Reviews June 2014 week one

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 – Stephen

Umbral vol 1: Out Of The Shadows s/c (£7-50, Image) by Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten.

Oh, this positively glows – it glows red and purple!

It’s a formidable artist who can slash out choking-smoke nightmares that are both amorphous and fully formed: to be as intangible as a shadow yet as vicious as jagged rows of sharp sharks’ teeth, their eyes and mouths blazing with fire as if furnaces fuel their pitch-black souls.

Basically, I’d run.

But where do you run to when you’re trapped in the Umbral? The only apertures in this other dimension are riddled with skeletal spikes like a giant lamprey’s mouth and risk snapping shut like a Venus Flytrap. The ground could give way any minute. And Rascal is not alone in there.

Fans of PORCELAIN are going to lap this up.

A solar eclipse approaches the kingdom of Fendin. On such an occasion the day dawns twice and then, the songs say, “Shall the dark shadows fall”. The crowds are gathering to see King Petor and Queen Inna wave from the balcony to reassure them that all is well. More specifically they want to see the Mordent – a staff that has survived three rebellions, two wars and dozens of King Petor’s ancestors – grasped by King Petor, safe and sound. Petor is fretting; the more confident, no-nonsense Inna is irritated at the absence of their son.

Their son is Prince Arthir and he… has a date. A date with young orphan Rascal, raised by smugglers and trained by thieves. Oh, it’s not that sort of date, though they are more than a little fond of each other. Rascal is a member of the Thieves’ Guild and she has acquired a vial of the Mist. That will help them steal through the trophy room’s cage and acquire the sacred Oculus, a purple orb whose true purpose has been “lost to time and myth”. But whatever it was that spell-caster Prince Arthur intended to do with the Oculus is rendered irrelevant, for the Oculus is missing and high Redguard Borus lies slaughtered in his own congealing blood. Worse still, the trail of blood looks like it leads to the throne room…

As for what follows, the nimble, quick-thinking and ever resourceful Rascal is in for some mind-melting shocks and a run for her bloody life. She runs full-pelt throughout most of this book through caverns and taverns, trusting few who come near. The Umbral are shape-shifters, you see, and they’ve been here before. Some of them never left.

This is dark fantasy and world-building at its best: power struggles are already in play by the time it kicks off, some of them going back centuries if not millennia. You will learn why magic and religion are illegal, which wars are still raging and the origin of the Umbral themselves; but crucially you are going to have to wait a full six chapters to do so. A series seeking to prove its own cleverness by bludgeoning you with everything immediately and all at once only bogs itself down and can bore early readers to bits. Instead this thunders along at a furious pace giving Rascal little time to take stock. You learn as she learns, and I hope she learns fast because some of those she once trusted are not as they seem.

Old man Dalone has me most intrigued but it’s the one-eyed smuggler called Shayim who makes me laugh, flashing her blade at everyone and everything:

“I will open you up from mouth to moon.”

Ouch. She has a colourful way with words.

John Rauch, Jordan Boyd and Thomas Mauer provide the colours and lettering and the whole package is exquisitely designed. I’m completely in love with the symbol language of spell casting which manifests itself as crimson, purple and yellow speech orbs. Also, wait until you discover the subterranean Mistwalker merged with the rock to guard its treasures. It’s like something out of early Tombraider: you can tell Johnston also writes games.

He’s also a dab hand at dialogue which is both effortlessly entertaining and deliciously free from the sort of portentous claptrap and mystical mumbo jumbo other occult-orientated series bore me with. The Umbral swear like nobody’s business.

Johnston & Mitten are the creative team behind the fast-closing, post-apocalyptic WASTELAND about which Warren Ellis declared, “Mysteries within mysteries and an original mythology to become immersed in”. Antony is also the manipulative mastermind behind spy thriller THE COLDEST CITY whose 50 exclusive Page 45 bookplate editions we sold out of very, very quickly and £7-50 for six issues is an absolute steal.


Buy Umbral vol 1: Out Of The Shadows s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Bunny vs. Monkey Book One: Year One January – June (£6-99, DFB) by Jamie Smart.

“What are these things? Can I eat them?” CHOMP!
“They’re hedgehogs.”
“And no, you can’t.”

Haha! Immaculate comedy timing as ever!

From the creator of FISH HEAD STEVE and abducted from the pages of the weekly PHOENIX comic for kids, watch bewildered beasts Bunny, Monkey, Weenie, Skunky, Pig, Metal Steve, Le Fox and Action Beaver “Eeek!”, “Shriek!”, “Screeeam!”, “Ftung!” and “Whoosh!” their way through two-page parcels of manic mentalism.

Monkey will not tolerate anything vaguely lovely. Woodland bluebells? I don’t think so.

“SHRIEK! Monkey, what are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m lawnmowing these things into oblivion!”
“But they’re beautiful!”
“They’re a virus! They make me feel awkward!”

The sun?

“Nope, it won’t do. This place is becoming disgusting and pretty, and I find it offensive. I’m taking these hedgehogs and I’m going to prang everyone’s bottom with them.”

Like a sugar-stuffed blackcurrant cordial, this is chaos concentrate distilled for mass destruction and maximum disaster with Monkey enlisting Skunky to build ever more insane inventions like Caterpillarzilla consuming every last trace of nature with its nitro-chomp! Action Beaver’s vocabulary consists of solely of sound effects while Weenie the squirrel and Pig the pig have the collective memory of a goldfish.

None of which would work were the cartooning anything short of the most carefully controlled and cleverly conducted insanity. Each element within a panel is just-so: the sound effects are arranged like scores on a sheet of music.

“It was a quiet morning, until…

Even the volume levels are precisely regulated. It’s not as easy as it looks. On the surface it’s a bunch of hyperactive delinquents making Bunny’s love of a quiet life a loud and bombastic nightmare.

Okay, at its heart it’s also a bunch of hyperactive delinquents making Bunny’s love of a quiet life a loud and bombastic nightmare. But chaos needs order to work so well, and bonkers needs logic to thrive.

“It’s lucky I lost the map, or this might be the wrong way!”

Stick that in your sat nav and steer it.

“Oh, I blocked your toilet by the way.”


Buy Bunny vs. Monkey Book One: Year One January – June and read the Page 45 review here

Trees #1 (£2-25, Image) by Warren Ellis & Jason Howard…

“I was there ten years ago when they landed, Del.
“I remember the panic. ‘We’re being invaded by alien spaceships!’
“I remember the fighter jets. I was there for the first flooding when the leg went through downtown.
“I remember days going by before we even found out it’d happened anywhere else.
“Weeks before we found out nukes and biochem inactivate when they go near a tree.
“Months going by, and nobody ever coming out of one or communicating from one.
“I remember years later, when all the Trees became normal. Just things that stand on us.
“You know what I remember best?
“No cop lifting a finger. Fending for ourselves. Building our own infrastructure from debris.”

Somewhat perturbing that this particular speech-maker wants to be mayor of New York, but then why should post-apocalyptic politicians be any less corrupt or criminal minded than their predecessors? Not that we are in a full scale post-apocalyptic scenario, for aliens do indeed seem to have landed, but then done absolutely nothing else. Consequently whilst everything has changed in an instance, people are just getting on with their lives, doing exactly what they were doing before. Humans are a pretty adaptable species, after all. Transplant us from one place to another, either as individuals or en masse and we will start to thrive, working our way into the local ecosystem. Much like plants…




What we have therefore established is a backdrop against which Warren begins to introduce some of the various characters which I presume are going to feature heavily in this series: politicians, scientists, artists, and of course everyday folk. And be assured this invasion, if that really is what it is, is on a global scale. No one knows exactly how many trees there are world-wide, at least that hasn’t been revealed yet, but they are literally everywhere from the Antarctic to the equator, standing solitary in the remotest regions and also piercing the centres of bustling metropolises.

I am quite sure however they aren’t going to stay so passive forever… Just a hunch that, but we do know how Warren likes to build the tension up first, before letting all hell break loose! Very nice art from Jason Howard, not someone I am familiar with, but I would wager he is a fan of Guy Davis.


Buy Trees #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Brass Sun #1 (of 6) (£2-99, Rebellion) by Ian Edginton & I. N. J. Culbard…

“Heed not the dissenter! Be not lured from the winding way by their wild abstractions!
“Stay constant!
“Stay steadfast!”

No, not Stan Lee proselytising on avoiding non-superhero comics at all costs, but the followers of The Cog extolling the virtues of being vigilant against the temptations of believing in The Watchmaker. And as the Archimandrite himself is behoved to exhort upon hearing Speaker Eusabius mention such a blasphemous term…

“Speak not that name in these halls! The Cog is, was and always shall be! The Cog was not created by a charlatan prophet! The Cog is creation!”

Maybe, maybe not. It would seem to be a question of faith, misplaced or otherwise… Me, I can’t say I’m a true believer, no matter how hard Stan preaches, but what cannot be disputed is The Cog itself is very real indeed, as yet another epic astronomical introductory sequence by Culbard makes clear. It really is becoming quite the trademark. The world Edginton has created, of a technologically devolving society, living on what seems to be a planet somehow mounted on an impossibly complex mechanical structure bearing, I should add, more than a passing resemblance to watch parts (waiting tensely for divine bolt of lightning to sizzle my private parts), is equally grandiose in concept, magnificently so in fact, both in scope and design. Design… hmm…

The populace at large, though, are almost singularly unaware of their situation. Those who think they know the truth, far fewer in number than the hoi polloi, but of course who have control, are doing their best to avoid dealing with the fact that their world is gradually, year on year, getting colder, with summers shortening and the winters becoming ever more harsh. Almost as though a watch were winding down (air positively crackling now!)…

The one person who does seemingly know the real truth, or at least considerably more than anyone else, a former high official of the church of The Cog, is about to commit a very elaborate form of suicide, both to save his granddaughter from the authorities and also to attempt to absolve himself for a frankly irredeemable sin. That this act will enable his granddaughter to undertake a revelatory journey, both for her and by extension us, is also part of his intentions. Without wishing to spoil anything, it’s perhaps suffice to say The Watchmaker, well, it might not be an entirely abstract concept. But then worlds don’t just make themselves? Or do they?

What a brilliant opening issue. I’m hooked, and if Rebellion are planning on further titles that can match this quality, because frankly both the writing and the art are brilliant, the two Ians have truly done a sterling job here, then we could be looking at an excellent new monthly publishing imprint for this type of material. It is apparent publishers like Rebellion, Titan and Dark Horse have looked at the success of Image over the last few years and are beginning to try and emulate it. Rebellion are off to a great start with this mini-series.


Buy Brass Sun #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Ordinary #1 of 3 (£2-99, Titan) by Rob Williams & D’Israeli.

“You let people down. It’s… who you are.”

Drawn with such energy and coloured to sunshine perfection, I came away laughing, “What the serious fuck?!”

Truly, we are on the road to random. Utterly bananas.

Michael is a muppet. A divorced plumber with a son in school… somewhere… he is perpetually late, increasingly broke, in debt to some thugs and in spite of a widow’s peak of raggedy, receding hair he dreams of his chances with actress Scarlett Johansson.

Today he is late assisting his mate with an octogenarian’s crapper. The assistance in question is taking on the old biddy’s verbal incontinence while Brian finally gets down to the plunging. On his way he encounters said thugs and in the middle of “negotiations” a plane breaks down. Well, its engine goes boom. Then everything starts to change.

Well, every one. I don’t want to spoil the surprises but even the taxi driver appears to have experienced an epiphany of sorts – calmness, satori, enlightenment. If he was in London, he might even drive south of the Thames.

Everyone except Michael, that is, who is freaking the fuck out and I seriously can’t blame him.

I have absolutely no idea where this is going, but I suspect it will be another waterslide ride like Grant Morrison & Richard Case’s DOOM PATROL: totally mental but you cannot stop and sure can’t get off so you might as well sit back and adore the insane trajectory.

D’Israeli delivers on the sweaty, weeping desperation department swiftly followed by the stooped head and sunken shoulders of a broken man.

Also: lovely, subtle foreshadowing of strange things to come in the form of a kid’s golden aeroplane.

Here, have an interview:


Buy Ordinary #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Moomin And The Golden Tail (£6-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Tove Jansson.

“It’s been worrying me for days. Yes! It is getting thinner! What will Snork Maiden say if it goes bald?”

He’s taking about his tail.

It is a worry, isn’t it, male pattern baldness? Some find it so stressful that their hair falls out.

Moomintroll’s so embarrassed and upset that he’s taken to bed and is cowering under the blankets. Hilarious cartooning! Still, the family physician is at hand with a stethoscope.

“Breathe! Stop breathing!”
“But there’s nothing wrong with my tummy… It’s my tail.”
“Oh that… that’s only symptomatic.”
“Good heavens, don’t let my tail go symptomatic…”

Moomintroll’s prodded and poked and X-Rayed and “observed” until Moominmamma’s had enough. She’s really quite cross.

“Now I’m getting tired of all these cryptic specialists. I’ll cure the boy myself. Ah! Here it is! Grandma’s recipe for a magic potion…”
“Mamma, where are you going?
“Back to the Middle Ages.”

Against all expectations the spell works like a dream, hence the title. The repercussions, however, are enormous.

Tove Jansson was ahead of her time on so many issues like ecological disaster so MOOMIN hasn’t dated one jot, and this in particular is as pertinent as ever. In for some merry mockery over 50 full-colour pages are: fame, hair loss tonics, quacks of all kinds, tabloid journalism and its lies, lies, lies; fan mail, flattery and the follies of fashion; opportunistic merchandising, tyrannical management and interminable, deliberately protracted lawsuits than make only the lawyers any money. Worst of all – oh dear God – the most excruciating endurance tests ever conceived… the dreaded cocktail party!


Buy Moomin And The Golden Tail and read the Page 45 review here

Glacial Period h/c (£16-99, NBM) by Nicolas De Crécy.

The first and finest of the Comics Lit / Louvre collaborations returns in a much classier, album-size hardcover on matt cream paper which really shows off the winter colours. There’s a constant chill in the air and some of the skies are phenomenal.

Highly edifying as well as hilarious, the book follows an expedition consisting of one woman, some talking dogs and several men rife with rivalries as they explore the frozen wastes of the future before a giant structure which used to be the Louvre in Paris erupts through the ice and draws them down into its long-lost corridors.

Struggling to make sense of their discoveries, they get it all wrong. It seems we’ve lost more than our history – we’ve hit another dark age of art:

“How is it done? It’s flat, yet you sense the depths. It’s an avalanche. You can imagine its breath.”
“It’s a coded message, or a simple representation of their lives.”
“Yes, it’s a message meant for us. They knew they were doomed, hemmed in by the cold, and, since they didn’t know how to write, they drew like children.”

Yeah, well that particular painting was Louis Hersent’s “The Monks of Saint Gothard” so nul points for accuracy there.

Other blunders include mistaking the ecumenical for the erotic, the pagan for the pornographic, and a mythical satyr for a real-life genetic anomaly. In fact they mistake all these individual exhibits for a single historical narrative – a graphic novel, if you will. Brilliant!


Buy Glacial Period h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Black Science vol 1: How To Fall Forever s/c (£7-50, Image) by Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera, Dean White…

“Sequestered in my lab… there was a beauty in the self-imposed loneliness.
“And when it was too much there was Rebecca.
“Wedding vows… more rules I wouldn’t follow.
“Built my anarchist league of scientists on reason and empiricism.
“No tolerance for blind obedience, financial motivation, ego, or politicking for station.
“Built on one rule… there is no authority but yourself.
“After a lifetime of powerlessness and insecurity, opposition to authority forced me to have faith in myself.
“To trust my own judgement… to prove, motivated solely by the fire within… a self-educated main could master the laws of the universe.
“To prove that there is only one type of person capable of breaking down such barriers…
“…an anarchist.”

Rick ‘The Mindbender’ Remender unleashes the unfettered power of his weird imagination upon us in this surrealist science fiction adventure. I do like Rick’s work, really enjoyed his sci-fi-esque take on UNCANNY X-FORCE and semi-quasi sequel UNCANNY AVENGERS, which, I think, is on the verge of concluding. He takes no prisoners when it comes to comprehension – you of him, that is – which has possibly reduced his readership numbers on the Marvel front, vol 2 onwards of UNCANNY AVENGERS (when it really gets going properly) being too self-referentially complex and convoluted for some, for example, but it has certainly bolstered his core fanbase who like the cut of his jib. The man can write a damn good yarn.

Now, on Image, casting the capes and tights aside in exchange for spacesuits and blasters, he’s commenced what instantly has the feel of a pulp classic of the genre. Drama, humour, mortal peril and crazy technology, it’s a nice blend of ridiculous which blasts into life right from the first page. Grant McKay, leader of the Anarchistic League of Scientists, who let’s be honest, sound like a complete bunch of nutters straightaway, has had a slight, if unsurprising, accident with his bleeding edge Black Science technology. Cast adrift in the endless realms of the Eververse, amidst alien worlds so weird it makes your head hurt – giant toads, that’s all I’m saying – can he lead his team home? This title feels like it is in part inspired by the classic Weird Science and Weird Fantasy comics, whether they are something Rick has an affection for, I have absolutely no idea. I am pretty sure he is having great fun writing this, though, that is gleefully apparent.

With Matteo Scalera on art duties, a man who rivals Sean Murphy for drawing the most pointed proboscises in all of comicdom, there are myriad panels I would swear Murphy had drawn if I didn’t know otherwise, and a cerise and cyan-tinged colour palette which will seem not entirely unfamiliar to UNCANNY X-FORCE and UNCANNY AVENGERS readers – something I am starting to wonder if Remender has some serious input on, actually – this helps give the book a gritty, stylish retro-modern look.


Buy Black Science vol 1: How To Fall Forever s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Sledgehammer 44 vol 1 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Jason Latour, Laurence Campbell, Mike Mignola…

“Jeez, was this trip necessary? I mean, what’s so damn important in that armoury, anyway? And where’s our air support?”
“For Pete’s sake, Redding! Weren’t you even listening at the briefing? Tonight we’re the support!”

Indeed they are, not that the titular Sledgehammer needs support or even a warm up act. Well, maybe he does, actually… The grunts on the ground think Sledgehammer is a man encased in armour, which in a sense he is, but in other very important ways he most certainly is not. There are supernatural forces at work, precisely as we would expect in a story set in the HELLBOY universe penned by Mignola. I mainly read this to see whether it was required material for HELLBOY / BPRD readers, or whether it was a spin-off.

It is the latter, but it is excellent. It does feature Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and Doctor Gallaragas, whom I presume is Professor Gallaragas’ daughter, inventor of the V.E.S. (Vril Energy Suit) as seen in LOBSTER JOHNSON VOL 1: THE IRON PROMETHEUS. Time and technology has moved on since then, so I am sure you can join the dots for yourself as to what power source the allies might be using for Sledgehammer.

As I say, you don’t have to read this as it doesn’t tie-in in any way with current events in HELLBOY IN HELL VOL 1 or BPRD: HELL ON EARTH, but if you like all the various character spin-offs such as the LOBSTER JOHNSON material or, like me, in particular the BPRD: 1946, 1947 and 1948 arcs featuring Professor Bruttenholm, I think you will really enjoy it. Also, the supernatural Super-Nazi with the highest and hottest hairdo on the battlefield, the Black Flame, returns… Art from occasional BPRD contributors, so in keeping with that title’s typical rough and ready style.


Buy Sledgehammer 44 vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Miracleman Book vol 1: A Dream Of Flying h/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Alan Moore, Mich Anglo & Gary Leach, Alan Davis, Don Lawrence, Steve Dillon, Paul Neary…

“I’m Miracleman… I’m back!!”

Indeed. I really can’t be bothered to get into the whole ‘original writer’ shtick. It’s Uncle Alan Moore, for the one person in all of comicdom who doesn’t know. The first part was originally published in March 1982, in the very same issue of Warrior as the first part of V FOR VENDETTA, so Moore was already into his full creative flow and this was around the time he also was doing a fair few futureshocks for 2000AD (prior to THE BALLAD OF HALO JONES in 1984) and also some pretty seminal, and frankly pretty out there for the time, CAPTAIN BRITAIN stuff for Marvel UK with Alan Davis.

Re-reading this material for the first time in a good few years, as indeed whenever I re-read V FOR VENDETTA, you can easily forget what an expansive yet eloquent writer Alan was at the time. I’m not saying he isn’t now, but it’s hard to get away with being so verbose, so wordily dense, in comics, yet here, as with much of his SWAMP THING run, he carries it off easily. It’s almost comics with an overtone of narrative prose in places. Perfect for setting the scene, or unsettling the reader… for whilst your eyes are telling you one thing with the artwork, Alan is in fact implanting something into your subconscious that is slightly different, a little deeper, and also darker with the narration.

In fact, this material does indeed have a mild flavour of horror to it, but that may also be with me knowing where the story is eventually going… Yes, it’s superheroes, but there’s an definite edge to it which is just as equally apparent as compared to the more overtly political V FOR VENDETTA. I do remember, though, when I first read the whole run, including the subsequent Neil Gaiman material, wondering if Alan had a clear idea of precisely what, if anything, he wanted to achieve in a wider sense with MIRACLEMAN when he started. Maybe he did have something in mind, though maybe he had more than enough going on in that respect with V FOR VENDETTA. I’m intrigued to see if I have that same sense this time around. Lovely art from Garry Leach too. Not sure why he didn’t go on to do a lot, lot more in comics. I have a strange recollection he did at least draw one issue of GLOBAL FREQUENCY.

Do you need to read this? Should you read this? The answer for me is definitely so. It is a seminal work in many ways, which clearly influenced much of what was to shortly follow in the rapidly darkening superhero genre (remember, Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN weren’t until 1986) but also in a wider comics sense. Superhero comics have often been, are, at their most interesting with heroes who are fundamentally flawed, riddled with doubts and insecurities and, most of all, that unforgiveable cardinal sin in the superhero credo, vulnerable instead of just plain, well, invulnerable. Yes, there were comics before this one that did that, but this work in my eyes does represent something of a turning point, however small, for the genre in and of itself. Anyway, read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Contains the first four recent reprints and a wealth of extra back-up material including scans of original art, preliminary roughs, WARRIOR covers, house ads, more.


Buy Miracleman Book vol 1: A Dream Of Flying h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Marvel Boy s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Grant Morrison & J. G. Jones.

Matrix action half-baked with INVISIBLES meta-language to produce the ultimate in contra mundum, as a young alien with a ferocious line in diplomacy finds himself shot out of the skies by a technology thief calling himself Midas.

The assault kills all Noh-varr’s colleagues, leaving him alone to escape torture and dish out the global reprisals, carving “FUCK YOU” in sky-scraper-sized letters and then take on Hex, a living corporation, all of which he performs in his cycling shorts.

Here comes the language:

“He’s seething with submicrotech! His body fluids are nanoactive! Xenohazard alert!”

With slick and sexy balletic art from J. G. Jones of Mark Millar’s WANTED etc., this completely self-contained series was the very first appearance of YOUNG AVENGERS’ Noh-Varr.


Buy Marvel Boy s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Cataclysm Ultimates Last Stand h/c (£37-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley, various.

Some sources said this was to be the death knell of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. I wasn’t sure whether I should be pinching salt or tickling its ribs, but it was far from improbable given that interest in the various series outside of Miles Morales’ had plummeted.

And in some ways it was its death knell because – once more outside the subsequent Miles Morales relaunch which came with quite the cliffhanger – there is now zero interest in any of the abominable titles that lamentably limped from this wreckage.

Following events during the AGE OF ULTRON, a hole has been torn in the time-space thingummybob and globe-gobbling Galactus has found his way through to a brand-new dinner table: the Ultimate Universe. It is woefully unprepared, and not just in the crockery department.

This invulnerable grim reaper, so vast he makes Manhattan look like Legoland, has made it to Earth and trampled the whole of New Jersey to dust. Nothing the Ultimates have found to throw at it has even raised its eyebrow. In the regular Marvel Universe only Reed Richards successfully managed to stave off the ravenous appetite of this world eater, but the Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe has chosen the distinctly different career path of monomaniacal would-be world tyrant.

What’s to do? as Victoria Wood might say.

Bagley’s interior art delivered the sense of scale which this cover does not while Bendis fell relatively silent for the initial onslaught, letting the action rip across the page right from the start, but since this includes every single mini-series which attended and even preceded the event (like HUNGER), the rest is a very mixed bag.

Among the 20 issues here is the prologue which smoothly and succinctly explained everything you needed to know about the situation as it stood, regardless of whether you’d picked up AGE OF ULTRON or indeed a single Ultimate comic before, whilst delivery an affecting tale of love understood just in time to be too late.


Buy Cataclysm Ultimates Last Stand 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.


Hellblazer vol 8: Rake At The Gates Of Hell (£14-99, DC) by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon, William Simpson, Peter Snejbjerg

Von Doogan And The Curse Of The Golden Monkey (£6-99, DFC) by Lorenzo Etherington

Adventure Time Eye Candy vol 1 h/c (£14-99, Titan Comics) by various

Adventure Time vol 3 Mathematical Edition h/c (£14-99, Titan Comics) by various

Afterlife With Archie vol 1: Escape From Riverdale (£13-50, Archie Comics) by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla

Jonathan Starlight (£2-99, ) by Ethan Wilderspin

Morning Glories vol 7 (£9-99, Image) by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma

Star Wars Ongoing vol 2: From The Ruins Of Alderaan (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly, Alex Ross

Mass Effect: Foundation vol 2 s/c (£12-99, Dark Horse) by Mac Walters & various

Toshiro s/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Jai Nitz & Janusz Pawlak

Batman And Robin vol 3: Death Of The Family s/c (£10-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi, Scott Snyder & Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Gerg Capullo

Batman And Robin vol 4: Requiem For Damian h/c (£18-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason

Before Watchmen – Minutemen / Silk Spectre s/c (£14-99, DC) by Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner

Stormwatch vol 2 s/c (£14-99, DC) by Warren Ellis & Tom Raney, Bryan Hitch, various

Swamp Thing vol 4: Seeder s/c (£12-99, DC) by Charles Soule & Kano, Jesus Saiz, Alvaro Lopez, David Lapham

Uncanny Avengers vol 3 (UK Edition) s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & Steve McNiven, Daniel Acuna

Attack On Titan Colossal Edition vol 1 (£42-99, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama


Nottingham Independent Business Award

Voting has begun in the first stage of the Nottingham Independent Business Award 2014 and only the ten most popular businesses will get through to be secretly shopped and assessed by the judges!

Thanks to your votes not only did Page 45 get through in 2012 and 2013 but we won both years! Yippee! Here on page 3 is silly old me, Stephen L. Holland extolling the virtues of Independent Retail in the Nottingham Independent Newspaper June 2014.

Please, please vote! You don’t have to be local – that’s half the point – a Nottingham business that generates tourism!

Here’s how:

1. Tweet @itsinnottingham with “I vote for Page 45” or something similar.

2. Comment “I vote for Page 45” on the It’s In Nottingham Facebook page I’m sure you can elaborate if you want to!

3. Fill in voting cards at Page 45 itself by Thursday 19th June.

4. Email with (you’ll never guess) “I vote for Page 45”!

This may sound greedy, but I very much want the hat-trick on the year of our 20th Anniversary after which I promise to leave you in relative peace.

Your votes won’t guarantee Page 45 wins by any stretch of the imagination – after that it’s up to us to provide the level of personal customer service you’re used to and dazzle the judges with our effortless wit and charm (ruh-roh!).

Big love to Diane, Judi et al at Gemini PR & Marketing for all their kindnesses over the last two years. Splashes like that lovely page 3 are invaluable in helping us reach a wider public and introduce it to the comics and graphic novels we all adore!


– Stephen x

Your regular ITEM!s will return next week. Linking some up as we speak!

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