Archive for February, 2014

Reviews February 2014 week four

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Loki lovers, this one’s for you!

It’s a battle of wits contested by a right royal cleverclogs, and written by another one too: YOUNG AVENGERS’ Kieron Gillen

 – Stephen on Journey Into Mystery: Kieron Gillen Complete Collection vol 1 s/c

Rage Of Poseidon h/c (£22-50, Drawn & Quarterly) by Anders Nilsen –

This is really illustrated prose rather than comics as you don’t really need the images to make sense of the text. Which is understandable as they originated, I think, as slides, hence the strict black and white silhouette / cutout style of each picture. The images are cleverly and beautifully done, though, and the entire thing is actually a single sheet, bound concertina-style so that when you fold it out the panels flow together. So actually, maybe it is “more” than illustrated prose, as the art does work in a sequence. Whichever thing we decide it is, though, it is quite lovely and a very cool idea.

We start with Poseidon and work through a bunch of the pantheon of gods (the names swap between the Greek and the Roman versions but basically a god is a god whatever you call it). Initially I thought Poseidon was going to be mad (hence the Rage of) because of our misuse of the Oceans, which he sort of is, but he’s also more generally peeved at being forgotten, not worshipped anymore, not having so much influence over humanity now we don’t rely on the sea as much as we once did. He’s generally pining for the good old days of hounding Odysseus all over the place and being a major player and the more he walks among us mortals the grumpier he gets. In the end he destroys a water theme park and feels a lot better for it, the petulant old bastard.


Some of the other gods still find relevance in the modern world; Mars god of war is still doing a fairly tidy business and Bacchus has opened a nightclub. Athena has got herself into a bit of a scrape, waking up with a bullet in her shoulder and a police-issue pistol in her handbag but she’ll no doubt sort it out. Informal and personal in its tone, this is an unusual but still awesome project from Anders Nilsen, an artists who is never, ever anything but extremely interesting in my eyes.


Buy Rage Of Poseidon h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Cute Girl Network (£12-99, First Second) by Greg Means, M. K. Reed & Joe Flood…

“How was living with him?”
“Don’t even think about it.”
“I’m just asking.”
“What was it like? Well, go home and fill a laundry bag with 150 pounds of your dirtiest clothes. Sit it on the couch in front a telenovela, cover it in paper chips, dust, and then light your debit card on fire. It’s kind of like that.”
“Actually, that’s giving him too much credit. A bag of dirty laundry doesn’t get you fired from your job and doesn’t talk to your mother about your sex life.”
“What?! That didn’t happen.”
“Unfortunately, it did.”

Ha, ha, not often a character or indeed characters in a graphic novel actually makes me angry, but it certainly happened with the members of the eponymous cute girl network. Which is entirely a testament to the writing powers of Greg Means and MK Reed! I was familiar with both Greg from his curating the truly excellent PAPER CUTTER anthology series (whose issues we get in via John Porcellino and his one-man US-based Spit And A Half distribution machine) and MK from her teen testament to standing up to censorship that is AMERICUS, but even so I didn’t expect to be as simultaneously amused, irritated and indeed moved as I was by what – I found myself juddering slightly at the thought before I started it – I suspected from the somewhat ebullient cover was going to be the comic equivalent of a chick-flick rom-com. Just goes to show, one shouldn’t. Judge a book by its cover, that is. You think I would have learnt that by now, for this is simply brilliant, well-observed comedy.

So, new girl in town, skater grrl Jane, falls quite literally head over heels for Jack, right in front of his soup cart, from where he vends the finest takeaway soup in town. Cue a rather bumbling, fumbling wooing process as Jack tries to romance his ideal woman into becoming his girlfriend. All is proceeding smoothly enough in the course of true love department, until Jane’s new roommates discover the object of her affections is someone the Cute Girl Network has got an all point bulletin alert on. Yes, the ladies of this town have got each other’s backs, girlfriend, with negative information on any and all potential mates ready to dish up for you to digest, whether you desire to hear it or not.

Thus poor Jane, awash with the first flushes of love, is reluctantly dragged round a collection of Jack’s exes to hear precisely how he failed to meet their exacting suitor standards, in excruciating detail. She just wants to hang with Jack, have some fun, but no, the fun police have got other ideas. Actually, it’s not that bad as Jack definitely falls nearer the clueless fuckwit rather than complete bastard end of the crap boyfriend spectrum, but still, the members of the network did have me grinding my teeth rather. Will true love win out? Or will the Cute Girl Network chalk up another victory for taste, discernment… and bitchy bitterness? MEOWWW!!!!

Lovely art from Joe Flood too! It’s not often you say this with respect to a modern graphic novel, but the first comparison that sprang to mind was Will Eisner. I think certainly in terms of the exterior of buildings, he’s been a student of the great man. In terms of figures completely different, but in any event, it’s an ideal style for this work, and he’s captured the respective characters of fresh faced Jane and genial buffoon Jack perfectly.


Buy The Cute Girl Network and read the Page 45 review here

On Loving Women (£12-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Diane Obomsawin…

“There were butches with ducktails in my town.
“It was a combed-back hairstyle, like this:
“The girls at convent school all looked like lesbians. I hated it.
“At twenty, all in the same day, I quit university…
“Dropped acid…
“And fell in love with a woman.
“I’d never been in love before.
“We were all alone in the world.
“We had nothing to go by.
“Later, we broke up on a trip.
“There were three of us.
“She left with the other girl.
“I was in a state of shock.
“I travelled to northern Greece.
“I met this nice, cute girl.
“I dropped some acid to see if I’d fall in love.
“But it wasn’t the same.”

That was Maxime’s story, by the way.

Intriguing collection of biographical shorts about finding first love between two women and thus discovering one’s sexual identity. All of the protagonists are friends or previous lovers of artist Diane Obomsawin, apparently, not that I could spot any overlap between any of the stories. All are told in a similarly staccato style, one sentence per panel of illustration, and it works brilliantly given that you would think such a sensitive, personal topic would require far more extensive exposition to narrate and explain all the emotional nuances involved. But no, the rapid fire delivery, accompanied by the black and white, cartoon, anthropomorphic art style, simplicity itself, just hits the spot every time. The art reminded me a bit of Louis Trondheim in his LITTLE NOTHINGS mode.




In conclusion, the rear cover has a pull quote from Ellen (MARBLES: MANIA, DEPRESSION, MICHANGELO, AND ME) Forney which sums things up rather neatly: “Simply told, heart-tingling personal vignettes about coming out.”


Buy On Loving Women and read the Page 45 review here

Zero vol 1: “An Emergency” s/c (£7-50, Image) by Ales Kot & Michael Walsh, Tradd Moore, Morgan Jeske, Will Tempest, Mateus Santolouco.

“Existence is a perpetual state of war.”

Fast, furious and utterly brutal, the one thing this isn’t is pretty.

But then neither is war nor espionage nor the means with which either are executed. As much as anything this is a book about indoctrination and duplicity. We suspect we’re being lied to most of the time; not just casual omissions, either, but a wholesale jettisoning of the truth to hide what us grunts should never be allowed to know.

As Shami Chakrabarti wrote in the Guardian this week, “Orwell’s observations on the power of language “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable” is something that Liberty has witnessed throughout its history – “extraordinary rendition” wasn’t sweet singing, but a chilling euphemism for kidnap and torture during the “war on terror”. “Waterboarding” was never a seaside sport. Governments have twisted words to sanitise abomination and obscure outrage.”

Now imagine you are part of the military mechanism perpetrating those wars – those illegal infiltrations, undercover ops, calculated assassinations. If you routinely deceive other nations, side-step national boundaries and fabricate falsehoods to mollify the public, you’re almost certainly blindsiding your own operatives.

This book slides backwards and forwards in time during the forty years during which orphaned Edward Zero was trained to be the ultimate in detached obedience and the sharpest scalpel in surgical assassination The Agency ever had, through the gradual realisation that his superiors were lying to him and to each other, to what he decided to do about that, when he was found out, and when they finally caught up with him.

2038 AD. Atop the white cliffs of Dover sits a battered, buff military man, a bottle in his hand. Behind the man stands a boy about twelve, and in his hand is a gun. It is pointed directly at the back of the bruiser’s head.

“You sure this is a decision you want to make, kid? I killed my first man when I was ten. The Agency wanted to make sure we were all ready early on. The point being, killing is easy. You can do it. I won’t try to stop you…”

The boy hesitates, uncertain.

“Just got a story to tell first.”

It begins in the Gaza Strip, 2018.

“A war zone. A mission. A target.
“A thing to steal. A place to use. A person to kill.”

The mission is an extraction. The target is a Hamas soldier, bio-modified with a unit in his chest using tech stolen from The Agency’s lab. That is what he is there to steal: he is going to extract that unit from the Hamas soldier’s chest. Unfortunately there are complications: Israeli soldiers after the very same thing, their own bio-modified soldier, and The Agency back home monitoring his progress.

That one is quick and slick, narrated with total authority backed up by hard research and punched onto the page by Michael Walsh in gruesome glory using broad brush strokes uncluttered by extraneous detail. Jordie Bellaire’s palette is a minimal mix of sand and blood – although there is an awful lot of that, along with shards of broken glass.

There’ll be more of that glass in Rio during October 2019 when Edward Zero finds himself on the other side of that gun, trained on a fellow operative The Agency has decided to “retire”. It is there that he discovers he is not Sub-Director Zizek’s “hound” but his “bitch”. He is being used.

Oh, it’s all delightfully complicated, Ales Kot relying on implication rather than explication, letting only a little out at a time. Where exactly Zizek’s real loyalties lie remains unclear. Often at overt odds with his immediate boss Sara Cooke with whom he has a love / hate relationship, he appears to have more covert priorities too.

The writer of WILD CHILDREN and CHANGE is joined here by five strikingly different artists. Morgan Jeske is given the Rio chapter, closest to Walsh’s in skull-crushing brutality and matches that with wince-inducing success luridly lit in lime-green and blood. Love the higgledy-piggledy, sprawling hillside suburb too. In total contrast Tradd Moore comes off in places like a late-career Carmine Infantino (I’m thinking his tenure on SPIDER-WOMAN) with hair and beards full of maritime swirls and the most innocent-looking young Edward you can imagine. Until that innocence is shot down not so much by the sniper but by a single sentence uttered by his I.R.A. target.

Mateus Santolouco is closest to your traditional action artist, inked à la Paul Pope, but none of those words will prepare you for his two pages spent squeezed, naked in a ventilation duct. And I mean truly squeezed: superb use of space to depict the lack of it.

It’s in this Shanghai sequence that lies the first real clue to the first-book’s conclusion which I doubt you will ever see coming, back where we started on those same Cliffs of Dover. Although maybe another clue comes in the form of Will Tempest’s ultra-fine line and Jordie Bellaire’s sudden shift of hue to various shades of grey. To me that signalled more than a change of tone, but one more word and I will have given the game away.

We can talk about that on the shop floor, if you like.


Buy Zero vol 1: “An Emergency” s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Revival vol 3: A Faraway Place (£10-99, Image) by Tim Seeley & Mike Norton.


REVIVAL book one had the teeth, and Seeley and Norton know just how to pull them. It made me shudder so hard that a filling fell out.

This one has eyes, but not in a way you’ll be expecting. Oh, there’s that too but then it gets worse. It always gets worse when there are children involved, doesn’t it?

What follows after the next paragraph is one massive SPOILER for those who have yet to immerse themselves in the first two volumes of one the best horror comics out there with the most intricately connected community cut-off by quarantine from the rest of the country. You can read the next paragraph but then stop and buy REVIVAL VOL 1 instead.

Wausau in rural Wisconsin and there’s been a revival: a revival of townsfolk from the dead. They’re not mindless zombies but fully sentient individuals most of whose families are delighted to welcome them back. Most. Unfortunately not everyone is happy to be back, given the state they were in when they died, and old Joe feels he is missing something. For his entire adult life he suffered from an unrequited love: the one that got away. Now he doesn’t. He’s also lost the ring he was going to give the woman he loved. Where did that go?

Young Jordan Borchardt, 3rd Grade, knows what she’s missing. She knows what the wraiths which only the children can see are saying.

Also missing are the three Check brothers who were dealing in drugs then diversified into body parts. Think about it: the so-called-medicinal black market for body parts of those risen from the dead would outstrip even that for tiger cock. And with revivalists slowly regrowing their organs after each gory harvest, the supply would be endless. You’d just need to keep one captive…

We know what happened to them last volume and why. So does police officer Dana Cypress, daughter of the sheriff, but she cannot tell anyone because it was her sister Martha what done it to protect Dana’s son Cooper and ex-husband Derek. Unfortunately local reporter May Tao misses nothing, she’s closing in fast and she would have no qualms about telling everyone.

Failed writer Professor Aaron Weimar is interviewing old Reviver Joe about what he’s missing. What Professor Weimar is missing is a legacy. What Professor Weimar’s wife is missing is that her husband is having an affair with Martha. What Martha is missing is Jordan, who bailed from her car in search of what she is missing.

The Sheriff appears to be missing all of this, but Dana’s missed nothing: only she knows that her sister Martha is a Reviver. But the thing about those newly risen is this: they have to have died in the first place. Who killed Martha Cypress?

“Officer Cypress, I’d like to celebrate our time spent together without the issuing of a speeding ticket by buying you a drink.”
“Huh. I’ll take it.”


Buy Revival vol 3: A Faraway Place and read the Page 45 review here

Journey Into Mystery: Kieron Gillen Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen, Robert Rodi & Doug Braithwaite, Richard Elson, Pasqual Ferry, Whilce Portacio.

“Did you bring us anything, Dad?”
“Little Gudrun, I brought you the greatest gift of all. I brought you a story.”

Loki lovers, this one’s for you!

A sparklingly literate mythological fantasy, this is a battle of wits contested by a right royal cleverclogs and written by another one: YOUNG AVENGERS’ Kieron Gillen.

Its star is a Loki reborn as a boy. He’s no longer interested in perpetrating evil, just the successful execution of a meticulously laid plan, acquiring leverage with cleverage in this case to save Asgard and Earth from the Asgardian Serpent.

Loki as a cunning, mischievous and eloquent young tyke is infinitely more interesting than he ever was as a bitter and malevolent adult. He’s naughty, irreverent, gleeful and funny and here on the side, if not of the angels, then at least of the gods. As Thor and Odin do battle against the Serpent and his minions in FEAR ITSELF, young Loki gathers his wits to marshal his resources in the form of Mephisto, Hela et al. But the King of Hell and Queen of Hel are no mere pawns – except in the hands of the ultimate trickster. Indeed Loki manoeuvres each of his pieces across a board only he can see clearly with an ingenuity that will make your smile crack into a big, broad grin.

Loki’s guile, of course, is completely dependent on Gillen’s and Kieron is thinking right outside the box. The very idea that a shadow can be transported, and that wherever the shadow goes so must what casts it, is a brilliant way to smuggle something out of captivity. Similarly Loki’s early quest to find himself – quite literally – is far from obvious, taking on the form of a most original treasure hunt.

All this Loki must accomplish without true allies, for after his last lifetime as a liar, trickster and revolutionary, no one in Asgard, Limbo, Midgard, Hell or Hel trusts him. Only Thor acts as his benefactor, his protector in a universally hostile environment. He’s like a kindly foster father and it’s this new dynamic which first makes the book. Here Thor’s caught Loki Tweeting on a Stark Phone he bought with the proceeds of gambling:

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

Braithwaite judges the young lad’s expressions to perfection and Thor’s body language, leaning down conspiratorially as he points out Loki is half-giant, is actually quite touching. While we’re on the subject of Braithwaite, this is like nothing I’ve seen from him before, coloured as it is straight over his pencils, and full of the requisite eerie light for these fantastical otherworlds.

It’s written with a real love of language enriched with a singular wit, and when the dark lord Mephisto takes the stage, he frankly steals the show. Far from the two-dimensional soul-stealer of yore, this debonair devil (“I have the most luxuriant sideburns in all creation”) is a bon viveur with a penchant for power but also for pretzels. He’s an iconoclast who loves messing with minds and mocking the misfortunate from a position of relative impunity. Here he’s telling a barman about his trip to the Infinite Embassy created by Living Tribunal:

“They say that all realities’ Embassies are one and the same, and if you know the way you can emerge anywhere and anywhen. Which just proves that gods and demons are just as likely to make up myths about things they haven’t a clue about. But everyone agrees on one thing. You come in peace. Otherwise, the Living Tribunal gets a tad touchy… and, generally speaking, unless you want your existence privileges revoked, that’s a bad idea.”
“Is he… God?”
“Oh, you are just so cute. I could eat you up with a spoon. Maybe later… No, he’s not God. He’s just the biggest kid in all the playgrounds. And if he knows the principal, he’s not exactly chatty about it.”

This is a book about stories and storytelling. That is, after all, how Loki achieves his goals: spinning the right yarns to the right entities in exactly the right fashion. Volstagg’s tall stories told to his children are an exuberant joy.

But back to the action – and there’s plenty of that – as Loki and his motley crew must navigate the halls of a far darker Asgard in order to, well, tell another story. You’ll see. Unfortunately the opposition is considerable.

“We need a distraction. Destroyer? Act in a suitably eponymous fashion.”

Collects the first sixteen chapters or the first three original softcovers.


Buy Journey Into Mystery: Kieron Gillen Complete Collection vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Spaceman s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso…

“This batch… I came cross some primo chemo… tweeked the playlist. Strong like bull, so go eez. Little tastes or your head’ll come off. You ear me, Orson?”
“I ear, I ear. Lil tastes.”
“You kno yer funs are low…”
“Kno, I know. Why I’m goin out beyond the Rise tonight.”
“Couple junkers been fishin there, bringing in significant hauls. New currents, draggin out the good shit.”

The duo behind the complex crime classic 100 BULLETS return, this time with a grimy post-apocalyptic piece set in the deprived fringes of a coastal city, where the rich live in splendid isolation high and dry behind a huge protected wall, and everyone else is pretty much left to fend for themselves amongst the flotsam and jetsam, left behind by the rising sea levels that have flooded most of the original city and indeed coastal areas all around the world.

There’s a thriving society there, but it’s populated by as many lowlifes, whores, junkies and crooks as honest people, it seems. In other words, a tough neighbourhood! Good job, then, that our hero Orson was bred, or more precisely engineered for an even tougher one, Mars. Designed for the rigours of prolonged space travel, he’s one of a handful of so-called Spacemen, who have more than a touch of the look of Neanderthal about them. He’s a sensitive soul deep-down, though, and when he finds himself caught up in the midst of a kidnap plot, he takes it upon himself to try and do the right thing. Bad idea…

Excellent story from Azzarello which definitely has a feel of a William Gibson book about it. The dialogue is entirely done in an extremely credible future dialect too, which is part phonetics, part contracted (well, strangulated) slang, which is an extremely hard trick to pull off successfully. All too frequently this type of linguistic trick distracts or irritates, but I found myself drawn in even further to the story by it here. Clearly, this is primarily a crime caper, even though also a worryingly plausible future fiction, and that is something Azzarello knows how to do perfectly as he sets out his suspects, then muddies the already muddy waters a little further still. Risso’s art compliments the writing perfectly as ever, capturing the inequities and equalities that exist everywhere in such a polarised, dystopian society and he easily demonstrates Orson’s Caliban-like personality and charm.

It wouldn’t be Azzarello if there weren’t a few convoluted twists and turns before the typical not-happy-for-everyone end, but that’s half the fun, agonizing as Orson is put through the mill by foe and faux-friend alike.


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

WE3 s/c (£10-99, Vertigo) by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely.

Softcover version of the enhanced hardcover edition of the earlier softcover which itself collected the three-issue mini-series. The extras remain.

I count ten brand-new story pages: four in the first chapter adding an unexpected angle to Doctor Berry’s immediate and very recent home life; two in the final chapter before ***** bites the dust; and four more later on in the construction site which will have your heart pounding before you realise the act of aggression’s true intent. More on the extras in second after two paragraphs of actual content…

Not for the first time Morrison questions man’s less than honourable relationship with animals, and this time goes for the jugular as a dog, a cat and a rabbit – household pets on which we as a civilised species traditionally lavish profound affection in the home, yet which we are perfectly content to have experimented upon in order that shampoo should taste like tropical fruit juice – are converted into abominable military hardware, their brains drilled deep with wires, their limbs encased in weapon-stuffed armour, their instincts vocalised as simplistic text messages.

Then the project is threatened with termination. One scientist finds sympathy (not when she was sawing skulls off, this may be vanity speaking instead) and unwittingly unleashes three ferocious killing machines that won’t be stopped in their quest to find their way back to their original homes and owners.

Every now and then a comic comes along that’s so different it takes your breath away, and this was one of them. Morrison and Quitely have a long history and a big reputation, yet here, staggeringly, they hit overdrive on what is at heart a simple tale but in execution a riveting, emotionally traumatic, visually mind-blowing tour de force which will swiftly head your list of “Comics To Buy My Friends Who Don’t Read Comics”.

Quitely’s panels-within-panels are insanely detailed, perfectly positioned and merciless in their content. I cannot think of a single customer who wouldn’t be thoroughly affected by this. You might not thank me for the recommendation when you start reading, but I recommend it all the same if only to leave you feeling distressed, disgusted and perhaps a little ashamed. That’s okay; I’m with you on that.

In addition to the ten new story pages, this edition features a twenty-eight-page sketchbook in which Morrison & Quitely explain their reasoning and design work behind the logo (dog collar disc / military name-tag melting in an act of liberation), the insanely detailed “animal-time” panels, some of them suspended then rotated for the cat to jump through (that double-page spread is an innovation of pure beauty!), the armour itself, the three front covers, and the unique physical artefact behind the six-page surveillance camera sequence which Quitely’s family nearly binned by mistake! All of which are revelations that reaffirm one’s love of creators who think outside the box about what they’re putting on a page, why, and how.


Buy WE3 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Peepo Choo vol 1 restocks (£9-99, Vertical) by Felipe Smith.

“Smart, sexy, and cruel,” writes the publisher, “Smith’s PEEPO CHOO shoves a gleaming knife into the trans-Pacific romance and vandalises the tired walls of manga.”

That’s really good copy, and before I forget: extreme sex and violence, though thankfully not in the same panels.

If the title sounds familiarly fey like a saccharine, Saturday morning anime show of yore, then that’s partly what it’s parodying as well as those who watch its ilk and then think they’re learning foreign culture when the studio probably had its eye on international sales in the first place!

Milton lives in a rowdy, overcrowded flat with a lot of brothers and sisters. There he’s the softy but with his glasses ditched into his rucksack, a bandanna on board and a band aid artfully stuck down the side of his cheek, on the street he’s a scowling teen… Except that he’s not. Once in a comic shop he is in reality a cosplay geek of the most excruciatingly overactive proportions, all-singing, all-dancing, and completely addicted to all things he perceives to be Japanese but in particular the latest episodes of Peepo Choo which makes Pokemon look tough. Taunted by the rich kid whose Daddy buys him everything, Milton desperately wants to go to Tokyo.

Jody’s the hard guy who works at the comic store. Except that he doesn’t. He hates his job and makes Milton do all the work for him. And he isn’t the hard guy or stud he claims to be: he’s a porn-obsessed virgin.

Now the guy who owns the store, Gill, he really is hard: a murderous, mohawked psychopath straight out of jail who goes by the masked name of Fate. He too needs to go to Tokyo but to carry out a hit, and a raffle won by Milton might be just the ticket to get him in and out whilst under the radar.

The scenes set in Tokyo, meanwhile, show just how deluded Milton’s expectations are. His view isn’t just rose-tinted, it’s made from opaque, pink frosting. But then the Tokyo scenes are part-parody too, for Yakuza gangster Morimoto is exactly the sort of preening peacock psycho-dandy seen in Ichi The Killer. They’re all on a collision course because Morimoto is Gill’s target…

There are a couple more threads whose relevance I can’t see yet, but basically Felipe is taking several strands of manga/anime, each drawn in its relevant style, and giving them all a right good shafting. There’s also the hierarchy of geekdom as superhero readers sneer at anime fans, the anime fans look down on superhero readers, and the comic store sales assistant looks down on all of them: the customers paying his wages.

So sad. Room here for everyone, folks.


Buy Peepo Choo vol 1 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.


Thief Of Thieves vol 3: “Venice” (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman, Andy Diggle, James Asmus & Shawn Martinbrough

Uncanny vol 1 Season Of Hungry Ghosts (£14-99, Dynamite) by Andy Diggle & Aaron Campbell, Sean Phillips

The Superior Foes Of Spider-Man vol 1: Getting The Band Back Together s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber

Angel & Faith vol 5: What You Want, Not What You Need (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Christos N. Gage & Rebekah Isaacs

Invincible vol 19: The War At Home (£12-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley

Mice Templar vol 4.1: Legend Part 1 s/c (£13-50, Image) by Bryan J. L. Glass & Michael Avon Oeming

Ultimates 3: Who Killed The Scarlet Witch s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & Joe Madureira

Fairy Tail vol 11 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima


ITEM! Luke Pearson’s beautiful cover to ADVENTURE TIME #25 all big and blown up. Can you spot Luke’s Hilda hidden away there? HILDA: one of the best all-ages series of graphic novels imaginable!

ITEM! Shami Chakrabarti, Edward Snowden and more write about Liberty – about the sanitising of terror and torture through language, and the Big Brother surveillance we are subjected to right here and right now. Well worth your time, folks! I reference/quote Chakrabarti in my review of Ales Kot’s ZERO, above. This is its source.

ITEM! Inspiration and sound practical advice on creating comics from PRETTY DEADLY’s Kelly Sue DeConnick. In short: do it! Funny too, that interview.

ITEM! Slightly random but you will swoon: hundreds of photos of Chi-Chi, London Zoo’s iconic giant panda. True fact: I named one of my two Giant Panda teddies after Chi Chi. The other one was Little Chi Chi because he was… yeah. I also used to rotate all the teddies on my pillow each night so that none felt favourited and none felt left out. Stephen L. Holland: egalitarian from birth. … and soppy git still.

ITEM! Neo-Classical superhero artist Bryan Hitch unleashes REAL HEROES. Please pre-order, I’m begging you!

ITEM! School Librarians, you are vital to us all! To our schools, our children and, err, we make a tidy packet from you ourselves. IN EXCHANGE FOR INFORMED ADVICE ON THE BROADEST RANGE OF GRAPHIC NOVELS AVAILABLE. Here is a competition for libraries which could raise the profile and plight of school libraries all around the UK!

ITEM! Interview with Kieron Gillen about his forthcoming series with Jamie McKelvie, THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE Sorry? You know the team from YOUNG AVENGERS (two books so far, one more to follow) and PHONOGRAM (two series so far, a third one promised).

ITEM! Speaking of Gillen and McKelvie, this had Dominique and me in stitches. Sent to us by Twitter’s @altheak1 it is a mash-up of YOUNG AVENGERS and I WANT MY HAT BACK. Read those reviews first, please (for it relies on that prior knowledge) then come back for the genius hilarity that is…


ITEM! This one from Monday seems to have taken you by surprise – and storm! Never known a reaction like this!

Page 45 Announces 20th Anniversary Celebrations At The Lakes International Comics Arts Festival.

Key features:
A full-blown Scott McCloud signing!
Special comicbook creator guests in our very own palace!
3 free interactive show-and-tell sessions on specific subjects!
A ticketed talk!
20th Anniversary Booze Bash with everyone invited!
21st Anniversary Birthday Bash 2015 announced already!

It’s Page 45’s very first road trip with our comics, graphic novels and everything!

You keep pleading, “Please open up a Page 45 in Edinburgh / Glasgow / Bristol / Liverpool / Manchester / Milton Keynes!”

Well, now we are opening up further afield, but for two days only. Please come and join us then we’ll do it again! It’s taken months of crafty, covert planning, and it is going to be so much fun!

– Stephen

Page 45 Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary At The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014!

Monday, February 24th, 2014


The brand-new Lakes International Comics Art Festival 2014 programme is up online for free! So much to see, so much to do, yet so very clear to navigate through. What a cover! Please click on that link.

More later on, but now for our own announcements…

Scott McCloud signing for free at the Page 45 Tables

The venue: The Georgian Room in the Comics Clock Tower
The date: Saturday 18th October 2014
The time: 10am to midday

20 years ago Scott McCloud called myself and Mark out of a meeting in London to congratulate us on the shop and our name – inspired by the 45th page of UNDERSTANDING COMICS – which he described as “Style positive, content neutral”. Now he has graciously agreed to sign with Page 45 during our 20th Anniversary! What a way to kick off the festival!

Entry is free, no tickets required but Scott must leave on time.

Glyn Dillon signing and sketching for free at the Page 45 Tables

The venue: The Georgian Room in the Comics Clock Tower
The date: Saturday 18th October 2014
The time: 2pm to 4pm

The book on sale: THE NAO OF BROWN It’s my all-time favourite piece of comicbook fiction!

Yes, Page 45 will be kidnapping THE NAO OF BROWN’s Glyn Dillon from SelfMadeHero whom I hereby challenge to sell more copies than ourselves. Let’s keep a running tally on two great big blackboards – as if it were a cricket match, only interesting.

No tickets required and I have seen the beautiful paintings Glyn graces his book with for free. If you want me to show you the book, just ask!

3 Free Show and Tells at the Page 45 Tables

The venue: The Georgian Room in the Comics Clock Tower

Saturday 1pm: The Hidden Secrets Of Graphic Novels*
Saturday 4pm: Kids’ Comics Are Cool!**
Sunday 1pm: The Hidden Secrets Of Graphic Novels*

Entry is free, no tickets required, just congregate in The Georgian Room then I will evangelise!

* An interactive introduction to graphic novels combined with insights using graphic novels chosen specifically for their secret devices. Similar to the Page 45 Broadway Bookclub evening. All the books on that blog are linked to.

** An interactive introduction dedicated to parents, children, school librararians and teachers showing just how thrilling, inspiring, literate and diverse modern comics are for Young Adults and those younger still! Similar to the Page 45 School Library Assocation evening in June. All the books on that blog are linked to.

Remember: anyone can ask for specific Show and Tell recommendations tailored to your tastes throughout the weekend.  Just ask at our tables!

The Art Of Selling Comics by Stephen L. Holland!

Hello! *waves*

I hereby invite retailers, creators and publishers plus the curious public to an interactive hour all about getting your message across and your books sold.

I will be speaking of community, communication, loyalty and trust; of integrity, diversity, eloquence and enthusiasm; of building relationships, selling to comic shops and comic shops promoting fresh comics to reach the Real Mainstream! I will also talk about reviews, Twitter, courage and kindness.

Alternatively: The Covert Art Of Blatant Self-Publicity

The venue: The Chamber (!) in the Comics Clock Tower
The date: Sunday 19th October
The time: 10.30am to 11.30am
The price: £7-00 a pop to help fund the festival
The link for booking tickets: The Art Of Selling Comics by Stephen L. Holland

Please note: unlike all the above, this one is a ticketed event which you will need to book in advance, please.

Now then, here’s an updated version of our original announcement with extra links to the festival itself.

Page 45 Hosts 11 Creators, Throws Party, Brings Books!


They’ve got Scott McCloud!

They’ve declared Jeff Smith!

And now…

Page 45 is honoured to announce that to celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Friday 17th October 2014, we’ll be hauling our asses oop north and contributing to an entire weekend of special guests and glorious graphic novels in Cumbria’s picturesque town of Kendal during the UK’s finest, European-style comics convention, The Lakes International Comic Art Festival!


There’ll even be a Page 45 20th Anniversary Booze Bash on Friday night itself, and you are invited. Yes, you!

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is vital to the profile of comics. It brings the medium out of the bedsit and into the open for the whole world to see! It’s our very own Angoulême, celebrating this medium in all its diversity, attracting connoisseurs and the curious alike to its exhibitions, interviews, workshops and creators merrily signing and sketching all weekend long.

This is Page 45’s first-ever road trip!

What We’ll Be Doing

On Saturday and Sunday Page 45 will have multiple tables stacked high with beautiful books and special guests in our very own designated palace, The Georgian Room in the Comics Clock Tower.

Oh, it is opulent, and the entire room is ours!

Free entry too!

Jonathan and I will be on hand to answer your questions and provide recommendations, whether you’re a regular reader or completely new to the medium. All age ranges too! We do this for a living, and love it.

In addition, Jonathan will be whipping your wallets while I provide 3 free, extended and interactive show-and-tells in that very same room

I’ll also be giving a ticketed talk close-by on a subject close to my heart.

My liver, possibly.

“Who Are Your Guests?!”

Among the wandering wastrels we’ll be sheltering throughout the weekend are some more of Page 45’s favourite comicbook creators! Pop ‘em in our search engine and see what we sell! These are their blogs, all linked to!

Lizz Lunney
Dan Berry
Sarah McIntyre
Fumio Obata
Joe Decie
Kristyna Baczynski
Jade Sarson
Jack Teagle
Joe List
Glyn Dillon

There will be more guests too, some of them spontaneous, and I may bust my thumbs on Twitter @pagefortyfive!

It all kicks off on Friday 17th October 2014, the exact date of our 20th Anniversary with the…

Page 45 20th Anniversary Booze Bash 2014!

The town: Kendal
The venue: The Batcave at Ruskins (I’m not even kidding you)
The date: Friday 17th October 2014
The time: 7pm then sliding down the walls until one in the morning

We’ve taken one of the two rooms at Ruskins, but everyone is welcome. You don’t need a ticket nor will there be bouncers otherwise I’d never be let in myself.

Some of our creator friends will be popping in from time to time. Keeling over too, I’d surmise. You know what comic creators are like. It’s a fabulous spectator sport.

Please introduce yourselves, we would love to meet you and I mean that!

Don’t know what we look like? Left is Jonathan, and then yeah…



Keep up to date with the Festival:

Twitter: @comicartfest
Guests Attending:
Other Workshops:
How To Get To Kendal etc Brand-New Full Festival Programme issued September 2014:

Big, big love and gratitude to The Lakes International Comic Art Festival’s killer combo: curator and publicist Julie Tait for inspiration and exhortation and Jenny Graham for assignation and implementation.

I am so stoked! Are you?

 – Stephen @pagefortyfive

Page 45 credentials

Page 45 won the first ever award for Best Independent Retailer in Nottingham 2012.
Page 45 won the Best Independent Business in Nottingham 2013.
Page 45 won the only ever Diamond Comics Award for Best Retailer in the UK in 2004.
Page 45 has been shortlisted for the Bookseller’s Independent Bookshop Of The Year 2014
Stephen was a judge of the British Comics Awards in both 2012 and 2013.
Jonathan used to market biohazard suits.

Reviews February 2014 week three

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Do you know the problem with respite? Its definition.

 – Stephen on Fatale vol 4: Pray For Rain

Just So Happens h/c (£16-99, Jonathan Cape) by Fumio Obata.

You’re going to adore these colour washes. They are clean, they are crisp, and the rooftops and mountains are sublime.

Add in the Jenga-like dream sequence of a wooden, Japanese theatre stage tumbling apart then dispersing around young Yumiko, suspended in a void, and this is quite the spectacle.

“Where I am right now…
“Guess what…
“I am in a theatre…
“Performing a piece, pretending to be something else…”

Yumiko is attending her father’s funeral.

She’s right: funerals all over the world are so often meticulously choreographed pieces of theatre during which mourners become scared in case they miss their queues, forget their lines, show too much emotion or none at all. Really, they should be about honesty, open consolation and saying good-bye.

But Yumiko has been distracted of late from this much honest introspection and open conversation because she has adopted a very specific role. A Japanese woman living in London, she has enjoyed the freedom to pursue her artistic goals abroad which her mother, a generation behind her, had to fight for back in Japan. Even Yumiko’s beloved father disapproved, and her mother had to leave. She’s now a successful critic and teacher.

Yumiko, meanwhile, has travelled abroad, carved out her career and, having assimilated, feels completely at home in the hustle and bustle of London. In spite of the crowds. In spite of the tensions. In spite of being in a relative minority. Or is she as equanimous to it all as she believes?

There’s an early scene so telling when her fiancé, Mark, correctly identifies a couple passing by as Japanese. Yumiko is surprised, but Mark ‘fesses up..

“I still can’t tell the difference between Chinese, Korean or Japanese but I can usually tell from your reaction. It’s quite subtle, though. When you come across another Japanese person, or a bunch of them, you try not to look at them or turn away…”

Called to her father’s funeral following his sudden death, Yumiko flies back to Japan, reminiscing about her last visit when her father was very much alive and, during a public firework display, she was drawn to the hypnotic calm of a Noh theatre performance so improbably late at night that she’s no longer sure whether she imagined it.

The funeral itself is what really sets Yumiko thinking, after which she spends a week with her mother in Kyoto. Together they tour the city, like the spectacular climb up white stone steps through a twisting colonnade of red, black-based Torri surrounded by trees before sitting in quiet contemplation in the open, hillside tea house.

You may want to make a pilgrimage of your own, it’s so beautifully painted and composed.

Because of these washes it seems reminiscent in places of Glyn Dillon’s NAO OF BROWN, but the faces and figures with their inked outlines are more representational. Expression-perfect and bursting with character and charm, they’re no less attractive for that, but it’s quite, quite different. There’s also the use of flat satin flesh tones – sometimes on the same page as the washes – and, back in London city, much looser sketches of the fast-flowing foot traffic as pedestrians flash past your eyes like the phantoms they are. The odd tableau is even akin to Guy Delisle’s shorthand.

It’s a spacious and dreamy book of reflection I read thrice in quick succession.

Plus you’ll find the cutest kettle you ever did see, especially when it boils.


Buy Just So Happens h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Beautiful Darkness h/c (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët.

“But this isn’t how things were supposed to turn out!”

No. No, it isn’t.

This so pretty! The leaves, the leaves!

Kerascoët’s fresh, nesting spring, bug-ridden summer, gold-and-russet autumn and snow-fresh winter out in the countryside are each of them lit to perfection. The underbellies of the flowers and fronds – so much of this is seen from below – are likewise just-so and the shadows cast across glossy beetles and the crumbly earth they’re skittering across make you want to break out your own dried-up watercolours, fill a jar of water, and play.

You may have noticed there are some tiny people, few bigger than a robin red-breast, who have newly emerged from a world of their own. Led by Princess Aurora, such a sweet little girl, they begin colonising this undiscovered country, gathering scant provisions (for they have none of their own), and getting to know the wildlife. There’s a bag and a pencil case and a notebook with a name which they can use for shelter. Oh, there are ups and downs, but they’re lucky to have Princess Aurora for she is kind and practical and thinks the best of everyone. There’s so much to be done!

I’d file this under horror, if I were you.

For God’s sake don’t let it anywhere near your children.

For very quickly the innocent child play-acting of dress up and hunting turns to the very worst humanity has to offer: competitiveness, spitefulness, jealousy, deceit, callousness and cruelty – and not just towards each other. Don’t get me wrong, with Vehlmann at the helm (ISLE OF 100,000 GRAVES) there is cartoon comedy too, but that evaporates completely once it turns all Lord Of The Flies. Their behaviour is so well observed: these are children at play – with imagination, improvisation and so many rituals – they’re just not playing nice.

It’s genuinely very upsetting in places.


It works so well because Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset (AKA Kerascoët) lure you into a false sense of security with their bright colours, cute, flamboyant cartooning and the lushest of landscapes at sunset, for example. Throughout it is a joy to look at, give or take the odd munched-on maggot.

For it’s only six pages in that you realise where these darlings have emerged from; and the sudden switch to something closer to forensic photo-realism in a full-page reveal is more than a little arresting.

No, this wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out.

Not for any little girl.


Buy Beautiful Darkness h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Fatale vol 4: Pray For Rain (£10-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips.

“She makes love to him one last time, and he knows it’s out of pity…
“But he doesn’t care, this is all he has left.”

Closer now, closer: this is the penultimate volume. You wait until Jo starts dancing. You’ll wish it would last forever…

The present:

Do you remember Nicolas Lash from the very first page of FATALE? He was burying his godfather, author Dominic Raines, and that was where he met Josephine: in a graveyard. Even now, after all that he has lost including a leg and his freedom, he can’t get her out of his head.

Later that night he went through his godfather’s effects and found an unpublished manuscript called ‘The Losing Side Of Eternity’. He read it obsessively, over and over again, hoping it would give him a clue as to how to trace Jo. Now he has lost that too. It was stolen and has since been published with some bits curiously missing. The publisher claims that they bought the manuscript from Nicolas himself, and now he’s due to face trial for murder. If he thought things couldn’t get any worse, he was wrong. His solicitor is slaughtered by a ragged, raving lunatic who calls himself Nelson, just to spring Nicolas from custody. He claims Jo sent him. Did she?

Seattle, 1995:

It’s been a long time since grunge band Amsterdam had their only hit single, ‘Flow My Tears’.  They’re still together; they’re even living together in a neo-gothic house outside of Seattle along with Darcy, girlfriend of guitarist and songwriter Tom. The problem is that Tom is no longer writing – at least, he’s no longer writing songs. He’s out of his head on acid. The others haven’t given up, though. Lead singer Lance in particular is being pro-active. He’s finding them funds for a new killer video – by holding up banks at gunpoint.

Into this already fractious household stumbles our beautiful Josephine, found by Lance naked and clutching a bloody bed sheet on the side of the road. She has no idea how she is or how she got there. This is a mercy given what she’s been through these past centuries… these past decades… these past days.

So, yes, into this already fractious household swans our oblivious Jo and the band is completely smitten. Each one of them. That’s what she does to men, whether she wants to or not. They are in heaven; they are inspired – even Tom seems driven to write songs again. But Jo cannot help herself and resentful, alienated Darcy may be proved right: Josephine is trouble, and there’s plenty more hot on her heels. You wait until Jo starts dancing…

Make no mistake, the two eras are closely connected but Brubaker signposts none of that. You will have to wait and concentrate.

He’s written a tragedy. Josephine begins here as oblivious as Tom and it really is a mercy, a wonderful, liberating respite. But do you know the problem with respite? Its definition.

I have no idea how Brubaker keeps it all clear in his head let alone unfolds each element at exactly the right pace, at exactly the right moment: the men Jo has touched who follow her trail, her psychic scent, unable to let go no matter how many years pass by. Josephine is essentially innocent – at least as far as her intentions go, at least as far as her intentions would be if only she were left alone – yet she corrupts everyone around her and ruins them all, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes to escape. To live to fight another day.

Oh, Josephine has no problem living. It seems she cannot be killed; not for good. But there is a losing side to eternity and Jo is very much on it.

I can think of few other creative teams in America or Britain – and this straddles both – who have produced such an extraordinarily large body of work together, on different titles: CRIMINAL, SLEEPER, INCOGNITO and now FATALE, with THE FADE OUT approaching next. Consistently thrilling, gripping and addictive, they are a match made in… oh, I don’t know… a smoky dive bar, a dark alley best avoided, a speakeasy with the spotlight thrown on its stage.

I’ve made much of Sean Phillips’ twilight in past reviews – of the shadows he casts around corners so that you’re reluctant to look, or those he casts across faces so that you are equally reluctant to leave your life in their culpable hands – but what comes to the fore in this series, and in this volume in particular, is how fucking sexy his women are. Also: classy.

Josephine is chic, she is sexy and she is to die for. That is the quintessential point and hook of FATALE, and if Phillips didn’t pull it off in every single panel then Brubaker might as well have stayed home and done the dishes. Oh, when she hitches up her shirt (her shirt, not her skirt) with Lance helpless beneath her, she is completely irresistible! Her spell is blinding and binding and…

“She makes love like a force of nature. Afterwards, he feels nearly broken… but it’s pure bliss… At the edge of sleep, watching her sway to the beat of one of their songs…. He never wants this moment to end.”

Sean is also remorselessly good at rendering suffering and violence, yet without a second’s sensationalism. This is crime with a Lovecraftian twist, after all, and the throwaway punchline to my shop-floor show-and-tell of FATALE VOL 1 is, “Then there are tentacles and their heads fall off”. It usually gets a laugh and an immediate sale.

But this title involves ritualised murder and – key point, this – rendering the invulnerable male vulnerable. It’s all over their expressions once in thrall to Josephine’s allure (even more so once they recognise their helplessness), and he infallibly succeeds in making the male so physically vulnerable (hoist naked, upside down and aloft from a handcuffed beam) that you know they could never recover.

Not-so-gratuitous plug, then: THE ART OF SEAN PHILLIPS

Next and finally: since the very first issue of FATALE, Jo has had a plan. Well, she did have but it’s kind of fucked. What was it?


Buy Fatale vol 4: Pray For Rain and read the Page 45 review here

Snowpiercer vol 2: The Explorers h/c (£19-99, Titan) by Benjamin Legrand & Jean-Marc Rochette…

“Why is there never any good news?”

Errr… because you’re a character stuck on a train called Snowpiercer 2 in a nightmarish, frozen, post-apocalyptic world living in constant fear of collision with Snowpiercer 1 maybe? That’s not going to happen, but not for the reason most of its passengers believe. A chosen few know the real reason, and it’s the first of many excellent twists that punctuate this more adventure-orientated sequel. Whereas the first volume SNOWPIERCER VOL 1: THE ESCAPE H/C takes an almost entirely philosophical look at the confined and claustrophobic life of our protagonists, this volume is more expansive in its focus, not least because the titular explorers actually occasionally disembark their train, albeit to search for luxury artefacts for the great and good who rule the train.

The difference in tone may well be due to the fact it is a different writer, as Lob died shortly after writing the first volume, and possibly explains why Rochette chose a rather different, altogether softer, art style this time around. Whilst it may not be as profound a read, it certainly is as dramatically entertaining, but given the writer, Benjamin Legrand, is a well known French thriller writer, and he has written other excellent comics in conjunction with Jacques Tardi such as NEW YORK MON AMOUR, I would expect no less.


Buy Snowpiercer vol 2: The Explorers h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Atomic Sheep (£14-99, Markosia) by Sally Jane Thompson.

Told in dark-chocolate brown and peach-cream, this is another new-school story in the vein of Faith Erin Hicks’ FRIENDS WITH BOYS, as well as Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg’s PLAIN JANES with which it shares the bond of creativity.

All three feature girls arriving at school so many years after everyone else that bonds have been formed in their absence. For Tamrika the real wrench lies in being sent far away to board, and since school regulations permit no unnatural hair colours and a maximum of two piercings per ear it means that she has to dye over her highlights and pop her other studs in overnight to keep the holes from closing. The arrival of her pristine and matronly, new school uniform on the very first page sets off alarm bells about being turned into part of an assembly line of blank-faced robots.

The stomach-churning moment, however, comes once summer has evaporated, leaving just one afternoon out on the lake with her mother.

“So beautiful, eh?”
“I’m really going to miss you while you’re away.”
“Then don’t send me off to school in the middle of nowhere!”

This is what Tamrika thinks crossly before softening. Her parents have sacrificed much over the past couple of years to pay for Tamrika to do Grades 11 and 12 at this prestigious school, and there’s no point to spoiling the day. She says, instead, “Me too” and they hug.

So it is that Tammy leaves all her friends behind to face the unknown including a dormitory companion she’s never met. Breaking the ice is essential but it’s so difficult to know what to say! What if she makes a disastrous first impression? Uncomfortable.

Being tongue-tied, at cross purposes or saying completely the wrong thing are recurring fears and mistakes on all parts, shyness exacerbated tenfold when attraction adds itself to the awkward occasion, and young teen readers will find much that’s familiar. There’s also a relationship of convenience that proves inconvenient and a struggle to create in a school which puts no pride in art nor any thought or funds to facilitate it. So that’s familiar too.

This is Sally NOW AND THEN Thompson’s first full-length comic created over a period of four years while freelancing to survive, and this is the fascination of it all: seeing a creator develop in front of you. You need to look carefully, though, because Thompson has gone to great lengths to redraw whole pages in order to root out her early learning processes and some of the more obvious manga influences before she formed a fully-fledged style of her own. Her love of nature and the soft, natural form shows in the lush chocolate strokes, complemented beautifully by artfully deployed flesh tones throughout.

There’s a short autobiographical feature in the back in which Sally explains that the protracted creation of the book was effectively a collaboration with younger versions of herself. Not only wouldn’t she have written it quite like this now, but she couldn’t have because her “interests, ideas, preoccupations” and artistic approach have all changed. As I say, fascinating.

I haven’t the first idea what the title means or the cover is all about. The insides are an environmentally safe, sheep-free zone.


Buy Atomic Sheep and read the Page 45 review here

Line Of Fire: Diary Of An Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914) (£10-99, Phoenix Yard Books) by Barroux…

Based on the diary of a WW1 solider found in some rubbish by a passer-by as a Paris apartment was being cleared, this is a curious sort of work. After the emotionally eviscerating GODDAMN THIS WAR! and the artistically appealing panorama that is THE GREAT WAR, this shows a rather less dramatic side to that most gruesome of conflicts. In that sense it greatly minded me of ALAN’S WAR, a biography of an American G.I. who had a probably fairly typical World War Two experience, in that he didn’t actually see any front line conflict.

There is a real sense here of how the initial, naive excitement of going off to war to defend one’s country can soon be replaced by ennui, as the process of actually getting to the front by means of day after day of hard foot slog, and night after night of searching barns and abandoned buildings for a suitable billet, soon becomes rather tiring and not more than a little dull. Then there is the action, brief as it is, resulting in a shrapnel wound and a period of convalescence, before we are left with the rather unsuitable conclusion that the diary simply comes to an end. Even despite the fact the diarist apparently never gives his own name, we do know where he is from, plus the names of his wife, children, best friend, so I would think surely there must be records the creator could have waded through to establish precisely who he was and what happened to our protagonist.  But perhaps Barroux felt his work was done, and indeed do we actually need to know whether our unknown soldier survived the rest of the war?


Note: on a personal level, proving the internet can actually yield information on pretty much anything if you look hard enough, I actually found out something further the other day about a real life character I happened to gain a chance interest in about ten years or so ago. There used to be a large dull brass plaque on the side of the police headquarters in Prague which caught my eye one day, for the reason that a tiny portion of it appeared polished to a shiny finish, by touch of innumerate fingers as it turned out, thus glinting in the sunlight. The reason? Well, this plaque contained the names of policemen who died in the defence of Prague from the Nazis during World War 2, and one of these officers had the rather prosaic name of Koloman Fucker. Or, as it turns out because the Czechs always say their names surname first, then Christian name… Fucker Koloman.

I’ve long wondered precisely who this chap was, who provided so much amusement to my friends and I, and what were the circumstances regarding his life and passing. To date I’d only previously managed to establish he was actually executed by the Nazis in Prague in 1944 after being finally captured whilst fighting a guerrilla war along with his police comrades, but to my joy the other day I found out he was married in a tavern called Krahulci in a village in the foothills of the Eagle Mountains, which are a 50 km long ridge of mountains near the Czech-Polish border. Not much, I know, but an unexpected fact to find. Also, just to mention should you find yourself in Prague and wanting to go and pay homage to Koloman Fucker as me and my friends always used to do on our subsequent visits, sadly, the plaque was taken down a few years ago, probably because at some point the police twigged what was going on and decided it was disrespectful or whatever, I don’t know.

I also note someone has recently started a Czech Guerrilla Of Fucker Koloman Facebook page which appears to be some sort of not entirely serious conspiracy theory group that also enjoys outdoor pursuits. Wow, I really have gone off on a tangent here… anyway… the point being I do think Barroux should have made some sort of effort to establish what happened to our protagonist…


Buy Line Of Fire: Diary Of An Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914) and read the Page 45 review here

The Royals: Masters Of War #1 of 6 (£2-25, Vertigo/DC) by Rob Williams & Simon Coleby.

Full-blooded art with some seriously fine architecture (most on fire or in ruins) for a blue-blooded, WWII, superhuman showdown with the riff-raff on the receiving end.

London, 1940, and the problem for young Prince Henry is that not only are his subjects on the receiving end, but they’re the ones doing all the fighting while his father, King Albert, holds lavish court in Buckingham Palace and his older brother gets pissed in the pantry with his trousers round his ankles.

Moreover, Britain is losing. London is being bombed to buggery in the Blitz while the RAF is painfully outnumbered and outgunned by the German Luftwaffe. The threat of an imminent Nazi invasion is all too real.

Royal Secret Intelligence Service liaison, Lt. Colonel Lockhart, isn’t exactly happy about the state of affairs, either, nor the affairs of the State. He’s sickened by the champagne-guzzling elite so far from the front line, and all too easily goaded by the dissolute Prince Arthur.

“May I ask your Highness, why you do not enter the fight yourself?”
“Well… I’d have thought that was blindingly obvious, Lt. Colonel, even to a man of your blatant lack of breeding. But I’ll happily spell it out for you. I am a Prince. My life is extraordinarily enjoyable, and the gullible proles shoot their little guns and get blown to bits on my behalf. It’s a quite marvellous social system.”

So what’s new?

What’s new is this: the royal families of Europe have long enjoyed not only the Divine Right of Kings – the unquestionable and inalienable right to rule – but also supposedly God-given preternatural powers. Naturally they didn’t want to share them, hence all the inbreeding. However, after a little revolution or two in France and Russia – and Arthur being a genetic aberration, born powerless – the King decided to protect his children from jealous Bolshies by pretending his children were born without powers too. They weren’t. Princess Rose was born telepathic (something which drove her own mother mad), Prince Henry was born with the power of strength, flight and a certain degree of invulnerability, and Prince Albert was born with the ability to piss everyone off within a fifty-mile radius.

Oh yes, Rose and Henry were born with something else which no royal family in Europe had been in possession of since records began: a social conscience. So late that same night, little more than an hour after the last German plane had dropped its incendiary load, they sneak out of the palace grounds, Rose cupped in Henry’s arms as they fly high above London, looking down on its black-out monuments.

“It’s like Peter Pan.”

But as they descend past the dirigibles suspended in the evening sky, they see they are lit from the below, and what lies below is a holocaust of burning buildings, burning bodies and wailing orphans lost and alone in the blistering inferno.

“No, it’s not.”

Of Simon Coleby’s several stunning sequences – including the prologue set in Berlin four years later – this held the most power for me: beautifully controlled one either side by both creators (JUDGE DREDD: TRIFECTA) but, in its molten core, coloured by JD Mettler so that you can feel the unbearable heat and hear the crackling corpses, it’s absolutely harrowing. Cut immediately to a morning shortly thereafter and the next German squadron making yet another of their relentless, remorseless approaches on the London skyline have more than they bargained for ahead of them: dozens and dozens of British fighter planes and a very angry, free-flying Prince Henry. He is not wearing royal livery, no, nor an officer’s uniform, but rank-and-file, khaki, rolled up sleeves, braces and brown tie. Nice.

It’s quite angrily written, and I like that.

The history lesson was far from perfunctory exposition but enjoyable in its own right (not a second of this is overwritten) and, in tandem with the ominous prologue, the cliffhanger is quite the ellipsis. Prince Henry has his day in the sun, all right, blasting through German bombers and returning one giant burning fuselage, held aloft, to a crowd cheering round the Victoria Monument with its angel of victory (again, great shot, Simon) but we know what happens in 1945 and King Albert is reading The Telegraph headline with dismay.

His scheme had been far from unilateral, you see. He had made an international pact.

“Henry, you utter bloody idiot. Do you really think that we’re the only royal family with power?”


Buy The Royals: Masters Of War #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Constantine vol 1: The Spark And The Flame s/c (£10-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes & Renato Guedes, Fabiano Neves.

I came to praise Constantine, not to bury him!

Alas, I am left with no alternative. The very first paragraph is a raging non-sequitur:

“This is how the world is supposed to work: you give and you take. Cause and effect.”

No. You can give and you can take; you can give or you can take. But neither action affects the other. They may amount to some nebulous equilibrium if sagely balanced, but there is no cause and effect at work. What. So. Fucking. Ever!

Sloppy: Mr. John Constantine (rhymes with wine which is fine; emphatically not Con-stan-teen which is tinny and shrill just like this comic) would know better. And there, my lovelies, we have only begun.

I don’t believe for a second that a decent, demanding and – at its best – remanding HELLBLAZER comic with all the addictive and anti-establishment elements that word ironically implies could only be written by Brits. That’s like declaring that British writers cannot write American superhero comics. Although they are at their best satirically: see Warren Ellis’ NEXTWAVE and Garth Ennis’ THE BOYS.

So against all North American odds, I was dearly hoping that my beloved creators of ONE SOUL, MERCY, ESSEX COUNTY, THE NOBODY, SWEET TOOTH, LOST DOGS, ANIMAL MAN and THE UNDERWATER WELDER might know, perchance, what they were bloody doing. They do not. This is so peculiar – so singular – for Ray Fawkes and Jeff Lemire that I am going to blame editorial interference.

This isn’t just a bad HELLBLAZER book, it’s a bad comic.

As far as a John Constantine chronicle is concerned, it is awful: gone are the socio-political commentaries, the dry, wry mockery, the ingenuity, the wit and the spirit of place. There is almost always a spirit of place. In their stead: superpowers! Yay! Just look at the cover: John can now zap you with a blue-tinged pentangle or some sort of shit. Gasp at his leg muscles! Give them a pinch! Wey-hey!

Inside there is also one god almighty cleavage cock-up. Breasts do not look like that, six pages from the first chapter’s limping end, bottom panel.

Also pathetic: the climax to the first chapter after which John walks away as cockily as he used to BUT SHE CAN BLOW UP TAXIS! How is John getting away?!

HELLBLAZER played by some rules, even when John busied himself bending them. That was what the book was about: guile.

But without rules, you have no boundaries. Without boundaries, you have no tension. Without tension you have no reason to invest in a comic emotionally.

I have stopped caring, yes. And so have you.


Buy Constantine vol 1: The Spark And The Flame s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Review Resurrected!

Editor’s note: from the creator of February’s Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, aama VOL 1: THE SMELL OF WARM DUST, this book fell of the system so we lost its review. Don’t you just love back-ups? Here’s our Dominique:

Pachyderme h/c (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Frederik Peeters –

You know those dreams where you are hopelessly lost in a large building but then the wall opens up and you step inside what appears to be your own womb except it is full of trees and tiny sad babies who won’t leave you alone? Well, I am happy to report that this is one of those kind of books.

I love a circular tale; a story that seems to make sense, then begins to crack, becoming implausible before finally being resolved into a satisfying, edifying whole. Here the tale begins with a woman on her way to a hospital to see her husband who has been in an accident. Her car breaks down and so she decides to continue on foot; the first of many decisions which seem reasonable in isolation but which, when you step back and think about it, seem a bit off.  That’s another thing I love, the surreal aspects of a story being introduced skilfully, building a sense of off-kilterness slowly. There is no “weird for weirdness sake” here, every event flows from the last in a seemingly reasonable fashion but with a growing edge of not-quite-rightness. Thus, when the strangeness really kicks in it does not feel jarring or contrived, it just draws you along with it.

Though all we seem to do is follow a confused woman around a hospital there are a few meaty issues to this story. Post-war paranoia is one: the book is set in Europe in the ‘50s so memories are still fresh and bitter. The role of the wife is another, also the frustrated artist, the barren woman, the political ideologue, the wistful Imperialist are all touched upon but not in a heavy-handed way. The pervading sense of weirdness in the story means that the book stays engaging and interesting as we are never quite sure what will turn up around the next corner.

The book is a translation into English which also lends it an extra edge of quirkiness, for want of a better word. Little things like sound effects and background chatter are written in a slightly different way to that which you would see in a native English book and I really liked that. For me it added to the sense of otherness and bewilderment as we wander round an unfamiliar place, trying to make sense of stuff that just does not seem to fit together right, looking for a reasonable conclusion.

If you like David Lynch films and other such strange journeys I think you will find PACHYDERME a very enjoyable and satisfying read. Plus the cover recommendation is by Jean Moebius Giraud which speaks volumes!


Buy Pachyderme 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.


On Loving Women (£12-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Diane Obomsawin

Revival vol 3: A Faraway Place (£10-99, Image) by Tim Seeley & Mike Norton

The Cute Girl Network (£12-99, First Second) by Greg Means, M. K. Reed & Joe Flood

We3 s/c (£10-99, Vertigo) by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

Zero vol 1: “An Emergency” s/c (£7-50, Image) by Ales Kot & Michael Walsh, Tradd Moore, Morgan Jeske, Will Tempest, Mateus Santolouco

Green Lantern: Wrath Of The First Lantern h/c (£22-50, DC) by Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Tony Bedard, Peter Milligan & Doug Mahnke and a mere thirty four other artists

Journey Into Mystery: Kieron Gillen Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen, Robert Rodi & Doug Braithwaite, Richard Elson, Pasqual Ferry, Whilce Portacio

Nova vol 1: Origin s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness

A.B.C. Warriors: The Solo Missions s/c (£13-50, Rebellion) by Pat Mills, Alan Moore & Steve Dillon, Henry Flint, Kev Walker, Tom Carney

Ultimate Comics: X-Men vol 3 s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Brian Wood & Alvaro Martinez

Deadman Wonderland vol 1 (£6-99, ) by Jinsei Kataoka & Kazuma Kondou

Nights (£8-99, Sublime) by Kou Yoneda

Pandora Hearts vol 18 (£8-99, Yen) by Jun Mochizuki

Pandora Hearts vol 19 (£8-99, Yen) by Jun Mochizuki

Pandora Hearts vol 20 (£8-99, Yen) by Jun Mochizuki


ITEM! Yeah, I went into THE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR #1 is more detail than normal – and gave far more away than I ever would about a complete graphic novel – but a) I fear it’s a series which might be overlooked in spite of its quality give its awkward publishing provenance (superheroes at Vertigo?!), b) I left out the prologue, c) you will want to see Simon Coleby’s storytelling prowess for yourself and d) I’m trying to sell a whole mini-series here.

It’s d) which is the key. I’ve omitted so much from FATALE VOL 4 which could so easily have excited you (who is after Jo now and why, for example) but then you’d have nothing left to worry you when you read it yourselves. A first issue is a different beast, I’ve decided today. Who knows that the next chapters hold?

I don’t normally try to justify my reviews. You either like them or you don’t. But I thought you deserved an explanation this time, as do Rob and Simon if it ever hits their radar. Do let me know what you think pro or con @pagefortyfive

ITEM! STRAY BULLETS: KILLERS multi-page preview! Yessss!

ITEM! ‘The Girl Next Door’. Three-page, full-colour CEREBUS short story by Dave Sim & Gerhard you won’t have seen unless you were collecting the EPIC ILLUSTRATED anthology 30-odd years ago.

ITEM! More comicbook moments from the French comic festival of Angoulême, from Ben Hatke, creator of ZITA THE SPACEGIRL

ITEM! New Jeffrey Brown book, KIDS ARE WEIRD, trailer. Pre-order, pre-order, please!

ITEM! Love this tribute to Robot & Frank by Christian Palmer AKA @PaperRobot AKA Mr Bow-Tie. There’s both a fragility and an intimacy, accentuated in no small part by the gap in the fingers of the left hand, with a full-on hug would have obliterated.

ITEM! Revealing insight into one comicbook creator’s experience of trying to get himself onto ComiXology Submit.

ITEM! ABOVE THE DREAMLESS DEAD has quite the line-up: Simon Gane, Luke Pearson, Isabel Greenberg, Anders Nilsen… the list goes on!

ITEM! Lizz Lunney talks about her comics and food – her comics as food. Lizz Lunney likes food. Also about the cover design to her graphic novel TAKE AWAY.

ITEM! Lastly, delirious thanks to everyone who’s bought Page 45 Tote Bags. 50 copies sold in its first seven days, now approaching 75! At £2-99 a pop we’re not making much of a profit on them – though we will save money on carrier bags – but it’s the ever-so-slightly humbling realisation that you are proud enough to shop with us that you want to advertise us and your loyalty to the general public for free.

We only printed 250.

You blow my brains out on a weekly basis.

Thanks you,

– Stephen

Reviews February 2014 week two

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Thus, over time, the train has evolved to become a tarnished mirror of the pre-existing society where the rich have it all and the poor are left entirely to fend for themselves.

– Jonathan on Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape. Vol 2 in stock now!

Alone Forever (£7-50, Top Shelf) by Liz Prince.

Brief bursts of autobiographical self-denigration as Liz Prince plays the dating game, pitching woo at boys with beards, and loses 13-nil.

Comedic gold, she mines both her disasters and non-starters for all their considerable worth, whether it’s online with OK Cupid or hanging out in bars with male mate Farhad, effectively cock-blocking each other. Of course people think they’re a couple. It seems she can’t win, even when approached by one of her readers – one of her bearded readers! – in an art store while obsessing over sketchbooks and pens with one of her female friends who has a flash-thought:

“Oh no! Do you think I’m dyking this up?”

That’s a beautiful piece of cartooning, Liz frowning, fingers on chin, giving the matter the most careful consideration. So is this, with poor Liz left lank at the bar, shouting after a woman who’s already made her mind up.

“You remind me of my gay friend Jess: she’s short, has glasses, dresses like you… She only falls for straight girls, though.”
“Oh, then she’d probably love me.”
“No, I said she likes straight girls.


Men, of course, prove utterly useless, either full of their own self-importance or utterly unable to make decisions, conversation or even the first move. Actually that first move thing seems more like a power-play.

Here, however, is the shocking truth: Liz Prince actually gets some! She gets quite a lot! She gets, dates, snogs and shags! And they may take six minutes of hilarious, hair-tearing wait, but she also gets knock-out replies to flirty texts. Every second of that sequence is emotionally infectious for Prince’s lines are as expressive as anyone’s in the business, her body language adorable whether she’s feeling foolish, deflated or glowing with girly glee.

She doesn’t give up, either. There’s an absolute champion of a strip in which she appropriates Charles Schultz’s famous American football routine whose humour grows cumulatively on each reprise. In it Lucy cajoles a reluctant Charlie Brown into kicking the ball she’s holding up for him. He’s reluctant because he remembers that each time he gives in to her temptation and has a go against his better judgement, Lucy whips the ball away like someone pulling the rug from under you. Here the roles are reversed, for it is Liz being goaded by Charlie Brown as Cupid.

“Don’t you want a chance at love?”
“Every time I take a kick at love you pull it out from under me!”
“Eventually you’ll make contact. Everyone does. Odds are this next kick will be the one. I’ll do my part and hold it down.”
“He’s right. This has to be the time I kick that old ball. Lucky at love! SO HERE I GO!”

Hahahaha! Yup.

What makes this book is that there is, of course, a great deal of truth behind all this mirth – the recognition factor. But also it’s the wit in its deployment as above, and so below.

After yet another unsatisfactory and this time quite protracted courtship crushed by unanswered emails and texts, Liz Prince is reading The Book of Love while considering her options.

“It is hard to say Bye when someone asks you to give them a second chance. But part of growing up is learning to remove yourself from undesirable situations.”

At the same time her bleating heart is far from still, fighting the wastrel’s corner by reminding Liz of how good it once was. She snaps the book shut on it, silencing it, then opens it up to reveal her heart, dead as a doornail.

“When you’re not on the same page, it’s best to just tear that page out and move on.”

As she tears that page out there is a sound effect that doubles as a death knell: “RIP”

And that’s why I love Liz Prince.


Buy Alone Forever and read the Page 45 review here

Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape h/c (£14-99, Random House / Vertical) by Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette…

‘Across the white immensity of an eternal winter, from one end of the frozen planet to the other, there travels a train that never stops. This is the Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long. This is the last bastion of civilisation…’

“You lousy tail-fucker. I’m gonna break you!! You’re gonna regret leaving your shitty carriage.”

Yes, sadly the Snowpiercer does reflect our civilisation in microcosm all too well. A global catastrophe has occurred, probably man-made though that isn’t made entirely clear, resulting in a huge drop in global temperatures and ushering in a new ice age. A luxury train, fitted out with all the mod cons imaginable, powered by a revolutionary, near-perpetual motion device, stood ready to receive the good and the great, plus the obscenely wealthy, obviously, to ensure those worthy fellows at least survived this apocalypse. At the last moment, in an apparent act of conscience, several hundred rather more basic carriages were added at the back for the working class, or the Third Class, in true locomotive convention.

Thus, over time, the train has evolved to become a tarnished mirror of the pre-existing society where the rich have it all and the poor are left entirely to fend for themselves. Very much representative of the current First World and Third World. An attempted revolt by the masses was quickly and violently suppressed and then all contact with the rear carriages was completely cut off, the doors welded shut and barricaded. Interesting immigration policy! Nothing was heard from the rear until now, when someone has managed the unthinkable, and breached Second Class by going outside of the train in the truly ferocious conditions to enter by breaking a toilet window with a hammer. The top brass, including the President, at the front of the train, are intrigued to know what conditions are now like in the tail and demand the man is brought to the very front of the train for them to interrogate. Maybe though, that’s exactly what he wants…?

What follows during the man’s journey through the endless compartments is an examination of the darker side of human morality, and I don’t doubt much of what we see is probably exactly what would happen in that sort of situation.

It’s truly Orwellian in nature, touching upon how politics, religion and all of societies’ structures and niceties would probably start to fail and break down in such a situation, and indeed be used against the masses, as the selfish nature of mankind completely takes over. You’d like to think altruism would come into play, and indeed there are those on the train who do care about the conditions people must be enduring back in the tail, but they’re not in charge. Unsurprisingly those that are in power consider these do-gooders just as potentially seditious and dangerous as the Third Class, and they have a rather unpleasant plan for dealing with them…

The black and white art put me in mind of both Jacques Tardi and Joe Colquhon, with the heavy and chunky use of black ink. It’s bleakly drawn stuff which is entirely appropriate in capturing both the decimated world at large and the claustrophobic nature of life on the train. Some of you may be aware this has been made into a film starring, amongst others, John Hurt. Not entirely sure if it’s been released yet or if they are still negotiating distribution, but have a look at this trailer if you are interested. There is some talk of a director’s cut for DVD too.

Meanwhile, given the ending, and I am giving nothing away, I am perplexed / intrigued / delighted to report there is already a second volume entitled Snowpiecer: The Explorers.


Buy Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape h/c and read the Page 45 review here

I Want My Hat Back s/c (£6-99, Walker Books) by Jon Klassen.

A bear hath not his hat on.

He misses his hat and wants to know where it’s at. To that end he wanders through the forest and enquires of his fellow creatures as to its location. Alas, no one has seen it, but he always thanks them anyway.

“Have you seen my hat?”
“What is a hat?”
“Thank you anyway.”

“Have you seen my hat?”
“No. Why are you asking me.
I haven’t seen it.
I haven’t seen any hats anywhere.
I would not steal a hat.
Don’t ask me any more questions.”
“OK. Thank you anyway.”

Hmmm. Something slightly suspicious about that rabbit.

It’s only when one animal asks for a description of the hat that alarm bells of recollection ring.

With dead-pan delivery, utilising the very same, obliviously straight-faced image of the bear right up until the wake-up call, this is an exceptional children’s storybook which is, most emphatically, a comic. It’s a comic because without the pictures it simply couldn’t work: the key moment halfway through is visual.

But the genius of the punchline lies in the dialogue and, like the rest, in repetition. Specifically it lies in reprising the lie which, given that you’ll be buying this for your young ‘uns rather than yourself (possibly – I bought it for myself!), I for once feel free to partially give away. Here the shoe is on the other foot and the hat now on another head as a squirrel approaches a much mollified bear.

“Excuse me, have you seen a rabbit wearing a hat?”
“No, Why are you asking me.
I haven’t seen him.
I haven’t seen any rabbits anywhere.
I would not eat a rabbit.
Don’t ask me any more questions.”
“OK. Thank you anyway.”

For more Jon Klassen head-wear hilarity, please see THIS IS NOT MY HAT. It really isn’t.

Do not steal other people’s hats! There will be repercussions.


Buy I Want My Hat Back s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Locke & Key vol 6 Alpha & Omega h/c (£22-50, IDW) by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez…

Impressively cataclysmic conclusion to Joe and Gabriel’s sotto voce horror masterpiece. The school year is winding to an end, graduation looms for many of our cast, and the kids of Lovecraft are preparing for their after prom party, a rave in a cave, yes that particular cave, which you might think by now everyone would be trying really hard to avoid… though I suppose everyone thinks the villain has already been vanquished at the end of volume five. OH NO HE HASN’T! As we well know…

The dastardly miscreant in question has been secretly going about his business in the possessed body of [SPOILER] and now has almost everything he needs to execute his apocalyptic plan and bring the rest of his kind through the portal into our world. There’s just one more of the Keyhouse’s keys he needs to get his hands on, and he’s knows Kinsey Locke will be bringing that particular item to the party, which just so happens to be taking place where he needs it most… in that cave! Fortunately for the Locke family, the residents of Lovecraft and indeed the entire world, Tyler Locke has finally realised precisely what his lucky charm gifted by deceased father actually is, and more importantly, how it can be weaponised. He also has a sneaking suspicion everything isn’t over just yet. Clever boy.

Tyler won’t be the ultimate hero of the piece, though. No, that prize is reserved for someone else: someone, who after all he has been put through already in a very, very difficult life, truly deserves it, bless his cotton socks. It’s time for the pure of heart and simple of mind to take centre stage at last as Rufus and his toys undertake their final mission for the highest of stakes.

Joe Hill has created a brilliant set of characters within this work, but Rufus has easily been my favourite. He now knows exactly who the villain is and exactly what needs to be done to stop  him, but when you’ve the mental capabilities of barely more than a toddler, and you’re locked up in a secure hospital several miles from where the action is going to go down, what can you do? The answer? Whatever it takes soldier! Go, Rufus!

When you’ve put so much time and effort into following a series, you obviously want it to conclude in a befitting and satisfactory manner. Happily Joe Hill achieves that with aplomb and I believe this will be a series that continues to sell for a good number of years to come. It has everything you could possibly want in a good horror yearn: creepy locations, a fabulous cast of fully realised primary and secondary characters, plus an evil menace beyond measure. Also Gabriel Rodriguez has provided stellar art throughout. My initial impression was the art style was going to be incongruous with horror writing, but it just works perfectly in conveying the more fantastical elements of the story whilst dissembling the occasional burst of shocking violence. So, when all is settled are there happy endings for everyone? Certainly not, but suffice to say, some people get the endings they certainly deserve…


Buy Locke & Key vol 6 Alpha & Omega h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Sherlock Holmes And The Vampires Of London h/c (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Sylvain Cordurie & Laci, Axel Gonzalbo, Jean-Sebastien Rossbach…

Always a tricky one, writing a new story around an established and extremely well known literary character. Succeed and you’ve a receptive audience eager for such material. Fail, and well, ignominy and opprobrium await. Happily, this falls into the former category, albeit liberties are obviously taken with the introduction of vampires into the Holmes universe. For vampires they really are, this is no simple case of fraud or misdirection, make no mistake.

This certainly has the typical feel of a Holmes case, and setting it after his supposed death at the Reichenbach Falls, freeing it further from the constraints of typical Holmes continuity, probably allows the supernatural conceit more freedom to play out with complete believability. I suspect Sherlock fans will find little to complain about in terms of the writing though there is certainly more action than deduction. Watson fans may find themselves disappointed that he doesn’t feature more heavily; in fact he is entirely unaware his good friend is still alive, which does deprive us of any of their usual back-and-forth repartee and banter which is always a highlight of a Holmes work for me.

The art, though, is a wonderful bonus. My first thought upon viewing the cover was how much Sherlock Holmes looked like Michael Caine, but the interior art is completely different: ligne claire and European in nature, reminiscent of much of the Humanoids output. The architecture of Paris in particular, which provides the backdrop for much of the case, is spectacular. Humanoids fans should definitely give this a look therefore, as of course should aficionados of the world’s premier consulting detective.


Buy Sherlock Holmes And The Vampires Of London h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Awkward Silence Vol 2 (£8-99, Sublime) by Hinako Takanaga.

“What is this difficult obstacle that stands between you two?”
“It’s an obstacle called a “fence”, Mom. I lost to a fence.”

And this is where the comedy kicks in. If you think Satoru is backwards in coming forwards, you should try to read his mother’s stone-faced expressions. Whether hereditary or learned behaviour, the inability to communicate certainly runs in the family.

As I declared of AWKWARD SILENCE VOL 1 this has a heart of gold – a marked departure from the decidedly less healthy one-sided yaoi of pervasive power-play, however funny I find some.

Poor Satoru! Keigo’s been called away on a baseball practice weekend. He’s the school team’s captain and his reign has stopped play. Their play. Satoru isn’t jealous that his boyf’s into baseball: he’d filled an entire sketchbook of Keigo on the pitch long before they’d exchanged a word. It’s just that their relationship is young and every second spent apart is spent desperately yearning for the next spent together. Plus Satoru’s not very good at expressing himself at the best of times, let alone on the phone, and he’s anxious lest Keigo didn’t think him enthusiastic enough. See, he didn’t have time to say anything himself because Keigo’s mates had caught him on the mobile and were making a grab for it presuming that Keigo was calling a girlfriend. Yeah, however ideal their relationship seems, they’re not exactly out – this is school, after all!

Now although there is no real wall between them, alas there is a fence. It is physical, it is tall and Satoru failed to scale it the first time round, coming home in bruises. Still, if at first you don’t succeed…

Satoru’s parents aren’t aware of the strength of the boys’ bond, either. They think Satoru really is showing Keigo his sketches. But they both admire Satoru’s resolve to set things right tonight. I’m not convinced that they’d be quite so enthusiastic if they knew what will ensue once he gets there, bless.

“That’s my boy. So dependable… You made the choice and decided to take action quickly. How wonderful.”
“Ah!” beams his Dad. “Her smiling face has returned!”

Not so you’d notice.


Buy Awkward Silence Vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Ms. Marvel #1 (£2-25, Marvel) by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona.

“Can I go a party tonight?”
“On the waterfront.”
“With boys?”
“Very funny.”

Oh, how I love this comic, and particularly its family. Unlike most superhero comics, this is genuinely mainstream with mass appeal. “Abu”, the father, is dead-pan and dry but unlike Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennet (Pride And Prejudice) he is so full of love – as is this comic and author G. Willow Wilson herself.

Starring sixteen-year-old Kamala, an American-born Pakistani, it confounds stereotypes and is instead packed full of genuine individuals like Kamala’s stylish friend Nakia (don’t call her Kiki!), thoroughly modern and savvy yet still proud of her Turkish heritage. For although Kamala can’t go to the party because there will be alcohol, Nakia won’t go to the party because there is alcohol. She knows her own mind, is what I’m saying.

That’s not to say that some of the other cast members don’t fail to see beyond those stereotypes, like over-privileged social butterfly and “concern troll” Zoe.

“Your headscarf is so pretty, Kiki. I love that colour.”
“But I mean… nobody pressured you to start wearing it, right? Your father or somebody? Nobody’s going to, like, honour kill you? I’m just concerned.”
“Actually, my dad wants me to take it off. He thinks it’s a phase.”
“Really? Wow, cultures are so interesting.”

Kamala thinks Zoe “nice”, “happy” and even “adorable” but she’ll be disabused of that naïve notion before too long. Unlike Nakia, Kamala doesn’t yet know her own mind or other people; and when she sneaks out at night to go to the waterfront the drink which she insists must be alcohol-free is spiked then she’s laughed at. As she stomps off a mist descends and Kamala passes out. She has a vision. And did I mention that she’s ever so slightly obsessed with Avengers? She writes online fan fic and everything!

So from On High through billowing clouds, winged sloths and bobble-hatted doves descend her Holy Trinity of Iron Man, Captain America and Captain Marvel, the blonde goddess Kamala adores. Is she having a religious experience?!

Adrian Alphona’s art is adorable throughout. It’s soft and sweet and full of comedic expressions, but it is on this particular page that he shows his real wit, transposing Iron Man and the couple of Captains gesturing beatifically into a traditional religious tableau complete with scrolling ribbons and… is that a hedgehog giving the victory salute?

“You thought that if you disobeyed your parents – your culture, your religion – your classmates would accept you. What happened instead?”
“They – they laughed at me. Zoe thought that because I snuck out, it was okay for her to make fun of my family. Like, Kamala’s finally seen the light and kicked the dumb inferior brown people and their rules to the curb. But that’s not why I snuck out! It’s not that I think Ammi and Abu are dumb, it’s just – I grew up here! I’m from Jersey not Karachi! I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be.”

It’s then that the vision of Captain Marvel – Carol Danvers – asks a key question:

“Who do you want to be?”
“Right now? I want to be beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated.
“I want to be you.
“Except I would wear the classic, politically incorrect costume and kick butt in giant wedge heels.”

The punchline is hilarious, and if they’re aren’t already shrieks of outraged horror deafening the internet from those who cannot wait, read, or comprehend a comic correctly, I would be very much surprised. Kamala has a lot of growing up to do, and I’m going to love watching her do so.

Like YOUNG AVENGERS and HAWKEYE, this is another fresh face for superhero comics, broadening their appeal through diversity. And I don’t even mean racial, sexual or gender diversity – though that is important too – I mean Willow G. Wilson has brought with her a different voice which is far from “worthily” earnest, but genuine, sympathetic and understanding of young hearts instead.

“Delicious, delicious, infidel meat…”

Mmm… You can’t have everything you want. And you should be careful what you wish for.


Buy Ms Marvel #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Loki, Agent Of Asgard #1 (£2-25, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Lee Garbett.

“Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

If Loki is the Norse God of Mischief, then Al Ewing is his British counterpart.

Yay for gratuitous shower scenes! Lee Garbett’s teenage Loki is hot! Also wet. And steamy.

Yay for a pair of Seven League Boots enabling Loki to dash up waterfalls, over rainbows and scale Avengers Tower! Yay for stolen Shadow Thread and Cheshire Cat grins!

And yay for trouble-magnet Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye with his perpetually plastered nose, who can get himself into the unlikeliest of muddles even when playing console games.

“I know – “
“You have the army after you and no health and you’re falling out of a crashing plane.”
I know, Nat – “
“It’s a bass fishing simulator, Clint.”
I know! It just – it just happens!”

Oh, this is a most worthy successor to Gillen and McKelvie’s YOUNG AVENGERS towards the end of which Loki enjoyed a sudden growth spurt and now wears black nail varnish. Teenagers! Also, like Fraction and Aja’s HAWKEYE, it kicks off right in the middle when it’s already gone horribly wrong with Loki stabbing Thor in the back with a very big energy sword. I thought they were getting along so much better these days?

But if Loki is the God of Lies, Mischief and Deceit, it probably stands to reason that all is not as it seems. For a start, there is the little question of this series’ sub-title, but who precisely is he working for?

This is fast, fresh and funny as hell with plenty of action to boot. Gone is the old, predictable God of Evil with his crooked nose, his goblin eyes and nasty row of teeth. Gone, I say, gone!

Would Al Ewing lie to you?


Buy Loki, Agent Of Asgard #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Infinity h/c and Infinity vol 1 s/c, vol 2 s/c (£55-99 or £15-99 each, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman with Nick Spencer, Jason Latour & Leinil Frances Yu, Mike Deodato, Jimmy Cheung, more.

“Is it a distress signal? A tracking beacon? A reconnaissance transmission? We need strategy maps for every possibility. And that’s the softer side. Our real concern, big picture – it may not matter what these things are saying… so much as who they’re saying it to.”

“Go back and tell the Avengers – they have not done enough. The machine is not complete. To protect a world you must possess the power to destroy a world. Go now – use words they will understand… They have to get bigger.”

“Hope for the best, Tony. Plan for the worst.”

“If this fleet reaches this system, the next step in human evolution is extinction.”

Holy hell, this is enormous! In scale, in scope and in actuality: I calculate 600 pages at least.

It is also beautiful to behold: Jimmy Cheung has a sheen and shine of his own, there are few artists whose neo-classicism is as dark, brooding and foreboding as Mike Deodato; and as for the core visual creator, Leinil Francis Yu, he has exceeded himself. Enhanced by both inkers and colourists, the lighting on the Skrull portraits and the chiselled cheeks and jaw of Ex Nihilo are glorious. So much work has gone into even those brief moments which are so shown to be far from incidental, but wait until you behold what beckons in space.


Scientifically sophisticated and philosophically exceptional for any genre in comics, this blistering, outer-space confrontation and Earth-bound conflagration is an exceptional climax to Hickman’s run, with the promise of much more to come.

He’s been building towards this in AVENGERS VOL 1: AVENGERS WORLD, AVENGERS VOL 2: THE LAST WHITE EVENT AVENGERS VOL 3: INFINITY PRELUDE and NEW AVENGERS VOL 1: EVERYTHING DIES and those titles’ fourth and second volumes, respectively, are incorporated here in the right reading order. It is seamlessly choreographed, even though it is a battle on multiple fronts with inextricably linked subplots.

It’s also incredibly clever once you puzzle out all the pieces. It’s incredibly clever once each strike and counter-strike is thrown in your face. There are some ingenious minds at work here: the fictional tacticians because of the creative minds behind them i.e. writers Hickman with Spencer. And so, here we go:

The biggest permanent assembly of Avengers has been gathered for they know that something is coming.

Meanwhile a covert offshoot, the Illuminati – consisting of the Black Panther, Reed Richards, Iron Man, the Beast, Namor of Atlantis, Black Bolt of the Inhumans and Dr. Stephen Strange – have taken desperate measures to fend off an escalating series of incursions: the intrusion of planet Earth from one parallel universe to another. From up in the sky they descend on a collision course, and there can only be two outcomes: one of those Earths is sacrificed in order to save those universes… or everything dies in both.

The Illuminati are working on it, but this is their dilemma: they want to preserve this Earth that they live on with those they hold dear but, in order to do so, they must destroy another Earth equally as valid as theirs. They must commit global genocide – the obliteration of billions of individual human beings with loved ones of their own – and I’m afraid they have built the weapons to do so. They have already destroyed all but one of the Infinity Gems in the process. And you know who has a history of coveting those Infinity Gems, right?

Meanwhile Black Bolt harbours secrets of his own – a plan he has hatched out with his mad brother Maximus – driving a wedge between him and his wife Medusa. An alien Outrider has been dispatched to steal a secret from Black Bolt’s mind, but that one isn’t it. Nor is it the existence of the Illuminati. Or, really, the destruction of the Infinity Gems. So what secret will cause Thanos to demand, as Tribute of subservience and surrender, the heads of every Inhuman between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two?

What does that death-obsessed demi-god want?

Now: just as the Avengers uncover a cadre of alien, shape-shifting Skrulls on Earth without a single warrior-class member which makes no sense, they receive verified data that a distant Kree moon has been destroyed. It came via an unprecedented Kree distress signal. The Kree don’t do distress or distressed: they do battle. But a force of destruction so massive it blocked out its sun is on the move and every space empire is scrambling. Enemies unite but everything folds in the armada’s inexorable wake.

Extrapolating the trajectory of this universal Armageddon, its target is indisputably Earth.

Captain America rallies the Avengers, newly enhanced with beings so meta that one is the universe herself, and, leaving only Iron Man behind, declares that the only hope mankind has is to take the battle to the stars. To join forces with the Shi’Ar Empire, Skrull Empire, the Kree, the Brood, Annihilus and even that creep of a king from Bendis’ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in order to ensure that the armada doesn’t even come close to planet Earth. To head it off before more damage is done. I’m afraid that they lose and lose badly.

And, on the dark, stark starlit moon of Titan, Thanos smiles.

His strategy has worked for the bait has been taken, and the Avengers have just made the most gigantic and appalling tactical error:

“Brothers. sisters. Sharpen your teeth, prepare to consume a great meal. Earth you see… she has no Avengers.”

Collects INFINITY #1-6, current NEW AVENGERS #7-12, current AVENGERS #12-23, and INFINITY INFINITE COMIC #1-2 which were never previously printed at all.


Buy Infinity h/c and read the Page 45 review here
Buy Infinity s/c vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here
Buy Infinity s/c vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Captain America: Living Legend s/c (£9-99, Marvel) by Andy Diggle, Eddie Robson & Adi Granov, Agustin Alessio.

From the writer of the exceptional SNAPSHOT and HELLBLAZER: JOYRIDE, and begun by and the artist on Warren Ellis’ IRON MAN: EXTREMIS, I can assure you that Agustin Alessio doesn’t let the side down. His Siberia, which is where the majority of the story plays itself out, is freezing – you’ve never seen such a pale superhero comic. Or do I mean a war comic? I mean a horror comic.

My favourite page was the exterior shot of the present-day space station as it undergoes a terrifying transmogrification – Adi Granov excels at technology – but it kicks off in April 1945 on the Bavarian Alps with Russian soldiers closing in on a Nazi bunker housing a prize which they seek. America’s after the very same thing and it is a matter of historical fact that they acquired it, if not here: Nazi rocket science via the scientists behind it.

Sergeant Volkov is the most zealous of all, disobeying his critically wounded Captain behind his back in ordering the final, suicidal assault against tanks when they have nothing in their arsenal to penetrate them. Which is where our good Captain comes in: there is a veritable team-up. What happens within the bunker, however, is far from predictable, nor the ramifications in Siberia, Soviet Union 1968. And I don’t just mean scientific ramifications, I mean personal ramifications. Basically, I mean ramifications, a word that now looks weird to me. In 1968 Comrade Volkov is successfully launched into space, but what happens next is classified.

Immediately thereafter for we jump to the present on board a space station experimenting in Dark Energy as a source of free and indeed pollution-free energy for Earth. Which is where the transmogriphication comes in. Whoops.

Cut to Captain America and Sharon Carter aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Odyssey. The lab has lost orbit, telemetry disappearing somewhere over Siberia. It should have burned up on re-entry but didn’t. Plus there’s no sign of ballistics: the space station was pulled down. Russian troops are mobilising fast and heading in its direction.

Then there’s the emergency signal and a single word transmitted from the space station, a word Captain America has not heard since the Bavarian Alps during WWII: “VOLKOV”.

You can almost feel the hairs on the back of the Captain’s neck stand on end.


Buy Captain America: Living Legend s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Star Wars Origami s/c (£13-00, Workman) by Chris Alexander…

Ever fancied wowing the Ewoks who live at the bottom of your garden next time you have a barbeque? Or if you need a handy distraction when you get into a confrontation with a bounty hunter at your local cantina? Then this could be the book for you, truly! Learn how to fold paper into Yoda, the Millennium Falcon, Darth Vader, R2-D2 and 32 other galactically astonishing shapes using only the power of the Force… and your hands.

The shapes are ranged into five levels of difficulty from Padawan right up to Jedi Master. A mixture of all your favourite Star Wars characters, weapons such as lightsabers, and pretty much every ship ever flown throughout the entire Empire provide a test for all abilities. Plus there are two fully coloured versions of each shape provided, allowing for at least one Chewbecca style ripped up in rage practice attempt at each. All that remains is for me to say, good luck and May The Folds Be With You…


Buy Star Wars Origami 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.


Just So Happens h/c (£16-99, Jonathan Cape) by Fumio Obata

Fatale vol 4: Pray For Rain (£10-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Line Of Fire: Diary Of An Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914) (£10-99, Phoenix Yard Books) by Barroux

Beautiful Darkness h/c (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Jason Vehlmann & Kerascoet

Snowpiercer vol 2: The Explorers h/c (£19-99, Titan) by Benjamin Legrand & Jean-Marc Rochette

In A Flat Land (£5-00, Moon Underground) by Richard Swan

Jane, The Fox & Me h/c (UK Edition) (£15-00, Walker Books) by Britt Fanny & Isabelle Arsenault

Lobster Johnson vol 3: Satan Smells A Rat (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Kevin Nowlan, various

Prophet vol 3: Empire (£10-99, Image) by Brandon Graham & Simon Roy, Giannis Milogiannis, various

Bravest Warriors vol 2 s/c (£10-99, kaboom!) by Joey Comeau & Mike Holmes

Spaceman s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso

Batman: Dark Victory s/c (£18-99, DC) by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Constantine vol 1: The Spark And The Flame s/c (£10-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes & Renato Guedes, Fabiano Neves

Flash vol 3: Gorilla Warfare h/c (£18-99, DC) by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato & various


ITEM! Preview of Liz Prince’s FOREVER ALONE (reviewed above) is available on the Top Shelf website!

ITEM! Check out this short comic by NIMONA’s Noelle about the least helfpful comic shops in the world. What a rubbish way to behave! Helping customers sells comics AND IS MUCH MORE FUN! Please ask questions whenever you’re in – that’s what we’re here for!

ITEM! Check out the grey and butter cats by Dan Berry (bottom left). Beautiful use of negative space. Butter, mmm…

ITEM! Preview of Ben Katke’s ZITA THE SPACEGIRL vol 3! Interview too! This series is huge with Younger Readers here – and their parents! Read the reviews for ZITA THE SPACEGIRL and LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL, always in stock! Please ask me for a show-and-tell next time you’re in.

ITEM! Warren Ellis’ MOON KNIGHT coming to your standing order files any day now because you pre-ordered it. Very wise. You didn’t? Very foolish. Good luck on the shelves.

ITEM! Comic exposing Serco’s practices in Australian Detention Centres. Pretty nasty stuff. Cheers to Neal Curtis for the find.

ITEM! Jodie Paterson’s gorgeous display of intricately handcut images – geckoes, birds, beetles, flowers. I popped down to Nottingham’s Malt Cross on Saturday to see for myself and I beg you to do the same. Astounding work. Go up the stairs, turn left and walk through the door in the wall. “WHERE ELSE WOULD IT BE?!” Err, quite.

ITEM! A bookshelf crammed full of zine heaven!

ITEM! From the creators of one of favourite graphic novels, SKIM, a preview of Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s new book THIS ONE SUMMER!

ITEM! This thrillingly violent landscape by Claudia Massie took my breath away!

ITEM! Sally-Anne Hickman’s as-ever entertaining comicbook account of Angoulême

ITEM! Lastly, this! Latest instalment of Paul Duffield’s THE FIRELIGHT ISLE whose design is gorgeous, utilising the scroll-down format to all maximum advantage. It’s my favourite web comic!


– Stephen

Reviews February 2014 week one

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Wouldn’t you just die to star in a full page of Terry Moore’s RACHEL RISING? Well, now you can, but I’m afraid that you’ll have to. Die, that is!

Stephen on the Kill Me, Zoe! Competition. Please see our regular news section below!

RASL h/c (£29-99, Cartoon Books) by Jeff Smith.

Complete, in full colour, with sublime, monochromatic chapter breaks!

Under Jeff Smith’s direction these colours provided by Steve Hamaker with Tom Gaadt are like little else in the business, with a completely different aesthetic to BONE’s glossy gleam. For a start the paper stock is a lovely, thick matt while the colours themselves are soft and warm at night, yet clean and bright with wide, azure skies during the day out in the dessert.

There is an extended sequence towards the end when our battered and blood-caked RASL, weighted and weary, lets himself surf slowly down the scree slopes of the arid, clay-coloured outcrop exposed to a desiccating sun under the indifferent watch of a midday moon. There the blues and the sandy stones complement each other beautifully: heat and light and so much fresh air, even if it’s too hot to handle.

Jeff Smith even spent two weeks sweating bare-chested in the desert surrounded by cacti – something that’s imprinted itself on the art here. There’s a real physicality to the protagonist with slightly simian looks, his big mop of hair, his compacted, body-builder physique and the fountain of sweat that sprays off his face. Even the way he pulls up his slacks is sexually charged. You imagine he might have a growl like Tom Waits, and he sure likes his liquor bars and strip joints.


Does the name Nikola Tesla mean anything to you? He experimented with electricity and (some would say in hushed whispers) with much, much more. Credit went to his former friend turned ruthless and vengeful enemy, Thomas Edison, while Tesla’s monumental achievements in alternating current were followed by an obsession and deception which proved his downfall, sending him down a different road altogether.

This is a brutally noir piece of extrapolated science set over several fictional worlds in which our art-thief hero stole the technology he’s been using to hop between dimensions because it could have been used as an electromagnetic weapon. It involves parallel universes, conspiracy theory, Native American symbolism/spirituality and knowing your Bob Dylan. Well, it does for “RASL” Robert, which is why he knows he made the wrong turning at the pandimensional traffic lights.

Unfortunately someone or something is hot on his tail, has murdered his girlfriend and is on verge of murdering her counterpart if Robert can’t take the fight back to them…

The science he stole came from a research facility he once helped run. Now the dimensions appear to cracking. There are echoes, traces, visual footprints if you like, and seemingly random bursts of electricity strong enough to kill hundreds of birds in the sky. Then there’s the strange little girl, mute with a lolling head, who seems to know more than she should. On top of all this Robert has been complicating things beautifully by seeing two different women with multiple counterparts and… oh, you really do have to read this for yourself!

It’s eerie, unnerving, but utterly compelling, particularly the science itself. It is also, as you’d imagine, very, very beautiful with some extraordinary effects as the rooms start to ripple and morph.

£29-99 for all four volumes? This is a steal, but please don’t.


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

Lost At Sea 10th Anniversary h/c (£18-99, Oni) by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

“This is hard to admit but I am terrified of everything.”

Raleigh doesn’t have a soul. A cat stole it – or at least that’s what she tells people – or at least that’s what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying.

“Maybe I’ll waste away. That would be very literary.”

Raleigh accidentally gets invited along on a road trip. Never the biggest socialite in her year she slowly realises, as do they, that it’s an accident that she’s there, in the car, watching the world speed by. Or pretending to be asleep. Sometimes that’s easier, but lying awake in a motel bed is hard.

“All my stupid little thoughts beget stupid little thoughts, rampantly speculating every possible outcome of every possible situation until they’re all done to death and none of them could ever be true.”

Does that sound familiar?

So much will ring bells: the feeling that you’re the only person who thinks they’re fucked up or at the very least clueless. Rudderless. Drifting aimlessly, especially when young. It’ll all make sense in the end.

It’s such a beautiful summer, California doing what it does best, and Ian, Dave and Steph turn out to be good travelling companions. They turn out to be what Raleigh hasn’t had for four years since her best mate left: friends she can actually related to, trust and enjoy.

There’s a fabulous passage which demonstrates this bond during which the four of them catch cats in the middle of the night in the hope that they can find Raleigh’s soul. There are an awful lots of cats: they seem to follow Raleigh everywhere she goes. Each is presented to her in turn, some scrabbling frantically, hilariously, others just hanging limp as Raleigh stares into their big, inky, dilated pupils to see if her soul is inside. Where O’Malley succeeds where others might fail is that Raleigh’s new-found friends take the task seriously: they don’t think she’s crazy or an attention-seeking idiot, nor are they boozed-up or high on drugs. It’s magical.

Gradually Raleigh’s real story unfolds: why she was away from home and what she was doing the moment before the call came through inviting her on the road.

O’Malley’s art ten years ago met at a perfect point in between Andi Watson and early Kochalka and his story is somewhere near those two as well. It’s coloured in a deep salmon pink which makes the blacks look blue – oh wait, they are!

There’s one great panel early on where Raleigh is in the back seat of the car and Bryan’s got the light just right as it fall on her face, as she stares out of the window. More accurately it’s two great big panels set at slightly different angles which would ordinarily form an impossible wide-angled double-page spread, but the gutter in between isolates Raleigh, introspective and mournful, from Steph who is equally lost in her own little world, but it’s a loud one as she belts out a tune, eyes scrunched up, mouth wider than a train tunnel.

And he draws good cats. Bryan draws very good cats. Do you like cats? You will love this!

Includes previously uncollected LOST AT SEA short scenes at the back.

SLH after MAS

Buy Lost At Sea h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Awkward Silence Vol 1 (£8-99, Sublime) by Hinako Takanaga.

“I-I don’t mind… going out with you.”

Hurrah for ringing endorsements!

Against all shy Satoru’s meagre expectations and beyond his wildest daydreams, crush-worthy Keigo – captain of the school baseball team whom he has been doting on for terms at a time – has actually asked Satoru out!

It’s not a trick, a predatory power-play nor a dare. (All three of those have popped their ugly heads up in yaoi before now.) It’s not even a case of “Will they? Won’t they?” which can go on for entire series. Theirs is a genuine, mutual, healthy and wholeheartedly requited love, plus the shy guy gets asked out on page two! It’s just as well since Satoru was never going to be the one doing the pulling.

“Ahh… Why am I… so terrible at sharing my feelings?”

And why am I so late to this series? At the time of typing there are already four books and it’s the most popular yaoi in years! It’s not as if its fanbase – male and female alike – is remotely as reticent as Satoru. I am pestered months in advance for each new volume.

I credit some of its popularity to an empathy with Satoru, not to the extent of vocal paralysis, but in worrying about whether you are adequately expressing yourself, whether you’ve just said the wrong thing so early in a relationship and whether the strength of your love is indeed reciprocated. Clue: here at least, it really, really is and neither of our dreamboats is remotely tempted to stray. The rocky roads come from misunderstandings due to an endearing lack of presumption, a yearning during time spent apart, a little understandable jealousy about others’ attentions, and umm, yes, there is a certain degree of danger from without.

I’m a big fan of the art. It’s neither fey nor flowery and Hinako Takanaga’s body language is adorable especially during the canoodling for Satoru is very willing putty in Keigo’s manly hands but, hey, we have already established the guy is easily embarrassed. (Canoodling is a euphemism, yes.) Takanaga’s also nailed Satoru’s doe-eyed dithering: he does look pretty vacant even though there is a great big butterfly in his stomach and a lot going on in his tufty-haired head.

Brilliant! This is what yaoi should be about: actual love. However, if I have made this sound all-too plain sailing, I can assure you that there is enough dramatic irony to have you on the edge of your seats.

Also on the popularity front: who doesn’t love a dream come true?


Buy Awkward Silence Vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Weapons Of The Metabarons new edition h/c (£18-99, Humanoids) by Alexandro Jodorowsky & Travis Charest, Zoran Janjetov…

“For a Metabaron, defeat is not an option.
“Victory or death. And if I die in battle, my death will be a triumph!”

Errr… not quite sure how that works, but there’s certainly no doubt the Metabaron with no name is a glass-half-full kinda guy. Still, when you’ve never been defeated by any foe, indeed when no Metabaron has ever been defeated, optimism is bound to be running high. And maybe a smidgeon of high-octane hubris to boot! This time around though, our wandering warrior has a tough task ahead of him if he’s to acquire the four secret weapons that will allow him to drive the reptilian Hulzgeminis back into their own Universe.

It’s been a while since the last new Metabaron material so “Was it worth the wait?” is the big question. For fans of the series almost certainly, as this work picks up right where the others left off, though special mention must be made of Travis Charest’s (and also Zoran Janjetov’s) exquisite and intricately detailed art. It’s hard to comprehend how this is the same artist who used to illustrate Jim Lee’s WILDCATS back in the proverbial day, and it would be remiss of me not to observe that his skills have clearly continued to improve in the interim to a now truly exceptional level.

Those new to the whole Metabaron saga might be a little non-plussed by this work, especially given the somewhat thin nature of Jodorowsky’s plot, but that’s never really been the point with this series in many ways. If this piques your interest though, I do highly recommend the METABARONS ULTIMATE COLLECTED EDITION.


Buy Weapons Of The Metabarons new edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Marvel Masterworks: X-Men vol 6 (£18-99, Marvel) by Roy Thomas & Neal Adams with Don Heck.

The first of this title’s golden ages, this reprints #54-66, the final issues of original material before it retreated to reprints then was eventually being cancelled. Low sales. I know, right…? Oh, sales grew almost as soon as Neal Adams came on board with #56 but they had a long way to climb and the course proved too steep.

So why was this a golden age? Neal Adams. It’s really that simple.

After reading the first two issues here, Neal Adams’ very first page with its revolutionary neo-classicism is as startling as if the two-dimensional cartoon characters had come to three-dimensional, photographic life and jumped out of the page to live alongside you.

Whoosh: there’s your foreshortening, propelling your eye across the sky to your right in search of the X-Men’s objective! Whoa, look below! There’s the most enormous Egyptian archaeological dig above which tower gigantic stone statues of ancient Pharaohs set in the rock face behind them! A few feet below you and blasting ahead in their sleek, shallow, futuristic jet, sit the original X-Men: Iceman, Marvel Girl, The Beast leaping up and pointing to the distance excitedly; Cyclops and his newly discovered brother Alex on either side of their captive. But dead in the centre, directly in front of you, right on your eye line and flying through the sky on his very own wings is The Angel. His arms are spread wide to steer his flight path, his stomach is taut, his legs kick up from behind, and as for those wings… they are the wings of a swan!

Check out page 150, top-left-hand panel, and the way those enormous, bright-white wings fold round to the front in order to break in mid-air! There is so much movement here, as Iceman swoops down under the upraised arm of a killer Sentinel, freezing his ice-bridge as fast as he can. Panels lurch vertiginously as characters plummet from the sky. Cyclops braces his muscular back to counter the kick as he lets everything loose, pouring ever ounce of energy he can muster into his optic blast. It’s all so physical: you can feel their struggles!

Flashbacks become psychedelic scenes where all is line and colour, Adams’ rich shadows bleached of black and, as to the covers, I could cry. The composition of #59’s (“Do Or Die, Baby!”) is right up there with Caravaggio’s most famous of the three ‘David With The Head Of Goliath’s – another satisfying rhombus created by Cyclops’ back braced against the right-hand frame, his eye beams blasting diagonally down to the left on the same line of perspective as a Sentinel’s outstretched hand reaches towards Cyclops’ head; the two left-hand Sentinels’ torsos and legs drawing your eye back down to Cyclops’ leg on the left which takes you back up to where you started at his bright yellow crotch.

It should be noted that Don Heck together with Tom Palmer who is correctly credited as “embellisher” rather than mere inker here, do an extraordinary job of imitating Neal Adams in #64, and there are some fascinating colour guides in the back along with black and white pages, an unused cover (shame!) and some later covers for later collections not one of which matches the originals also reproduced here.

So are you curious to learn what happened before the original X-Men were relegated to guest stars in other titles? It’s really quite epic: The Living Monolith, Sentinels, Sauron, Ka-Zar, Magneto, Sunfire and a wholesale alien invasion. Introduces Havok, reprises Polaris and bids you good night.


Buy Marvel Masterworks: X-Men vol 6 and read the Page 45 review here

Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 2: Angela h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli, Francesco Francavilla.

“The Brotherhood of the Badoon!”
“There is a Sisterhood as well.”
“How do you know if this is the Brotherhood or the Sisterhood?”
“I guess one would have to look under their snvarnak.”
“Well, I’m not doing that.”

No, not very lady-like. Certainly not the proper behaviour of an angel from Heven, which must be missing one right now. Neil Gaiman’s Angela is a little off course, but we will get to that momentarily.

Ah, Sara Pichelli! You are aware of Sarah Pichelli, of course? Possibly her highest profile comic so far has been the Miles Morales ULTIMATE COMICS: SPIDER-MAN VOL 1, also written by Bendis, and there I swooned over the subtlety and humanity of her expressions. It’s still the scene I first show anyone new to that title: Miles and his Dad in the park. Highly recommended.

Sara brings a grace and elegance to every page she touches and, here, a great deal of humour and sass. Well, she does have Tony Stark to work with. Also, Thanos. My, but her Thanos is monumental and imposing, looming over Star-Lord like the Titan he is during the private conversation they probably shouldn’t have been having. Not with Thanos’ estranged daughter Gamora on the team, although it will prove vital later on.


Now Star-Lord has had a vision. More accurately, he has experienced echoes of a rift in the space-time continuum catalysed by events in the AGE OF ULTRON, and is lucky to be here at all. Less fortunate is Angela, a character created by Neil Gaiman for Todd McFarlane’s SPAWN which Todd McFarlane created after a rift with Marvel over creator rights which he then proceeded to stamp all over. Neil Gaiman took him to court and successfully sued the hypocrite. Jonathan did ask me, “What is Angela even doing in a Marvel Comic?” I would suggest it’s a strain of poetic-justice revenge about as mature as thumbing your nose and sticking your tongue out at someone. I approve!

So Angela is no longer creator-owned but copyright Marvel and has found herself in the Marvel Universe. I don’t really approve of that first bit but this was the ideal opportunity to slip her in here if you were going to do so. There are misunderstandings. Fisticuffs even. Fisticuffs with laser sabres and a Watcher appears. That’s always ominous.

“Her presence here is most concerning.”

I’m not sure which bit of this The Watcher disapproves of.

Anyway, Angela eventually proves a new ally and just in time for Thanos is about to launch himself at Earth for the INIFINITY event and this does tie into it tangentially. The bits on either side are infinitely preferable and dappled with wit, as when Angela goes to Earth, perhaps in search of Heven’s place there.

“You know it’s not really on Earth.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Heaven. It’s not on Earth. That was just some crap Belinda Carlisle tried to sell us to make us feel better about the Go-Go’s breaking up.”

For much more Thanos (background and best-ever appearances, by his original creator), please see WARLOCK BY JIM STARLIN COMPLETE COLLECTION S/C.


Buy Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 2: Angela h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Warlock By Jim Starlin Complete Collection s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Jim Starlin.

Following his run on CAPTAIN MARVEL in which he created Thanos, the craggy-chin Titan besotted by Death, this is Starlin’s most significant contribution to comics, and one of those rare, enormously satisfying, self-fulfilling time loops.

Never has butterscotch been so attractive as it is on Adam Warlock’s skin. The colour, I mean. Fans of Bryan Talbot’s ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT will relish the art as much as the introspection and the adversarial role of The Universal Church of Truth with all the ruthless repression, hypocrisy and indoctrination that comes with our own organised religions. So here we go, the cosmic saga:

Warlock is a star traveller with a Soul Gem which sits on his forehead ready to rip out opponents’ life force like a glistening vampire. But it comes with a cost – a burden of guilt – for very early on Adam comes into contact with The Universal Church Of Truth’s handiwork, learns that it’s headed by The Magus, and discovers that this Magus is his future self corrupted and driven insane by his experiences. From that moment on he sees but one course of action: he has to cauterise the future by terminating his own lifeline before it’s too late. And that’s precisely what he achieves when he’s confronted by a bloody, broken version of himself lying in the ruins of some future battle:

“You… So my time has really come.”
“You know why I am here?! Then you must also realise I’ve no desire to do what I must now do!”
“Of course I understand, you idealistic buffoon! Are not you and I one and the same person? My final moments are upon me! I am dying and you have come to steal my soul so that it will never become the foe I defeated those long months ago!”
“Months… I didn’t realise it had happened such a short time ago!”
“Short time?! You fool, it’s been an eternity! During that time, everything I’ve ever cared for or accomplished has fallen into ruin! Everyone I’ve ever loved now lies dead! My life has been a failure! I welcome its end.”

That takes place approximately one-third of the way through. It’s only then that the rough stuff starts happening and Adam has to endure all that was promised until, in a final battle against Thanos alongside Captain Marvel and the Avengers, Adam Warlock falls, and you see precisely the same scene played out in a new perspective.

It is gutting.

A tonne of extras at the back include the “lost” issue of WARLOCK pencilled by Alan Weiss. I don’t know why I use inverted commas because it was indeed well and truly lost, left like some civil servant’s State Secrets in a New York City taxi cab.

Fortunately embellishing artist Steve Leialoha saved photocopies of those pencils and exceedingly beautiful they are too, easily matching the neo-classical figure work of Jim Starlin who himself is at his very pinnacle on these pages, although they really have made a dog’s dinner of “updating” the colouring on this collected edition’s cover.


Look: much cleaner, much fresher, more impact!


Buy Warlock By Jim Starlin Complete Collection s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man vol 5 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez.

Love the cover’s homage to John Romita Sr’s classic interior page in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #50!

The insides are pretty gorgeous too: Justin Ponsor provides some delicate, dappled light under the trees in the college park, while David Marquez’s body language shows everyone still tentative around each other a whole year after the catastrophic events in ULTIMATE COMICS: SPIDER-MAN VOL 4.

My review there is entirely spoiler-free, and this one will be brief in order to ensure that stays so, but the fact that an entire year has passed should give you some indication of its severity. I repeat: I never saw it coming.

Guest stars include Gwen Stacy and Jessica Drew, there’s more surreptitious shenanigans in Roxxon’s Laboratories for the Pathologically Unethical, plus Cloak and Dagger make their first Ultimate appearances and dear god but no one here is allowed a moment’s happiness, are they?

Lastly, strong hints about the future post-CATACLYSM are first laid here.

Miles Morales’ tenure as Spider-Man has been every bit as thrilling as Peter Parker’s – so much happens so fast, and implore to start at this fresh beginning with ULTIMATE COMICS: SPIDER-MAN  VOL 1.


Buy Ultimate Comics Spider-Man vol 5 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Batman And Son s/c repackaged edition (£14-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Andy Kubert, J.H. Williams III, Tony S. Daniel.

Softcover edition of BATMAN: BLACK GLOVE DELUXE h/c which was in fact a collection of Both BATMAN & SON and BLACK GLOVE softcovers. Hahahahaha! *thunk*

In any case, this is the starting point of the Grant Morrison run and is ridiculously good value for money.

Batman learns he may have a son, and a fairly brattish one at that. Raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul, amongst international terrorists, he is of course just another weapon in Talia’s silo, and you wouldn’t normally take a ticking time bomb home with you, would you? It’s not good news for Robin (“He was my rival.”), but it does give Alfred further opportunity for arched eyebrows and the odd bon mot.

Then there are the other two Batmen which Bruce has encountered, with a threat of a third later on in the book, tied somehow to the Black Book which Wayne composed of all the weird stuff he’s encountered that he couldn’t logically explain (see BATMAN: BLACK CASEBOOK) Both so far were cops, one berserk on steroids, and there’s a cover-up in progress.

Kubert’s art is some of the most attractive I’ve seen on this title. In some ways he’s a straightforward superhero artist with enormous panache, and so succeeds here in opening up and reinvigorating the tired and murky proceedings, just as Morrison has done with his flash and brash James Bond approach. This isn’t the “difficult” Morrison some enjoy of SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY or INVISIBLES. It’s just as confident, not at all “lite” and certainly not lacking in surprises as evidenced by part seven set in the future, and that grotesque gothic prelude set in Arkham Asylum. Instead, it’s as slick and clipped as an Ellis script, only slightly more reasonable and with room for a little tenderness.

Together, Grant and Andy created something rather sexy but you wait until J.H. Williams III, the Lord Of Innovative Layouts to rival Neal Adams, comes along for what is essentially an Agatha Christie murder spree set on The Island Of Mister Mayhew. For this Grant resurrects yet more arcane Bat-lore, this time involving “Johnny Foreigner” Batman variants (and possibly deviants) from all over the globe.

It’s creepy, claustrophobic, tense and explosive, JH Williams modulating the atmosphere with art styles and homages galore, as the story of The Black Glove unfolds and we hurtle ever forward towards BATMAN: RIP.


Buy Batman And Son s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Page 45 Tote Bag (£2-99, Page 45) by Mark & Stephen.

Oh, this has come out beautifully – beyond our wildest dreams!

Printed black on calico, and in the richest detail on the sturdiest of soft fabrics, Page 45 presents its 20th Anniversary Tote Bag, a variation on our classic carrier bag design which has long been a fashion statement and status symbol!

It measures 15” across and 16” deep, and I’ve just slipped in forty comics with ease and slung it over my shoulder – nor did it bite into my palm when carried by hand. You could easily fit in another dozen, or a whole bunch of graphic novels.

No one can remember who designed what any longer, though the leaves were definitely Mark’s flourish a few years after we opened. Blown up this large, you can really see the slight bite I couldn’t get rid of at the bottom of the oval, but I rather like it!

The lettering’s been rearranged to form a satisfying composition for these new dimensions, but even I can’t waffle on any longer about something which is basically a bag, so I end with a big tip of the hat to Oversolve for such a pristine print and speedy delivery. Yippee!


Buy Page 45 Tote Bag 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.


Alone Forever (£7-50, Top Shelf) by Liz Prince

Atomic Sheep (£14-99, Markosia) by Sally Jane Thompson

Pachyderme h/c (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Frederik Peeters

Star Wars Origami s/c (£13-00, Workman) by Chris Alexander

Locke & Key vol 6: Alpha & Omega h/c (£22-50, IDW) by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

My Little Pony: Pony Tales vol 2 s/c (£13-50, IDW) by various

Axe Cop vol 5: Axe Cop Gets Married (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Malachai Nicolle & Ethan Nicolle

Sherlock Holmes And The Vampires Of London h/c (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Sylvain Cordurie & Laci, Axel Gonzalbo, Jean-sebastien Rossbach

Mass Effect Foundation vol 1 s/c (£12-99, Dark Horse) by Mac Walters & Tony Parker, Omar Francia

Blade Of The Immortal vol 28: Raining Chaos (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Hiroaki Samura

Dial H vol 2: Exchange s/c (£12-99, DC) by China Mieville & various

JLA vol 4 s/c (£18-99, DC) by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, various & Howard Porter, Mark Pajarillo, Walden Wong, Mark Propst

Superman: Family Adventures vol 2 s/c (£9-99, DC) by Franco Baltazar & Art Baltazar

Flash vol 2: Rogues Revolution s/c (£12-99, DC) by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato & Francis Manapul, Marcus To, Ray McCarthy

The Batman Judge Dredd Collection s/c (£17-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner, Alan Grant & Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Val Semeiks, Cam Kennedy, more

Captain America: Living Legend s/c (£9-99, Marvel) by Andy Diggle & Adi Granov

Infinity h/c (£55-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer, Jason Latour & various

Indestructible Hulk vol 3: S.M.A.S.H. Time (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Matteo Scalera, Kim Jacinto, Mahmud Asrar

Bleach vol 59 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo

Negima! Omnibus 4: vols 10-12 (£14-99, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

Negima! Omnibus 5: vols 13-15 (£14-99, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

Negima! Omnibus 6: vols 16-18 (£14-99, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

Negima! Omnibus 7: vols 19-21 (£14-99, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

Negima! Omnibus 8: vols 22-24 (£14-99, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

Peepo Choo vol 1 (£9-99, Vertical) by Felipe Smith


ITEM! Here’s a reasonable new photo of Page 45: the comedy, young adult and manga sections, anyway. About a tenth of our shop floor. The rest of the graphic novels have been moved around quite dramatically this weekend so that so many more are face-on! If all at disconcerted, please just ask at the counter!

ITEM! Swoonaway New Yorker cover by Tomer Hanuka. The line, light and colour are delicious! Here’s Tomer Hanuka’s website for you to drown in its beauty.

ITEM! More eye-candy: JUST SO HAPPENS coming from Jonathan Cape later this month.

ITEM! SALLY HEATHCOTE, SUFFRAGETTE  by Dr. Mary Talbot & Kate Charlesworth, Dr Bryan Talbot is on its way in May – May 1st to be precise! I’ve read it from cover to cover and it is a belter!

ITEM! Remember all those new creator-owned titles by the likes of Brubaker & Phillips, Gillen & McKelvie and Snyder & Jock announced at the Image Expo this other week? Here’s an interview with Image Publisher Eric Stephenson about the new series, including their covers or at least promo art. Have you notice how much he looks like music god Terry Hall?

ITEM! Craig Conlan’s GHOST CAT’S ABOMINABLE ADVENTURE is a feast of colour. Sunglasses advised.

ITEM! Hourly Comics Day was this Saturday, I think. Creators volunteer to create a comic every hour, on the hour, about that hour. I caught some beauties this year.

Hourly Comics Day 2014 by Dan Berry – scroll down!

Hourly Comics Day 2014 by Rebecca Tobin – scroll down!

Hourly Comics Day 2014 by Sally Jane Thompson – click “next” under each hour!

Hourly Comics Day 2014 by Joe Decie – oh god, I don’t know. Maybe click on the top-left page of the grid, then click on the black space to the right and then click on the next page along and repeat! Worth it, though!

ITEM! The British Comics Awards 2014 is up and running and open for you nominations! You can nominate as many comics and graphic novels as you like and as often as you like, so pop a few in now then more as you discover them! The poor Committee will then have to read every single one. Hahahahahaha!

ITEM! Finally, wouldn’t you just die to star in a full page of Terry Moore’s RACHEL RISING? Well, now you can, but I’m afraid that you’ll have to. Die, that is!

For almost 24 issues young, sweet, innocent Zoe has been murdering the townsfolk in all manner of inventive ways, and now she’ll go for your jugular too.

It’s the Kill me, Zoe, competition!

Here she is on the cover to RACHEL RISING VOL 4: WINTER GRAVES which will arrive shortly and complete the first story arc by taking you right up to and including #24. To avoid having to wait another year for book five you can then launch straight into RACHEL RISING #25 and even pop it on your Page 45 Standing Order so you don’t miss an issue!


See you on the mortuary slab!

– Stephen