Archive for September, 2013

Reviews September 2013 week four

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Comics from Lizz Lunney, Gabrielle Bell, Jonathan Edwards, Kristina Stipetic, David Petersen, Peter Bagge, Brain Ralph, Tom Hart and I think Jonathan wrote 15 reviews or something! Includes loads more stuff from Spit And A Half.

 – Stephen on JR totally taking it on!

Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me h/c (Expanded Edition) (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Peter Bagge.

“I say all illegal aliens should be aborted.”
“Don’t you mean “deported”?”
“That too.”

Sarah Palin almost made satire unnecessary, didn’t she?

Even funnier, smarter and head-noddingly engaging than I was expecting, as a huge admirer of STUPID COMICS I have to declare that for me at least this is the best body of work Peter Bagge has produced. It’s more focussed, more pertinent and very well informed as Peter tries to make sense of a world that refuses to talk any.

Modern art, modern art critics, The War On Drugs, The War On Terror, peace rallies, the homeless, crazy laws and their ridiculous enforcement, the right to bear arms and the right to be utterly infuriated at both sides of an argument. Peter’s a self-proclaimed libertarian, but do not for one second expect him to conform to any single partisan outlook because it’s the failure to think for oneself that exasperates him most. He’s equally confident in his dismissal of modern instalation art and its arbiters of taste (“they feel compelled to denigrate anything that the average schmuck can recognise as quality work“) as he is of Shakespeare (“hokey, unintelligible, 400-yr-old situation comedies” – an outrageous statement even I might have shied from!).

This is a collection of one-page satire strips and three-to-five-page commentaries originally printed in the aptly named Reason magazine, in startling contrast to what it reported on. Sometimes he’s your man on the scene, reluctantly taking part in peace rallies (taking part because he was against attacking Iraq; reluctant because he found it full of bogus posturing, grannies sniping at the police, and “piggybackers” promoting their own agendas by association) or a mutual-support gathering of swingers, polyamorists, sadomasochists and transsexuals, whilst at others he mocks by holding a mirror to the more monstrous or simply quoting them. From the New York Times (01/12/07), here’s one of the Bush-appointed contraception opponents, Dr. Erik Keroack, “before questions about Medicaid fraud forced his resignation”:

“[Premarital sex] will end up damaging your brain’s ability… to help you successfully bond in future relationships.”

As Peter perceptively retorts, “That’s right: hormones can tell if you’re married!”

But it’s serious stuff, as the horrifying story of one of Peter’s friends makes clear, when she visits a pharmicist who judgementally denies her the Plan B morning-after pill following her third visit in a year: “It’s become obvious that you’re a very irresponsible woman…” As to well informed, Bagge uses science to remind us that contrary to the lying rhetoric employed to sabotage this pill, it’s still a contraceptive drug, not an abortive one.

What impresses me so often in this book is that Bagge never shies of saying what many think but would never dare say, but is also prepared to mix with those he feels uneasy around in order to learn more and communicate his findings to a wider audience. I don’t always concur – though I usually do – but I could not agree more about the politically motivated, socially destructive, absurdly hypocritical and historically proven-to-be-completely-counter-productive War On Drugs. Here he follows the insane persecution and its costs to the taxpayer of one man using marijuana legally for medical reasons; then he interviews former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper who is pro-legalisation of all drugs for very sound reasons not least of which are health, the drain on police resources, the discretion of arrest that has produced a mammoth discrepancy in arrest rates along racial lines and, oh yes, does anyone remember the Prohibition era when alcohol was banned…? Al Capone…?

“The drug war has corrupted entire police departments, and it makes a cop’s job far more dangerous than it needs to be.”

Now that alcohol is legal again there, how many modern Al Capones are there fighting over the distribution of Dubonnet?


Buy Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me h/c (Expanded Edition)  and read the Page 45 review here

July Diary (£4-25) by Gabrielle Bell…

It’s July and Gabrielle and has again challenged herself to write a comic a day. Why has she done this? Handily for us, on panel five of Wednesday July 6th, she’s bullet point listed all the reasons…

  • I do a comic every day anyway.
  • Need a sense of accomplishment.
  • Need attention.
  • Need “internet presence”.
  • Need creative challenge.
  • Secretly hoping it could lead to making $$$.
  • Nothing ever seems to work out for me so I might as well do exactly what I want to do which is this.

Honest, endearing, as neurotic as a box of frogs. I think I have a secret crush on her.


Buy July Diary and read the Page 45 review here

Mouse Guard vol 3: The Black Axe h/c (US Ed’n) (£18-99, Archaia) by David Petersen.

“I did not envy knowing the true words of a beast that blames you for its death.”

Well, that made me sit up and think. It occurs early on after Guardmouse Celanawe is first visited by his last living relative Em, who flew in on a crow she can communicate with. Whilst unattended, the crow is savaged by weasels which use the crow’s loose reins as its own leash, pinning it to the shore so that it cannot escape their murderous claws.

All Celanwe can hear are its caws of alarm and desperation; but elderly Em can comprehend every single sound, and tears well up her eyes as she clasps her paws to her muzzle in heart-stricken horror and grief.

This is surprisingly powerful stuff, and if you think that’s the last moment of stomach-churning guilt you will be made to feel vicariously, you are very much mistaken. One moment of elation much later on is shot down in a second as the repercussions of Celanawe’s understandable actions are unveiled. That this is done visually is the genius of it all, for it strikes home immediately; and that you will have been rooting for Celanawe with such passion will leave you feeling guilty by association. Then, I suspect, the ferret king’s strict code of honour, uttered pages before with complete conviction, will come back to haunt you, as it does the brave Guardmouse.

When recommending these all-ages MOUSE GUARD books to parents on the shop floor, I tend to qualify my unqualified admiration for their craft with, “It’s not Watership Down, but then reading Watership Down aged ten can scar you for life…” Well, this instalment is pretty damn harrowing in places.

THE BLACK AXE is a prequel to the earlier instalments, although its prologue kicks off in Spring straight after them and will return there in the epilogue. The body of the book harks back to Spring 1115 with Em bringing loyal Guardmouse Celanawe secret – and partially cryptic – instructions from his Matriarch to treat Em’s commands as her own. Their mission is to retrieve the legendary but lost Black Axe from its last known location on the island of Ildur.

The Black Axe is both a physical ebony weapon granting longevity and the name conferred to whichever warrior wields it. There are strict rules for bequeathing it as Celanawe will learn later, but for now it is enough for him to know what his Matriarch requires of him. For this, they will need stout hearts and a boat – which is where Conrad comes in.

“The younger mouse wasn’t as grizzled, rough, and dead in the eyes as the others. But his fur was stiff from the sea salt and I could catch a whiff of spirits from its muzzle.”

Petersen has immersed himself thoroughly in the perspective of small but stoical rodents, so that the seasons, environment, dietary requirements and in particular the condition of their fur mean different things than they would to us. It’s all in the detail and Petersen does bedraggled very well. The voyages are epic, the individuals’ skill sets so clearly defined so it is impressed upon you how vital each is for the mission and what would be lost if they were as well. They make the most of their natural environment, improvising and adapting as necessary and – while we’re talking about the environment – when you finally spy the ferrets’ Hall On The Hill, you may smile to discover that is also a Hall In The Hill, so similar to the modern eco-home with its thick-turfed roof.

The panel grids are crystal clear, the perspectives quite thrilling, and there are occasional cross sections so you can see more of some structures, often as fully realised as landscape artist Gerhard’s. The compositions within each panel are full-bodied – I cannot think of a weak one – even more so when larger beasts like bears, boars and foxes loom into view. This imparts a palpable sense of danger for mice so small, Black Axe or no. This time round I particularly relished the visualisations of the ferrets, quite distinct from the earlier, skull-adorned weasels, and especially the behaviour of the ferret king himself, which will take you by surprise.

My only qualm is the type-face, though I concede it could just be me: its lower case is adorned with flourishes like accents aigus to represent the medieval times (oh yes, sorry – normally my first words are “feudal fantasy”) which I found difficult to read. But this merely delayed my already slow reading process down; it didn’t impede it.

This is the finest incarnation of an already impressive library so far, hence the length and depth of this review. That it is riven with so much tragedy – not in its Shakespearian sense, necessarily, more heart-rending loss – makes it all the stronger, while the stoicism of Celanawe makes the legend of the Black Axe all the more impressive.


Buy Mouse Guard vol 3: The Black Axe h/c (US Ed’n) and read the Page 45 review here

Daddy Lightning (£4-25) by Tom Hart…

I wish I hadn’t googled precisely why the comic was dedicated to his two-year-old daughter.

I had my suspicions and I was right. I was too upset to take this in properly really after that. The four photos on the last page just broke me. My heart goes out to him.

This however, is definitely comedy, featuring the semi-hapless titular Daddy Lightning and his increasingly frenetic attempts at childcare.


Buy Daddy Lightnight and read the Page 45 review here

Pop! A Complete History vol 1 (£5-99) by Jonathan Edwards.

Top-notch a-muso-mirth from the pages of NME, and for some reason my favourite panel is from the Beatles’ filmography, parodying their iconic HELP! shenanigans in semaphore as:

“HIYA!” The Times – “Four grown men titting about.”

Maybe because in my mind I’m hearing “HIYA!” as a camped-up greeting down a gay nightclub. I’m not entirely convinced that A Knight’s Hard Day was “an exposé of medieval working practices” but I’m willing to take Jonathan Edwards at his word since he kicks off with complete authority thus:

“All pop music is derived from ‘the blues’ – FACT! The blues was invented in 1900 by Shiverin’ Bitter Lemon Jefferson. “Woke up this morning and inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that would inevitably lead to the T4 Hollyoaks Special. Damn!””

This works even better as a collection rather than a weekly strip for there is cumulative comedy, Edwards returning to that riff over and over again, as when he reveals four further blues guitarist somewhat less than legendary, like metal-head Rustin’ Tinribs Hopkins, whose life is on the fritz:

“Upgraded this morning, Error Message – 26668 bzzzzttttt!”

As ever, of course, to convey the finest comicbook comedy, you kind of need the images. Sorry, and all that – you’ll just have to buy the booklet.

When you do (not if – we understand the power of positive linguistics here), you will learn all about the early torture of Elvis Presley, born quiff-first and top-heavy, his body a mere appendage to the majesty of his mane, and be enlightened on both Cockney and indeed Mockney Blues as Edwards takes us back to London, 1921, and the meteoric rise (don’t meteors fall?) of Coughin’ Billy Bowbells (“Think Plan B with rickets”):

“Me ol’ trouble is brown bread,
I can still see her Bracknells
And the Rodericks I’ll never forget!”

“Trouble & strife – Wife. Brown bread – Dead. Bracknells – I dunno, eyes? Rodericks – No idea. I haven’t a clue.”

I think we can forgive Jonathan this lapse in omniscience: singles rarely came with sleeve notes back in 1921.

Cleverly he had the foresight to choose most of his targets – sorry, subjects – for maximum timelessness, although I’m not sure how long Jedward will remain “a thing” (actually, incredibly, they may well endure!) and these strips were evidently created during the period in which every TV advert seemed to come with an emotive Moby soundtrack.

For the most part, however, you will find blues, jazz and rock – indie or otherwise – in the form of Marc Bolan, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Oasis, and country singer Chet Sorrows who claimed he could make a horse cry. According to Edwards others attempted to emulate this animal emo with varying degrees of success:

“Dwight Flotsam managed to make a cow gaze wistfully into the middle distance.”

Ah, that Moby magic!


Buy Pop! A Complete History vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

14 Nights vol 1 (£13-50) by Kristina Stipetic…

Moving tale involving angry gay Russian immigrant Nikita whose looking for love and recently had to have his hand amputated.  Comics really do surprise you sometimes. Whatever I was expecting from this particular work given the setup, it certainly wasn’t this. It an emotional but amusing, beautifully drawn tale, centred around a richly complex individual, capable of great affection, but also great verbal cruelty. Also, I think Craig Thompson would be a fair comparison to make art-wise, seriously.

Nikita is indeed looking for love. Deep, meaningful and significant love, including lots of passionate sex. The latter he has found many times, the former, well that’s a bit trickier. He is also quite convinced it’s going to be impossible for him to do so, which doesn’t help. Enter Lucian, who on the face of it, seems too good to be true, and of course is. Because whilst he is happy to give Nikita the emotional comfort he wants, he’s unable or unwilling to commit himself physically. This collects the first 110 pages of the long running webcomic. More to come in printed format, another two chunks of about the same length each I believe. But if you can’t wait until then, or want to have a peak at the art, and I strongly urge you to as it is splendid, you can read the first 314 pages HERE. Be warned, does contain willies.


Buy 14 Nights vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

At The Theme Park (£4-00) by Lizz Lunney.

Welcome to Lizzneyland! It’s just like Disneyland but with longer queues, fewer lawyers and entry is a lot less expensive!

You can even stay overnight by reading this in bed before falling asleep and letting the wonders float through your dreams. You may wish to bring a picnic hamper, however, for the Fast Foodz on offer are far from healthy: 15 quid for an all-day, all-you-can-drink Cup o’ Cola (“refill, refuel, regurgitate”), chipz that contain no potato and hot dogz that contain no real meat – not even dog. Beware of false advertising!

The best ride is the Emotional Rollercoaster, though that may be the 10-hour queue.

Like all Lizz Lunney comics which appear on the surface to be 100% bananas (unlike the bananaz), this is all so fiercely observed: cats queuing silently just like humans, occasionally exchanging glances but never words then quickly looking away; being trapped next to a litterbin filled with food and whizzing with wasps when you’ve already invested so much time you simply cannot run away; and indeed the false summit which is that snaking queue. You think there’s just 15 minutes to go but peer past the corner and it turns out to be 15 hours!

Parenthetically, don’t you find it’s the same when you close Microsoft Outlook and the back-up proceeds to read, “3 minutes… 2 minutes… 18 minutes… 3 hours… 355 days…”?

I absolutely adore the infectious enthusiasm of those brave souls who finally board the barf-inducing rides enticingly named ‘Black Hole’, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘You Will Never See Your Parents Again’ and wave their hands in the air like they don’t care when I can only grip onto my harness for dear life. It’s subtle, but Lunney nails the abrupt turn of a speeding rollercoaster and its effect on the waving, almost wailing arms of its occupants. Well, apart from guest-star DEPRESSED CAT who has his figurative arms folded for maximum malaise. And ennui. And, oh… *sigh*.

This is Lizz Lunney’s best book to date. For all her effervescence there is always a serious streak observing the human condition which rears its head here in a two-page interlude beginning with a stylised but immediately recognisable self-portrait fraught with Schultz-like underfrowns:

“As soon as you know about the possibility of something you worry about it.”

Immediately she deflects that undeniable truth with a pseudo-scientific dissection of Leaning Rabbit’s brain. Leaning Rabbit doesn’t engage most of his brain for anything other than leaning, and so has no worries. There are three tiny exceptions devoted to carrots, toilet and sex. But even so there is “no room in his brain for worry”.

“So from that, “Doctor Lunney deduces, “we can conclude that the secret to avoiding worry is to think about something else…”

Her beatifically beaming face exudes spangly stars of equanimous optimism, and she looks as sublime as her supine specimen. But the underlying message so cleverly conveyed through the experiment’s self-evidently glib procedure is this: it’s easier said than done.


Buy At The Theme Park and read the Page 45 review here

Lovf (£7-50) by Jesse Reklaw…

Wow. This is more intense than a quintuple espresso, and will probably make you feel as edgy, it certainly did me.

I mainly knew of Jesse from the moderately strange NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE, in which he illustrates other peoples’ dreams. This quite simply is, as he mentions on the front interior page, ‘a selection from the sketchbook I kept during a manic phase’. As I mentioned in another mini-comic review that they are often a way of getting a soupçon  of what a creator is all about, this would be the perfect example, given Jesse’s upcoming powerful looking tragicomic COUCH TAG H/C which he himself describes as ‘a memoir of childhood, family, mental illness and cats’. I’m looking forward it, even more so having disturbed myself reading this. Some people just have it harder than others. And then some of those people can make great comics out of it.


Buy Lovf and read the Page 45 review here

The Half Men (£2-99) by Kevin Huizenga…

Thought I had seen these two stories before. The first briefer part, possibly inspired by BEANWORLD, (who knows?!) artistically reminded me of FIGHT OR RUN and was originally collected in the NOBROW VOL 6 anthology.

The second much longer part, is essentially Kevin redrawing a real 1950s’ sci-fi comic in his own inimitable style, and was originally collected in KRAMER’S ERGOT VOL 8. I have no idea whether the dialogue is the original, I don’t think so at least not entirely given one of the heroes is called Dr. Ganges, but it is wonderfully entertaining. It comes as the most insane GLENN GANGES story ever, which I’m sure is entirely the idea.


Buy The Half Men and read the Page 45 review here

Mary Shelley Vs. Dracula (£4-25) by Janne Tervamaki.

“It has been brought to my attention… that you have been causing some serious trouble.”
“Boss! Please! Have a mercy on me! Please let me keep this job! I beg you!”
“I’m afraid that is out of the question. Because of your dabbling, several skyscrapers have vanished and ended up in other dimension!”

Utterly barking mad. More please. I really do need more of this. In glorious full colour too! The closest comparison, not for the story per se, but just for the lurid, bonkers assault on your senses would probably be Martin Eden’s SPANDEX. That ‘illustrated by a felt tip prodigy’ look.


Buy Mary Shelley Vs Dracula and read the Page 45 review here

You Don’t Get There From Here # 21 to 25 (£1-99 each) by Carrie McNinch…

Enduring mini-comics series of which young Tom wrote at some distant point in the past…

‘Carrie’s Mini’s are just about the most accessible mini-comics going, they’re dense, detailed, pocket-sized and, most importantly, cheap! Plus she has the skill to play a melodious tune on the heart strings in just three panels or build to a crescendo over many entries… Jump in anywhere, reading these for the first time is like meeting a new old friend.’

He’s right you know!


Buy You Don’t Get There From Here # 25 and read the Page 45 review here

Reggie 12 h/c (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Brian Ralph…

Lovely homage to, and pastiche, of the great ASTRO BOY. Fans of Tezuka’s work will spot so, so many subtle, and not-so-subtle, references to the original. People who are unaware of the mighty metal midget will simply think this is brilliant and surreal manga-style knockabout comedy. Which it is. I particularly like Donald-14 and Bjorn the cat, slackers par excellence, who usually provide a running commentary on Reggie’s exploits, and often the last absurd word on each particular adventure, and love nothing more than causing him additional mischief with crank calls and stupid pranks. Fans of Mr. Ralph please note, CAVE-IN is finally back in print in a lovely new edition.


Buy Reggie 12 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Turtie Needs Work (£0.99) by Steve Wolfhard…

In which a tiny turtle tries various jobs with comedic results. It could just be coincidence, but I’ve just starting reading the Mr. Men to Whackers (my daughter) of an evening and had forgotten that the Mr. Small story is all about him trying out different jobs, with hilarious consequences. Quite sure there’s no plagiarism going on, just a very odd bit of synchronicity. Not sure what the universe is trying to tell me, but anyway, whilst this was good, Mr. Small is better. Though obviously not comics, before the pedantry police step in. And squash him.


Buy Turtie Needs Work and read the Page 45 review here

Technopriests Supreme Collection h/c (£37-99, Humanoids) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Zoran Janjetov.

“You have the most important skill in business: knowing how to cheat!”

A visual treat for fans of space-faring science fiction here with all the detail of HIP FLASK’s Ladronn and face and figure work not dissimilar to Frank Quitely’s. In fact Beltran’s moulded colouring with its metallic sheens and aqueous effects is so rich that it’s easy to lose sight of Janjetov’s meticulous cross-hatching on the ceilings and arched walls of a battleship’s bedrooms or the curved hull of the vast Verdant Fury. And if you likes yer monsters, do we have a menagerie for you! Diablodactyls, epidragons, drooling anthropomorphic sharks and enough different cybersaurs to fill a fantastical bestiary.

Yes, cybersaurs. Because actually this is as much about the gaming industry as anything else, and a not inconsiderable chunk of it is spent in the malleable world of virtual reality like the Technodojo where your greatest weapons are your wits and imagination. Games protégé Albino has both in abundance matched only by his driving ambition to create. To create games of unparalleled imagination, thinking so far outside the box that they transcend the traditional or the formulaic thereby raising the experience to another level. Commercially it’s seen as suicide.

“My boy, you see here a representative sample of our public… like the lambda consumers, with their neuroses and cherished complexes… who wish to be entertained, without ever rising above their feeble mental capacity.

“Fifty morons! A perfect cross-section of average consumers, drawn from all planetary systems… who will contribute their greed to your games. Any game which doesn’t please them will have to be remade, until they consent to enter your creations… which will be their creations more than your own, for they will be conceived specifically for their limited souls…

“The fifty morons love to fly spaceships, shooting at enemy vessels that use multi-directional propulsion systems to evade them… and all the maneuvers have the same goal: chase your enemy while staying on his trail.”

It’s this sort of creation by consumer consent, pandering to the lowest common denominator and appeasing their minimal expectations by giving the public more of what they already know that almost crushes our protagonist’s dreams under the weight of its stifling mediocrity. His genius is recognised by the Pan-Techno Organisation but it’s either punished or at least bridled because their original goal of enlightenment has long since been warped by man’s base desire for money which has now become theirs. It’s all about the bottom line. Here are some of the sacredly held tenets of the Guild’s first credo:

“Fifty-three: never expect anything from someone in power. Only the disadvantaged can make the first move.”
“Seventy: without greed and capitalist spirit, without strength and ambition, without trickery and shrewd business sense, the Technoguild would not exist.”
“One hundred and twenty-five: endeavouring to trap one’s stronger adversaries is the spider’s strategy. Remember that a Technopriest’s web is his network of contracts.”

It’s dense. Not quite as dense as LUTHER ARKWIGHT nor quite as clever, but it still gave me plenty to think about… until it switched to the other more traditional half of the European sci-fi plot involving the rest of Albino’s fractured family whose fortunes are reversed time and time again during his mother’s quest to avenge herself of the rape which spawned her three children. Quite simply, she wants to cut off their balls. Whilst not as explicit as the works of Luis Royo, Manara and co. the themes are all there: sexual slavery, degradation, humiliation, revenge. The revenge cycle plays itself within the fucked-up family but also spirals out in a series of rejections.

As the epic moves on there’s less talk and more epic action with vast armadas in space, cat people and you’ll discover the fate of the third space pirate who raped Albino’s mother, witness the expanding schism between herself and her once-cherished first son Almagro, and see her almost reconciled with her four-armed, blood-red daughter. Until they both give birth.

The art grows increasingly splendid with far more space to breathe. You’d buy any computer game designed by Janjetov. Huge sense of scale with water beings, translucent space birds, a gigantic bi-pedal, red-eyed rhino-bug, and a forest of monumental stalagmites, stretching as far as the eye can see, on either side of a pure blue river. The colouring is so lambent you’d think you were witnessing it all yourself outside on an early summer’s afternoon.

Lastly, I will just add that I was taken aback by the startling similarity in some panels of Albino’s Jiminy Cricket shoulder-size side-kick, to Jim Woodring’s FRANK!


Buy Technopriests Supreme Collection h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Memorexia  (£3-50) by Box Brown…

Sometimes, mini-comics are quite literally a taster of what a particular creator is all about. Other times, it can be the story itself which is an all too insufficient pinch of what could easily be expanded into a full length tale. This is one of the latter. So… if, through the aid of some serious sci-fi machinery, you could relieve one particular memory as though you were there, which would it be?

Under the auspices of one of the great American growth industries of the 20th century, counselling, Shawn has the chance to find out. The one warning, don’t interfere with the memory, let it unfold as you remember it happening. No prizes for guessing what Shawn does. And there it ends!!! I wanted more, what happens next?!?!


Buy Memorexia and read the Page 45 review here

Diesel Sweeties vol 1: I’m A Rocker. I Rock Out. (£14-99, Oni Press Inc.) by R. Stevens…

Collated 8-bit art style webcomic shenanigans revolving around possibly the most judgemental man on the planet, after Dredd obviously, in the gloriously pixellated form of Indie Rock Pete. Rather than try and explain his shtick, let me leave you with a few samples. Oh, and Matt Fraction is a big fan, apparently.

“Heard the new Vampire Weekend album yet?”
“Pick a band, any band. My answer will always be, “I was sick of them six months before you knew they existed.””

“Whatcha listening to?”
“The Gherkin Merkins! My new favourite band.”
“Huh. They’re still around? I like that band ironically before you liked them sincerely.”

“What’s your favourite band Clango?”
“I don’t really listen to music.”
“Then how am I supposed to judge you?”


Buy Diesel Sweeties vol 1: I’m A Rocker. I Rock Out. and read the Page 45 review here

Astro City: The Tarnished Angel (£14-99, DC) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson.

Fourth volume of the highly intelligent, self-contained superhero series ASTRO CITY, usually seen from the sidewalks, in which a recently paroled, metal-skinned veteran criminal, desperately seeking a job to keep himself straight, takes the wrong one. Investigating the recent murders of several local, washed-up super-villains about whom nobody cares, the tired and jaded old man uncovers a terrible strategy behind which lie secrets no one, especially the high-and-mighty superhero community, is willing to believe. Busiek writes an involving internal monologue, full of neat little ideas:

“He does get me some dishwashing jobs. Anyone can get dishwashing jobs. But the thing is – ever tried to wash dishes with wet, soapy, metal hands?”

Meanwhile Brent Anderson’s body language perfectly captures the weariness of a once-formidable body. You can’t help but feel for this poor sod stuck in the middle, who’s used up all credibility and has to find some means of exposing the truth, no matter what the personal repercussions.


Buy Astro City: The Tarnished Angel and read the Page 45 review here

Century West s/c (£5-99, Image) by Howard Chaykin…

Possibly the most casually and continuously offensive story I’ve read in a while. Caution, if you’re black or Jewish (or both!), you might find this sweary wild western yarn ruder than the entire run of HBO’s Deadwood put together. It gets away with it, I think, because it’s so over the top, but I was just puzzled.

I do like Howard’s material by and large, and I think there is a point to the story he is telling here, involving the rather odd town of Century, its inhabitants, and the movie picture that is being filmed there, but I just didn’t get it. I read it, finished it, and was absolutely none-the-wiser as to what was going on. Pretty sure something is being satirised, I just wasn’t sure what. Maybe I was a bit tired. Lovely art though.


Buy Century West 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.


Wu Wei: A Spiritual Comics Anthology (£6-00) by various

The Black Project (£12-99, Myriad) by Gareth Brookes

Lost Boy s/c (£9-99, Other A-Z) by Greg Ruth

Star Wars: Jedi Academy h/c (£8-99, Scholastic) by Jeffrey Brown

Tiny Pencil (£14-99, Tiny Empire Publishing) by Amber Hsu

Hilda And The Troll h/c (£12-95, Flying Eye Books) by Luke Pearson

Justice League vol 2: The Villain’s Journey s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee, Scott Williams

Justice League vol 3: The Throne Of Atlantis h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire & Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, Tony S. Daniel

Birds Of Prey vol 2: Your Kiss Might Kill s/c (£10-99, DC) by Duane Swierczynski & Travel Foreman

Shazam vol 1 h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

Marvel 1985 s/c (UK Ed’n) (£11-99, Marvel) by Mark Millar & Tommy Lee Edwards

Ultimate Comics: Divided We Fall United We Stand s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis, Sam Humphries, Brian Wood & Billy Tan, Paco Medina, David Marquez, others

Young Marvel: Little X-Men, Little Avengers, Big Trouble s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Skottie Young, Dan Slott, Ruben Diaz, Chris Claremont & Gurihiru, Mark Buckingham, JJ Kirby, Tom Raney, Skottie Young

Preacher Book 2 (£14-99, DC) by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

Bokurano Ours vol 9 (£9-99, Viz) by Mohiro Kitoh

Tropic Of The Sea (£10-99, Random House / Vertical) by Satoshi Kon

Blade Of The Immortal vol 27: Mist On The Spider’s Web (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Hiroaki Samura


ITEM! NOTTINGHAM INDEPENDENTS AWARD 2013 IS GO, GO, GO! PLEASE VOTE FOR PAGE 45! You know, by clicking on that link! Page 45 won Best Independent Retailer 2012 and the publicity was phenomenal. So we be enormously grateful if you could help us win again. You don’t have to be local, it’s about what you love most in Nottingham – and it’s unlikely to be the weekend puke in the doorways!

ITEM! Sarah McIntyre, creator of VERN & LETTUCE has written a very helpful and enormously kind column on promoting your books without looking spammy.

ITEM! Magical, almost miasmatic postcard of Market Street, Nottingham. We’re three awnings up on the left!

ITEM! Gerhard explains the extraordinary cover to FOLLOWING CEREBUS #11 – which is now available as a print!

ITEM! The Comicbook Legal Defence Fund on banned books and how to combat challenges and bans in libraries.

ITEM! Expanded edition of Peter Bagge’s exceptional EVERYBODY IS STUPID EXCEPT FOR ME is reviewed above. I swear, if you think you already know Peter Bagge, this is very different territory which truly deserves your attention. Here’s a 15-page EVERYBODY IS STUPID EXCEPT FOR ME preview.


ITEM! I will be appearing at The Broadway Book Club at 7-30pm on Thursday September 26th for a Page 45 interactive evening of glorious graphic novels. And yes, I done wrote a blog on that. Do have a click, even if you can’t come, because there are some beautiful books there, linked to their reviews! Cheers!

ITEM! Page 45 reveals comics’ own Eddie Campbell’s set designs for Michael Eaton’s new play Charlie Peace at Nottingham Playhouse! Big blog there including the actual projection designs! Also, links to loads of Eddie’s glorious graphic novels. You know we made most of them Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month? More than any other single creator.

ITEM! Time’s running out to enter the prize draw for our original Terry Moore art! Competition closes at the end of September! Please see Page 45’s  STRANGERS IN PARADISE OMNIBUS blog.

ITEM! And while we’re at it,  that DUNCAN FEGREDO IS SIGNING HERE ON OCTOBER 23RD FOR THE LAUNCH OF HELLBOY MIDNIGHT CIRCUS! It’s the very day of publication and Page 45 has the graphic novel’s  EXCLUSIVE BOOK MARK EDITION!


  – Stephen

Reviews September 2013 week three

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

There is, as a consequence, a father/daughter moment at the heart of this book between Odin and the Valkyrie which is as powerfully played as any of the surrounding spectacle, and even more poignant still, partly because of the book’s subtle structure.

 – Stephen on Siegfried: The Valkyrie

Inhumans h/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee.

“Imagine you could never make another sound. Not for the rest of your life.
“Not a sigh. Not a yawn. Not a single word. Ever.
“Then, imagine you were given one chance to speak. What would you say?”

So begins what was the single most intelligent and engrossing work published by Marvel some fifteen years ago, and the closest you would have found there in tone to Neil Gaiman; although now you’ll find Neil himself there with MARVEL 1602.

Black Bolt, Medusa, Triton, Gorgon, Karnak and Crystal are the Royal Family of the Inhumans, a race of beings so diverse that each individual is a sub-species of one. In Attilan, a city isolated from humanity with deliberate intent, diversity is admired and prized above all else: to be different is to prove invaluable. So at an age when we hit puberty, the ostensibly ordinary children enter the Terrigen Mists in a daunting ceremony which resembles confirmation or graduation and they emerge, their genetic codes catalysed, as strange and wonderful creatures, as ugly to our eyes as they are beautiful to their parents. If they’re lucky. Because, you see, in this perfect society ruled by an ideal regent, there is an unpleasant secret, a tacit agreement to something tantamount to slavery. And – in the defences which keep these powerful Inhumans remote and safe from our toxic society – there is a flaw. One which is about to be expoited…

Within this sweeping catastrophe Jenkins delivers a series of considered, poignant and contrasting perspectives, sometimes with a quiet irony, but always with a tenderness and compassion greatly enhanced by Jae Lee’s perfectly posed and gently poised figures. Each group or single panel is a triumph of chiaroscuro. Silent panels add weight and timing to a deceptively simple but remarkably clever script. And of course Dave Kemp and Avalon Studios deserve as much attention as anyone else for their rich, lambent colouring, which keeps the whole thing alive.


The interlude featuring the Inhumans’ giant, teleporting hound, Lockjaw, is worth the price of admission alone. He cannot comprehend the scale of the disaster desperately being staved off by all those around him and why he isn’t being played with or fed; but he takes instant delight in rediscovering a plastic doll of Ben Grimm, the Thing.

“Toy! Oh toy! Toy! Toy! Toy!”

It’s funny, but also deeply affecting.

In addition the role of male regent and indeed masculinity are explored using the very epitome of the strong-but-necessarily-silent-type for if the Inhumans’ king Black Bolt speaks, mountains are levelled in his wake.

I never expected to see such an astonishingly moving work from what used to be such a predictably crass company. I suspect its tainted provenance may prove fatally repulsive to so many who would, with an act of faith, adore it. Had this been its first edition I would almost certainly have made it Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, and I’m not even ruling that out.  So thanks to all of you who trusted me enough to buy it in its earlier incarnations, and thanks for your overwhelmingly positive feedback. I hope newcomers enjoy it as much as I am on my fourth reading.

This lush hardback edition comes with preliminary sketch designs, process pieces wherein you can see individual pages evolve for pencils to inks, an interview, and the script to the complete first chapter. £29-99 may sound like a lot but it’s twelve chapters long and a hardback with exquisite reproduction values. That’s less expensive than buying the individual issues separately.


Buy Inhumans h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Whale (£7-50) by Aidan Koch –

A beautiful book, the most moving and compelling articulation of grief I have ever read. Brought me to tears.

[Editor’s note: Dominique is astute and concise.

Purely to make room for the cover on our blog, then, I would only add that Anders Nilsen’s DON’T GO WHERE I CAN’T FOLLOW and, later, THE END did the same thing for me.

Anyway, I’ll butt out now, and hope these blatantly artificial extra paragraphs have done their job.]


Buy The Whale and read the Page 45 review here

Siegfried vol 2: The Valkyrie h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Alex Alice.

If sales of SIEGRIED VOL 1 proved anything, it’s that Alex Alice is an artist’s artist: we sold so many copies to comicbook creators, and I’m far from surprised. The eye-candy on offer is breath-taking: vast panoramas of mountains bathed in blue mist, their jagged, craggy summits clawing a sky at sunrise or splintering under the weight of an impossible, land-locked tidal wave; the forbidden forest with its treacherous, Manara-like swamps or the witch Völva’s cavern, the Valkyrie and her pure white steed all reminiscent of Charles Vess. Siegfried and Odin are depicted with all the majesty of P.Craig Russell while, on the very same page and with no incongruity, the Nibelung Mimé’s comedic buffoonery boasts all the cartooning skills of Jeff Smith.

As dawn finally rises once more over a dying, skin-chilled Earth, it is in commune with the All-Father Odin. The dragon Fafnir is devouring the Earth from the inside out, and there is nothing that Odin for his fellow gods can do. His own law forbids him or anyone under his influence to interfere. He has therefore recalled the instruments of his will, less that law be broken.

That at least leaves young Siegfried free to act – unbidden and emphatically unaided by those up above – and therein lies hope. But there are two remaining problems: Odin’s own daughter, his most trusted Valkyrie, has failed to answer his summons, and Siegfried, however determined, is woefully ill-prepared. His mistreatment throughout childhood by Mimé has left him distrustful of the Nibelung, and he will take no advice from his only ally. Siegfried is impetuous, contrary, and doesn’t know his own limitations.

Meanwhile the Valkyrie has made a bargain with Völva: prepared to pay the price of her immortality to look into the scrying pool, she watches her own future – Siegfried’s present – unfold. She watches Siegfried and Mimé traverse the forbidden forest to scale the land of the giants and its insurmountable mountains, and those giants are about to wake up…

You wait until Siegfried discovers the nature of those giants. Not what I was expecting at all – infinitely better and infinitely more dangerous. What follows is a breathless race Siegfried cannot possibly win. That will get your heart pumping!





Like the first, this second of three volumes also comes embellished with a sixty-page art section featuring Alice’s own landscape atmosphere studies in multiple media, preparatory character designs, shots from the animated feature film and a double-page spread of Albert Bierstadt’s ‘Storm In The Rocky Mountains which you could devour for an hour and still discover new detail. All this is interspersed with with an extensive interview about Alex’s influences and creative decisions in combining his sources into a fresh and thrilling new narrative in which the Valkryie’s role remains unchanged, for example, but is transposed into a completely different context, inextricably linked to the success or failure of Siegried’s quest.

There is, as a consequence, a father/daughter moment at the heart of this book between Odin and the Valkyrie which is as powerfully played as any of the surrounding spectacle, and even more poignant still, partly because of the book’s subtle structure.

For so many of these tales involve prophecy, but here also laws – specifically Odin’s Law – and the key often lies in how to circumnavigate these decrees without breaking them. Breaking them comes with a cost. But what if the letter of the law can be used to mitigate that cost? And if that price is worth paying?


Buy Siegfried vol 2: The Valkyrie h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Squeaky Noises (£3-50) by Cara Bean –

A retired racing Greyhound recounts the story of his younger years in an interview with a squirrel(!) Utterly gorgeous little book which I will freely admit I ordered in because of my love of dogs and my occasional daydreams about what my dog gets up to when I’m not there.

Cute, sweetly drawn and uplifting.


Buy Squeaky Noises and read the Page 45 review here

New Jobs (£3-50) by Dash Shaw.

In which Ariel’s pregnancy changes everything, and everyone gets a new job.

A new mini-comic from the creator of BODYWORLD, THE UNCLOTHED MAN IN THE 35TH CENTURY A.D. (both Page 45 Comicbook Of The Months), 3 NEW STORIES, THE BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON and, most recently, NEW SCHOOL, this takes advantage of its lo-fi format to use multiple colours of paper. I don’t detect any specific, consistent significance to them, but that would cause all sorts of structural problems, given a comic’s construction (in terms of paper stock, when stapled through the spine, comics are inherently symetrical).

Given the size of the booklet (it’s mini), the scale of the tale is impressive. It begins with Ariel daydreaming about the nature of any baby she might have with Derrick. She is pregnant; they’re elated; but they’re also strapped for cash. In America, as everywhere, there are homeless people living on the streets. Dr. Kane, Ariel’s gynaecologist, offers her work involving his unusual library of books; Derrick is hired to brainstorm as part of a team creating a sympathetic Senator for maximum popularist consumption. Where once there was harmony, cracks begin to appear…

That’s how it’s told, in a series of flashes as we follow their separate fortunes, and although this is a mini, the description above takes you no further above than halfway, plus there’s plenty I’ve left out. It comes together beautifully.

My guess is that Shaw is still working in Sharpie (see NEW SCHOOL), and both the art and storytelling are representational, but then no one interested in mini-comics in the first place will be remotely off-put by that.


Buy New Jobs and read the Page 45 review here

Lone Pine (£10-99) by Jed McGowan –

“Gone to think in woods.”

A man (Jasper) wandering in the woods, possibly being chased, or at least “looked for”, drinks and walks, lies down, gets up and finally comes close to solving the mystery that has driven him out there in the first place. It’s not clear how much actually happens and at which point (or points) he succumbs to concussion, drunkenness, sleep deprivation, exposure or any of those types of things you can presumably suffer from when you stay out in the forest for days on end. But from what we do get to see we can conclude that Jasper has had his life messed up by some petty crime which he wasn’t even involved with but which has nonetheless ruined everything for him.

Using uncomplicated lines and only black, light blue and Letratoneon white, Jed McGowan has created some really stunning visual effects. Torch beams in the darkness, trees viewed through glass, blind spots caused by looking at the sun, light eyes on dark bodies which lurk in the trees are all made out of such simple building blocks that the end result is all the more remarkable. A haunting and gripping tale of a man lost in all senses.


Buy Lone Pine and read the Page 45 review here

Nurse Nurse (£10-99, Sparkplug) by Katie Skell.

You can sure judge this book by its cover!

Poor Nurse Gemma (newly qualified), she’s ever so slightly dubious. All she wants is to be a nurse: to help and to heal and to not get picked on by fellow space cadets Nina and Junny who set her cryogenic chamber to ‘snooze’. Fancy waking up late for your first day at work – on Venus.

And then there are the halucinogenic butterflies, the indie pop group Quality Confections, space pirates including ex-lover and a giant panda, being banished to Mars, caricatured on TV, forced to operate at phaser-point (well she did rather shoot his leg off), and, umm, space sheep! Space sheep pulling a sledge! And more love-inducing, halucinogenic flutterbies! It’s enough to make you fluff your spelling and figuratively blow your mind!

You want my closest comparison point? Yellow Submarine in black and white. The film – not the song.

Surgical precision is not what’s on offer here; it’s dainty and quite dotty whim-and-whimsy full of blasts from the past and decidely non-prescription drugs. Or, as Nurse Gemma puts it at one discombobulating point…

“Fuck – no gravity!”

And I loved it so much for that.


Buy Nurse Nurse and read the Page 45 review here

East Of West vol 1: The Promise (£7-50, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta…

“He should be here.”
“And you are sure that..?.”
“Yes! He was dead on his feet. Something must have gone wrong… more wrong.”
“So we roll, and find out the truth.”
“The eye… the feather… the bullet… the bone… No mistaking those. He’s really left us. We were four, but now it’s just us three.”
“Well… that settles it then. We kill him.”

And so EAST OF WEST opens, with some children whom we soon learn are apparently three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, performing a divination ritual using animal bones, to see what has happened to their headlining colleague, Death. Their location? A huge stone circle in the desert, right in the centre of what we know as the United States of America. In this world, however, it’s also the site of a huge comet strike, a seismic event that perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, marked the end of the American Civil War, and also the war with the native Indians, resulting in the formation of the Seven Nations of America, with an armistice signed at the site.

The comet strike and resulting armistice also may or may not have caused the Prophet Elijah Longstreet, a former soldier, to write the Second Book of Revelations, whilst at exactly the same moment Red Cloud, leader of the Endless Indian Nation, was having a waking vision which he recounted to his council of elders. Upon the conclusion of these two apparently unconnected events, both men promptly collapsed and died. Except it seems these two events were connected, as their respective words were in fact interlocking apocrypha, forming what would become known as The Message, a mystery that remained unsolved for another half century. Until the missing third portion of The Message was inadvertently provided by a very surprising person indeed, Mao Zedong.

Fast forward back to the current day, well 2064 actually, and the location of the errant Death (if indeed that is what he is) and it seems he’s out for revenge, cowboy-style pilgrim. Dressed as an albino gunslinger, so presumably he has been drinking his milk as the real Mr. Wayne suggested, and also an adult rather than a child, I note, which upon reflection makes the tiniest bit of, I suspect, very significant sense and, oh, he’s looking for those who did him wrong. Precisely how and what they did, we don’t know at this point, but there are some very well known names on the list, very well known and politically connected, right to the very, very top of the establishment. Death would have those luminaries on his shit list believe the End Times are a coming and I can’t honestly say at this point he’s not telling the truth. Eek!

What a set up! This could easily prove to be Hickman’s most comprehensive piece of speculative fiction yet. This first volume reads very, very much like the opening chapter to a prose novel, it is that rich with detailed promise of what is yet to come, and also to be revealed, of what precisely has transpired in the distant past to bring us to such an… unusual… time and place.

The closest comparisons to previous Hickman works so far would be PAX ROMANA for the intriguing premise, but also S.H.I.E.L.D.: ARCHITECTS OF FOREVER for the beautifully bizarre cast of characters and insane, pacy action. Excellent art from sometime FF compadre Nick Dragotta too, though no Hickman-penned work is really complete without a cheeky page or panel designed and illustrated by the man himself, in this case a map of north America simply entitled “The World As It Is” laying out the various territories of the seven nations.


Buy East Of West vol 1: The Promise and read the Page 45 review here

Stumptown vol 2 h/c (£22-50, Oni Press Inc.) by Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth…

“What does that mean!?!?”
“It’s the seconds you have left before every cop in southeast Portland is crawling up your ass in response to this little home invasion of yours. Average response time in this part of town is about three minutes. Which means you got about half that time left to vanish.”
“Brad! We gotta…”
“You… you’re full of shit.”
“Time the time to stab me and you’ll to find out.”
“Get to the truck… deal with them later… ‘especially you, bitch.”
“Uh-oh! Hear that? That sounds like sirens! Bye bye.
“Skinheads. What’re you gonna do?”

Volume two of STUMPTOWN wasn’t what I was expecting at all, either in terms of the story or the art, but I enjoyed it immensely nonetheless. I guess I expected the story to focus much more directly on Dex and her continuing personal and professional travails, particularly with the crooked casino owner / crime boss from first time around, who I presumed was being set up as some sort of arch-nemesis. But this, to start with at least, is much of a straight gumshoe case, revolving about a professional musician and her stolen guitar. At least until the skinheads turn up looking for their stolen methamphetamine. Plus the art just seemed rather different from volume one, certainly a considerably different colour palette, which threw me off at first.

I wasn’t remotely disappointed in the story, but something I absolutely loved about the first arc was its real emotional heart, and this was just different in tone. Still, once I’d made the mental shift I got into the story, and one thing that was exactly the same this time around, Dex’s ability to irritate just about everyone she meets from skinhead thug to DEA detective, is just a pleasure to behold. And that crooked casino boss, well maybe he’s not quite so absent from this story as I first presumed and Mr. Rucka is just playing the long game. I hope so, but if that is the case, he does need to get subsequent arcs out much quicker. Please!

Also Stumptown fans who are not aware, please note, it shares the same continuity as the Rucka prose novel Fistful of Rain and also his seven Atticus Kodiak prose novels as apparently several secondary characters crop up in both. For anyone who hasn’t read any Rucka prose, I can highly recommend it, including his Queen & Country books, which intertwine with the QUEEN & COUNTRY graphic novels.


Buy Stumptown vol 2 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Ritual #1: Real Life (£4-99) by Malachi Ward –

We have the first two issues of this in and it looks really good so far. In issue one we start with the divide between dream sequence and reality clearly drawn but by the end we are wondering which bits are actually happening and if they are… why and how?

A couple go about their daily, fairly boring-seeming life in their apartment. The style is a bit like a looser version of Chris Ware, black, white and tone, cleanly drawn and pleasing on the eye in the larger, A4 size format.

The scene is domestic and any weirdness is confined to a bad dream. The power goes out but this seems like a semi-regular occurrence, irritating but not overly concerning. But now things are darker they begin to feel different, the atmosphere sliding further along the scale towards troubling. By the end things have got positively not-OK.


Buy Ritual #1: Real Life and read the Page 45 review here

Post York (£6-99) by James Romberger

By the co-creator of 7 MILES A SECOND and AARON AND AHMAD.

In the not-too-distant future vast parts of New York are partially submerged, inundated by rising sea levels and increasing storm activity. People still live there, holed up in the higher buildings, travelling by boat, keeping diving gear to hand. Our guy potters about in his boat looking to scavenge what he can whilst trying not to take more than his share. Elsewhere a group get together in an old Cinema and use a generator to run some films. Cleanly drawn and eerie, a peek into one of our possible futures.

Bonus: A flexi-disc single in the back!


Buy Post York and read the Page 45 review here

Henry & Glenn: Forever & Ever #1 (£4-25, I Will Destroy You Comics) by Tom Neely, Benjamin Marra, Ed Luce, Scot Nobles with Coop, Eric Yahnker, Keenan Marshall Keller.

Yes, you read that right: there’s a pin-up page by Coop. As if Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig aren’t pin-ups enough already! They’d certainly be on each other’s bedroom walls were it not for the fact that they here share a bedroom. Also, its bed.

Fear not, this is completely smut-free. Like the original, HENRY & GLENN FOREVER, it is instead a light-hearted romcom featuring the unlikeliest of lovers trying to sort out their issues. The main issue is that Glenn is a self-centred, melodramatic cry-baby whose career has dead-ended, leaving our stoical Henry to deal with the domestic practicalities and bring home the bacon by appearing as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race (true fact – I’ve seen an episode, and good for him!) and indeed The Henry Rollins Show where he interviews Kevin Smith:

“So, Kevin… how big is Ben Affleck’s dick? Sorry, I meant: how big of a dick is Ben Afleck?”
“This interview is over.”

Tom Neely’s cartooning is a fun-filled joy with elements both of Peter Bagge in Glen Danzig and square-jawed Chester Gould in Henry Rollins. Benjamin Marra, meanwhile, delivers a back-stabbing satanic-cult romp in the style of Golden Age superheroes inked in Rotring. Erick Yahnker’s photo-realistic portrait in grey washes was actually quite touching. Coop’s homage to Frank Frazetta wasn’t!

Daryl Hall and John Oates, meanwhile, return as the long-suffering neighbours, while Morrissey finally brings accord to their discord, albeit in opposition. Bonus on the back: Glen Danzig’s real-life, recorded reaction to HENRY & GLENN FOREVER. Aww, there, there. I’m not going to kiss you better.


Buy Henry & Glenn: Forever & Ever #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Fortunately, The Milk… h/c (£10-99, Bloomsbury) by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell.

“Do you like hard-hairy-wet-white-crunchers?” he asked.
“Coconuts?” I guessed.
“I named them first.”

This UK edition of Neil’s new, Young Adult prose comes with an irresistibly shiny cover and Chris Riddell illustrations. Riddell is an award-winning political cartoonist with two Kate Greenaway Medals under his belt (or pinned to his lapel or adorning a wall) who works for Observer, and conjures an impressive likeness of Neil himself here as a dad who popped out for some milk.

Every double page comes with at least one of Chris’ infectious illustrations, whether it be of the green, globular aliens (twin obsessions: abduction and art), Professor Steg and his Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier, the Eye of Splod, or the wumpires. Wumpires are a bit like nocturnal umpires only with a darker dress sense, sharper teeth, alternative diets and insatiable appetites: once they’ve made their decision, you’re out.

Mum has gone away for a conference. She has left the narrator, his sister and their dad with a set of instructions, along with the knowledge that they are almost out of milk.

Now they are out of milk.

Last night, you see, there were those mugs of hot chocolate to make up for their Missing Mum. And orange juice on cereal isn’t quite as tasty as milk. Dad pops down the corner shop to fetch them some milk, but he takes an awfully long time about it. Where on earth has he been?

You just know from the start that this is Neil Gaiman’s version of those tall tales we tell when late for work. “The bus got stuck in traffic.” “There were road works.” “I left the house, forgot my keys and locked myself out so I had to break in via a second-storey window and got caught by the police.They’re not pressing charges.”

If you think that’s elaborate, you wait until you read what happened to dad: alien abduction, time travel, more time travel with a couple of complementary paradoxes, dinosaur space police and narrowly avoided but potentially catastrophic global renovation.

“You are charged with breaking into people’s planets and redecorating them,“ said a noble and imposing Tyrannosaurus Rex. “And then with running away and doing it again, somewhere else, over and over. You have committed crimes against the inhabitants of eighteen planets, and crimes against good taste.”
“What we did to Rigel Four was art!” argued a globby alien.
“Art? There are people on Rigel Four,” said an Akylosaurus, “who have to look up, every night, at a moon with three huge plaster ducks flying across it.”

You will smile very broadly when you understand the context of the title.


Buy Fortunately, The Milk… h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Asthma (£12-99, Sparkplug) by John Hankiewicz.

We bought our original stock back in 2007 when I wrote…

An experiment. A bold experiment. This is a series of bold experiments. I simply haven’t a clue what its subjects are, let alone its objects. Charting the subconscious? Riding the ripples of a stream of consciousness?

Undeniably John is a thinker, but if I thought as hard as this I’d be in a straight jacket by now. Maybe I’m in a different sort of straight jacket because I don’t think as hard as this, who knows? Relationships seem to figure into these vignettes prominently – that and communication:

“You e-mailed me a photo of a cat sleeping on your chest. I replied with an over-earnest personal anecdote.” I liked that.

Also, ‘Martha Gregory, Serious Thinker’ which is one of a sequence of pages in which Martha Gregory thinks. “Exactly when do I officially disappear? When people start searching for me in earnest… in vain. I don’t have to leave; I could hide – or else change myself somehow. Hiding would be harder than leaving, though, and changing would be harder than hiding. Changing into a roll of pescia paper, for instance. Then again, changing is a more surefire way of disappearing than leaving or hiding, and a much better test of character. Test… the test is whether people notice my absence, perceive some mystery in it, and feel at least a little helpless in the face of that mystery.”

The form and style varies dramatically according to content. There’s a comparatively standard narrative involved in reminiscing about the recent history of a railway station in architectural flux, the visual snapshots rendered with crisp precision (although there’s a nod to how everything looks bigger when you’re young), whilst the relationship ‘Dance’s are enacted by cartoon marionettes, some more abstract than others. These things I got (I think), along with the alternating ‘Nap’ and ‘Jazz’ (it’s not always ‘Nap’ but it is always ‘Jazz’), even though it goes full-on surreal as a gleeful doll-like child plays merrily in her fantasy land whose ground is spiked with shards of glass, while a man and her woman (her parents?), often naked, worry about potential hazards to her safety. However, I’m by no means confident in my deductions, and the silent eight-panel pieces, told in four sets of pairs about a man and some chairs, is a strange sort of mime whose meaning or purpose eludes me completely.

I strongly suspect that I’d get a whole lot more out of this if I put more in, but it’s my personal equivalent of the one-eyed widow’s woodcuts I swore I would never introduce as Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month choices. It’s certainly the most experimental book I’ve come across since MOTHER’S MOUTH, and when you learn that John is one of the Holy Consumptives (along with Anders Nilsen, Paul Hornschemeier and Jeffrey Brown), that certainly explains the thought behind this, and suggests it almost certainly is worth the more inquisitive amongst you investigating.


Buy Asthma and read the Page 45 review here

Kings Watch #1 (£2-99, D.E.) by Jeff Parker & Marc Laming.

“It’s happening all over the world, you know. The people you used to protect, they’re all having nightmares of what’s coming. You wouldn’t know that, magician. You keep your dreams sealed, don’t you –“
“Silence, demon. You have no knowledge that I want.”
“Then why did you enter this room, where you keep me imprisoned? It’s okay, Mandrake. I’ll tell you what it is. It’s the end of the world.”

Oh, this is tremendous!

It kicks off with the same Bam! Bam! Bam! as the penultimate episode of Doctor Who – Catherine Tate’s season. Each protagonist gazes up at a sky that should not be: Mandrake the magician turns away from his East Californian window and the demon who goads him; the Phantom in his East African jungle shields his eyes; Dale Arden’s sentence trails off in sheer disbelief. Something is coming…

I’ll be perfectly frank: I read this because I saw the artist of THE RINSE on the credits, and I will read anything drawn by Marc Laming that isn’t PLANET OF THE APES. It’s not that his chisel-jawed men wink like nobody’s business – though they do – or that his women are some of the most curvaceous in comics – though they are, and with the best hair ever! It’s the sheer thrill of seeing immaculate, beautifully finished layouts whether quiet and measured as in Dale Arden’s office or filling the entire page when an African Elephant is startled and savaged by some red, reptilian, bipedal beast so massive it virtually smothers the bull. Cue tree-top choreography and yowsa! He doesn’t skimp on details, either, like a driveway’s locked gates.

I really have no idea who The Phantom or Mandrake are, though I am peripherally aware of their existance, nor do I have any lingering love for Flash Gordon let alone read of his exploits in comics. But this snaps together seamlessly, and – you know what? – we are allowed to have fun!

Great big tip of the hat to colour artist Jordan Boyd whose palette glows with red, purples and green while keeping the whole soft with careful lighting and by refraining from throwing everything at us at once.

So yes, there is a… spatial anomoly… slithering and crackling in the sky; visions abound of whip-wielding, spear-throwing nightmares on rough-horned steeds; the media is full-throttle in scare-mongering mode and, oh… look who’s just made the perfect landing in a spaceplane on his dad’s carefully manicure croquet lawn! It’s Professor Hans Zarkov and his irrepressively chirpy blonde pilot. I imagine there’s a universe to become saviour of.


Buy Kings Watch #1 and read the Page 45 review here

BPRD: 1948 (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Max Fiumara…

“During the war, the Germans were attempting to break through a barrier between worlds, to access some power that they could use against the allies. They failed… and yet they didn’t fail.”
“I’ve never heard anything about this. How is that possible?”
“You never had the clearance, Anna. But I checked Colonel Betz, and the State Department, and you have it now. As I said, they failed to win the war, but a gateway was opened… and a creature did come through.”
“My God, it’s just like a little devil. Looks like we got it instead of the Nazis, huh? Is it still in custody?”
“Er, actually I’m raising him.”
“RAISING HIM?!! Raising him to be what?!”

Third part of the 1940s’ arc starring the founder of the BPRD Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, revealing cases from the bureau’s earliest days, and of course the adventures of young Hellboy. Not quite as action-packed as the two preceding volumes, 1946 and 1947, but still great fun, as Trevor is invited by the US military to investigate the strange monsters popping up at a remote nuclear test facility. Positively utopian days compared to the current HELL ON EARTH the bureau is having to deal with in the modern day, frankly.

Hellboy, meanwhile, is going through a sensitive phase, which is going to require a hacksaw to resolve, and in the process finally clear up one of the great Hellboy mysteries. Also, everyone’s favourite demon in a Russian child’s body returns, although it seems the only person who can see her, aside from us, of course, is the Professor. Spooky. Which is the point obviously. Given her current… status… in modern times BRPD I am intrigued to see how her story is going to play out.


Buy BPRD: 1948 and read the Page 45 review here

Thrud The Barbarian h/c (£14-99, Titan) by Carl Critchlow.

“Beer! Now you’re talking!”

Behemoths, barbarians and buckets o’ booze, all spinning out of the Games Workshop WHITE DWARF strips. The story’s not the real draw (stupid Barbarian inadvertedly massacres a kingdom’s saviours from ruin, then inadvertedly saves the kingdom from ruin whilst inadvertedly ruining it etc); it’s the joyous interior art nothing like the cover, which is all outline including the shadows which are flat-coloured so softly that they are filled with light.

Here’s what the publishers say:

“The Eagle Award-winning barbarian parody series is collected at last! Thrud the Barbarian leads a simple life, one of popping down to his local pub, quaffing a few tankards of ale and starting a fight in which everyone else is beaten senseless. After which comes the wenches! Hurrah! Trouble is, there always seems to be someone with a quest to interrupt his peace, quiet and packet of crisps! In his first-ever collection, Thrud faces down a necromancer, protects his beer against fierce Frost Giants, faces his arch-nemesis, assumes the role of the king he accidentally killed, and gets his pint spilled on a mission into the depths of the jungle!”


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

The Halloween Legion h/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Martin Powell, Diana Leto & Thomas Boatwright.

Younger Readers’ graphic novella in which a ghoulish gang of five take on whatever is troubling the town of Woodland: zombie-gators, miffed mummies or even a fleet of aliens.

Thomas Boatright’s pages are fun to look at. The cat is a cat, the witch is a fairly standard witch and the ghost is little more than the traditional, unironed, floating white bedlinen; but young Molly Aldrich, the orphaned fire elemental, is decked out in a girl’s Halloween devil outfit and gesticulates beautifully as she flash-flames her foes, and I detect a great big whallop of John Byrne’s Ben Grimm in The Skeleton’s physical form and posture.

Alas, the rest is paper-thin. No depth, no wit, no decent jokes and no real plot to speak of. Oh, there’s a story but it’s strictly linear, whereas any decent plot presents set-ups that pay off when returned to. Ask Jill Thompson, whose MAGIC TRIXIE  books are no longer than this but have infinitely more to say. See, yeah, you should probably also have something to say as well. This is just fighting, while the redundant school sequence goes nowhere.


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

Indestructible Hulk vol 2: Gods And Monster h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Walter Simonson, Matteo Scalera.

Oh yes, more THOR art from that title’s definitive writer and artist some thirty years ago, for Banner has created a portal to Jotunheim, home of the Frost Giants, in the interests of absconding with some of its mythical Eiderdurm!

Eiderdurm isn’t some form of well insulated (if antiquated) sleeping facilitator filled with duck feathers; it’s a mythical liquid ore that only exists in subzero temperatures, which is probably why you haven’t seen it for sale in the shops. Banner is hoping it’ll turn out to be a superconductor that will shave ten years off abandoning fossil fuels. He’s also hoping Thor’s memory will kick in soon, for when the Norse god finds them trespassing there, he cannot remember ever having encountered Dr. Bruce Banner or even his short-fused, monosyllabic alter ego. But then wait until you see how Thor’s attired: that might give you a clue.

Lots of high-octane action there, and I can assure you that Simonson has not lost his touch. Meanwhile Waid has enormous fun with the English – and Asgardian – language / terminology, and reveals at least one of the secrets harboured by Banner’s new scientific colleagues. I mean, why would you want to be part of the entourage of a man who any moment can turn into a mindless man-mountain of destruction?

“Suicide by Hulk.”

What does that even mean?

The second half guest-stars Daredevil, and it’s far from a coincidence. See, in INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK VOL 1, Banner made a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. whose resources he’s now using to make all these scientific advances. In exchange, he lends them the ultimate in human fire-power in the form of the ever-irascible Hulk. But it’s a tenuous relationship which could backfire on either parties at any moment, and S.H.I.E.L.D. has almost certainly prepared contingency plans. Well, two can play at that game.

Includes lots of extra process pieces in the back, and a great deal of shouting – neither of which is any use or good for a blind superhero with an overdeveloped sense of hearing.


Buy Indestructible Hulk vol 2: Gods And Monster 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.


Pop! A Complete History vol 1 (£5-00) by Jonathan Edwards

At The Theme Park (£4-00) by Lizz Lunney

Blue Is The Warmest Colour s/c (£14-99, Arsenal Pulp Press) by Julie Maroh

The Complete Don Quixote h/c (£19-99, Self Made Hero) by Miguel De Cervantes & Rob Davis

Reggie 12 h/c (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Brian Ralph

Romeo And Juliet s/c (£9-99, Random House / Vertical) by William Shakespeare & Gareth Hinds

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor And The Ship That Sank Twice h/c (£16-99, DC) by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

Technopriests Supreme Collection h/c (£37-99, Humanoids) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Zoran Janjetov

Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me h/c (Expanded Edition) (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Peter Bagge

Century West s/c (£5-99, Image) by Howard Chaykin

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics vol 6 (£14-99, IDW) by various

Angel & Faith vol 4: Death & Consequences (£13-99, Dark Horse) by Christos N. Gage & Rebekah Isaacs, Dan Jackson, Steve Morris

Halo: Uprising s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev

Salsa Invertebraxa h/c (£20-00, Pecksniff Press) by Mozchops

The Best Of Milligan & McCarthy h/c (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Peter Milligan & Brendan McCarthy

Batwoman vol 2: To Drown The World s/c (£10-99, DC) by J. H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman & Amy Reeder, J. H. Williams III, Trevor McCarthy

Batwoman vol 3 Worlds Finest h/c (£16-99, DC) by J. H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman & J. H. Williams III

Thunderbolts vol 2: Red Scare s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way, Charles Soule & Phil Noto, Steve Dillon

Indestructible Hulk vol 2: Gods And Monster s/c (UK Ed’n) (£10-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Walter Simonson, Matteo Scalera

All New X-Men vol 3: Out Of Their Depth h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen

All New X-Men vol 3: Out Of Their Depth s/c (UK Ed’n) (£10-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen

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

Sailor Moon: Short Stories vol 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

Attack On Titan vol 7 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama

Battle Angel Alita Last Order vol 18 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Yukito Kishiro


ITEM! I will be appearing at The Broadway Book Club at 7-30pm on Thursday September 26th for a Page 45 interactive evening of glorious graphic novels. And yes, I done wrote a blog on that. Do have a click, even if you can’t come – you must book in advance – because there are some beautiful books there, linked to their reviews! Cheers!

ITEM! Reminder: Page 45 reveals comics’ own Eddie Campbell’s set designs for Michael Eaton’s new play Charlie Peace at Nottingham Playhouse! Big blog there including the actual projection designs! Also, links to loads of Eddie’s glorious graphic novels. You know we made most of them Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month? More than any other single creator.

ITEM! Time’s running out to enter the prize draw for our original Terry Moore art! Competition closes at the end of September! Please see Page 45’s  STRANGERS IN PARADISE OMNIBUS blog.

ITEM! New Mark Millar & Duncan Fegredo superhero book MPH due in February! You can pre-order now. You should, in effect, pre-order now! *swoons*

ITEM! And while we’re at it, a reminder that DUNCAN FEGREDO IS SIGNING HERE ON OCTOBER 23RD FOR THE LAUNCH OF HELLBOY MIDNIGHT CIRCUS! It’s the very day of publication and Page 45 has the graphic novel’s  EXCLUSIVE BOOK MARK EDITION!

The next two months are going to be cracking!

I haven’t even talked about the Nottingham Independents Awards kicking off next week, or the British Comics Awards in November.

More next time!

– Stephen

Page 45 Graphic Novel Evening at the Broadway Book Club

Friday, September 13th, 2013

On Thursday 26th September at 7-30pm I’ll appearing at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema to host a very special, hands-on, interactive, graphic novel evening for Pam McIlroy’s Broadway Book Club. I will bring books; we will explore secrets!

Plus I’ll be providing extemporised show-and-tells on some of those same graphic novels and answer any questions you fancy. You’ll dictate how the evening will go.

Please note: space is in short supply, so if you’re not a member, please book ahead directly with Pam herself either via Twitter @Pamreader or using the contact form on Pam’s blog to the left of the screen under members:

The Hidden Secrets Of Graphic Novels

Playwright Edward Albee once declared that “Symbols should never be cymbals” and I concur: whether prose or comics, readers should be allowed to bathe in their brilliance and beauty without necessarily comprehending why. For maximum immersion you should never “hear” a writer typing or “see” a pen or a paintbrush pulled across the page – unless a fourth wall is undergoing extreme renovation.

Nevertheless, there are tricks to the trade and techniques to be delighted in, and I hope to provide both an introduction to graphic novels to those new to the medium, and some insights to their craft for those wishing to delve deeper with these graphic novels chosen specifically for their secrets. Ooooooh!

The Books

This evening has been planned as an introduction so you need not even look at these now – it’s more of an after-care service to jog your memory later – but here are the books I intend to bring with me. Each title has been linked to its Page 45 review, often with interior art.

We have autobiography, travel, history, historical fiction, contemporary fiction full of humanity, crime, horror (to steal someone’s hat is horrific), silence is golden, comics as a relay race, stoopid (I rather like stoopid), and maps. Yes, we have comics as maps. And 99 Ways To Tell A Story.

99 Ways To Tell A Story

Acme Novelty Library #20: Lint

Acme Novelty Library: Jimmy Corrigan

Alice In Sunderland

Asterios Polyp

City Of Glass

Criminal: The Dead And The Dying



Hawkeye vol 2


One Soul


Phonogram: The Singles Club

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

Solipsistic Pop 4

Some People

St Colin And The Dragon

Tamara Drewe

The Arrival

The Great War

The Mire

The Nao Of Brown

The Rabbits

This Is Not My Hat

I Want My Hat Back

Understanding Comics

Further to silence is golden, I wish I could represent the genre fourteen-component-parts-is-a-mind-melt but Chris Ware’s Building Stories would fill my suitcase on its own. And I’m bringing a suitcase, yes, like an old-school door-to-door salesman. Thankfully one with wheels: pulped, dead tree is very, very heavy.

I’ve Done This Before

I’ve done this before, but for the Windsor conference for school librarians 2012, so if you fancy a look at a similar suitcase of books for teenage and younger readers – plus their reviews and indeed school library information – try this link: Page 45 School Library Workshops.

And please, whenever you visit Page 45, just ask at the counter for recommendations just like this evening, and we’ll tailor them specifically to your particularly tastes.

The Broadway Book Club

The Broadway Book Club meets at the Broadway Cinema on the last Thursday of each month at 7pm. They’ve been going since January 2011 and the club currently has over 75 registered members. Learn more here:

The Page 45

Page 45 convenes every day from 9am to 6pm (except Sundays from 11am to 4pm, and Bank Holidays when we sleep). We’ve been going since October 1994 and currently have 3 certified members: Dominique, Jonathan, Stephen.

In 2012 Page 45 won the first ever award for Best Independent Retailer in Nottingham.

The Pulitzer Prize for World Peace has so far eluded us nor do we have any knighthoods.

 – Stephen

Reviews September 2013 week two

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

A visual game of detective ping-pong slowed to a tantalising crawl, the multiple bats being all manner of reflective surfaces from wing-mirrors to light bulbs to gold-capped teeth – and in one notable instance the camera lens of an orbiting space satellite.

 – Stephen on 3 Seconds

Friends With Boys s/c (£11-99, First Second) by Faith Erin Hicks.

“I… I don’t want to be here.”

I knew I’d be hooked from the very first page: the early morning light creeping up in the sky and so sweeping down through Maggie’s low bedroom window, over her duvet and assorted objects scattered across the floor. You wait until you get outside, though: the leafy, late-summer cemetery dappled in shadow, its listing gravestones stretching as far as the eye can see. The home front itself is very Bryan Lee O’Malley, while both the wistful and exuberant expressions put me immediately in mind of Tim Fish. I also suspected a Ross Campbell influence in the eyes, but wasn’t sure until I saw the preparatory sketchwork in the back where the body form and facial proportions of young punk Lucy (bottom centre, if you already have the book) positively scream of WET MOON’s Cleo.

It’s all quite beautiful, while the humour is gentle and charming, flushed with the occasional comedy cartoon flourish, delightfully choreographed and underplayed, as when older brother Daniel “separates” his twin brothers fighting at the bottom of the stairs, dragging them, limp, and cross-eyed into breakfast.




It’s teenage Maggie’s first day at school – her very first day: up until now she’s been tutored at home by her mum. So were her brothers until high school loomed, then Daniel, Zander and Lloyd each left to learn how to learn socially: to mix and mingle. Now it’s Maggie’s turn but, never having made friends outside the close family unit before, she’s feel more than a little trepidatious. Who wouldn’t? Also, receiving any new timetable is daunting enough, but it’s worse when you don’t know a school’s layout. They should give you a map! Is that a thing they do now? They don’t give Maggie a map but, ever resourceful, she makes one of her own, noting potential pitfalls like “Makeout Stairwell. AVOID!!”

Punk-haired Alistair and younger sister Lucy don’t seem to have any friends, either, and there’s an undercurrent of animosity between Alistair and the blonde volley-ball jock called Matt. Stranger still, Daniel, whom Maggie doesn’t just love but admires, actively warns her against Alistair, even though Alistair and Lucy could neither have been kinder nor more welcoming. If anything, you’d have thought the decidedly unsporty thespian Daniel would have sided with them against Matt. What on earth has been happening at school while Maggie’s been sheltered at home?

There’s so much that Faith Erin Hicks has packed in to this sympathetic and emotionally complex scenario. Maggie has only ever known Daniel in a family context, so is pleased but disconcerted to find him so popular – it’s slightly… alienating. She doesn’t understand her other two brothers’ resentment about how others expect them to behave as twins as if it’s their defining characteristic. And, of course, Mom has left home and Maggie doesn’t understand why, but harbours a nasty suspicion that it is all her fault, based on several uncomfortable memories.

I loved seeing Maggie and Lucy bonding over the passions they introduce to each other: Alien and Patti Smith.

“Um… I’m sorry, but who’s Patti Smith…?”
“Oh my God! Okay, you’re coming over to my house this weekend, and we are doing some serious music swappage.”

It’s not like Maggie has been remotely emotionally stunted through home schooling – she’s far from shy – but it’s wonderful to see her blossom and discover for the first time the joys of having her first female friend. Meanwhile Alistair, as I say, does nothing but embrace and nurture his younger sister’s new friendship with Maggie, even smoothing it out after Lucy initially puts her foot in it – several times! So what is Daniel even on about?

I find this utterly faultless and recommend it not just to young teen readers – both to boys and to girls – but to anyone who cares about them and loves a creator who evidently does so too.

I haven’t even mentioned the ghost, have I?


Buy Friends With Boys s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Now, this is innovative.

I’ve never experienced anything like it, although its inspiration may well lie in Veronique Tanaka AKA Bryan Talbot’s METRONOME, the loudest silent comic I have ever read.

3 SECONDS, on the other hand, is deathly silent: a visual game of detective ping-pong slowed to a tantalising crawl, the multiple bats being all manner of reflective surfaces from wing-mirrors to light bulbs to gold-capped teeth – and in one notable instance the camera lens of an orbiting space satellite. Each bounces the perspective off at a different angle in a different direction, closing in on its destination panel by panel until another clue looms into view – sometimes a previous scenario now seen from a more revealing angle – and the trajectory changes once more.

During the story’s three virtually frozen seconds a crime is committed while others – its motivation – are there to be discerned.

It’s drawn in chilling black and white in the cleanest of clinical lines. The magnification process actually left me quite queasy. Clever, though – very, very clever.


Buy 3 Seconds and read the Page 45 review here

Vern And Lettuce s/c (£6-99, DFC) by Sarah McIntyre.

Vern is a park keeper, a job that doubles as an all-you-can-eat buffet when you’re a sheep, and all he really has to worry about are biker Moles wrecking his immaculate green. His neighbour, Lettuce, in the flat below is the oldest daughter in a huge family of bunny rabbits, who is lumbered with looking after her many excitable, poopin’ brothers and sisters. The early one-page comics here are brisk set-ups for puns, but quickly evolve into clever explorations of stereotypes and prejudices when a family of Polar Bears move into their block after their ice floe melted. It’s snow joke.

In ‘Lettuce And Vern’s Pop At Fame’ our bustling bunny becomes enthralled by Ricky Renard’s Barnyard Talent and convinces Vern to pick up a musical instrument and audition with her in the big city. All Vern can rustle up is a tuba, and together with Lettuce who is convinced her singing voice is magic, they get on the bus… in the wrong direction! Worse still than a night in the middle of the countryside are the stowaways in Vern’s tuba; good thing he’s down with the bunnies.

Sarah has a great talent for creating worlds full of amusing and topical embellishments. In much the same way Raymond Briggs stories will feature a telling book spine or newspaper headline casually in the background, the visual clutter – which we all know is half the fun when you’re a kid – intrigues and inspires questions from inquisitive young minds.


Buy Vern And Lettuce s/c and read the Page 45 review here

God Is Dead #1 of 6 (£2-99, Avatar) by Jonathan Hickman, Mike Costa & Di Amorim.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

– WB Yeats, The Second Coming

May 2015, and over the course of two or three days Greece, Norway, Egypt, the Yucatan and India are all visited by disasters so catastrophic they cannot possibly be natural. Two weeks later the Vatican in Rome, Italy, is visited by a man in sandals and a big white beard. He gazes scornfully up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, at God bequeathing life unto Adam.

“I see. Ridiculous.”

It’s Zeus.

The Gods have returned – and not just one pantheon: Odin, Thor, Loki; Horus, Anubis, Bast; Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli, Tezcatlipoca; Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma; Zeus, Ares, Aphrodite.

The world goes wild – mass hysteria on a global scale. Human sacrifices are reinstated, governments are toppled, voices of reason experience conversion and the President of the United States of America sits shaking and crying. Meanwhile, down in the sewers, an underground Collective of atheists has assembled, some of whom you may find familiar. As it is below, so it is above: a conclave of all five pantheons gathered in Valhalla with a map of the world spread out before them. I think we can consider this war.

Funnily, I thought I was reading another creator-owned Image comic. If you’ve picked up the regular cover (and why would you not, with its Jonathan Hickman trademark design?), you probably thought so too. When I discovered the Avatar adverts in the back it all made perfect sense.

The interior art is a little stiff on the figure and face front, but Zeus on the Vatican throne is particularly impressive, as are the worldwide snapshots both early on and as Odin sends forth his obsidian messengers to various tombs and temples. The colours are best there too – subtle yet glossy.

There’s no padding here. It’s immediate, direct and concise: a succession of gongs banging like Big Ben chimes, and I think you’ll find the American army’s reaction hilariously predictable.

“Cut the hardline, son – we’re going off the reservation. Time to show everyone why even God should fear the United States military. Now go over there and fish me out the launch codes.”


Buy God Is Dead #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Morning Glories vol 5 s/c (£9-99, Image) by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma.

Action and identity; time, cause and effect.

So complex has this series become that reading MORNING GLORIES is like embarking on the most cryptic of crossword puzzles: the answers to 11 Down can only be gleaned once both 15 and 24 Across have provided at least two of its letters. Even so, there remains the question of 11 Down itself which, once solved, reveals the clues to three more interconnection conundrums you never knew existed plus the answer to 28 Across immediately, in its entirety, and in pulsating day-glo letters.

The very first chapter is a perfect example, wherein you finally learn of the connection between precociously gifted, blonde student Casey and the raven-haired harridan Ms. Georgina Daramount, her teacher. “But, no, wait! If that’s true then OMG! I’m going to have to re-read books one, two, three and four immediately!” Yes, you are. You certainly cannot start here!

MORNING GLORIES is, on its surface, about a sequestered and sinister academy for the young and rich or ridiculously talented. But no, the pupils have been selected on far more rigorous criteria than it first appears after a much longer and more searching selection process than you can imagine. MORNING GLORIES VOL 1, however many questions it poses, is deceptively simple. Much broader plans with much graver consequences are in motion.

“When we play a game of chess, we have rules we adhere to, don’t we? An agreement between players. This is the board, these are the pieces, this is how they can move. But then, let’s say suddenly, in the middle of the game, I just – instead of moving my bishop diagonally, I move her – well, it doesn’t matter – I just jump her over to the other side of the board.”
“You can’t. You can’t do that.”
“But I did.”
“Well, fine, but you wouldn’t be playing chess anymore.”

As gripped as I am, I have to come clean: the art has its weaknesses which I’d thought would have been cleaned up by now. Some are perfectly sleek and sexy, and some sequences pack as much punch as you could ask for. Other pages which should pack more power, however, like what could become of the school, fail through lack of detail: it looks like a miniature model made from thin, plastic pieces. Secondly, with such an intricately woven plot, the characters should be much more clearly defined: you have t know immediately and with certainty that you are looking at the same character, especially if in the unlikeliest scenario, or that you’re looking at someone completely different so as not to confuse identities. That doesn’t always happen here.

Never mind, it hasn’t put me off, and if ere the artist my mind would be busy melting at the mind-fucks of Nick Spencer’s plot twists.

My favourite scene is a flashback (for some) outside Casey’s previous school where her teacher, Danielle Clarkson, is trying to persuade Casey’s mother to apply for a position at Morning Glory Academy. I can’t really tell you why it’s my favourite scene without spoiling multiple surprises, but it involves the mother’s eloquent expression, not just of her love for Casey, but her respect: her sincere and specific regard for her child.

It’s more than a mother’s love. It’s beautiful.


Buy Morning Glories vol 5 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Man Of Tango (£8-99, Sublime) by Tetuzoh Okadaya.

“I don’t need commentary! Please stop!”

Yes, it can be slightly off-putting, though others find sex-talk a hard-on. Unfortunately for Hiro that’s part of the deal with Yaoi sex scenes, and you are hereby advised that this has an Outrage Factor of 50. Sorry, let me be explicit: this is explicit.

It’s also a great deal more tender than most yaoi, and a lot less fucked up: Angel and Hiro do stand a chance of bringing each other happiness for many years to come as the epilogue attests, largely because they actually bother to communicate rather than stare hopelessly at the metaphorical ceiling for five years, drowning in self-loathing and self-recrimination. There is, however, the initial, traditional hand-wringing of “OMG I am actually doing this with a bloke” to be done, but at least he’s actually doing it at the time, thereby multi-tasking. Who says that guys can’t multi-task?

Angel is a successful teacher of tango, and has been for many years. He’s a little shy of 40, so that’s kinda different for a start. (Also, the art is less pretty-pretty – slightly bulkier and verging, on more fully-pencilled pages, close to Tom Of Finland.) But Angel’s finding it difficult to feel anything – I don’t mean for his friends, I mean potential suitors. He’s actually very fond of flatmate Bene, his female dance partner for 8 years, and shows it; also of aging cobbler and talented tanguero Pepe. But fundamentally he hasn’t ever fallen in love and is lonely.

Enter Hiro (well, not quite yet – give him a drink or two first), who’s half-Latino, half-Japanese, abandoned by his father and cruelly abused by his over-nationalistic grand-father, disgusted at this half-breed. An evening of kindness and a bucketload of booze sees all this and far more finally spilling out. And you know how the next morning you sometimes cannot remember a thing for a few hours, then it all comes gradually creeping back…? That. Also, Hiro’s cell phone got mixed by mistake with that of his girlfriend of two years, Shiho, which is how two of my friends discovered that their husbands were having affairs: cell phones. Seems Shiho’s been playing away too.

So anyway, the tango, eh? Dancing as conversation and Angel knows all the smooth moves.

“Hiro… Hiro… What is it you want? Whatever it is you’re lacking… arms to hold you… affectionate words… unwavering love… I will give you everything you need…
“I will give you tango.”

Who could resist?

Hiro, you have most emphatically been tango-ed.


Buy The Man Of Tango and read the Page 45 review here

Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Roger Stern, Gerry Conway, Bill Mantlo & Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan, Gene Colan…

The blurb on the back would have you believe this is the finest Doctor Doom graphic novel ever written. I think there might well be several occasions he has been used to finer effect within the pages of Fantastic Four, e.g. in Mark Millar’s all too brief but glorious two book run: FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLD’S GREATEST and FANTASTIC FOUR: THE MASTER OF DOOM. But, with that said, it is probably the best solo Doctor Doom story per se that I can think of, and also the best Doctor Strange one. This is from back in the day, originally released as an over-sized trade, and it reads just as well as it did back then.

The time has come for the Vishanti to pick a new Sorcerer Supreme and all the various mystical runners and riders have been summoned to a deserted temple complex to prove their worth with a magical contest to complete what looks like a very simple task. It’s not, obviously. Once the dust has settled, Dr. Strange has triumphed but the only other person to complete the task, and thus runner-up, is somewhat of a surprise. To everyone except himself, of course, he’s just surprised he didn’t win! No prizes of the first, second or indeed no variety for guessing whom I am referring to.

As the new Sorcerer Supreme the good Doctor is duty bound to offer his assistance one time only to… errr… the bad Doctor in any particular way he requests. Much to Dr. Strange’s surprise, and relief, it isn’t world domination, but help in defeating a foe far beyond Victor’s magical prowess, the demon Mephisto, to reclaim his mother’s lost soul. Great fun with Victor, as ever, in as curmudgeonly form as his equally irascible namesake, Victor Meldrew.

This new edition comes with a couple of such excruciatingly awful and totally pointless back-up Sub-Mariner tales, that I have absolutely no idea why Marvel has included them here.


Buy Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Nova vol 1: Origin h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness…

It’s Nova, but not as we know it. New Nova, new helmet, but also Jeph Loeb so it’s the same old shit. Well, that is slightly harsh, perhaps, but, why in blue blazes do we need a new Nova? I rather liked the old one, the original buckethead himself, Richard Rider. Given Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord has made a miraculous return from the Cancerverse where he and Nova where last seen apparently sacrificing themselves to save our universe by staying behind, I presume it is only a matter of time before he returns. Except Richard might not have been Earth’s original bucket bonced defender as this version, Sam Alexander, has inherited his helmet from his dad. Yes, it really is Kid Nova this time (New Warriors in-joke for those not getting the reference), as he is forced to embark on a crash course in herodom assisted by Rocket Racoon and Gamora. Trite, clichéd, painful really. I can’t see this run lasting long.


Buy Nova vol 1: Origin h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army h/c (£22-50, DC) by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Peter Milligan, Tony Bedard & Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado…

“Where would you suggest I start?”
“It’s a moving conveyor belt, just jump on. Just remember you can jump off again.”

A question I frequently encounter, and my usual rejoinder with respect to reading superhero comics. I guess Green Lantern is relevant in a sense as I have recommended a number of people to read Geoff John’s now very extended run on the title as their entry point to current supes, particularly of the DC variety (begin with GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH). I had apparently dropped off the conveyor belt, though, as I was rather surprised upon starting to read this weighty tome to find that Hal Jordan and Sinestro, recent bosom ring buddies (hmm, just realised how that sounds…), are both dead.

Well, not really, obviously, but temporarily sidelined long enough to introduce a new black Green lantern who now has their ring. He’s a Muslim as well, and guess what, the authorities suspect him of being a terrorist. I did sigh inwardly at that point, but actually, it is all setting up a nice piece of misdirection. He’s an interesting new addition to the ring-slinging fold, though once Sinestro and Hal return it’ll be interesting to see who gets keep possession of the ring. That is a story for another time, though. This huge crossover is more concerned with the Guardians’ latest round of pan-Galactic genocide due to temporary insanity. This time around they’ve used their own DNA to create a sort of living virus that overwrites any and all sentient life it comes into contact with, thus removing that most pesky of entropy promoters, free will. Cue the Lanterns to rescue.

There are a number of interesting side-stories going on as Guy is stripped of his ring (again), John is on a mission to help Mogo reassemble himself, and Kyle is trying to attempt control of all the various elements of the emotional spectrum to turn himself into a White Lantern. Meanwhile, if the Lanterns do manage to stop the Guardians, up next is the person the Guardians have been siphoning power off for this dastardly scheme, the mysterious First Lantern. Cue the next crossover.

Fair do’s to long-term GL and GL Corps writers, Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, plus their writing cohorts here, Peter Milligan and Tony Bedard, you have to say they do a good job of writing extremely long-term storylines that weave in and out of the various titles quite nicely. I did feel slightly jaded (no pun intended) after finishing this epic, the superhero comic equivalent of gorging yourself on far too many sweets in one go, so it’s probably time for me to leap off the conveyor belt again. Though I might just read the First Lantern arc…


Buy Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army 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.


14 Nights (£13-50) by Kristina Stipetic

Asthma (£12-99) by Sparkplug Comic Books

By This Shall You Know Him (£10-99) by Jesse Jacobs

Daddy Lightning (£4-25) by Tom Hart

Faceman  (£3-50) by Clara Bessijelle

Grand Gestures (£4-25) by Simon Moreton

Henry & Glenn: Forever & Ever #1 (£4-25) by Igloo Tornado

July Diary (£4-25) by Gabrielle Bell

Lone Pine (£10-99) by Jed McGowan

Lovf (£7-50) by Jesse Reklaw

Mary Shelley Vs. Dracula (£4-25) by Janne Tervamak

Memorexia (£3-50) by Box Brown

Mimi And The Wolves (£10-99) by Alabaster

New Jobs (£3-50) by Dash Shaw

Nine Ways To Disappear (£9-99) by Lilli Carre

Nurse Nurse (£10-99) by Katie Skell

Post York (£6-99) by James Romberger

Ritual #1: Real Life (£4-99) by Malachi Ward

Ritual #2: The Reverie (£4-99) by Malachi Ward

Squeaky Noises (£3-50) by Cara Bean

Streakers (£4-99) by Nick Maandag

The Complete Deep Girl (£14-99) by Ariel Bordeaux

The Half Men (£2-99) by Kevin Huizenga

The Whale (£7-50) by Aidan Koch

Turtie Needs Work (£0.99) by Steve Wolfhard

Very Casual (£10-99) by Michael DeForge

You Don’t Get There From Here 21 (£1-99) by Carrie McNinch

You Don’t Get There From Here 22 (£1-99) by Carrie McNinch

You Don’t Get There From Here 23 (£1-99) by Carrie McNinch

You Don’t Get There From Here 24 (£1-99) by Carrie McNinch

You Don’t Get There From Here 25 (£1-99) by Carrie McNinch

BPRD: 1948 (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Max Fiumara

Diesel Sweeties vol 1: I’m A Rocker. I Rock Out. (£14-99, Oni Press Inc.) by R. Stevens

East Of West vol 1: The Promise (£7-50, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta

Fortunately, The Milk… h/c (£10-99, Bloomsbury) by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell

Mouse Guard vol 3: The Black Axe h/c (US Ed’n) (£18-99, Archaia) by David Petersen

Siegfried vol 2: The Valkyrie h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Alex Alice

Star Wars Omnibus: Knights Of The Old Republic vol 1 (£18-99, Dark Horse) by various

Stitched vol 2 (£14-99, Avatar) by Mike Wolfer & Fernando Heinz Furukawa

Stumptown vol 2 h/c (£22-50, Oni Press Inc.) by Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth

The Halloween Legion h/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Martin Powell, Diana Leto & Thomas Boatwright

Thrud The Barbarian h/c (£14-99, Titan) by Carl Critchlow

Wonder Woman vol 2: Guts s/c (£10-99, DC) by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang

Wonder Woman vol 3: Iron h/c (£18-99, DC) by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang, various

Avengers Arena vol 2: Game On Now s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Dennis Hopeless & Alessandro Vitti, Jason Gorder, Riccardo Burchielli

Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 1: Cosmic Avengers (UK Ed’n) (£12-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Steve McNiven

Indestructible Hulk vol 2: Gods And Monster h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Walter Simonson, Matteo Scalera

Inhumans h/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee

Ultimate Comics: X-Men vol 2 s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Brian Wood & Mahmud Asrar

Bunny Drop vol 9 (£10-50, Yen Press) by Yumi Unita

Doctor Who series 3 vol 2: The Eye Of Ashaya (£13-50, IDW) by Andy Diggle, others & various

Neon Genesis Evangelion Omnibus vols 10-12 (£12-99, Viz) by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Oreimo vol 4 (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Sakura Ikeda

Pandora Hearts vol 17 (£8-99, Yen Press) by Jun Mochizuki

Puella Magi Kazumi Magica vol 2 (£8-99, Yen Press) by Masaki Hiramatsu & Takashi Tensugi

Sailor Moon vol 10 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

Sailor Moon vol 11 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

Sailor Moon vol 12 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

Sleeping Moon vol 2 (£8-99, Viz) by Kano Miyamoto

Spice & Wolf vol 9 (£8-99, Yen Press) by Isuna Hasekura


ITEM! The Cartoon Pyschologist’s THE COURAGE TO BE ME has acquired a full roster of artists now including Hannah Berry and Katie Green. It’s an important book about stories that don’t generally get told, usually of sexual abuse, the courage to create and be yourself and not crumble under the criticisms of others. Click on that link for a useful news round-up and history of the project.

ITEM! I reviewed Faith Erin Hicks’ tremendous FRIENDS WITH BOYS right at the top this week, but you can read a full 20-page preview on its dedicated website by clicking on that link.

ITEM! Page 45 received a bumper crop of beautiful new comics from John Porcellino’s US distribution, tantalisingly arranged here by guest-star Jodie Paterson. See above Arrived, Online And Ready To Buy for all the individual titles and links.

ITEM! Page 45 reveals comics’ own Eddie Campbell’s set designs for Michael Eaton’s new play Charlie Peace at Nottingham Playhouse! Big blog there including the actual projection designs! Also, links to loads of Eddie’s glorious graphic novels. You know we made most of them Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month? More than any other single creator.

– Stephen


Eddie Campbell Designs Set For Michael Eaton’s new play Charlie Peace

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

‘Charlie Peace: His Amazing Life And Astounding Legend’ debuts at the Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 4th October 2013 and runs until Saturday October 19th.

Written by Michael Eaton MBE, all the projections used on the play’s sets have been designed by comics’ own Eddie Campbell – indeed Charlie Peace was originally conceived of between the two as a graphic novel!

You can find an interview with Michael Eaton on Charlie Peace and new images by Eddie Campbell at

Tickets from £7-50 to £27-50 are on sale now! Alternatively phone the Nottingham Playhouse Box Office on 0115 9419419, follow them on Twitter @SkyMirror and even enthuse with the hashtag #charliepeace

“The greatest celebrity villain of the Victorian age, Charlie Peace’s life became legend. He was a master of disguise, an accomplished musician and irresistibly attractive to women.

On the run, having murdered his lover’s husband, he holed up in the warrens of Nottingham’s Narrow Marsh. This modern musical melodrama asks the question why, now as then, are we terrified of crime but fascinated by criminals?”



I still want to see that graphic novel, please!

The Amazing Remarkable Mister Campbell

All of which gives me the perfect excuse to pitch you Eddie Campbell’s glorious graphic novels. Hurrah! Please click on any of the titles for the full review – and even to buy, if you fancy!

Alec: A Life-Size Omnibus boasts 640 pages of autobiography arranged into a sweeping tapestry of love, lust and drunken misdemeanours; ambitions, self-doubt and self-deprecation, observing human behaviour in all its foibles and cogitating on its wider implications. Published over many years as separate graphic novels, one of the more recent sections comes in the form a “letter” sent by Eddie Campbell as a successful artist to himself in his early twenties telling him how to get where he is today.

Once collated, I described it as “the single finest body of work in comics anywhere in the world to date” – which is a pretty good cover copy!

The Playwright, written by Darren White then drawn and painted by Eddie Campbell, is a comedic study in social inadequacy and sexual anxiety, depicting the imaginary sex life of a celibate man, libidinous beyond his middle-aged years.

The Lovely Horrible Stuff is money. It’s also more autobiography, because Eddie Campbell is useless with it.

The Fate Of The Artist, meanwhile, is a big bag of mischief for it is a multi-layered fiction disguised as autobiography, in which Eddie Campbell has gone missing. Clue: the artist is very much alive – you can tell by his set designs for Michael Eaton.

From Hell, written by Northampton’s Alan Moore, is the harrowing tale of a respected surgeon’s execution of a royal cover-up, fuelled by his Masonic obsession with carving a male sigil across the heart of Victorian London by slaughtering the women of the street. It is a bleak, unsanitised, dark and stark London which Campbell scratches indelibly on your mind.

The From Hell Companion is a wit-ridden exploration by Eddie Campbell of that graphic novel’s composition based on the original scripts of Alan Moore. Along the journey Eddie explains his approach to each segment while expounding on his wider theories about comics’ construction from individual pages’ layout to what is required and what should be avoided in any work’s climax and conclusion.

A Disease Of Language features Eddie’s two adaptations of Alan Moore’s performance pieces and an extensive interview with the man which is very, very funny.

The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard composed by Eddie and Dan Best is a romp in the vein of Voltaire’s Candide. Its protagonists constantly pray “May nothing occur…”, only to discover that everything that could possibly occur – and quite a lot that couldn’t – occurs.

Next year, I pray, will finally see Campbell’s modern (and ancient) mythology Bacchus reprinted as two volumes, each the size of the Alec Omnibus!

Eddie Campbell was born and bred in Scotland, moved down south and then further south still to Australia.

– Stephen





Reviews September 2013 week one

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

“Deliciously slick and supernaturally hip.”  Operation Sex Trip

–  My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult on Young Avengers vol 1. Disclaimer: they may have been singing about something else – it was a little while ago.

The Children Of Palomar h/c (£16-99, Fantagraphics) by Gilbert Hernandez.

Mysterious, beautiful and haunting, these four interconnected stories, separated by time, drift in and around the rural town of Palomar, gradually revealing their secrets.

This isn’t LOVE AND ROCKETS material – although the characters will be familiar: Luba, Pipo, Chelo, Fritz et al – but reprints the NEW TALES OF OLD PALOMAR stories originally published in Fantagraphics’ luxurious Ignatz format. The paper stock remains a softening cream while each chapter break is coloured in olive green and the richest of rusts.

Between the ancient, monolithic, Woodring-like statues that surround the township of Palomar, two feral, food-thieving children who run like the wind are tracked by the equally fleet-of-foot Pipo down to the beach. There they huddle, cowering in a cave. Pipo finds a letter inside. Meanwhile, some of the men prepare to blow up a boulder that’s restricting a flow of pure water, in the hope that it can be bottled and sold or at least serve the community. Earth, wind, fire and water: Gilbert’s really in his elements there.

Flash back to when the adults were children and a seemingly endless, yawning chasm separates Palomar from a wilderness without. There some of the boys plays dare with Pipo’s future husband stuck up a tree. Lightning strikes. The tree trunk bridging the gap is incinerated. Some of the boys are abducted by a couple in bio-hazard suits. Each learns how they will die.

Tonantzin and Diana, the two feral orphans, have grown up now. Tonantzin spies an eyeless, dark-skinned apparition, a baby crying out for its Mama whom no one else can see, only hear like the breeze through a tree. What is so special about Tonantzin? And will she embrace her role as Chelo has, or fight it?

Moving on further still, town Sheriff Chelo is determined to learn what the beings in bio-suits really want.

I could write a dissertation on almost every Hernandez book and the brothers’ craftsmanship but try to discipline myself to eulogising about just a couple of the elements, for this in the internet and column inches kill.

Here it’s the graceful way the community’s connections are made clear; and it is an interdependent community on which the ravages of Thatcherism were never visited. Everyone has their role, providing for each other in their own way, even if initially it looks as if that role is simply to stand there fizzing with confrontational, ever-inquisitive energy (Carmen) or clasp each other romantically in an almost off-camera hug like Guero and Arturo. (Funny how Gilbert can make the foreground seem “almost off-camera”!)

Also on evidence, this time as always, is Gilbert’s evocation of age. JULIO’S DAY was a masterful graphic novel that swept through generations. Here it’s like the most immaculate, succinct short-hand: Luba a little demented, the lines on Chelo’s face, the beaming boys with their big mouths taunting a tree-stuck Gato.

Time was we would wait a whole year for new Los Bros Hernandez material, but including LOVE & ROCKETS: NEW STORIES # 5 this makes four books so far from Gilbert alone with a fifth, MARIA M, yet to come.


Buy The Children Of Palomar h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Strangers In Paradise Omnibus Box Set Softcover Slipcase Edition (£75-00, Abstract Studios) by Terry Moore.

There is no comic I am fonder of than STRANGERS IN PARADISE.

I may have declared THE NAO OF BROWN  by Glyn Dillon to be the finest work of graphic novel fiction, and I have pronounced that the best body of comics anywhere in the world to date is the autobiographical ALEC: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS by Eddie Campbell.

But there is no comic I am fonder of than STRANGERS IN PARADISE. It means the world to me, and I know the same goes for our Dominique.

We have history, you see. We have a lot of history. We also have a lot of love, but nobody I know has as much love for his fellow human being as its creator Terry Moore, and it shines from this ultimate collection as radiant as any sun in the heavens.

All 2128 pages of this epic, heart-warming, heart-cleaving story are reprinted here in these two slipcased softcovers restored as nature intended them without several slices of self-censorship. Oh yes, even if you have the original issues, you still don’t have the full story.

Not only that but, at Page 45 at least, all of our copies come with its retailer print signed by Terry himself. Plus, if you order from Page 45 and pay by the end of September 2013, you will be entered into the free prize draw to win the original, signed art to that print. Let me repeat: the original signed art to that print! We have it in our custody right now, and it is exquisite.

All the details you need including unbeatable UK and European shipping rates and links to its component parts’ reviews:

In summary: David is in love with Katchoo, who is in love with Francine, who thinks she is in love with serial philanderer Freddie Femur. Unfortunately David is not who he seems, Katchoo is not who you know, and poor Francine is caught in the middle.

The comedy is all the funnier because it is juxtaposed against gut-wrenching tragedy; and the tragedy is worse because you will never see it coming.

For far, far more, please see my review of STRANGERS IN PARADISE VOL 1. As to the Page 45 history, all will become clearer if you read my review of SiP 2.

From the creator of RACHEL RISING and ECHO.

God bless you, Terry Moore.


Buy Strangers In Paradise Omnibus Box Set Softcover Slipcase Edition and read the Page 45 review here

Fairy Tale Comics h/c (£14-99, First Second) by Craig Thompson, Luke Pearson, Vanessa Davis, Jillian Tamaki, David Mazzucchelli, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Raina Telgemeier, Karl Kerschl, Joseph Lambert, more.

That is some serious talent in one book and, like most of our best children’s books, I suspect with this will overwhelmingly be bought by adults for adults.

There are several stories I’d never encountered in any form, but even those you may be familiar with have been reinterpreted with mischief and wit; even more so than with NURSERY RHYME COMICS where at least the rhyme had to be adhered to.

Vanessa Davis, for example, has totally gone to town with ‘Puss In Boots’, taking laugh-out-loud liberties and throwing in hilarious anachronisms while pouring her all into the most exuberant and thrillingly coloured cartooning in the entire album. She has some stiff competition!

Craig Thompson (HABIBI, BLANKETS) adds a dash of eloquence to ‘Azzolino’s Story Without End’ but mostly I just giggled at the sheep. Joseph Lambert’s ‘Rabbit Will Not Help’, based on a ‘Bre’r Rabbit’ story, is not the Tar Baby tale I know but who cares? His art positively bounces across the page! David Mazzucchelli’s style you won’t even recognise from ASTERIOS POLYP or CITY OF GLASS but then he’s one of those comparatively rare visual chameleons like Stuart Immonen and Bryan Talbot who adapts each time to suit the substance.

Unmistakeable, however, is Luke Pearson’s contribution. Far closer in style to EVERYTHING WE MISS than his Young Adult albums and comics (HILDAFOLK, British Comics Award-winning HILDA  AND THE MIDNIGHT GIANT ,and HILDA AND THE BIRD PARADE), ‘The Boy Who Drew Cats’ is a wit-riddled wonder. It’s based on a Japanese tale as told by Lafcadio Hearn (obscure!) and tells of a giant goblin rat which invades a temple, sending the poor priests scurrying and polishing off the greatest warriors in the land – in much the same manner that you polish off everything on your plate, I’m afraid! The temple is boarded up, imprisoning the ravenous rodent in its lair.

Meanwhile a farmer proudly boasts that his boys are hard-working, and indeed they are; just not necessarily at farming. His youngest, for example, likes to draw cats. He’s very good at it: lots and lots of cats marked in the soil with a stick. Understanding that his son has a different calling, the farmer introduces him to a priest in the hope he’ll take him on as an apprentice.

“Do you vow to dedicate the rest of your life to traversing the road to enlightenment?”
“I like to draw cats.”

And draw cats he does, everywhere he goes and on everything he sees – even some sacred texts! He likes, quite clearly, drawing cats. Luke paces the story beautifully, eventually interweaving it with the giant, squatting rat, while building its refrain to the most delightful punchline imaginable.

Prediction: there will be a lot of cats drawn in your household by young ones.


Buy Fairy Tale Comics h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The End Of The Fucking World s/c (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by Charles Forsma.

“When I was 13 and a half, I found a cat in the woods. I smashed its body with a stone.”

It’s a very big stone.

“After that I killed more animals. I remember them all.”

There are a great many animals.

“At 15, I stuck my hand into the garbage disposal.”

It’s on. Imagine what a boy like that will do when he hits his later teens.

In Alyssa, equally lank of hair, James finds a kindred, only slightly more sensible soul. They have little empathy for anyone other than themselves, and they have to force themselves to feel that. James steals his Dad’s car, start squatting in a stranger’s house before… events… force them to move on. At one point their hitchhiking lands them in a car whose driver asks James to sit in the front. Then he asks James if he can put his hand on his lap. Then he slides his hand into James’ pants. James doesn’t stop him.

“I guess I thought I might feel something. Something other than nothing.”

He doesn’t.

It’s a startling book, as succinct as you like and more detached than you can imagine, told in eight-page sequences that were originally self-published as mini-comics. It’s pocket-sized and black and white, told with a thin, often fragile line. It’s as cold and it’s empty, just like its protagonists. It will prey on your mind.

“It’s not my fault, is it? What could I have done?”


Buy The End Of The Fucking World s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Outliers #1 (£4-25) by Erik Johnson…

“Alright… this baby needs to go to the shop. There is no way I’m driving today. Let’s get these kids on other buses.”
“Jespers, get on 541, with Bob. He drives right by your house.”
“Wha..?! I’m not getting on that bus!!!”
“Follow me…”


“Look at Jespers riding the retard bus!!!”
“Who’s your bus-buddy? Short-bus Tsu?”
“I will clock you, Denver… Just get over here!!!”
“Get on the bus, Jespers, it’s starting to rain.”
“Short-bus Tsu? HRRMPH… I can’t believe you put me on a bus with this retard.”

Cue a fight between Jespers, who is obviously cerebrally challenged in that special school-bully way, and the virtually mute Tsu. The bus driver loses control of the boys, and consequently the bus, in the rain, which spells imminent disaster as it starts to slide towards the guiderail. And that is where it all goes totally Twilight Zone with the appearance of a huge shaggy Sasquatch-like creature that stops the bus from careening off the road. It seems like Tsu is able to communicate with the beast, but the weirdness doesn’t stop there, as a mysterious scientist, accompanied by some strange colleague of his own witnesses the incident and decides to stop by Tsu’s house for a not-so-friendly chat. By the end of this issue I still have absolutely no idea who or what the Outliers are, but I want to find out!

And wow, what an artistic talent Erik is. His artwork reminded me of R. Kikuo Johnson’s now sadly out of print NIGHT FISHER (now there is someone who needs to do more comics). Beautifully scratchy penmanship, which the longer you stare at a panel, the more you realise just how much detail there is. Insane amounts. It gives the art a really dense feel, really quite perfectly claustrophobic in the section in the woods. The gentle over-wash of light green and then blue only serves to add to the eeriness. This work was originally funded through Kickstarter, which just goes to proves if you’ve got the will, and talent, you will find a way.


Buy The Outliers #1 and read the Page 45 review here

League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus (vols 1 & 2) s/c (£22-50, DC) by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill.

First two collections in a single collection. Start your collection now!

A roguish tale of derring-do using a collage of characters and geographical fancies torn from the pages of Victorian fiction to form an uproarious satire on both the prose itself and the imperialist, patriarchal society that spawned it. The whole thing has its tongue so firmly planted in its metaphorical cheek that you can almost hear Uncle Alan chortling. Captain Nemo, Mina Murray, Alan Quartermain, Mr. Hyde, and Hawley Griffin (the Invisible Man) are thrust into a state of national emergency under the command of the mysterious ‘M’ whom the League presumes stands for Mycroft Holmes. It doesn’t.

The backgrounds by O’Neill are as entertaining as the action itself, his composite colonies reflecting not only the overseas obsessions of both Victorian authors and readers, but also their relatively recent predilection for science fiction; whence the magnificent Albion Reach, flying airships and Nemo’s Nautilus. His bawdy, Hogarthian street scenes embellish the main attraction, whilst his panoramas contrast urban squalor with industrial science fiction.

In the second book: Mars attacks! Hawley Griffin is nowhere to be seen! And Mr. Hyde knows why… Indeed the best realised character there is Mr. Hyde. He is the essence of animal distilled from Dr. Jekyll, and yet Moore imbues him with a certain sense of honour:

“Why are you ‘ere, anyway? You don’t strike me as the museum sort.”
“Huhuh. You’re wrong. Why, I’m obsessed with the past. I simply can’t let things go. Do you know what I mean?”

He will.

Includes scenes of invisible sodomy and Rupert The Bear – though thankfully not in the same panels.

Extras: “How To Make Nemo’s Nautilus” using one sheet of paper and a quick lesson in origami (the sixth and final reconfiguration is hilarious in its leap); a Cautionary Tale; a colouring page, board game (Square 84: “Taduki Break. Miss a turn.” Square 19: “McTeague the dentist seems distracted. Lose 1 turn and half your lower jaw.”), a naughty interactive postcard, Basil Hallward’s Painting-by-Numbers: Dorian Gray, and Allan Quartermain’s impossible Hunt The Taduki maze.



Buy League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus (vols 1 & 2) s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Hellblazer vol 6: Bloodlines (£14-99, DC) by Garth Ennis, John Smith & Steve Dillon, Will Simpson, Sean Phillips, David Lloyd.

Whoa, these massive, mortuary slabs are now such value for money: 400 pages including a massive amount of material never previously reprinted! Take John Smith & Sean Phillips’ single issue set in the seeming safety of a late-night laundromat, in which Constantine casually concedes to have had the occasional boyfriend; or the two-parter pencilled by Steve Dillon in which corporate corpse-snatchers go ballistic on them before cottoning on to the fact that the calibre of a cadaver is as nothing to living tissue. Shame John and Chas offer themselves up as upgrades.

There really was nothing like HELLBLAZER when it first emerged as a spin-off from Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING. Not in comics, not even on the television, really. It was like Red-Wedge Billy Bragg writing Doctor Who for punks, vegans and chain-smoking drunkards, plus Stephen King and Clive Barker readers. Vehemently anti-Thatcher during the years when, as Jamie Delano wrote, “The country – starving – ate out its own heart”, it was a rallying cry against the social ramifications of political callousness and thuggery, and against the mass-media’s manipulation of the truth. It felt like there was a war on and this was one of our weapons, albeit a plank of plywood with a rusty nail against a squadron of intransigent, armoured tanks. It starred John Constantine, chain-smoking, mack-draped, master manipulator, and dealt with the horrors of the occult against a backdrop of the horrors of real life, painfully juxtaposed here by a time when he was happy.

“He could have stayed there forever and perhaps he should have, spurning the grey land across the Irish Sea for nights of laugher and life itself that became morning before you could draw breath. The whisky did flow like the wine, as the old song goes. Sadly for Constantine, the time went just as fast.”

So when was the last time HELLBLAZER came even close to bringing a tear to your eye? With Garth Ennis it was all about friendship, love and loss, whether it was his old Irish friend Kit, the woman who could match him pint for pint, suddenly back in his life again as a take-no-nonsense lover, rendering him as daunted as a schoolboy with a crush… or his acts of calculated kindness towards the succubus who’d spurned Hell for her love of an angel and arrives on John’s doorstep, both on the run from Heaven and Hell, they believe, and she very pregnant indeed.

The tragedy of that was the inevitability of it all: Chantinelle’s demonic role and very nature was to tempt, and tempting the purest was her ultimate goal; angel Tali duly fell in lust, but then turned her lust into love. They both did exactly what they were ordained to do, and it should have been something beautiful. Well, it was. But some parties value conflict far more than confluence…

That one will make your stomach churn, as will the awful fate of the kindly Laura, landlady of the Northampton Arms, who burns to death in her very own pub.

The socio-politics are never far behind, here in the guise of a Royal on the rampage, possessed by a demon with prior, the establishment rushing round to cover his tracks; the faltering fortunes of The Lord Of The Dance; and John’s manipulative power-play with the Devil ignited during DANGEROUS HABITS. The King of the Vampires also sets out his stall on Hampstead Heath here for the very first time, so if you’re wondering what took DC so long to collect together all this material key to understanding the whole of Garth Ennis’ run, you are not alone.

Here’s John’s final, passionate rebuff to the King of the Vampires, delivered with measured confidence and conviction:

“I’m happy with the life I’ve got, thanks.”
“Why? What’s so frigging good about it?”
“‘Cause I know who I am. I’m real. I don’t forget about it like all those others do – and that’s why they’re all so mysterious, by the way. So no one twigs there’s bugger all to them.”
“And what’s so good about being real, then? Can you tell me? You seem very sure of yourself, you little mortal bastard, so I’ll tell you what… If you can tell me why your ordinary, piss-boring life is better than mine, you can walk out of here alive. If you can’t, I’ll cut your throat and drink my fill and leave you half alive forever.”
“Easy. Can you go for a walk in the park and hear the birds sing in the morning? Can you kiss a girl and know she loves you? Can you go out and get pissed with your mates? I can. And just so we’re sure about who’s better off, why don’t we sit here together and watch the sun come up in an hour or so?”

Make no mistake: John is playing the long game, and he is moving his potential pieces into exactly the right positions for the end game. At least… those which are still left on the board after his arrogantly miscalculated clusterfucks.

Includes my all-time favourite Glen Fabry covers, one of which used to loom down from my guest-bedroom wall. Strangely, my guests rarely ask to stay twice.


Buy Hellblazer vol 6: Bloodlines and read the Page 45 review here

Young Avengers vol 1: Style > Substance s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie with Mike Norton, 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 the book wakes up in bed, just like HAWKEYE‘s 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 do 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):

Hulking (half-Kree, half-Skrull shapeshifter) 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 AKA Teddy mentions his mother who’s dead, and how lucky Wiccan is to have two sets of parents. And Wiccan AKA Billy takes that to heart. He’s here to help others too and, if he can’t help his own boyf, then what even is the point? Plus 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 young Loki has been fascinated by modern Earth 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 all of them will pay for what Wiccan 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 clever, self-denigratory yet at the same time irrepressibly mischievous, for there is plenty of substance and, boy, is it delivered with style! It is a beautiful and nimble thing to behold. 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!

Mike Norton also plays his part with the ridiculously clean and detailed city-scapes, while ‘Kelvie’s eye for fashion gives us the upwards flicks on the end of Wiccan’s floppy hair and his two-tone t-shirt. The single panel in which he takes hold of his boyfriend’s hand, three fingers between Teddy’s thumb and fore, was exquisitely delicate. Because, yes, he’s fucked up badly leaving his boyfriend in particular in a world of trouble.

It is a very modern superhero comic: just gawp at the covers! Rarely has Marvel attracted such design sense outside of the recent HAWKEYE. The colours by Matthew Wilson both 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, both breathing and breathless, arranged out of Opal Fruits which were made to make your mouth water.

In addition there two of the most ingenious pages, from conception to execution, to have graced a comic since CEREBUS. (It was a regular occurrence there: almost every issue brought with it yet another visual innovation.) For superhero readers, think John Byrne’s SHE-HULK. Gillen and McKelvie use small panels as a claustrophobic prison and the broader-than-usual gutters as its escape route… including the edges of the paper! Even the climax to that sequence brought with it beauty.

Finally, I loved this tucked-in tribute to the late, great Jack Kirby whose mad designs for machines of all shapes and sizes were part of what made 1960s’ Marvel Comics fizz. We’re on board Nor-Varr’s spaceship:

“Problem! That hit got the Kirby Engines. It’s venting. We’re losing 4.2 epiphanies a second!”


Buy Young Avengers vol 1: Style > Substance s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 1: Cosmic Avengers h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Steve McNiven.

“Hey, Stark, are there any London-based superhero initiatives?”
“There is a Captain Britain.”
“Is he any good?”
“Not really.”

Best battle exchange ever! I had to clean up my keyboard.

You need know nothing of this previously D-list, space-based team, for Bendis has more or less restarted from scratch and taken advantage of Iron Man’s current off-world activities to bring him on board for what is basically a power struggle between a proud royal father and bitterly resentful, rebellious son.

It begins beautifully and peacefully in the past as a romance comic followed by a comic about being a single mum and then a story of growing up without a Dad. The blossoming romance is perfectly portrayed in a series of tender, silent panels, and the separation after is all the more heart-rending for it. Then it turns very, very dark indeed, which is why young Peter AKA Star-Lord, next in line to the Spartax throne, is an angry young man.

I want the specifics of that prologue to come as a surprise.

Fast-forward and Star-Lord’s father, King J-Son of Spartax, has gathered together the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence, Gladiator of the Shi’Ar empire, the Brood and the Brotherhood of the Badoon to hear the Asgardian All-Mother Of The Nine Realms declare Earth under her protection. They all agree that Earth is therefore off-limits. Unfortunately there is also a Sisterhood of the Badoon and a great deal of scheming forcing the Guardians of the Galaxy to break the injunction in order to defend the city of London. There are repercussions.

So who are the current Guardians Of The Galaxy? Star-Lord, Drax The Destroyer, Thanos’ daughter Gamora, Groot who takes root (he is a walking, talking, fully flammable tree) and the pint-sized Rocket Racoon (he is… a racoon). Against my initial instincts and then better judgement, Rocket Racoon as written by Bendis has swiftly become my favourite, blasting his way through enemy lines while taking a great deal of satisfaction in shouting, “Blam! Murdered you! Blam! Murdered you!” with each successive shot.

I also enjoyed his sub-plot-seeding spotlight in the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: TOMORROW’S AVENGERS one-shot (still in stock at the time of typing), also penned by Bendis, which gives you some history on each of the crew and is included at the back of this book. In it Rocket Racoon boasts in a bar of his pugilistic prowess in taking on Ronan The Accuser of the Kree. No one believes him, including a somewhat flabby-jowled, green-skinned fish-faced laydee whose heckles he diverts with flirtation.

“What’s your name?”
“Please leave me be.”
“Is that Kree or — ?”
“Your tail was in my drink.”


Buy Guardians Of Galaxy vol 1: Cosmic Avengers h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Secret Avengers vol 1: Reverie s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Luke Ross, Tomm Coker.

Are you enjoying the new HAWKEYE series? Of course you are; it’s delighting all and sundry with its back-and fourth structure, snappy cut-scenes and nimble dialogue as well as its lack of costumes and supervillains. Totally street-level, with Clint getting himself into a whole bag of trouble.

You may well love this too, kicking off with lots more Hawkeye, still no supervillains, and the beautiful Black Widow to boot. It’s an espionage action-thriller with cake.

“See, S.H.I.E.L.D. asks us for a sit-down, we oblige. But I assume beyond the pleasantries, and these – what’s in these scones, by the way?”
“Coconut. Pineapple.”

The last series of SECRET AVENGERS saw Captain America and then Hawkeye calling the shots over a big group effort. This time S.H.I.E.L.D.’s calling the shots, and Clint is so far from in control – and the avenging so secret – that he has no idea what he’s about to get mixed up in. Not will he remember. Oh dear, poor Clint.


Buy Secret Avengers vol 1: Reverie 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.


Hi-Fructose Collected Edition vol 3 h/c (£29-99, Last Gasp) by various

Oliver And The Seawigs h/c (£8-99, Oxford) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

Friends With Boys s/c (£11-99, First Second) by Faith Erin Hicks

Vern And Lettuce s/c (£6-99, DFC) by Sarah McIntyre

Mameshiba: Enchanted s/c (£4-99, Viz) by James Turner & Jorge Monlongo

Morning Glories vol 5 s/c (£9-99, Image) by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma

American Vampire vol 4 s/c (£12-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Jordi Bernet, Rafael Albuquerque, various

Animal Man vol 3: Rotworld – The Red Kingdom s/c (£12-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder & Steve Pugh

Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army h/c (£22-50, DC) by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Peter Milligan, Tony Bedard & Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

Age Of Ultron h/c (£55-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis, others & Bryan Hitch, others

Nova vol 1: Origin h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness

Wolverine vol 1: Hunting Season (UK Ed’n) (£12-99, Marvel) by Paul Cornell & Alan David, Mirco Pierfederici

Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Roger Stern, Gerry Conway, Bill Mantlo & Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan, Gene Colan

The Man Of Tango (£8-99, Sublime) by Tetuzoh Okadaya

Hayate Combat Butler vol 22 (£6-99, Viz) by Kenjiro Hata

Blood Blockade Battlefront vol 4 (£9-99, Dark Horse) by Yasuhiro Nightow

NGE Shinji Detective Diary vol 1 (£7-50, Dark Horse) by Takumi Yoshimura



You all saw our announcement about Duncan Fegredo signing at Page 45 on October 23rd and the Page 45 exclusive signed bookplate edition of HELLBOY MIDNIGHT CIRCUS, right?

Oh dear God, that is a beautiful thing to behold! Please follow that link for details!

So, so grateful and proud to see “Page 45” on the exquisite leather binding. Please pre-order ASAP, they are going like crazy. And yes, they are available for mail order, not just at the signing! By the time it comes to the signing we might not have any left, so please pre-order prompty or pine for evermore!

ITEM! Beautiful and hypnotic: a 9-minute introduction to console game Journey recommended to be by FREAKANGELS’ Paul Duffield.

ITEM! New comic called CARRY ME coming from Dan Berry, creator of THE SUITCASE and HEY YOU!, both of which we made Page 45 Comicbook Of Month within three months of each other which is pretty bloody unprecedentend.

ITEM! The full programme for The Comic Art Festival in the Lake District’s beautiful Kendal is now up online at The Comic Art Festival website! Even the programme itself is a thrill to read – I have no idea how you’ll decide what to do there, it’s bursting! Maps, time tables, everything you need to know. You’ll find the programme click button to the right!

ITEM! I am on holiday for a fortnight and have been for a week. You can tell, right? I even popped back into Page 45 today to pick up the books for next Wednesday’s reviews. I ended up speed-selling twenty-three graphic novels to thirteen customers in the space of six minutes. If only my speed dating was half so successful. Or my full-blown relationships a fraction as long.

ITEM! I think… I may have a problem.

– Stephen