for: action-packed bufffonery; Tom & Jerry with turds.


Buy John K Presents Spumco Comic Book h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Age Of Bronze vol 3A: Betrayal s/c (£13-50, Image) by Eric Shanower.

The finest modern version of The Trojan War I’ve come across in any medium, AGE OF BRONZE truly is a labour of love. The detail, both visual and narrative, is meticulous without ever sacrificing clarity or vitality. Indeed his panel composition couldn’t be easier on the eye, and his pen line, increasingly beautiful, is a successful mix of Perez/Jimenez for backgrounds and P. Craig Russell on the figures and faces.

That the third book had me engrossed all Sunday morning when it consists overwhelmingly of negotiations, recriminations, lamentations and strategic planning (this is the third of seven volumes; war may be imminent but has yet to break out) is a testament to Shanower’ s narrative judgement, his skill with words and the seductive beauty of the finished page. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the source material is crammed full of intrigue – seduction, rejection, superstition, betrayal – and revolves around the three most potent human emotions: love, anger and grief.

The interconnected threads are numerous, but the central story spins out of the actions of Paris, brother of Hektor and son of King Priam of Troy. Whilst a guest of one of the Achaean kings, Menelaus of Lakedaemon, he stole Menelaus’ wife, son and household treasure and returned with them to Troy. That wife was Helen, genuinely in love with Paris, yet still concerned for the wellbeing of her husband whom she knows to be a good man. In retaliation for Menelaus’ loss, an army of Achaean soldiers and royalty, led by High King Agamemnon – and including Odysseus, Palamedes and Achilles – has assembled and, after numerous set-backs, is finally poised on the nearby island of Tenedos to sail across the Aegean Sea. But with prophecy on both sides predicting so much loss and suffering from this seemingly inevitable conflict, the Achaeans embark upon a last-ditch attempt at obtaining restitution peacefully, while King Priam merely plays for time as his own allies assemble…

Shanower’s considerable skill with rhetoric does his source material and its characters full justice. That final confrontation by the Achaean embassy of King Priam on his throne, flanked by his sons, is electric. Any chance of reconciliation is scuppered by a goading Paris, gloating in Menelaus’ face and pushing his buttons to breaking point by dragging down Helen, his children and Menelaus’ own son who’s frightened by the father he no longer recognises.

The art of oratory is far from dead. Next: the art of war.


Buy Age Of Bronze vol 3A: Betrayal s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Feynman s/c (£14-99, FirstSecond) by Jim Ottaviani & Leland Myrick.

“Oh by the way, I forgot to tell you, Tommy invited us for dinner to meet an old bore.”
“An old bore? Who would… Waitaminnit – did he say an old bore, or meet the old Bohr?*”
“What difference does it make?”
“Well the spelling is different for one thing!”

Ah, whilst Stephen Hawking might arguably lay claim to be the most famous scientist of the second half of the 20th century, and despite the vocoding one busting many a phat rhyme expounding about being down with entropy and dissing the creationists in his hip-hop guise of MC Hawking, the coolest scientist of them all in my eyes at least was Richard Feynman. Most of you will probably never have heard of him, yet he was a key member of the Manhattan project during WW2 helping the US military invent the atomic bomb, and then developed a whole new branch of science called QED, Quantum Electrodynamics. Why is QED important? Well, as Feynman himself was fond of pointing out, with QED you can explain absolutely everything we ordinarily experience on a day to day basis, except gravity and radioactivity, so it’s pretty important.

I suppose Feynman first came to my attention as a kid in the aftermath of the Challenger shuttle disaster. Such was the high regard he was held in within political, military and obviously scientific circles that he was asked to be on the select committee investigating the cause of the disaster. When it became apparent that the usual spin was going to be applied to play down the causes of the disaster he threatened to release his own report, unless his conclusions were included in the official report verbatim. The powers that be reluctantly agreed, including them in their entirety, but as a separate appendix. It was widely observed that most people merely skipped the rest of the report and read Feynman’s unvarnished, and accurate, conclusions.

What I marvelled at most about Feynman, was here was someone who absolutely defied the common perception of the archetypal drab boring scientist. He played bongos, he cracked safes for a hobby, he worked on research papers whilst drinking soda every night in his favourite strip club… which his wife was actually happy to let him do. When he fancied a new challenge, he’d just up and find himself one, learning to play weird instruments, but not just being satisfied to master the basics, he’d have to become good enough to play in a band at the Rio Carnival for example! He taught himself to draw to an incredibly high standard too, and even had a crack at learning Chinese, though he did admit to finding that pretty tough.

When he won his Nobel Prize for physics, it’s pretty revealing that when anyone asked him about it and all the attendant hoopla and ceremony, his anecdote was always the snappy one-liner delivered to him by a New York cabbie, which he freely admitted he wished he’d thought of himself. The cabbie told him that when he saw Feynman being interviewed on television by reporters and asked to explain exactly why he’d won the prize, he didn’t understand a single word that Feynman had said, and that if he’d been in Feynman’s position he’d simply have stated to the assembled journalists, “If I could explain it in three minutes, it wouldn’t be worth the Nobel Prize!”

It’s a testament to the creators of this work that they manage to capture all these myriad, fascinating facets of Feynman’s life, not just his immense contributions to science, but the vigour with which he approached every single thing he did, including his romantic and professional relationships. This is an absolute must for anyone who enjoyed LOGICOMIX, in fact I would go so far as to say this is actually a superior work, which is high praise indeed given how highly I rate that particular book. And indeed this is also easily my favourite biographical work of this year too hands down. So whilst Hawking might manage to pull his nurse, and get the guest appearances on Star Trek playing poker with Picard, Feynman for me will always be the dude.

* refers, of course, to Niels Bohr, Danish Nobel prize winning physicist and another Manhattan Project member.


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

Saturn Apartments vol 7 (£9-99, Viz) by Hisae Iwaoka…

Awww, I’m sad to say goodbye to another excellent Viz Signature Imprint series that’s charmed and beguiled me with its gentle character interplay and human stories. Will Mitsu make it down to Earth from the Ring, the orbiting space station that’s been humanity home since the Earth was abandoned to allow it to recover? I wouldn’t honestly have expected anything other than a happy ending to this series that has delighted me throughout, but it’s a close run thing as the tension builds up during the run up to the launch. If you are yet to give this series a try but have enjoyed manga like 20TH CENTURY BOYS, CROSS GAME and CHILDREN OF THE SEA, then give it a go, it could be for you.


Buy Saturn Apartments vol 7 and read the Page 45 review here

Kick-Ass vol 3 #1 (£2-25, Icn/Marvel) by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.

“This is me brooding at the graves of my beloved parents. My Mom only dies of a cerebral haemorrhage, but my dad genuinely was murdered by a costumed super-villain.

“I can’t believe I toyed with giving all this up. Standing here and staring at their graves I realise that it’s my destiny to wear the mask on Mondays, Thursdays and every other Sunday.”

“It’s also so much cooler when you’re brooding in a big, black coat. I tired this in my jeans last week, but it all just looked so inappropriately casual.”

With fuck-all power comes enormous irresponsibility, and Dave is back in the saddle, suiting up to take on the seedy underworld once more, even if he can’t quite pluck up the courage to bust Hit Girl out of clink. Those penitentiary walls look really tall!

Not everyone’s as conscientious, though. There’s always one freeloading dick-head, and the self-styled Juicer has moved himself in to Hit Girl’s secret HQ, strewn his dirty laundry all over the floor and spends the entire day playing computer games while raiding petty cash to buy Marvel superhero DVDs.

John Romita Jr captures his goggle-eyes to perfection and, if you look closely, you’ll see how the characters have aged over the series, the kids’ faces having elongated. Also: spot the sly reversal in the tribute to a classic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN cover!

This is the final outing in the series – Mark Millar has laid down some pretty heavy hints as to why – but you can catch up any time you like with the books and our reviews of the KICK-ASS VOL 1, KICK-ASS VOL 2 and HIT-GIRL collections.


Buy Kick-Ass vol 3 #1  and read the Page 45 review here

Walking Dead vol 18: What Comes After (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard…

“Can I say something? I don’t quite understand the hostility in that look. No fucking sir.
“I’m a special kind of person. I don’t fucking rattle.
“You even made me drop Lucille. You have any fucking clue how much she hates being on the ground? She’s like an American flag that way. You just don’t let it happen… it’s disrespectful.
“Still… here I am, friendly as a fuckless fuck on free fuck day.”

In which everyone’s least favourite pinch-hitter Negan continues his reign of terror, enforced only by his sheer force of will, and of course dear old Lucille, his barbed-wire-decorated baseball bat. Scarcely have I ever wanted a fictional villain to get it so, so badly!! The last time was probably The Governor actually, which all goes to show Kirkman’s horror epic doesn’t show any signs of running out of steam any time soon. What next? A man with a tiger for a pet? Enter King Ezekiel… a man who really has got a tiger for a pet… and who might just be Rick’s best chance at taking out Negan. Somehow though, I can’t quite imagine it’s going to be as simple and straightforward as that. Also, I wish I could get rock and roll god Little Richard screaming Lucille out of my head every time she gets mentioned. I really have no idea what that is all about…


Buy Walking Dead vol 18: What Comes After and read the Page 45 review here

The Crow: Skinning The Wolves s/c (£13-50, IDW) by James O’Barr & Jim Terry.

Twenty years ago James O’Barr’s THE CROW, powerful, poignant and packed full of post-punk references, cast its doom-laden pall over the collective comicbook psyche and, to this day, I am still recommending the removal of all razor blades from any household before reading it. There’s a new edition out, and you’ll find it reviewed on our website with interior art.

This… is not that.

Sporadic references to Wagner’s Ring Cycle aside, it is light on script and bereft of anything resembling a reason for existence. It could easily be Wolverine dishing out death in this WWII concentration camp. And if that’s your thang, then I highly recommend the infinitely superior single issue dedicated to the late, great Will Eisner which you’ll find in the back of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s WOLVERINE: ENEMY OF THE STATE.

This is mere melodrama, written and illustrated without subtlety, in which a concentration camp is cleansed of Nazis by a vengeful chess player resurrected from his mass grave after… well, you’ll see. Or you won’t.


Buy The Crow: Skinning The Wolves 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.


Romantic Bison (£2-00, self-published) by Lizz Lunney

Romantic Bison 2 (£2-00, self-published) by Lizz Lunney

Pick A Unicorn Notebook (£2-00, self-published) by Lizz Lunney

Cat Orgy Notebook (£2-00, self-published) by Lizz Lunney

Falling Cats Notebook (£2-00, self-published) by Lizz Lunney

Wood: Machine Sabbath h/c (£13-50, IDW) by Ashley Wood

Star Wars Omnibus Wild Space s/c vol 1 (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Mike W. Barr & Adolfo Buylla

Doctor Who: Prisoners Of Time vol 1 (£13-50, IDW) by Scott Tipton, David Tipton & various

Preacher Book 1 (£14-99, DC ) by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry

Wake Up Percy Gloom h/c (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Cathy Malkasian

The North End Of The World h/c (£37-99, Other A-Z) by Dave Hunsaker  & Christopher Shy

Ferals vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Avatar Press Inc) by David Lapham & Gabriel Andrade

Manara Library vol 5 h/c (£45-00, Dark Horse) by Milo Manara

The End h/c (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by Anders Nilsen

A User’s Guide To Neglectful Parenting s/c (£9-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Guy Delisle

Catwoman vol 2: No Easy Way Down s/c (£18-99, DC ) by Ed Brubaker & Cameron Stewart

Stormwatch vol 1 s/c (£14-99, DC ) by Warren Ellis & Tom Raney, Jim Lee

Captain America vol 1: Castaway Dimension Z Book 1 h/c (£18-99, Marvel ) by Rick Remender & John Romita

Deadpool Killustrated s/c (£10-99, Marvel ) by Cullen Bunn & Matteo Lolli, Mike Del Mundo

Avengers vol 1: Avengers World s/c (UK Ed’n) (£12-99, Marvel ) by Jonathan Hickman & Jerome Opena, Adam Kubert

07 Ghost vol 4 (£7-50, Viz) by Yuki Amemiya

Neon Genesis Evangelion Omnibus vols 7-9 (£14-99, Viz) by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

GTO: 14 Days In Shonan vol 9 (£8-50, Random House) by Tohru Fujisawa

Knights Of Sidonia vol 3 (£9-99, Random House) by Tsutomu Nihei

Loveless vol 11 (£6-99, Viz) by Yun Kouga

The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya vol 2 (£8-50, Yen) by Nagaru Tanigawa & Gaku Tsugano

The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya vol 3 (£8-50, Yen) by Nagaru Tanigawa & Gaku Tsugano

Fairy Tail vol 25 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tail vol 26 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Stormwatch vol 2 h/c (£22-50, DC) by Warren Ellis & Tom Raney, Bryan Hitch

Thor God Of Thunder vol 1: God Butcher s/c (UK Ed’n) (£10-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Easd Ribic


ITEM! Emma Vieceli (see AVALON CHRONICLES reviewed above) is on Make It Then Tell Everybody. It’s a very funny podcast including a game of old-job one-upmanship:

“We should have stopped at bum wipes.”

ITEM! It’s not just the tune someone’s murdered. Cover to FATALE #19 and so much more at Sean Phillips’ website.

ITEM! For those bored with photo-realistic testosterone carnage, I present this beautiful 2012 Trial gameplay to the The Unfinished Swan. Please, please wait until the ink-splodge, black and white gameplay kicks in and please, please wait until you make it outdoors. After that you may want to switch off, buy the game and just play it through yourself. Comes with the highest recommendation from comicbook creators Kate Brown, Emma Vieceli and Duncan Fegredo.

ITEM! Page 45 announces Window Competition Winners and artists permanently featured in our window! Took me a while, sorry!

ITEM! Preview of Gerard Way & Becky Cloonan’s THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS #1, out today!

ITEM! From the publisher of PORCELAIN, a preview of Improper Books’ KNIGHT & DRAGON (Feel free to pre-order!).

ITEM! Preview of Andy Diggle’s THE UNCANNY #1.

ITEM! Caught on camera! Me at Alton Towers, screaming like a big boy’s blouse.

The thing about Oblivion is that it seems so scenic at first. You gently trundle to the top of the ride, several hundred feet above the park and oh, how pretty the tops of the trees look in their fresh Spring livery!

THEN THEY UP-END YOU BY 90 DEGRESS SO YOU ARE STARING DOWN INTO THE OBSIDIAN ABYSS AND THEY KEEP YOU HANGING THERE FOR A FULL FIVE SECONDS so you have time to contemplate precisely how foolish you’ve been embarking on the ride in the first place then…. AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!

– Stephen

2 Responses to “Reviews June 2013 week two”

  1. Reviews June 2013 week two « Escape Pod Comics Escape Pod Comics says:

    […] Manara Library vol 5 h/c (£45-00, Dark Horse) by Milo Manara […]

  2. […] Following ALTONTOWERSGATE which saw me screaming like a big boy’s blouse (scroll down to bottom of the blog) there have […]

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