Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews April 2015 week four

Like anthropomorphic comics? It really is your week! DVD Audio Visual comics and stickers as well! Return of Lizz Lunney, Jay Hosler and Dave Sim! A new discovery in Jen Lee from those good folks at Nobrow! Alan Moore & Zander Cannon, Gene Ha; Jason Aaron & Ron Garne; Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso; Greg Rucka & Justin Greenwood; Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso; Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker & Stuart Immonen!

Cerebus: High Society (30th Anniversary Gold Signed & Numbered Edition) (£22-50, Aardvark-Vanaheim) by Dave Sim.

It’s brilliant, it’s back and it’s better than ever!

This or CEREBUS VOL 5: JAKA’S STORY is where we heartily recommend you join the 6,000-page epic that is CEREBUS written and drawn by a single man, Dave Sim, and his landscape artist Gerhard who will join Dave later in the run but here supplies the architecture on the cover.

Re-mastered so that the lines are sharper and the rich blacks of its ingenious framing devices shine through, our initial stock includes a signed, limited edition, tipped-in plate.

(Please note: the new interior art is hard to find online at the time of typing, so examples here may have been gleaned from earlier editions or scans of original pages including the blue lines underneath.)


The first book was episodic, Dave as an artist growing on the page in front of you, but this is a single story told in 25 chapters with a beginning, a middle and an end. One of our rationales for recommending this book as your introduction to CEREBUS is that if you can trust Dave Sim to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end over 25 issues – and you can – you’ll be able to trust that he can do the same over 300 of them. It’s also very, very funny.

It’s a cross between Blackadder and Yes, Prime Minister, making mockery not just of politics but of exchange rates: the very idea that you can make money from having money and/or just swapping its currency. Economists quote it at length.

It co-stars arch-manipulator and mischief-merchant Lord Julius who confuses through chaos, and the extraordinary thing about Sim’s treatment is that he looks and sounds precisely like Groucho Marx. You can hear him in your head, and the already impressive wit/actor/iconoclast is given a delirious script eminently worthy of him.

Cerebus – previously little more than a mercenary thug and barbarian for whom greed was (and remains) a primary motivation – finds himself so much in demand amongst High Society that they elect him as their candidate for Prime Minister. His opponent? Lord Julius’ goat.

Not an anthropomorphic goat, but an actual goat. It’s a surprisingly close-run contest until you recall that America did actually elect both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush – the second time, anyway.

Also: Jaka, Cerebus’ sole soft spot, returns in a heart-rending scene during which you will learn the difference between inference and implication; after which you will quote Dave Sim on the subject for the rest of your newly pedantic life.

By this point Sim’s skills as a sequential artist have already reached what would be most others’ pinnacle, but he’s only just begun. For example there are sequences in which Cerebus is drunk and so, reflecting that, the pages need to be tilted 90 degrees successively.

It’s also relatively rare to be able to emulate other styles and incorporate them successfully into your own comics (Mark Buckingham’s particularly good at that – see Neil Gaiman’s DEATH: most readers think Chris Bachalo drew the whole thing), but in using his own Roach character to parody Doug Moenchs run on Marvel’s MOON KNIGHT, he pulls off an exceptional impersonation of its artist Bill Sienkiewicz then in thrall to Neal Adams’ neo-classical photo-realism.


Note: you don’t have to have a clue what the contents of that last sentence meant to enjoy the comedy in its own right. Over 1,000 copies of CEREBUS: HIGH SOCIETY have been rung through a till either here or at the last shop where Mark and I worked for during which we organised the creators’ CEREBUS UK TOUR ’93 whose poster is still available for sale!

Each copy was sold with a money-back guarantee. I have had one copy returned in twenty-two years.


CEREBUS is such an exceptional series that I reviewed all sixteen volumes in the series along with the equally accessible (and far more affordable at a mere £1-80!) CEREBUS: ZERO from scratch before the launch of our website in 2010.

Do you trust me? Of course you trust me! Or if you don’t trust me by now, then you really never will!


Buy Cerebus vol 2: High Society (30th Anniversary Gold Signed & Numbered Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

Cerebus: High Society – The Digital Audio/Visual Experience DVD Set (£34-99, IDW) by Dave Sim.

Beautifully packaged! See both photos below!

For the brand-new re-mastered version of CEREBUS: HIGH SOCIETY in print, please see my review but if you want to enjoy the book basking in your armchair in front of your TV, hands-free, each page is scanned and panned-in on here as its creator, Dave Sim, acts it all out on audio.

Boy, can Dave Sim act!

Sim supplies all of the varied voices and the first revelation as a wary Cerebus makes his way to the hotel’s front desk is this: Dave Sim does an impeccable English accent.

He’s also a dab hand at everything else including Italian and when there’s a crowd scene of a dozen prospectors shouting over each other to get Cerebus’ financial attention, hey, Dave can interrupt himself like nobody’s business! He’s fluent, fluid and even his pleading’s pretty perfect.


So this is what you get: 8 DVD discs during which each one of graphic novel’s 25-chapters is set out before you, initially establishing each page before zooming in on the relevant panel then gradually panning across, down or whiplashing over depending on the timing required. It is immaculately shot, completely in time to what is being read. There’s even the occasional, cheeky wiggle when required – you’ll see!

As to the reading, Sim has either an instinctive understanding or a well studied knowledge of how fast or slow to perform. There’s also a surprising yet well chosen choice for background music: monks chanting low throughout.

There’s also more: you can skip if you prefer, but between each chapter Dave’s ex, Deni Loubert, reads the editorials she used to write after which Dave reads out each entire letter column – both those letters and his responses – printed in the original editions of each periodical comic long before they were collected into the CEREBUS softcovers which were usually so thick that the comics industry christened them “Phone Books”!

If you don’t have the originals (I have every original CEREBUS comic except #1 – that’s how highly I rate the series, and the only reason I don’t have the first issue is it is well beyond my financial grasp), then this could prove fascinating. My instinct, however, says that it’ll only be of interest to mega-fans and historians/academics. The letters are long-winded, Dave’s responses are thorough, and although I adored hearing his retrospective chuckles – Dave knew exactly what he had planned, letter writers understandably didn’t – it could be construed by the mainstream as painful.

This is a labour of love. This is a Big Thing which long-term CEREBUS readers have clamoured for.

Visually and practically it is presented with immaculate class. I can’t stand multiple DVD packages where you have to pop each disc back into its often over-competitive circular socket, potentially scraping it if come undone. Instead the discs are housed in indvidual sleeves. In addition the intro and out-ro to each chapter is slickly and sleekly filmed.

My only problem rests in the music chosen for the credits on either side which sounds so outdated that it’s something you’d find parodied on Grand Theft Auto. No music required! Comics is not a musical medium and I once heard the same distinction voiced by Dave Sim himself! But this is a minor thing.

The major thing is this: do you, or do you not want to know which voices Dave Sim had in his head for each character? Do you want to read CEREBUS: HIGH SOCIETY in print and supply your own voices instinctively for yourself in your own head? Or… do you want to know?

Big love to IDW for making this happen.

Big love to Dave Sim for making Page 45 happen!

He did, you know. Page 45 would not have existed without Dave Sim. This is the truth.


Buy Cerebus: High Society – The Digital Audio/Visual Experience DVD Set and read the Page 45 review here

Vacancy (£6-50, Nobrow) by Jen Lee.

“I’m teaching him that you gotta eat anything to survive. I eat that stuff all the time – Simon’s got to live in the now.”
“Do you live in the now?”
“I do live in the now, I’m living in the now right now.”

Now: there’s a household pet dog named Simon.

Times seem pretty rough, even tough.

His owners haven’t taken care of their garden and they don’t seem to have taken much better care of Simon. He’s been left outside in a garden without grass, littered with up-ended lawn tables and chairs. There’s a length of rope lying in the dirt attached to nothing. There’s a length of rope dangling limp from his kennel that appears to have been cut – or bitten through. It’s impossible to tell.

And our anthropomorphic dog Simon is peering through a popped knot in the wooden garden fence, fixated on the leaf-strewn, broken-branch-cluttered woodland beyond. It’s sunset.

“Stop, Simon. No time for the mopes. Today’s the day,” he exhorts himself.

Simon begins digging in a corner by the fence. He peers deep into an empty tin can and sees nothing. He drags it across the fence before resigning himself to his kennel. And he says to himself:

“It’s okay. There’s tomorrow.
“There are a lot of tomorrows.
“You’re doing a good job. Good boy, Simon.”

Effortlessly moving.

When you read this I implore you not to look at the summary on the French flaps. Maybe I’m dim not to have got it immediately, but to my mind it gives the game which I did not get away. The clues are all there, so let them be clues. When the penny finally drops it is gutting.

Simon is at first confronted then befriended by a feral deer and racoon. Maybe the word “feral” is redundant, but being feral is important. They help him make the leap to freedom: into the woods, the wild unknown! And it’s difficult, you know, when you’ve been pre-conditioned with love and affection and as much food as you need in a loving, domestic home.

I love, love, love the colours here dedicated to the prime times of day. These things are oh so important when you’re trying to survive in the wild with predators on the loose. And Simon will encounter predators, I’m afraid.

I’m also in love with Jen’s attention to detail when it comes to the clothes of these anthropomorphic animals. Is the deer wearing a deer hunter’s cap? I don’t know. I don’t have much experience in deer hunting, thankfully. She really lets rip on the street-fashion front when the predators raise their opportunist heads, but it’s Simon’s design which is the real winner: he’s wearing a green hoodie which is halfway to being street, but look at his infantile little socksies and shoes! Best of all, though, Simon wears glasses – the privilege of being a pampered pet dog, probably insured!

Deliberately elliptical review so you can discover this gem for yourselves.

Big love to customer Carol Smith for alerting me to this. It is a beauty.


Buy Vacancy and read the Page 45 review here

Last Of The Sandwalkers (£11-99, FirstSecond) by Jay Hosler.

“Curiosity leads to questions,
“Questions lead to doubt,
“And there must be no doubt.”

And he calls himself a professor?! He’s more of a suppressor, and our brave beetle explorers are going to wish Professor Owen had never joined their expedition, exploring the wide world beyond their closed colony for the very first time!

Professor Beatrice Bombardier, Mossy, Raef and leader Lucy are in for the thrill, fright and fight of their lives as they encounter so many predators from ants, velvet worms and trapdoor spiders on the ground to birds, bats and even more spiders high up in the sky. Even fellow insects will have it in for them and the worst threat of all comes from within in the form of the grumpy, duplicitous and credit-stealing saboteur Professor Owen!

In order to survive our heroes are going to have to think fast, think laterally and learn, learn, learn!

At 300 pages it is an epic adventure and some of best fun Adults and Young Adults alike will ever have learning. This is far from surprising since it comes from Jay Hosler, the creator of CLAN APIS (the biographical life cycle of a bee) and the writer of EVOLUTION: THE STORY OF LIFE ON EARTH which is a phenomenal entertainment as all education should be!

Jay Hosler is eminently qualified, being a biology professor at Juniata College, and his notes at the back expand on the discoveries made en route in an involving, conversational manner backed up with personal experience and scientific evidence.

Did you know, for example that rhinoceros beetles can heft up to 100 times their own body weight? Yowsa! That some insects lure others to their death by emulating that specific species’ mating lights? So wrong! That antennae are an insect’s tongue, nose, finger, divining rod and speedometer as well? They’re like Swiss Army Knives without the scissors!

Spiders have no chewing mouthparts so they liquefy their prey by injecting with enzymes and ewwww! They also eat their own webs to recycle the silk. Meanwhile predators and parasites can crack the codes animals use to communicate with each other. There’s a species of butterfly whose larvae are cared for by ants because they emit an odour that mimics that of ant larvae. “Living safe and sound underground with a nearly unlimited food supply is a pretty sweet set up for a relatively defenceless insect larva.” Don’t feel too sorry for those ants, though: some species enslave others by “capturing larvae from neighbouring nests and raising the young as their minions”!

Here’s the biggie, though: “approximately 40% of all insect species are beetles, and about 30% of all animal species on the planet are beetles. By comparison, all of the fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals on Earth comprise only 3-5% of all known animal species”.

Back to our own band of beetles, and they each have special assets – and limitations – which will come into play as they cooperate. Into which of those categories Raef’s ceaseless stream of bad puns fall I will leave for you to decide!


Buy Last Of The Sandwalkers and read the Page 45 review here

Street Dawgz (£5-00, Lame Duck) by Lizz Lunney.

“It’s as we suspected. He’s fallen into a crack bone delirium!”

Street Daaaaaawwwgs!

They’re buff!

And ruff!

And tuff!

From the creator of the top-notch TAKE AWAY, hugely recommended to  ADVENTURE TIME fans…

Meet Rossetti!!! Meet Jekyll!!! Meet Dingo!!! Meet Ian.

They’re more like hipster hounds or Beatnik bow-wows than dawgs of ver street. When Jekyll falls into a feverish fugue state having been denied his beloved calcium-rich crack, his three friends roll him in blanket like a giant burrito and Rossetti pronounces, “We should write down what he says – it will be crack bone wisdom”.

I’m not sure Ian – he of the circular sunglasses – has the attention span.

“Life, life is a joke, a steaming ego-driven joke, I’m gonna bite the dealer who dealt me these cards…”

Ah, the existential ennui of it all!

Lizz “Camille Claudel” Lunney is renowned for her neo-classical, three-dimensional modelling which has been compared in some circles – and several semi-circles – to holographic, line-art sculpture. Here she loosens up on her formally strict anatomical accuracy (most austerely enforced during her Lizz “Leonardo” period circa 2004) to the extent that, in one panel at least, Jekyll sports more than the traditional complement of two eyes.

Also: is this really drawn in Biro? Previously Lizz only drew in Biro. I’m pretty sure this is an ink pen of sorts. Please note: illustrations here are taken from an earlier tone-free version. This has tone.

This is as good an opportunity as any to remind you that Page 45 is the exclusive home to The Page 45 Lizz Lunney Superstore containing all things @LizzLizz and we ship worldwide as well as to whichever half of the moon is facing us during any given cycle.

Contains an urban fox called Audi. Top selling point.


Buy Street Dawgz and read the Page 45 review here

Street Dawgz Sticker Pack (£3-00, Lame Duck) by Lizz Lunney.

“Old Dog New Tricks”
“The Streets Still Belong To Us My Friends”
“Old Dog New Tricks” (reprise)

I’ve never reviewed stickers before!

I’ve reviewed blank notebooks and tote bags by Lizz Lunney and I’ve reviewed greetings cards by Jodie Paterson but never stickers.

Obviously there’s the aesthetics to cover, and I do so right now: these are neat! Also: skateboarding always sells here.

But quite early on I concluded that a salient component of any sticker review would be a practical – if not strictly scientific – assessment of their adhesive qualities, their functionality.

To that end I decided to assess the stickers’ stickiness by sticking them onto my uncle’s two original John Constable landscapes in suitable spots where they might enliven the bucolic dreariness and yet fit in without drawing too much contemporary attention to themselves.

If they simply peeled off then their stickiness would be found to be faulty, and Lizz Lunney would be in a world of trouble! We might have sued her under the Trades Description Act.

Fortunately there’s no need for such drastic dobbing-in for I am delighted to report that those suckers sure ain’t coming off in a hurry!

Pretty sure my uncle will be dead chuffed.


Buy Street Dawgz Sticker Pack and read the Page 45 review here

Men Of Wrath s/c (£10-99, Icon) by Jason Aaron & Ron Garney.

Love all the white paint slapped onto black on the covers between each chapter. SIN CITY souls will swoon. Some beautifully broad strokes for leaves, fences, coast sleeves, stained glass window and guns. There’s always a gun. There’s even some dead sheep and one of them. Lovely fleeces. Is that a baby? Better not be a boy.

There’s been trouble with the men of Rath for generations, ever since Ira Rath’s great grandfather stabbed a fellow in front of his son. The man haemorrhaging blood from his jugular was after Isom’s sheep, claiming they the plumper ones as his, and Isom went and snapped. He turned himself in yet served a scant eight months because, to be honest, the community considered he’d done them a favour. But the impact on his son Alford was pronounced. He grew up to keep dogs. He kept ‘em just to kick ‘em then one turned round and bit him, and wouldn’t you just know it, he got rabies. What he did when rabid you will not believe nor what his son did, neither.

So we come to that son’s son, Ira Rath, a distillation of all the meanness that had been handed down along a line that had headed in the opposite direction to mouse-man JIMMY CORRIGAN’s. But it was the same cause and effect: nature compounded by nurture or lack thereof. The first scene post-prologue demonstrates precisely what Ira is capable of when hired to rectify transgressions. Matt Milla’s stormy colours behind Rath’s semi-silhouette are brooding and intense.

So we know what he does, and you remember I said the men of Rath were trouble? Ira’s son has got himself into trouble with folks like the Polks and they’re ruthless too. They’re also Ira’s biggest clients and they hire him with most of their cards on the table. Will Ira silence his own son? Who looks as though he’s about to have one of his own? I wouldn’t expect a great deal of male bonding.

From the writer of SCALPED and ULTIMATE COMICS CAPTAIN AMERICA whence you will also recognise Ron Garney, this is a pretty impassive, smile-free zone, but it’s mean and it’s lean and I can see PUNISHER people getting a  Doc Martin kick out of it.  Ira himself is a sixty-year-old Clint Eastwood with an extra infusion of strong and silent, both gnarled and gnarly, and did I mention he’s just been diagnosed with cancer?

“This doesn’t have to be the thing that kills you, Mr. Rath.”
“It won’t be. I can promise you that.”


Buy Men Of Wrath s/c and read the Page 45 review here

100 Bullets Book 2 (£18-99, Vertigo) by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso.

“So why is Graves still alive?”
“That’s a good question, but not the important one.”
“Oh no? And that would be…?”
“What’s he up to.”

So far Agent Graves has been helping ordinary, disparate victims across the US settle their scores with no apparent motive on his part. I can assure that Agent Graves has all the motive as eventually you’ll find out!

In the meantime he hands these individuals an attaché containing irrefutable evidence that someone has screwed them over; the identity of the culprit, a gun and one hundred rounds of untraceable ammunition. By “untraceable” I mean that if those bullets are found at the scene of any crime all investigation will cease immediately.

Of course in 100 BULLETS BOOK ONE we have heard intimations of a much wider picture: about The Minutemen, a body of enforcers Graves used to be a part of, and the organisation they were employed by, The Trust. The Trust is composed of thirteen feuding Families kept at bay by those Minutemen who were there specifically to maintain the peace or exact retribution for any breaches. Now you’ll finally meet those Families and if you do have a pistol I probably wouldn’t leave it at the door.

This also contains The One With The Bandages, as the private detective to whom Agent Graves hands the attaché case this time, emerging from hospital after a close encounter with his windscreen, contrives to turn every sentence he mutters in his head or out-loud into a gritty play on words. Think Jim ‘Foetus’ Thirwell, particularly during ‘Come To Bedrock’ or ‘Street Of Shame’ but basically his entire career! It’s not remotely realistic – no one is that clever or quick- witted – but it’s one of the hallmarks of 100 BULLETS and it makes me smile with so much satisfaction.

Knock-out shadows and silhouettes are Risso’s forté, enhanced by menacing eyes and pouting lips, so being able to play around with white bandages wrapped a head with the eyes staring out is an absolute gift.

Apart from the enormous complexity of this epic in which almost everyone is playing a long game indeed, Azzarello’s strength is as I say the dialogue and dialect, beat perfect and enough to send shivers down your spine.


Buy 100 Bullets Book 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Stumptown vol 3 h/c (£22-50, Oni) by Greg Rucka & Justin Greenwood…

“That was a total flop. You saw the way she was holding me?”
“Oh, I saw it… Now I’m wondering when you’ll finally get over yourself and ask her out?”
“Fuck you.”
“Hot sweaty bodies colliding roughly… if it’s not love, it’s lust, admit it.”
“She’s from Seattle. I do not date Flounders. The way you let her score on you, you’re one to talk.”
“That sounds like jealousy to me.”

P.I. Dex Parios returns, and in a football-related story to boot! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one, I’ll give myself a stern talking to, and a yellow card…

Ah, I really wish Rucka would make this an ongoing monthly series, his characterisation and dialogue are superb. This time around, after the frankly odd artwork of STUMPTOWN VOL 2 which felt like an increasingly surrealist experiment (STUMPTOWN VOL 1‘s art by the same artist was tremendous strangely enough), he’s also got an artist to match his talents in Justin Greenwood, currently also illustrating Antony Johnston’s THE FUSE.

This case opens with Dex playing in goal against the lovely ladies of Seattle Muddy Balls. Still, her team is called Reál Pain, which isn’t much better frankly, but considerably more classy than FC Vagisil, which was the name of my friend’s Sunday league team for a number of years… But, as Dex has to point out to her teammate Hoffman, it’s just a game. Hoffman, in the vein of Shankly, disagrees vehemently, and if you know the rest of Bill’s famous quote you might have half an idea where things are going…

After her kickabout, Dex is off to take her younger brother Ansell to the Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Flounders local derby. It’s a fiery affair to be sure, as much off the pitch as on it, I hadn’t realised Americans soccer crowds had become so skilled in the art of verbally abusing the opposition supporters as their transatlantic cousins. It quite took me back to my own salad days of terrace serenading. The first issue of this volume concludes with Dex’s friend Mike being found near the stadium, having taking a serious beating. On the face of it, it’s a simple case of hooliganism, but of course there’s much more to it than that.

I really feel like Rucka is back on track with the emotional components of this series again after STUMPTOWN VOLUME TWO where I can’t say I really warmed to anyone, and Dex herself felt somewhat peripheral to the main action. Dex and her brother are key elements of what makes this title so interesting so I’m pleased the focus, for this first issue at least, is squarely on them.

I am also extremely happy Justin Greenwood is on board for this arc. It’s exactly what this title required art-wise to bring it back to the forefront of crime comics. Clearly they’ve decided to go for a less gritty and more colourful approach, but Justin’s style still adds a hard-nosed edge to proceedings.

All that remains now is to leave you with that classic parting shot by Bexsy (Gary Oldman) from what remains to this day, hands down my favourite football hooligan film, The Firm. The original from 1989, not the wishy-washy remake from a few years ago. As a young lad skirting around the periphery of football related violence back in the late 80s, early 90s, well, trying to avoid it at all costs frankly, his terrifying performance was seared into my mind’s eye creating a football hooligan bogeyman, (a little sample for you HERE) potentially lurking around every corner at away games, tooled up with hammer and stanley knife, ready to smash me up then cut me to ribbons…

“I come in peace. I leave you in pieces…”


Buy Stumptown vol 3 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Top 10 s/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Alan Moore & Zander Cannon, Gene Ha.

Collecting the two original volumes but not TOP TEN: FORTY-NINERS.

TOP TEN is a meticulously directed police precinct comedy drama in which several bizarre law enforcement officers including a talking doberman in an exoskeleton attempt to solve several crimes at once, some of them linked, some of them not. Everyone and every thing in this world has a superpower no matter how ridiculous, including cats – which is just as well because so do the mice: when you get an infestation, believe you me, you get a real infestation.

Whilst gliding you through the precinct’s chaos as officers criss-cross the lobby, Alan Moore packs this series with imagination, style and top-notch gags in the form of graffiti, advertisements, background cameos and full-on confrontations. Some are lobbed in the direction of comics, others thrown wider at various forms of popular culture from boybands to drugs to pretentious spirituality like Blindshot Bob, the visually impaired zen taxi-driver.

“Where we end up, that’s where we’re meant to be!” he gleefully proclaims, steering straight into the path of an on-coming juggernaut.
“This precinct house… is it far?”
“Hey, all distance is as nothing in the mind of the Buddha, know what I’m sayin’? We’ll be there in about ten minutes…depending on traffic!”

Like the rest of the ABC line it’s a great deal cleverer than it looks, as is the art which manages some extraordinary feats of scale and perspective in this futuristic city. Finest punchline award goes to officer Smax, who barges into the scene of a brutal murder in a bar catering exclusively for Norse Gods:

“Okay, we’re police officers. Nobody move in a mysterious way!”

As ever, Moore’s more interested in poking fun by mixing genres and using the set-up to comment on whatever crops up. Lest we forget, it’s the tenth anniversary this week of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence [this was written in April 2003 – ed.], the investigation into which was condemned by Macpherson as hampered by institutional racism. The existence of which surprised absolutely no one that I’m acquainted with.

In this futuristic city bigotry remains rife – it’s just changed targets – so when an Artificial Intelligence joins the force he has a hard time from within, particularly at the hands of Officer Cheney who’s been making snide ‘clicker’ references throughout the series, much to his partner’s irritation.

Which brings us to one of my favourite put-downs in comics as Pete Cheney attempts to grab a candy bar from the public dispenser up against the wall:

“Hell, I ain’t no clicker-licker. Lemme get my candy-bar, okay?”
“This is about the new guy?”
“Jacks, he was great. We’re there three minutes, crime solved, perp in the car.”
“Damn robots, man. Just after our jobs. Not only that, I hear they like, y’know, human women.”
“Uh-huh. Yeah, well, I can see how you’d find that a bewildering concept.”
“Pete, robots and women, that only happens in your porno collection….”
“Yeah? Well here’s the tin man himself. Why don’t I ask him?”
“Pete, don’t be an asshole, man…”
“Hey, Officer Pie-Tin, is that right about you guys and human women? Y’know, how you can’t keep your pincers off ’em?”
“Jesus, Cheney…”
“That’s an interesting QUESTION, Officer Cheney. As far as I know, it’s much more common for HUMANS to be sexually aroused by MACHINES than the other way round.”
“Huh? That’s a lot of crap! Where’s your evidence?”

…asks Cheney, reaching into the candy-bar dispenser slot.

“Well, with respect, I should point out that YOU’RE the one who’s feeling up my retarded hillbilly cousin EMMY-SUE in public.”
“Emmy-Sue, it breaks my clockwork heart to see you lowering yourself like this. Cover yourself up, girl, and we’ll say no more about it.”
“What? What’s funny? Hey, screw you, Bodine! Think this is so goddam funny, laughin’ like a little idiot kid! Damn, I gotta go wash my hand!”


Buy Top Ten s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Fear Itself (UK Edition) s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker & Stuart Immonen, Scot George Eaton.

Marvel’s 2011 blockbuster event starring the Avengers, with a significant knock-on effect for their members’ own titles and UNCANNY X-MEN too.

“People are mad right now, and broke and they’ve been lied to and ripped off. And when people who’re already mad get scared then all hell kinda breaks loose.”

After enduring a United States under Norman Osborn (or George W. Bush – read it how you will), and with the economy in freefall catalysing mass unemployment and the repossession of homes, the American people are fractious. They’re raw and hurting. When Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter are caught in the middle of a riot they cannot control, they’re alarmed to discover there’s no foul play involved: no unusual energy signatures, no enchantments, nothing toxic in the air or water. It’s just how the temperature is.

So what will happen when the Serpent arises? When Sin, the Red Skull’s daughter, lifts the hidden Asgardian hammer her father could not, is transformed into something else and frees the ancient Skadi, God of Fear and the real All-Father, from the mystic bonds of Odin? What will happen when The Worthy summoned by Skadi and transfigured by mystical hammers into something even worse touch down in the Pacific Ocean, Brazil, China, Manhattan and the small town of Broxton where ancient Asgard lies in rubble?

That’s where the Avengers – both overt teams – are gathered here today, to launch a new Stark initiative to further the bond between Gods and man and put 5,000 Americans back to work by designing and then building a new Asgard here on Earth. But Odin isn’t happy. Disdainful of the creatures he is more used to being worshipped by, he is adamant that Asgard should be rebuilt by enchantment far from this blue and green marble. And when he senses that Skadi is loose upon the world, he orders it so, even if that means dragging Thor behind them in chains.

With robust and shiny art – like John Buscema inked by Jimmy Cheung – this is something rather different from recent superhero events. SIEGE, SECRET INVASION, BLACKEST NIGHT – and even CIVIL WAR to a certain extent – had all been brewing for a while. But this is about to hit our heroes out of the blue and they don’t even know it yet. All they know is that the Gods have left them to fend for themselves and, if that wasn’t enough, Odin is prepared to destroy the whole of planet Earth just to cauterise the threat and hide his terrible secret.

As the catastrophic destruction spreads, so their fear rises and Sin/Skadi grows stronger. And that fuels further panic.

Includes the fall of Avengers Tower, major fatalities and the prelude by Ed Brubaker & Scot Eaton.


Buy Fear Itself (UK Edition) 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?

Scott Pilgrim vol 6 h/c Colour Edition (£18-99, Oni Press) by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Meanwhile #3 (£4-99, Soaring Penguin Press) by Gary Spencer Millidge, Yuko Rabbit, David Hine, Mark Stafford, others

Realist h/c (£18-99, Archaia Studios Press  ) by Asaf Hanuka

Mph (£10-99, Image) by Mark Millar & Duncan Fegredo

Darth Vader And Friends (£9-99, Lucas Books) by Jeffrey Brown

Wolverines vol 1: Dancing With The Devil s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Charles Soule, Ray Fawkes & Nick Bradshaw, various, Nick Bradshaw

Loki Agent Of Asgard vol 2: I Cannot Tell A Lie s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Jorge Coehlo, Lee Garbett, Lee Garbett

Dead Boy Detectives vol 2: Ghost Snow s/c (£10-99, DC) by Toby Litt & Mark Buckingham, Ryan Kelly, Mark Buckingham

Justice League 3000 vol 2: The Camelot War s/c (£10-99, DC) by Keith Giffen, J. M. Dematteis & Howard Porter, Chris Batista, Howard Porter

Green Arrow vol 6: Broken s/c (£10-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino, various, Andrea Sorrentino

Master Keaton vol 2 (£14-99, Viz) by Takashi Nagasaki, Hokusei Katsushika & Naoki Urasawa

Evil Empire vol 1 (£10-99, Boom Town) by Max Bemis & Ransom Getty, Andrea Mutti, Jay Shaw

Witchfinder vol 3: Mysteries Of Unland (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Kim Newman, Maura Mchugh & Tyler Crook, Mike Mignola

Legend The Graphic Novel (£10-99, Putnam) by Marie Lu, Leigh Dragoon & Kaari

Miracleman Book vol 3: Olympus (UK Edition) h/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Alan Moore, Grant Morrsson, Peter Milligan & John Totleben, Joe Quesada, Mike Allred

Avengers vol 1: Avengers World s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Jerome Opena, Adam Kubert

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (£10-99, Collins Design) by Lewis Carroll & Camille Rose Garcia

Hawkeye vol 1 h/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & David Aja, Javier Pulido, Francesco Frankavilla, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Activity Book (£18-99, Marvel) by Various & Various

Queen & Country Definitive Edition vol 1 (£14-99, Oni Press) by Greg Rucka & Steve Rolston, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Christine Norrie, Stan Sakai, Brian Hurtt, Leandro Fernandez

Queen & Country Definitive Edition vol 2 (£14-99, Oni Press) by Greg Rucka &  Jason Shawn Alexander, Carla Speed McNeil, Mike Hawthorne

Insurrection #0 (£1-50, Lost Publications) by Russell Stearman

Insurrection #1 (£2-50, Lost Publications) by Russell Stearman

Insurrection #2 (£2-50, Lost Publications) by Russell Stearman


We’ve plenty, but have run out of time! All the more for next week!

– Stephen

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