Reviews February 2014 week four

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

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