Reviews June 2014 week three

Alison phones her mother in the desperate but vain hope of finally hearing some words of approbation, and then her mother talks at her about her own current focus of interest while Alison just sits there, recording and acting as little more than punctuation marks in her mother’s self-absorbed discourse.

 – Stephen on Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? finally in stock as a s/c.

Not unrelated: we finally review Neil Gaiman’s Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

The Summer Of Blake Sinclair vol 1 (£12-55, Zetabella) by Sarah Burgess.

 

Perfect in pale peach and lemon yellows, the pages here glow like a summer sunrise or a glass of Bellini with the early evening light pouring through it. They are as tangy as a citrus fool with bits of lemon peel left in.

A fool of the love-rat variety is what Blake Sinclair first appears to be.

He’s up bright and early and cheerful as anything, prising open the bedroom window to soak up the sunshine and leap barefoot into the day. He’s young and dashing in a gangly, tousled-hair kind of a way and, oh, how he loves the ladies. Unfortunately he has just left one behind back in said bedroom whose window he’s now clambering back through. Daisy is just waking up, punctuating her sweet-smiling words with love hearts.

 

It’s a brilliant Blake and Burgess moment of which there will be many more. Blake isn’t in love with himself and doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body but he is completely open and honest, by which I mean blunt and careless and more than a little inconsiderate. You don’t go on and on about how fab your ex is in front of the girl with a big crush on you. (That isn’t Daisy, by the way; that’s Janey and Ruthie, respectively.) Especially not when your ex is heading back into town and you’re virtually hyperventilating with glee. It’s really not at all fair on Ruthie.

Oh, but is that what’s really happening? We shall see, we shall see… I promised more brilliant Blake and Burgess moments, and I swear Sarah won’t let you down.

Each chapter title falls in with the theme like ‘bright light summer days’ and there is so much space – more space perhaps than in any comic I have ever read. The forms are all as lithe as you like, the clothes and bed sheets hanging off them with a perfectly judged weight depending on texture, while quite often the panels are free-floating and borderless. Every single page is composed with perfect balance and there is a visual Unity to this graphic novel that is positively Greek.

There will be drama and laughter and maybe a few tears; hellos and good-byes and the occasion awkward introduction. There will be shared enthusiasm and gossip as well, and I love how the gaggle of friends venting their “tut-tuts” on the very first morning are only partly overheard – partly because half of their sentences are lost outside the word balloons. It’s clever like that.

SLH

Buy The Summer Of Blake Sinclair vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Cat Person (£13-99, Koyama Press) by Seo Kim.

Recognition Factor Fifty!

Short, observational comedies can be so hit and miss, but this one ticks every single box.

First comes the cat with the never-ending Territorial Armchair Wars between the feline and the feckless (but what can you do?); those incessant “I’m being starved to death” yowls when the biscuit bowl is full, you add three more biscuits and – whooomf – instant munch mania until they’re all gone; that bizarre, talking-to-itself, speaking-in-tongues “mraaoowwwaaaoohl” coming from the other room only to discover it’s OD-ed on catnip and you’ve got a seriously monged-up moggie on your hands.

Don’t own a cat? Bet you own a mobile phone and “Oh my god I’ve left it at home there’ll be so many missed calls most of them vital and people will think that I’m dead or I’m rude or I hate them and — ” Oh.

E-mail procrastination? I’m probably worse: sometimes I daren’t even look, let alone reply.

Then there’s true tragedy: the loss of that tasty treat you’ve been longing for to ten minutes’ terminal distraction and the malicious, capricious God Of All Things Burnt Beyond Recognition. Oh, the walk of shame as I open the kitchen door with my diseased dinner and dump it in the bin. Sometimes at 2am.

There are also precise, scientific studies here akin to Professor Lizz Lunney’s in which Science Officer Seo compares humans to cats and comes to a startling conclusion which could change all that we know about nature. The final panel of ‘Humans And Cats Are The Same’ basically is LizzLizz through and through. Infer from that what you will.

The majority of this is in full colour, by the way, and I love the cartooning which is energetic, wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked and fun, fun, fun. The body language is brilliant, the tears all too real, the sheer I-probably-shouldn’t-do-this triumph of desire over moderation and all common sense is both familiar and messy. She even tries to have words with herself which turns into an argument and finally a fist-flying punch-up.

Time management is possibly the most recurrent confession here: specifically Seo Kim’s complete failure to go to bed and so salvage the following day which is inevitably lost to a late start, early dithering, then more social media than strictly necessary until “Oh my god it’s five to five already and I have written bugger all!”

I have absolutely no idea what she means.

SLH

Buy Cat Person and read the Page 45 review here

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane s/c (£10-99, Harper Collins) by Neil Gaiman.

“Oh, sweety-weety-pudding-and-pie, you are in so much trouble.”

There was an ocean at the end of the lane.

Or, to be more precise, there was a pond behind a farm at the end of the lane which eleven-year-old Lettie Hempstock declared was an ocean but it looked just like a pond, to be honest. And Lettie Hempstock looked just like an eleven-year-old.

It’s funny what you forget until something jogs your memory: even Important Stuff can grow cloudy, opaque, or vanish from sight altogether. Sometimes it takes a smell or a sound – and especially a song – but in this case it takes a subconscious detour during a drive that leads the adult narrator to the ocean at the farm at the end of the lane of the house which he grew up in.

This was when he was seven; after the kitten he was given as a birthday present was run over during the arrival of the family’s new lodger a mere month later; after their car was discovered at the end of that lane with something deeply unpleasant inside it.

That was when the narrator first met the Hempstocks: young Lettie, Mrs Hempstock, and Old Mrs Hempstock who lived on the farm, milked the cows and made tasty and traditional meals like porridge and shepherd’s pie and spotted dick with the creamiest custard. For breakfast his father burned toast.

But there was something odd about the pond, something other about Hempstocks,and soon there was something very wrong within the young lad’s family.

It’s funny what you forget. Now it’s all come flooding back.

I’m a very slow reader; I never learned how to speed-read nor would I care to, and when the hardcover appeared there were so many graphic novels coming out which demanded and deserved our attention that I couldn’t find time to read prose. My loss: this is magical.

The novel is set both when and indeed where I grew up: during the late sixties, at a farm at the end of a lane with my mother and grandparents. I used to love mucking out the shippens. I had a child’s fascination with cowpats, their textures etc. A midden is where the slurry ends up and my uncle fell in once, eww.

It’s all here: the early morning milking, creaming off the top, the silver-gleaming milk churns hoisted onto a raised platform at the right height to be collected later by lorries.

There’s much more besides if you didn’t grow up on a farm: pre-decimalisation calculation (always with reference to how many sweet chews you could buy); successfully picking out verrucas with the point of a metal compass when all modern medicine had failed; being scared of eating meals outside your own home in case you didn’t like and yet had to eat them; secret ways in and out of your garden which adults wouldn’t even know about; failing to be the sporty son your father actually wanted; younger siblings who got to watch the telly they wanted (or didn’t even, particularly) at your expense.

I’m just picking out the bits I recognised while subconsciously, I’m sure, ignoring that which I didn’t. You’ll have a different list of your own: night terrors, car smells, comics brought home by your Dad.

All these familiar elements are either set out as standard or woven into a new context as Gaiman gradually glides the everyday into the other whilst retaining the recognisable characteristics of a child’s cognitive process: what would seem odd and what wouldn’t.

I have given far less away than the dustjacket, but then I’ve only just read the dustjacket sleeve. I went in knowing nothing and I recommend you do the same. It’s not as if Neil needs prove himself now: you either trust him or you don’t.

The one thing I would say is this: your home is or should be your castle. Even if you’re not the queen or king of your castle as an adult aspires to be, it is still where you feel safest. It is your home territory, both familiar and comforting, and there can never be anywhere you should feel more secure than in the loving arms of your mother or father.

So imagine if it wasn’t.

SLH

Buy The Ocean At The End Of The Lane s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The United States Of Murder Inc #2 (£2-99, Icon/Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming.

Years ago:

“Right on time.”
“Jimmy, you really gonna act like this ain’t no big deal?”
“It ain’t. What they hell’s the matter with you? We’ve done this shit fifty times.”
“You really don’t think this is any different?”
“No. It is what it is. One guy fucked up. Another guy pays us to take care of said fuckup. The end.”

The beginning.

You wait until you see who you’re looking at through the rifle sights.

Rarely does Page 45 review second issues of comics let alone the 373rd. We know your time is precious so we wait until the book comes out. But this cannot wait. This new series is so cracking and – in a crammed and competitive market – we believe more of you would love to know.

From the creative team who brought you POWERS comes something equally dark but completely free from capes. In a power struggle between some very dangerous men it is so, so tense. I recommend it to readers of CRIMINAL as well.

The mafia were never subdued in America. Instead a considerable portion of the country was conceded to them to rule semi-surreptitiously and with impunity.

In THE UNITED STATES OF MURDER INC #1 Valentine was sworn in as a made man long before his years of service would generally merit it. But his father – and his father’s father before him – was of such stock that he was effectively fast-tracked. And Valentine is equally committed to the family.

His first duty was to deliver a message to a Senator in Washington DC. The message was in the form of a briefcase and, however cryptic to others, would speak for itself. Valentine asked for his cousin to accompany him. Reluctantly that was agreed. He didn’t ask for Jagger Rose to accompany him but she was persuasive, effective, so reluctantly he agreed.

The message was delivered. Another was sent in its place: the detonation of a bomb. Nobody knows what it means. Or at least, no one will admit to knowing or being its messenger.

Now, at the most critical moment possible, someone has delivered yet another message to Valentine, pulling the rug from under his feet, in the form of a revelation so shocking it threatens everyone and every thing in a series which has only just begun.

The hunt for the truth behind the bomb blast is on and it’s a race against time because Valentine and Jagger Rose – although caught in its path – are the most obvious prime suspects.

Who do you trust? I don’t have a clue.

This is the sort of thing that terrifies me: straying too close to the struggles for power within the likes of the Mafia or the IRA or even the CIA. People with power and way beyond accountability who can use you and abuse you and demand your submission.

Oeming and Soma have delivered something dark, stark, brooding and sweaty: claustrophobic and unsettlingly lit. The colours are occasionally venomous – I’m thinking the intrusion of Valentine’s Ma on her son and Jagger Rose – while the first page’s flashback was just a wee bit Gilbert or Jaime Hernandez. Lots and lots of silhouettes. Quite a lot of crimson.

SLH

Buy The United States Of Murder Inc #2 and read the Page 45 review here

New Lone Wolf & Cub vol 1 (£10-50, Dark Horse) by Kazuo Koike & Hideki Mori.

“This was Daigoro, the son of the Wolf, with countless slaughters burned into his eyes, he who had led numberless warriors to call him the child with shishogan – the eyes of life and death.
“Who could possibly raise such a child?”

The classic samurai series set in feudal Japan, LONE WOLF & CUB originally ran for 142 chapters from 1970-1976. It had a startling beginning and a dramatic, most emphatic end. Moreover with the death of its original artist, Goseki Kojima, in 2000 we never dared imagine the story would continue.

You’ll find the first LONE WOLF & CUB omnibus reviewed in detail (and examined at the back of this book), but in summary: Ogami Itto, the titular Lone Wolf and the shogunate’s official executioner, is betrayed by the leader of the shogunate’s political assassins, Yagyu Retsudo, in a bid to consolidate his own power base; not only is false evidence planted that Itto was set to betray the regime but his pregnant wife is murdered during labour, his newborn son Daigoro found by Ogami lying by her side, umbilical cord still uncut.

What follows is a long, arduous and meandering road to revenge, Ogami carting his son around the countryside and building his war chest by taking on assignments between the twin distractions of hypocrisy and injustice he encounters along the way and fending of further attacks by those sent by Yagyu Retsudo to silence him.

I now present you with a single paragraph of SPOILERS if you would prefer to read the original series. It climaxed in a final duel between the two adversaries after which only young Daigoro was left standing, above his father’s dead body. And it is here that the series is rejoined with time taken to evoke and respect the boy’s perspective and acknowledge the implications of anything that now happens to either of those two corpses. I would expect no less of Koike – this was ever the thoughtful series – but I can assure you that slicing and dicing will follow.

In the back Koike – ever a man of honour – goes to great lengths to pay proper tribute to his friend, original artist and co-creator of LONE WOLF & CUB, Goseki Kojima, before recalling the incredulity with which he first laid eyes upon art from Hideki Mori which suggested to Kojima that the story could be continued worthily.

Soaking in these new pages, you could almost imagine that this was Kojima himself, honing his craft further still, so well has Mori studied him. Some of the finer and more precise landscape detail may have been sacrificed, but the sun blasting through clouds that resemble billowing, black smoke is monumentally effective and the waves close to shore are thrilling. Certainly at this size a thicker line is a lot kinder on the eye, while some of the silhouettes and facial close-ups with their moulding strike more embellished notes of Ikegami or even CONAN and HULK artist Ernie Chan. Which has just aged me.

SLH

Buy New Lone Wolf & Cub vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama s/c (£11-99, Mariner) by Alison Bechdel.

Softcover edition! Obviously the hardcover adorned the top of our blog when originally released but I worried that you might have stopped reading if you’d heard this before.

“I told the clerk at the bookstore my daughter has a book coming out. She asked what it was about, and I said, “Me!” She said she could get me into a witness protection programme.”

Bechdel’s last book, FUN HOME, was my favourite graphic novel of 2006. It’s a literary, autobiographical work about an early Obsessive Compulsive Disorder regarding the truth in Bechdel’s childhood diaries, her deceased father’s predisposition towards artifice, and her relationship with her father who was secretly gay. Not the best idea, having secrets when your daughter is compelled towards truth. Her mother – still very much alive and with some justification – took exception to the private being made public: the exposure of their family life to her friends and neighbours. They didn’t have a tempestuous falling out, but the disapproval was there and was voiced.

So, um, guess what this one’s about?

Yup, in her quest to get to heart of all matters – and matters of the heart – Bechdel pursues the truth about her relationship with her mother, the underlying causes behind it and the effect it’s had upon Alison’s self-esteem and love life, this time with the aid of psychoanalysts’ therapy. Extraordinarily, she does so in the full knowledge of her mum who is given access to Bechdel’s script in time to comment on it. On that level, at least, I think Ma Bechdel is as forgiving as a saint.

Dr. Mary Talbot, expert in Critical Discourse Analysis and author of DOTTER OF HER FATHER’S EYES (about two daughters’ relationships with their fathers) and now SALLY HEATHCOTE, SUFFRAGETTE, had plenty to say but summed one aspect of the book up beautifully with the word “reflexive”. It really is, and all the more fascinating for it. That it was ever completed at all, given its method of construction, let alone organised with such clarity and precision is a major miracle of creative instinct and discipline.

“Of course, the point at which I began to write the story is not the same as the point at which the story begins.” At the very least!

Visually it’s far more exhilarating than FUN HOME, for Bechdel’s loosened up on the layouts and lines, replacing the swimming-pool blues and greens with a rich, warmer plum, kicking off each chapter with a single image which bleeds right to the edge opposite a full page of said pleasurable plum, and concluding with a double-page spread with a thick frame of black. And, speaking of discipline, I cannot convey in strong enough terms my respect and appreciation for the trouble Alison has taken to reproduce by hand every map, photo, newspaper clipping and prose quotation rather than throw lazy, incongruous and therefore distracting photocopies at us which would have obliterated my immersion in the work.

Those opening sequences, by the way, are each one of them dreams which Alison and her analyst then proceed to interpret as part of their investigative process which also incorporates childhood, teenage and more recent memories and Bechdel’s own research into the infant-based, analytical works of Donald Winnicott and co. And this, I suspect, is where most British critics’ heckles will rise so uncontrollably that they’ll mistarget their ire, disappointment or disdain. As a stiff-lipped nation we have a low tolerance for psychotherapy, dream analysis and the numerology claptrap so enamoured or even obsessed over by our transatlantic cousins. I know I do. But I wince with worry that readers will take exception to the book, which is brilliant, purely because they have issues with Alison’s issues. If I shook my head at some of the conclusions drawn from, say, Alison’s third eye in one dream being hit by a stick, there were other instances, like the anxiety nightmare of a timorous growth on her cheek, which struck home; plus I still found the surrounding jigsaw puzzle pieced together over the course of the book to be both fascinating and valid, never mind the wider issues of parenting and childhood.

Both Bechdels are fiercely intelligent and culturally versed women, passionate about books and art. However, instead of sharing their opinions in a conversation mutually appreciative of each others’ learning, Bechdel’s mother is instead given to pronounce while Alison’s predisposition is to rankle. It’s produced a certain degree of rivalry which also rears its head as professional jealousy whenever Bechdel hears of the success of others who make a successful career out of being a feminist – and more specifically lesbian – writer or artist. For, let us be clear, Alison Bechdel is very much a ‘lesbian’ comicbook creator. I’d never define someone by their sexuality but Alison does, as is her right, so there you have it.

For someone who complains about a lack of communication with her mother, you might think it odd that they’re on the phone to each other virtually every day. But what actually happens is that Alison phones her mother in the desperate but vain hope of finally hearing some words of approbation, and then her mother talks at her about her own current focus of interest while Alison just sits there, recording and acting as little more than punctuation marks in her mother’s self-absorbed discourse.

In keeping with making the private public, then, I can relate to that. On the rare instances my father would venture out of his Cheshire-based comfort zone to the sub-cultured city of Nottingham (once every other year for an hour and never staying over), he would bring with him an envelope; and on the back of that envelope would be detailed notes on the topics he wished to pontificate upon without pause to minimise the risk of discovering anything about my own life. He was a frightened (and so very angry) man, but that particular prospect terrified him, and so I fear it is with Alison and her mother who is far from homophobic but just wishes it wasn’t such a public part of Alison’s private life – i.e. in her comics.

“You’re not going to use your real name, are you? Couldn’t you use one of your funny names?”
“That would defeat the purpose!”
“I would love to see your name on a book. But not on a book of lesbian cartoons.”

None of those books, by the way, now collected as ESSENTIAL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR would have likely seen the light of day without Ma Bechdel’s unconditional patronage in the form of cheques amounting to $5,200 to support her daughter’s creativity in a field she disapproved of. That, folks, is maternal altruism. Doubly unfortunate, then, that Alison’s moved into a second field her mother disapproves of: memoir, full of “inaccuracy, exhibitionism, narcissism”.

“The self has no place in good writing,” declares mother Bechdel. Or has her reaction to the genre been coloured by her inclusion within it? I certainly don’t believe it was an act of belligerence on Alison’s part as any reading of FUN HOME would make clear, and in any case inaccuracy is an anathema to her.

And so we come to the five A4 pages of notes I wrote while reading the proof copy, not one of which have I used here! “True Self”, “False Self”, and quotations like, “Patterns are my existence. Everything has significance. Everything must fit. It’s enough to drive you crazy.” But do you know what? They’re not for me to transcribe – let alone remember which pages they came from! – they’re for you to make for yourselves, or else why buy and enjoy the book for yourselves?

For the record, I like Ma Bechdel. She had a difficult life you’ll discover for yourself, and she has a genuine passion of her own for truth and discovery, even if some of those discoveries are at odds with what she believed:

“Wait, I just read something interesting about memoir, hang on. Are you there?”
“Uh huh.”
“It’s by Dorothy Gallagher. “The writer’s business is to find the shape in unruly life and to serve her story. Not, you may note, to serve her family, or to serve the truth, but to serve the story.””
“Wow.”
“I know! Family be damned!”
“Ha!”
“The story must be served!”

The story, I promise you, is very well served.

FUN HOME’s featured writer was Scott Fitzgerald; this one’s is Virginia Woolf. Excellent!

SLH

Buy Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Catwoman: When In Rome s/c (£10-99, DC) by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale…

Can’t quite believe I have never read this before, because it is excellent, every bit as good as this pairing’s classic Bat-works LONG HALLOWEEN, DARK VICTORY and HAUNTED KNIGHT. And actually, ties in perfectly with events in the weekly BATMAN: ENTERNAL title. Catwoman has taken flight, along with Edward Nigma a.k.a. The Riddler, but merely to Rome for a holiday. Well, it’s not quite all pleasure as our curious feline is after information pertaining to Carmine ‘The Roman’ Falcone. I am reluctant to give too much more away, but suffice to say whilst Selina’s preferred profession might be the pilfering and purloining of valuable trinkets, she’s not exactly a slouch in the detective department, either.

 

 

It was the act of taking a very precious item without the Roman’s permission which has set her on her current collision course of enquiry, and there are interested parties who seem most determined to ensure her investigation does not come to a successful conclusion, just a terminal one. Rather than Catwoman, this focuses more on Selina Kyle-related action, just like the equally artistically appealing and well constructed Brubaker and Cooke CATWOMAN VOL 1: TRAIL OF THE CATWOMAN – which is personally how I prefer it. She even finds time for a holiday romance too, not provided by The Riddler despite his multiple, odious, amorous attempts but a blond Mafia hitman who is seemingly unable to resist her feline wiles. It’ll end in tears – and blood, obviously – for she is a heartbreaker, our Miss Kyle, but will she find the answers she is looking for? And if she does, will they be the ones she wants?

JR

Buy Catwoman: When In Rome s/c and read the Page 45 review here

X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong / Warsong s/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Greg Pak & Greg Land, Tyler Kirkham.

[Spurious “review” with in-joke apologies, this was originally written during the 2006 season of Big Brother and Grant Morrison’s run on NEW X-MEN when Magneto infiltrated the X-Men as new teacher Xorn. I can’t even recall who Big Brother’s Richard even was anymore. Sorry! – ed.]

First time if was ENDSONG, now it’s WARSONG; next time I anticipate LAPSONG SOUCHANG. It might go something like this, with Cyclops and Wolverine strolling down the hall and Professor Jean Luc Picard calling from afar…

[Off camera] “To me, my X-Men!”
“Did you hear something…?”
“Eh, you know how these corridors echo.”
“Well, I’m just going to take a look. It’s been months since the funeral, and not a word from Jean.”
“Dude, it was Jean’s funeral.”
“Your point…?”
[Off camera] “To me, my X-MEN!!!”
“There we go; he’s on the crazy paving again.”
“Professor!  Are the grounds breached?”
“Has your blanket slipped?”
“Are we under attack?”
“Do you need changing?”
“Scott, I’d dropped my saucer! My tea was getting cold.”
“You can’t drink tea from your cup?”
“Yes, but I like to pour it — into my sauce-er.”
“But, Professor, that’s what makes it go cold…”
“And listen, Chuck, can’t you just ask nicely? All this, “To me, my X-Men!” It’s a little –”
“Shakespearian…? Melodramatic…? Morrison-esque…?”
“Rude!”
“Yes, Logan, I see, I see… How about “X-Men, I’ve dropped my saucer! Do come and see that it’s righted!””
“Haven’t we forgotten a little something…?”
“’… Do come and see that it’s righted right now!’”
“…”
“’… Do come and see that’s it’s righted, my dears…?’”

[Strolling away]

“By the way, who’s that guy in the purple cape and helmet, with his gloved mitts in the mansion’s Milk Tray?”
“One of the new teachers, I think.”

[The Diary Room]

“Hello, Eric, this is Big Brother. How are you feeling today?”
“Vain, supercilious and monomaniacal.”
“Oh I’m sorry, Richard, I thought you were somebody else.”

SLH

Buy X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong / Warsong s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews. Neat, huh?

 

Velvet vol 1: Before The Living End (£7-50, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting

Escapo h/c (£18-99, Z2 Comics) by Paul Pope

Metabarons Genesis: Castaka h/c (£29-99, Humanoids) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Das Pastoras

Moomin Complete Lars Jansson Comic Strip vol 9 h/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Lars Jansson

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer Complete Edition s/c (£18-99, Top Shelf) by Van Jensen & Dustin Higgins

Preacher Book vol 4 (£14-99, Vertigo) by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

Before Watchmen – Nite Owl / Dr Manhattan s/c (£14-99, DC) by J. Michael Straczynski & Adam Hughes, Adam Kubert, Joe Kubert, Eduardo Risso, Bill Sienkiewicz

Before Watchmen – The Comedian / Rorschach s/c (£14-99, DC) by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo, J. G. Jones

Green Lantern: Lights Out h/c (£18-99, DC) by Robert Venditti, others & various

Amazing X-Men vol 1: The Quest For Nightcrawler s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Ed McGuinness

Avengers World vol 1: A.I.M.PIRE s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer & Stefano Caselli, John Cassaday

Superior Spider-Man vol 6: Goblin Nation s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage & Giuseppe Camuncoli, others

Fairy Tail vol 39 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Full Metal Alchemist Omnibus vols 1-3 (£9-99, Viz) by Hiromu Arakawa

NGE: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project vol 14 (£7-50, Dark Horse) by Osamu Takahashi

 

ITEM! The cuddliest comic of all time AND the finest comics reportage ever! Forget Joe Sacco, Lizz Lunney investigates Berlin! Serious “Awwwwww… Factor!

ITEM! Loved this image from Luchie: subtle and ethereal, I stared at it for ages. Here’s Luchie’s blog.

ITEM! And this a detail (and what detail!) from a panel by Simon Gane of a graphic novel he couldn’t name yet.

ITEM! Exceptionally fine and thoughtful interview with Brian Michael Bendis on Marvel’s rise from bankruptcy to diversity and the perfect answer to “What’s the superhero comics industry’s biggest challenge?” Triple A+++ points to Abraham Riesman for taking the trouble to include the word “superhero” in that question when most others would fail to even think about it. It doesn’t affect the wider world of comics.

Clue: the biggest problem is some superhero readers’ abysmal failure to act like their heroes. “You know what Captain America would never do? Go online anonymously and shit on a girl for having an opinion”. There’s more, and it’s spot-on.

ITEM! From the creators of THE NEW DEADWARDIANS comes Dan Abnett & Ian Culbard’s WILD’S END mini-series – interview! Here’s Abnett  & Culbard’s DARK AGES comic referred to.

ITEM! Teacher includes Pokemon reference in maths test to perk up kids’ interest. One kid is smarter!

ITEM! Yet another fab Tom Gauld cartoon for the Guardian. Have you tried YOU’RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK yet? Includes the funniest three-panel strip I’ve ever read, reproduced there.

– Stephen

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