Reviews July 2013 week three

Oh, you’ll find so much to relate to, like that unfathomable tangle of wires which links your TV to your digital thingie via the DVD player and VCR, while your PS3 and Wii operate almost certainly by magic if only you can remember which arcane combination of controller buttons to press. God alone knows which plug is which anymore.

– Stephen on Hawkeye vol 2

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

‘Since You’ve Been Gone I Can Do Whatever I Want All The Time.’

In any other context you would take that as a statement of defiant bravado after being jilted; or even a genuine, celebratory reclamation of freedom after extricating yourself from a smothering, destructive relationship.

But Anders Nilsen has a knack for succinct poignancy, and this is instead what little is left of his world following the death of his fiancée Cheryl as chronicled in DON’T GO WHERE I CAN’T FOLOW.

He can do whatever he wants now, except what he wants to do. That is now impossible. Instead he can do this – all the time:

“Me crying while doing the dishes.”
“Me crying while trying to eat lunch and read a book.”
“Me crying while trying to work on the computer.”
“Me trying to hold it together on the train in France.”
“Me trying to hold it together while merging on 90-94.”
“Me doing whatever I want with all my free time.”

By the state of his bedlinen there, Anders has being lying under it, facing the wall, for hours.

It’s not maudlin – none of this book is a self-indulgent woe-is-me wallow in self-pity; it is simply the honest depiction of his new stark existence in the absence of all that was there, following the abrupt curtailment of all that was yet to come.

Not every snapshot in that sequence is solitary – he has friends – but there is no conversation. Then eventually even the commentary dries up. The last nine panels depict Nilsen on automatic pilot, going through the routine of his daily domestic chores, alone and in silence.

There is a great deal more here than in the book’s original publication as part of Fantagraphic’s Ignatz line. Additional material has been reprinted from the MOME anthology; other excerpts were originally screen prints.

Whereas the piece above depicts Anders as a full portrait in a thin, fragile, pale blue line, the rest of book is more representational. One shows a simple, silent, silhouette of man, an effigy going up in flames, crumbling into cinders.

Another, ‘How Can I Prepare You For What Is To Follow’, is narrated by a blank outline of a man against the backdrop of full-colour photos of beautiful landscapes, often exotic, as he welcomes you to the world, and all life’s potential. It’s a brilliantly balanced piece, bursting with optimism, but also quiet, cautionary words born from experience.

“It’s a lot, and it’s very exciting. I can see that you already like it here. Your eyes are wide, and you are smiling.
“But I won’t lie to you, little one. The world can be a difficult place, too.
“You will sometimes hurt the people you love, without meaning to. And they will hurt you.
“You will make mistakes, great and small. There will be frustrations. There will be cruelties, there will be humiliations. And some day you will lose something you hold dear.
“Some day, in a way no one can guess, your heart will, in all likelihood, be broken.
“You have a small, fragile heart, the same as all of us.
“But here is the other thing, my little one: you are alive.”

That last line is meant with no irony.

Throughout the book, in the conversations between two more hollow figures, between Anders and Cheryl – or rather than Anders and Anders filling in for Cheryl – there is not just an acknowledgement that things will change for the better, but a certainty, an optimism about it. It’s just that he isn’t there yet, and this is an invaluable, candid and unsentimental documentation of that limbo from someone who’s been there. This, towards the end…

“So, I think I’m starting to… not get over your death, but… assimilate it.”
“I mean… I met someone. I really like her. Are you okay with that?”
“I’m not okay with anything, I dead. You want reassurance.”
“That would be nice.”
“I can’t give it to you. I’m dead.”
“Do you have to go?”
“I’m already gone.”
“So you can stay then?”
“I’m not here. At all. You’re the one that has you go. I can’t leave, because I’m not here. You can’t stay, because you are.”

It doesn’t get much more profound than that.


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

New School h/c (£29-99, Fantagraphics) by Dash Shaw.

“Danny! Follow me!”
“Slow down!”

Danny has forever followed in his older brother’s footsteps, and forever found himself lagging behind.

His awe and desperation to keep up hasn’t served him well. When struck by Luke’s drawing of a dinosaur, Danny held it up the fire light, rendering it translucent, and traced its outline before claiming the accomplishment as his own. They were on scout camp together, and it ended in Danny’s public humiliation at Luke’s own hands.

His parents feel that Danny’s been too long in Luke’s shadow.

His father publishes a quarterly journal of amusement park industry news and analysis, and has long admired one Otis Sharpe, a pioneer whose ideas were rejected in America once Disney had established its stranglehold. Now Otis has set up shop on the remote island of X whose government has given him funding and free reign there to construct Clockworld, recreating periods in time like the Great Fire Of London or a Roman Coliseum. It is there that Danny’s parents dispatch the seventeen-year-old Luke for they feel he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and needs to discover new perspectives.

Fourteen-year-old Danny has been left behind once more.

“What will I do without him? Who will I be?”

But after two year of silence, the parents grow worried about Luke. They believe that to pursue their eldest themselves would risk driving him away further still, but that Luke would accept Danny instead and, after a month, Danny is to return bringing Luke back with him.

“Yes! I will take this quest for you, for myself, and for our Luke!”
“You are a brave soul, my child. You are sixteen – almost the same age as Luke when he made his pilgrimage…It is your time now.”

We’ll return to the language in a second – it is far from accidental – but he does like inventing his sequestered, seeming Utopias, does our Dash Shaw. THE UNCLOTHED MAN IN THE 35TH CENTURY A.D. (former Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month) introduced us to a particularly elaborate new society and educational establishment. Here, much in thrall to Otis Sharpe and the construction of Clockworld, it is the whole of the island of X, named after its shape and so boasts a whole lot of coast. Its customs are different to ours. The island of X has no theft: you can leave your bicycles wherever you like; no one will run off with them. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be any crime at all. The X men and women have very different attitudes to parenthood and indeed sex, but the legal drinking age is sixteen.

“That’s my age. I can sip the forbidden spice!”
“No shit.”

It is an island of wonders to Danny, with subaquatic libraries housing their much revered books. And speaking of reverence that is precisely how Danny regards Luke. He has always worshipped Luke, and here sees himself as the older brother’s disciple, hence the bursts of Biblical font throughout:

“Teach me, Luke! My ears are yours!” he thinks in complete adoration.

You’ll notice that Luke’s speech is far more colloquial. Shall we say… adjusted? Danny’s social skills aren’t that great. But he is encouraged by what he takes to be moments of meaningful physical contact (“A touch! A playful gesture!”) even though it is immediately apparent to Danny on being met at the docks that Luke has moved on even further. “Luke has taken a lover!” Danny can’t help but focus on their kiss. And Luke’s new stubble. It is a little… alienating. Undaunted, Danny follows Luke and Esther about, keeping up as best he can, but on sipping the forbidden spice it transpires that Danny cannot hold his drink, and Luke will not always be there to hold his hand.

I think I’d better leave it there.

I found this very powerful, the hero worship and humiliations very affecting, all the more so because of Dash’s intense, enveloping art with its colours acting like filters, as if you’re immersed in some low-lit water tank. I can’t claim to know exactly how the effect is achieved but it is as if Shaw has laid each page out in his mind, laid the swathes of colour down first, then drawn over them with a blunt Sharpie.

It will alienate many – it is certainly supposed to be alien; other – but when I was very young I found the art style in MAUS to be alienating too until I began actually reading it. Once I started in on this, I was completely subsumed in Danny’s world, his perspective and in his plight. I can’t think of a single other visual treatment that has made me feel less of an observer and more directly involved, so that when the whole thing burst open I too began to panic, just as I was awed in the subaquatic library.

“The bottom floor rests beneath the blue – so that when you life a book from a shelf, you peer into the glistening sea life living beyond!
“The dusk light passes through the water, illuminating the space in rippling colour! Have my eyes ever seen such beauty?! Bliss! Bliss!”


Buy New School h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Paul Joins The Scouts (£14-99, Conundrum Press) by Michel Rabagliati…

Very much in the same laidback vein as PAUL HAS A SUMMER JOB, this might be my favourite Paul story yet, regaling us as it does with his happy days spent cub scouting at his first summer camp, plus the odd evening repeatedly almost managing to kiss his first crush. He does eventually get a bit of lip-wrestling action as well learning how to deal with a canoe capsizing, but what comes across most strongly is his pure sense of joy at just being a kid, when life was so much simpler with far, far less to think about.

We also get to see his nascent interest in comicbook artistry come into being, with some vignettes that are truly fascinating and amusing in equal measure as he struggles to impress his family with his early efforts. All this childhood wonder is set against the background of some rather unpleasant events occurring in Quebec at the time, courtesy of the FLQ, intent on ‘liberating’ Quebec from Canadian clutches. In addition there is a rather shocking ending, when Paul has a nasty accident breaking his leg at the last cub meeting, right before his impending second summer camp, meaning he misses out and is instead laid up in Montreal. Understandably he’s more than a little down in the dumps about it. The breaking of the leg isn’t what is shocking though, in fact that turns out to be a truly huge blessing in disguise…


Buy Paul Joins The Scouts and read the Page 45 review here

Giant Days 2 (£4-99, ) by John Allison…

“Were you CAREFUL?”

“In a prophylactic sense, yes, but… I may have knocked his guitar off the wall and broken it… while trying something.”


“He wasn’t pleased.”

Featuring the return of crazy-haired introvert Daisy Wooton, the phlegmatic and rather blunt Susan Ptolemy, plus the divine man-mesmerising beauty that is Esther de Groot. Readers of the first GIANT DAYS may recall our friends are in their first year of University, having only just made each other’s acquaintance in Fresher’s week. Already firm chums, they’re now settling in nicely to Uni life with all the endless socialising and lack of studying that entails. For Esther this also means pining for her boyfriend Eustace from back home and unwittingly attracting the romantic attentions of the completely harmless and also slightly gormless Ed Gemmell.

The fact that Esther is completely out of his league doesn’t deter Ed from dreaming but he’s going to regret revealing his crush to his streetwise new mate, and budding guitar god – in his own mind at least – Steve Shields. Cue one heated phone call from Eustace, a drinking binge at the rock night down the Slag Pit (surely the best name ever for a night club?) for the ladies, and a rather unwise decision on Esther’s part about who to share a taxi home with. The next day there’s a very forlorn Ed to console, a reputation to repair, and a guitar to… err… repair as well. Note-perfect British comedy from Mr. Allison, illustrated as exquisitely as ever.


Buy Giant Days 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Adventure Time: Playing With Fire s/c (£7-99, Titan) by Danielle Corsetto & Zack Sterling –

Super cute tale wherein Finn and Jake take Fire Princess to the carnival kingdom because she has NEVER BEEN TO THE CARNIVAL KINGDOM!!! 😮 They have a lovely time but, of course, some mysterious happening isn’t far away because this is Adventure Time so, yeah. FP wants to see the fortune teller and so off they go. She has to go in alone though. The mystic tells her boyfriend to wait outside. Finn!? Boooooooyfriend!!!! So cute. And then some stuff happens which makes FP think about her true nature; good or evil, hero or villain? (The best she can aim for is chaotic good, in my opinion) Also, kissing! Plus Choose Goose falls foul of that most ancient of truths – nothing rhymes with purple.*

And then the best bit in the whole book – BMO STORY! Our little walking joypad gets into the Forbidden Loot Stash Cupboard. Such a naughty noodle. Will the mess be tidied up before Finn and Jake get back? Probably not, as Bmo’s various attempts at said tidying are each more disastrous than the last.

Told in black, white and grey tone in a cute mini-sized pocket book this is a lovely little thing from internet web comics person of note Danielle Corsetto (GIRLS WITH SLINGSHOTS) and up and coming art person Zack Sterling.

*No, burple is not a word. Please don’t write in.

Buy Adventure Time: Playing With Fire s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Bravest Warriors vol 1 s/c (£10-99, Kaboom) by Joey Comeau & Mike Holmes…

“A mission! I love missions!”
“Computer, trace that signal!”
“I’ll make sure we turned the oven off!”
“Hey guys, I am just tossing ideas around… maybe we should ignore the distress call and let the clowns all die?”
“No way! We are the Bravest Warriors, Danny. And we are going to go and save those depressed little bozos from a nightmare storm of frowny faces.”
“We will smack the frowns right off their faces!”

Boo hoo, a planet full of clowns are sad and the only people who can turn those frowns upside down are our merry bunch of transgalactic teenage troubleshooters. Fans of the cartoon from the creator of ADVENTURE TIME will be up to light speed on what to expect. For those unfamiliar with Chris, Wallow, Beth, Danny plus unofficial fifth member Plum, Bravest Warriors is fairly typical of most modern animated fare, in the sense that it makes no sense. Surreal, zany, fast-paced with more bright colours than a vatful of E numbers, their missions are like Captain Kirk’s wildest and most delirious fever dreams. Great fun.


Buy Bravest Warriors vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Previously in ROMANTIC BISON:

After admiring from afar – though maybe not far enough: hiding in the bulrushes all day and just staring seemed like stalking – our mud-loving bull, blissed up on Sylvia the rabbit, finally made his move…via a love letter which Sweary Cat hid from Sylvia, such was Sweary Cat’s jealousy. Sweary Cat pretended that she was Sylvia’s boyfriend and told Romantic Bison to back off. Romantic Bison backed off. Largely because he failed to notice that Sweary Cat was a con, not a tom.

It’s so difficult to tell with cats.

However, all this Shakespearian subterfuge and high dramatic irony finally resolved itself and everyone lived happily ever after. Or did they?

“Oh, Sweary Cat! Don’t be jealous. You’ll meet someone one day too!”
“ARGH! I don’t need to go out with someone to be happy!”

Agreed! Translation: no one ever asks me.

“Oh, Sweary! I didn’t mean to upset you. Everyone wants to be loved by that special soul mate.”
“I hate sole, mate. It’s the only fish I don’t like.”

Errr, I agree. Translation: I quite like sole, but I’m trying to keep a running gag going.

“Soul! Soul mate! Don’t you want to meet another cat to smooch with?”
“No! Leave me alone. I’m fine.”

Agreed, agreed, agreed! Translation: I am unloveable.

“Ok… I’m sorry. I just want to spread the love.”
“Love is an invention of the media to sell products. It’s not real. You are feeling obsession + lust. You just think it is love.”

What a Debbie Downer! It’s a good job Sylvia knows her own heart and, throughout life, has kept her boundaries down stoically enough in spite of any hard knocks to experience all the shades of affection from mere infatuation to true love. You can tell it’s true love here: they have bonded over old Disney movies.

It’s also a good job that Sylvia cares more about Sweary Cat than Sweary Cat does about Sylvia and so takes imaginative, thoughtful steps in trying to rekindle their friendship with the aid of her bad-feeling beau, Bison. Even if they do stray somewhat off the path by signing Sweary Cat up to an online dating agency, unilaterally and without her consent.

That particular cul-de-sac is almost as excruciating as First Dates on TV last night. She (not here, on TV and in order to break her date’s hopeless, fish-out-of-water silence): “What would you like to know about me?” He: “Ten years ago I had a heart attack.”

This is an 18-page, landscape comic with additional card cover which, in spite of its seemingly throwaway comedy, actually nails so much about friendships and the dating game, and the dating reality of love which sometimes threatens to come between close, long-standing friendships. Sometimes that is the fault of those understandably subsumed in a new love affair, but here it is down to selfish resentment and possessiveness of the world’s most morose moggie.

Can’t you just be happy for your friends?


Buy Romantic Bison 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Wasteland vol 8: Lost In The Ozone (£10-99, Oni) by Anthony Johnston & Russell Roeling…

“Why now?”
“Years ago, I… I felt it calling. I don’t know why I resisted. No, that’s not true. I didn’t like the feeling that maybe I wasn’t in control. Do you know what I mean?”
“Oh yeah.”
“And then… I forgot, somehow.”
“We all did.”
“But how could we? And why did we remember that night?”
“Maybe we’ll find out.”
“And if we don’t?”
“I could live with that.”

Well I couldn’t! And I am sure, dear readers, neither could you. But don’t panic, I’m sure Antony is merely teasing us, as a few more secrets are gradually revealed in this volume whilst Michael and Abi head across the desert towards A-Ree-Yass-I. Whilst nothing remotely conclusive is given away, we have now got a few more – just a few, mind – pieces of the jigsaw.

Also, a thought occurred to me actually whilst reading… regarding the Nephilim. Given what A-Ree-Yass-I may or may not be, and if that particular somewhat phonetically misleading / confusing clue does refer to the location I think it does, well the Nephilim might be something entirely different to the divine beings everyone presumes them to be. Or not. I really don’t know, but I do want to find out!!! Also, did you know Anthony is a talented musician? He’s recorded a soundtrack for WASTELAND, free to download, adding a song with each major story arc, that you can find HERE.


Buy Wasteland vol 8: Lost In The Ozone and read the Page 45 review here

Hawkeye vol 2: Little Hits Now s/c (£11-99, Marvel ) by Matt Fraction & David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth with Francesco Francavilla, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm, Annie Wu.

“Okay… this looks bad.”

Of course it does, Clint: you are involved.

HAWKEYE VOL 1 is the only superhero comic we have ever allowed in the Page 45 window, and the only superhero comic we have ever made – or are likely to make – Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month. Firstly, David Aja’s design skills are phenomenal; secondly, this isn’t a superhero comic: it’s a grin-inducingly inventive comedy crime caper, full of humanity and accessible to all: you don’t need to have read a single Marvel Comic in your life.

Oh, you’ll find so much to relate to, like that unfathomable tangle of wires which links your TV to your digital thingie via the DVD player and VCR, while your PS3 and Wii operate almost certainly by magic if only you can remember which arcane combination of controller buttons to press. God alone knows which plug is which anymore.

Then there are the ghosts of ex-girlfriends. Oh, not real ghosts, but imagine being caught snogging a damsel in distress (and in dat dress) by a) your girlfriend b) your ex-girlfriend and c) your ex-wife, all at the same time. I’m not exactly sure what a motif is, but Fraction and Aja have turned that trio into one. Probably. They recurr, anyway, at the most inopportune moments.

Once again, this is one long succession of disasters but this time not all of them areof Clint’s making. The first chapter was written on the fly immediately following the horrific storms which hit the U.S. on October 29th 2012.

Clint has bought the tenement building he lives in to safeguard its tenants from a mob in tracksuits. There have been… altercations, bro. He’s also befriended those tenants, especially chubby, middle-aged Grill who insists on calling our Hawkeye “Hawkguy”. As the winds whip up around them, Clint drives Grill to Far Rockaway where Grill’s stubborn old goat of a dismissive dad is steadfastly refusing to pay any attention to the gale or water levels, leaving their last mementoes of Grill’s dead mum in the basement. Oh look, here comes the flood.

The very same night Kate – our younger, female and infinitely wiser Hawkeye – is preparing to hit New Jersey in an elaborate Emanuel Ungaro dress and Christian Dior stilettos.

“What could a storm do to a five-star hotel?”
“It’s New Jersey. There are La Quinta Inns outside of State pens that are nicer.”
“Oh yeah, Mr. Brooklyn? This where you and Jay-Z tell me Brooklyn is the greatest place on Earth?”
“Okay, one, I don’t know who that is, and two, shut up. Brooklyn is great, New Jersey is a punch line, and you are a kid and don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Both threads are moving tributes to people helping each other in times of crises, and that’s what this title is all about: helping people in times of crisis. And it stars the one man above all who simply cannot help himself – in either sense.

“Whoa, man, you look like hell.”
“Walked into a door. That, uh, proceeded to beat the hell out me.”

Clint seems to have spent the entire series covered in plasters.

He’s also spent the series in a line of personalised clothing like the H hat nodding back to his old mask, and the purple target t-shirt. As to Kate, she’s decked herself out in a variety of purple shades which she’s perpetually pulling down to glare her elder in the eyes with long-suffering disdain.

So yes, let us talk more about David Aja’s design which – with Hollingsworth’s white – fills the comic with so much light. His tour de force here is the Pizza Dog issue, told entirely from Lucky’s point of view, wordless except for those basics the mutt might understand. His day is spent constantly interpreting the world around him through sound, smell and association, conveyed by Aja in maps of connected symbols worthy of Chris Ware himself (see BUILDING STORIES, JIMMY CORRIGAN and, particularly for symbols, the early pages of ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #20). There is one seemingly throwaway moment where an absence of both sound and smell means everything.



What is particularly impressive is the absence of almost any anthropomorphism (just two raised paws). Instead it’s all symbols and skeuomorphism as the dog goes about its business (and indeed business) on daily patrol. What you don’t see on the unlettered cover to that chapter is the original credits which would normally read…


… but instead read…


And you know what I was saying in HAWKEYE VOL 1 about Matt Hollingsworth’s gorgeous colour palette? There is a highly instructive two-page process piece in the back in which shows you precisely how he achieves that consistency and the trouble he goes to do so. Pays off every single issue.

Anyway, back to the tangled wires and battered old VCR and our catastrophe-prone Clint doing the best that he can.

“Shut up about the show and shut up about my stuff – I know it’s a mess and it’s half-taped together and it’s old and busted – but it’s mine
“And you gotta make that work, right? You gotta make your own stuff work out.”

Or, to put it another way…

“What is the hell have I gotten myself into? What the hell is wrong with me?”

Oh, Clint! Everything is wrong with you.

Except your heart.


Buy Hawkeye vol 2: Little Hits Now s/c and read the Page 45 review here

FF vol 1: Fantastic Faux s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Mike Allred, Joe Quinones.


Before we go any further, it behoves me to point out that you really do need to read Fraction’s first foray into the FF, FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 1: NEW ARRIVALS, before moving onto this.

Sue, Reed, Ben and Johnny are decidedly off-planet, and have left the Future Foundation child prodigies in the care of She-Hulk, Queen Medusa of The Inhumans, the Human Torch’s current flame, Darla Deering, and the Ant-Man called Scott Lang. They’re more off-kilter than off-planet and maybe off-message as well. The tabloids sure don’t like ‘em.

Yes, it’s got off to a somewhat chaotic start, not least because the original crew promised to be back in just over a few, time-compressed minutes. That didn’t happen. Instead a fully masked man with silver hair claiming to be the Human Torch has materialised, pronounced the others all dead and Doctor Doom responsible. Doctor Doom, it appears, must die…

Oh, there will be action, there will be intrigue, there will be a missing Medusa. There will be a formidable gathering of foes. But there will also be a whole lot of stoopid, including the disastrous news headline “W.T.FF?” and kids monkeying about it the background. The cover should be sign-post enough that this isn’t about the po-faced pugilism.

The Moloids in particular have stolen my heart. These four subterranean children who look like tiny, wizened old men (one but a head in a floating fishbowl) have transferred their worship of The Ben into their adoration of The Jen. (That’s She-Hulk – Marvel’s second superhero lawyer and green-skinned, Amazonian foxstress.) Here she is applying mascara and day-glo pink lipstick oh so seductively coloured by Laura Allred, while one of the hyperactive Moloids glugs down her nail varnish. Jen has the second line only; the rest is all excitable, analytical Moloids….

“Busy, The Jen? Busy for what?”
“I’m… meeting someone for dinner.”
“Is it a date?”
“A date is a fruit.”
“A date is for a mens and a womens. Or mens and mens. And womens and womens. And dates are for smooching.”

He gets one right on the fishbowl, but that doesn’t stop the children trying to sabotage the date with the help of the preternaturally articulate kid-Wizard-clone, Bentley-23.

Later: one of the Moloids has a personal epiphany and dresses to impress. Colour me impressed.


Buy FF vol 1: Fantastic Faux s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Avengers vol 2: The Last White Event h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Mike Deodato, Dustin Weaver.

Can you see what it is yet?

It’s a Starbrand.

A Starbrand is a planetary defence mechanism triggered by The White Event, choosing an appropriate human to gain almost limitless powers. It was last seen in Warren Ellis’ NEW UNIVERSAL in a very different dimension. But now The White Event has finally hit the Marvel Universe, and it’s gone horrifyingly wrong.

Five hours ago a couple on college campus kiss on a park bench. They’re in love. In the foreground strolls a sullen young man, unnoticed and decidedly unloved.

Four hours ago two mates march down a college corridor so wrapped up in their macho conversation they are virtually oblivious to the fact that they just knocked that kid to the floor.

Three hours ago in the campus canteen a science student argues with his dad on the phone about the career he has chosen for himself. The grey-faced guy serves him without even being spoken to.

Two hours ago, he sits silent in a lecture theatre while others postulate about power.

Now that power has been transferred.

“Defending a planet requires having the ability to break one. Now imagine that kind of power in the hands of someone who has spent his entire life being ignored.”

“The machine is broken. The universe is broken.”

It’s been transferred to the wrong human being.

The story which kicked off in AVENGERS VOL 1: AVENGERS WORLD is inextricably entwined with this – we’re building to something gigantic – and indeed another of the planet’s regions which received catalysts from the cosmic gardners on Mars is explored here with more to come. This one’s in Canada and it will mess with your mind, just as it does with the combined forces of the Avengers and Alpha Flight. It’s wickedly clever and really quite brutal and will have you reading it back a good twice or thrice.

Lastly, however, is a unexpectedly mischievous diversion in which Shang-Chi, Sunspot, Cannonball, Carol Danvers, Jessica Drew and the Black Widow are sent undercover to a Hong Kong casino in order to ascertain the nature of the bioweapons they have put on the international black market, and identify their potential buyers. What follows is tensely worded game of poker with more than the cards at stake, someone having fun with a gun, and Sunspot and Cannonball acquiring the most unlikely drinking buddies imaginable – as well as a very useful advantage for the long game.

You’ll know by now that I have a very soft spot for Michael Deodato, inking his own work here with a much finer line, but all of the art is tremendous and the subtle way those campus scenes were originally played before the key moments are revisited to highlight the invisible man was so neat that I probably shouldn’t have spoiled it. Plenty more to play for.


Buy Avengers vol 2: The Last White Event h/c and read the Page 45 review here

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars h/c (£11-99, Quirk) by Ian Doescher…

Aboard the rebel ship
Enter C-3PO and R2-D2.

C-3PO: Now is the summer of our happiness made winter by this sudden, fierce attack! Our ship is under siege, I know not how. O hast thou heard? The main reactor fails! We shall most surely be destroy’d by this. I’ll warrant madness lies herein!
R2-D2:  Beep beep, beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, beep, beep, whee!
C-3PO: We’re doomed! The princess shall have no escape this time! I fear this battle doth portend the end of the Rebellion. O! What misery!

[Exeunt C-3PO and R2-D2]

And they say Shakespeare has nothing to say to the modern man! This is truly hilarious.

Obviously you’ll need to be a fan of Star Wars to appreciate the gag as scene after classic scene is re-imagined in the inimitable style of the Bard, but it really is the gift that keeps on giving as the ultimate space opera is reduced (or uplifted, depending on your perspective) to a bawdy farcical romp, pitting the Faustian ne’er do wells of the Empire against those most noble heroes of the Rebellion. I do most verily doff my hat to Ian Doescher who has produced this adaption in the style of a Shakespearean play, complete with stage notes, because it is truly note-perfect throughout. Now I just desperately want to see someone put it on as a production!

I should also add that there are numerous illustrations throughout which are equally amusing, my favourite probably being Jabba the Hutt in an Elizabethan hat!


Buy William Shakespeare’s Star Wars h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

Reviews already online if they’re new formats of previous books. Otherwise the most interesting will come under the microscope next week, while the rest will remain with their Diamond previews acting in lieu of reviews.


Goddamn This War! (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Jacques Tardi

The Love And Rockets Companion – 30 Years (And Counting) s/c (£22-50, Fantagraphics) by Los Bros Hernandez, edited by Marc Sobel, Kristy Valenti

The Killer vol 4 h/c (£14-99, Archaia) by Matz & Luc Jacamon

The Killer Omnibus vol 1 s/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Matz & Luc Jacamon

BPRD Hell On Earth vol 5 – The Pickens County Horror (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie & James Harren, Jason Latour, Max Fiumara

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller s/c (£10-99, Archaia) by various

Gunnerkrigg Court vol 4: Materia  Materia h/c (£19-99, Other A-Z) by Tom Siddell

Walrus s/c (£14-99, Picturebox) by Brandon Graham

Eldritch vol 1 s/c (£13-50, Slave Labor Graphics) by Aaron Alexovich & Drew Rausch

Primates: The Fearless Science Of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey & Birute Galdikas h/c (£14-99, FirstSecond) by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks

Revival vol 2: Live Like You Mean It (£10-99, Image) by Tim Seeley & Mike Norton

Glory vol 2: War Torn (£10-99, Image) by Joe Keatinge & Ross Campbell

Kafka h/c (£22-50, Image) by Steven T. Seagle & Stefano Gaudiano

Black Orchid s/c (£12-99, DC) by Neil Gaiman & Dave Mckean

Batman: The Dark Knight vol 1 – Knight Terrors s/c (£12-99, DC) by Paul Jenkins, David Finch, Judd Winick, Joe Harris & David Finch

Batman: The Dark Knight vol 2 – Cycle Of Violence h/c (£16-99, DC) by Gregg Hurwitz & David Finch

Avengers Academy: Final Exams s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Christos N. Gage & Tom Grummett, Andrea Di Vito

Captain America vol 4 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, Cullen Bunn & Scot Eaton, Steve Epting

The Mighty Thor And Journey Into Mystery: Everything Burns s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen & Alan Davis, various

Uncanny X-Force vol 7: Final Execution Book 2 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & David Williams, Phil Noto

Avengers Assemble vol 1 s/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man vol 4 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez, Sara Pichelli

Wolverine Max vol 1: Permanent Rage s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Jason Starr & Roland Boschi, Felix Ruiz

Deadpool: Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way, Andy Diggle & Paco Medina, Carlo Barbieri, Bong Dazo, Steve Dillon

I’ll Give It My All Tomorrow vol 5 (£9-99, Viz) by Shunju Aono

Gate 7 vol 4 (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Clamp

The Great War h/c Slipcase Edition (£20-00, Jonathan Cape) by Joe Sacco

3″ (£14-99, Jonathan Cape) by Marc-Antoine Mathieu

Naruto vol 62 (£6-99, Viz) by Masashi Kishimoto

Pandora Hearts vol 15 (£8-99, Yen) by Jun Mochizuki

Bakuman vol 20 (£6-99, Viz) by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata


ITEM! New New Statesman comic by Tom Humberstone featuring the most polite protesters ever!

 “No more animal testing, please!”
“Climate change is a bad thing!”
“Something else that is reasonable”

 ITEM! Have a free online comic: Fallen London by Chris Gardiner & Paul Arendt – it’s cyberpunk in sepia. Made me smile.

ITEM! Amazing crockery (and comics) on Isabel Greenberg’s Tumblr

ITEM! New, all-ages daily webcomic: ASTRODOG by Paul Harrison-Davies

ITEM! Weekly Lakes International Comic Art Festival update (central news hub, there): John Allison will be on hand for portfolio reviews.

ITEM! Leigh Alexander writes about independent games developers PR strategies. It pretty much applies to comics too, and ticked a lot of boxes for me! Please read carefully comics self-publishers – well, all comics publishers!

 – Stephen


One Response to “Reviews July 2013 week three”

  1. Reviews July 2013 week three - Escape Pod Comics says:

    […] post Reviews July 2013 week three appeared first on Page 45 | Comics & Graphic Novels | Independent Bookshop | […]

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