Page 45 Graphic Novel & Comic Reviews April 2015 week two

Beautiful books by Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan; Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke A. Allen; Madeleine L’Engle & Hope Larsson; Alex de Campi & Carla Speed McNeil; Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta, Dan Abnett & I.N.J. Culbard; Lisa Wilde; Miki Yoshikawa; Charles Soule & Steve McNiven; Rick Remender & Jerome Opena! NEWS, as ever, underneath!

Demo s/c (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan.

Twelve self-contained stories which readers of LOCAL will love, for each of which Becky Cloonan selects a specific tool from her seemingly infinite art box.

For a start, the strangest of dating games with the boy breaking in to leave Polaroids for Megan in LOCAL is reprised here as a young woman, driven to writing herself proscriptive post-it notes for each and every aspect of her life then sticking them all round house and outdoors, suddenly discovers notes that aren’t hers.

“Who are you?” and “Can we talk like this?”

Initially perturbed, she misses a bus which breaks her routine and triggers a panic. But there on the bus shelter is stuck another note: “I love that this is who you are.”

She smiles, a tear welling up. “…Really?”

That’s a beautiful panel. Cloonan’s thought long and hard about body language, in particular the posture of hands. It’s all so tenderly done, with a superb sense of light.


It’s also a story driven creatively on Brian’s part largely through the post-it notes themselves, for what follows is a playful coming together of minds followed by a breadcrumb trail of messages which finally lead to a café; but we never do see who brings her coffee, only that she’s charmed.

The advantage of a long-form narrative as opposed to short stories is that you only need one knock-out punchline, yet here a good nine or ten are electric whilst the stories themselves are dazzlingly imaginative. In addition to light, Becky’s ability to convey the sweaty claustrophobia of being caught on a gridlocked highway choked with exhaust fumes during a heat wave in ‘Waterbreather’ is matched only with the blessed relief of diving into a river below. After a flashback to the man’s unusual childhood sub-aquatic experiences, the resolution is surprisingly serene given where it leads him.

However, you’re going to need a much stronger stomach than the protagonist’s in ‘Pangs’ for which ‘unsettling’ is merely a starting point. Here Cloonan’s art is as bleak as a derelict bathhouse as a young, nail-biting loner rations himself on carefully parcelled frozen food then tries one last time to reconnect himself with those around him by dating a girl at a restaurant. It doesn’t go well so he returns home alone and resorts to measures so drastic they will make you wince.

There’s also a tale about a couple who repel each other like inverted magnets yet can’t stay apart because it destroys their physical health – the ultimate in “Can’t live with ‘em; can’t live without ‘em” but working both ways. There’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy and then a time-travelling story which addresses the eternal question of what you would say to yourself in your early teens, and whether in fact you would listen.

“That’s me. That’s dinner every night. That’s my Mom, pretending my Dad isn’t calling me, his daughter, every filthy and demeaning name under the sun.

“How do you explain away something like that?

“How do you survive something like that? I should have an answer, but I don’t. Honestly, it’s a blur. But it’s an acutely painful blur. I can feel her pain, the embarrassment, the panic. I can hear her heart pounding from here.”

Whatever Elisabeth planned to say to herself, in whatever way she hoped her life would be changed, it’s when she bumps into her best friend waiting loyally outside for that dinner to be over, hiding behind the car, that she recognises the one fatal error she made.

It seems to be a book about relationships, be they friends or lovers, some of whom understand and look out for each other, whilst others don’t. Two of my favourites are where they don’t, but with very different results.

In ‘Mixtape’ a young man listens to the tape left behind by his girlfriend who’s committed suicide, although in actual fact she’s either communicating from beyond, or he’s coming to an understanding himself. The understanding is that he never understood her. She asks him to take her to their favourite places, only they turn out to be his. It’s not confrontational at all – she just wants him to learn, move on, and then use his fresh self-awareness.

‘Breaking Up’, however, couldn’t be more confrontational as Angie ditches Gabe in public. Interspersed between the present argument are problems from the past, but it’s not as straightforward as it first appears (are these power struggles ever?), nor is it all one-track recrimination. I particularly enjoyed the complexity of that one. You almost forget about the elements of the fantastical after the first few stories, since those elements become less and less obvious.

Even in the earliest episodes originally published a decade or so ago, Becky Cloonan startles one with an extraordinary variety of art styles from hard and dark to wide-eyed yaoi, with bits of O’Malley and Paul Pope in between. At no point does she seem to lose confidence or the ability to submit the art to the task of telling the story clearly and with sympathy – something many corporate comicbook artists find themselves incapable of.


Buy Demo and read the Page 45 review here

East Of West vol 3: There Is No Us (£10-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta.

I love the lie.

The lie at the end, discerned only if you interpret the visuals. And that’s what comics at its brightest does best.

This is comics at its best and I beg you to now come on board!

I wonder if the title doubles as there is no US; as in, there is no United States…? Because there isn’t, you know: this is an America which has been divided between Seven Nations, representatives of whom sit on a secret council and conspire against each other, vying for power, even though their goal is the same: to bring about Armageddon. It is their sworn duty, for they are The Chosen who follow The Message, a sacred text heralding the end of the world.

Fighting the same nihilistic corner are the Horsemen Of The Apocalypse, resurrected in EAST OF WEST VOL 1 as children. Well, three of them were: War, Famine and Conquest. Death was conspicuously absent.

Why? Death, had stayed behind as a white-skinned, white-haired, white-clothed, gun-slinging adult because he’d fallen in love with a woman of stature who, he discovers, has born him a child and the hunt is now on for that son.

The Child Horsemen want to kill Death’s progeny; Death wants to save him.

Death wants to save the whole world.

Whenever I write reviews of second, third of fourth volumes I’m actually trying to sell a series I love to completely new readers. Rarely, therefore, would I have given away so much of EAST OF WEST VOL 1, except that in this instance it will help you enjoy the first book which is written with such fierce intelligence and such scant hand-holding that I didn’t grasp what was happening until I’d reached its last chapter. When the various parties and their interests finally fell into place, I was in awe.

As the series progressed and I began to comprehend how individualistically ruled were those nations, and the complexities of their allegiances and machinations, I was thrilled because I was reading something completely new, fully fleshed out, yet created from scratch.

Why do creators of science or speculative fiction get such a hard time from the crusty and entombed establishment that cultural cartoonist and satirist Tom Gauld can sum it up so succinctly as YOU’RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK?

That’s a rhetorical question, obviously. Remember, one of Britain’s greatest artists, Hogarth, used to be pilloried for his paintings (like The Rake’s Progress which were, parenthetically, comics, telling a single coherent story in a sequential series of paintings which were then converted to line drawings, engraved, printed then sold as a portfolio set) simply because satire was considered too base a genre for the high and mighty Fine Art cognoscenti. And drama as a medium was once considered so infra dig that theatres in England were closed down.

Comics isn’t the first medium to be sneered at by reactionary fuckwits like Tom Paulin (see our review of Chris Ware’s ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY containing Paulin’s condescending and culpable dismissal of the same creator’s JIMMY CORRIGAN, winner of the Guardian First Book Prize). But the genre of science fiction like the medium of comics will win the day and we’re now well on our way!

Straight, non-genre, contemporary fiction lauded by the establishment as What Is Best is far easier to write than speculative fiction in this regard at least: its authors don’t have to invent its backdrop, its environment. Contemporary schools exist, as do traffic habits, current means of communication, things you buy at the shops and those shops themselves.

How much more difficult it is to create a world from nothing with brand-new methods of living, power structures, laws of nature, new rules of science and the appliance of each to a coherent, convincing whole! Yet that’s what Jonathan Hickman has invented in EAST OF WEST and my hat’s off to him.

My Stetson’s also off to artist Nick Dragotta for the same level of visual invention is required. We’ve seen the Four Horsemen depicted so many times in their obvious, cadaverous, flying-steed iterations that this is quite the departure and they’re even more unnerving for their relatively innocuous appearance and conversational calm.

He’s erected edifices and monuments from nothing, a tag-team of Death’s two closest companions out of nowhere, and transformed what could otherwise have been a daunting war of words into a slick and sleek, action-packed thrill-athon of noon-day duels at the far from O.K. Corral.

He’s essentially made it personal, and his art and action has all the accessibility of Lee Weeks at his best.

Dragotta’s rendition of the Endless Nation’s representatives finally coming to The Chosen’s table was arresting. Consider distilling Native American culture as you know it – its beliefs, its practices and its dignified deportment – then projecting where it might go logically next in a more technologically driven, grave new world.

Then consider America and its austere, almost vampiric Madame President rendered like Disney’s Creulla de Vil. I don’t fancy the population puppies’ chances.

“Madame President. His name is Peter Graves. Graduated at the top of his class. Thirty years of public service. Beyond reproach, really. An excellent choice.”

“Wonderful. He can carry the bags.”


Buy East Of West vol 3: There Is No Us and read the Page 45 review here

Lumberjanes vol 1: Beware The Kitten Holy (£10-99, Boom) by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke A. Allen.

“What did we learn today?”
“That our worst nightmares are real and we should totally be afraid of them because they are coming to get us.”

Hardcore Lady Types!

Friendship To The Max!

That’s what the Lumberjanes’ Camp’s all about.

Also: extreme exploring and v sassy hair. Mal has a haircut just like our Dee’s: shaved on one side then dyed black and whoosh!

You’re not really supposed to sneak out from your cabin at night in pursuit of a shape-shifting Bear-woman only to be ambushed by a savage pack of three-eyed foxes which combust upon contact and project a mystery message like “Beware the kitten holy”. Not even as a posse. You run the risk of “stranger danger”.

But that is precisely what Mal, Molly, April, Jo and Ripley have done and now they must answer to cabin leader Jane who takes them to camp leader Rosie who’s whittling out of wood the most intricate eagle claws – so dainty – with an axe. Curiously, Rosie’s not cross; she’s intrigued. And what’s that glowing crystal doing in her toilet? I don’t think it’s an air freshener.

Highly animated art – positively hyperactive in places – with lots of lovely background laughs, my favourites including Mal in pursuit of a fox, mouth wide, arms flailing and young, sugar-buzzed Ripley dancing with glee when one of her friends starts dancing with glee. Watch Ripley throughout: she is hilariously excitable.

Magic foxes are just the beginning. There are rapids to ride, river monsters to not ride, a Tomb Raiding expedition complete with problem solving skillz, a pack of Yeti but – most frightening of all, the boy scouts’ hairy-legged leader, bounding into their cabin in muddy boots and wielding an axe:

“But – but – but we’ve got company.”
“We fell into some poison ivy.”
“But I like baking cookies…”

This is full of life, full of fun and full of individuality, as are the lady types themselves.

Also, what’s not to love in a comic that deifies Joan Jett?

“Al, Molly, what in the Joan Jett are you doing?!”

Getting into trouble.


Buy Lumberjanes vol 1: Beware The Kitten Holy and read the Page 45 review here

No Mercy #1 (£2-25, Image) by Alex De Campi & Carla Speed McNeil.

From the creator of FINDER and the writer of SMOKE / ASHES, something completely different lobbed lovingly onto our shelves.

Princeton University sent out a call to its hyper-achieving new students for a pre-freshmen trip to build much needed schools in Central America. After four years struggling to be model Ivy League applicants they were practically preconditioned to accept. Now they have landed, it is a bright, sunny day and they are texting, tweeting and grinning away excitedly.

“So here we are, all present and accounted for. (Though Tiffani hasn’t been totally present anywhere since she got her first iPhone.) … Tiffani?”
“Squeeee! Nun!!!”

Consider the Num pic.twitter’d!

It’s so well set up, De Campi nailing late teenage interaction and its naivety when it comes to the presumption of safety and recourse abroad, engendered by American or British citizenship. Some of them seem to have issues with one other but on the whole it is big, broad grins with Carla Speed McNeil lighting up their eyes as these young strangers get to know and enjoy each other’s company. A nun is exotic – a nun abroad, more exotic still.

The nun is far more concerned with practicalities and her reaction to the unexpected arrival of a tenuous relative is ever so slightly ominous.

But this is truly an adventure and the prospect of bus trip meandering high above this undiscovered countryside – although painfully long – is just another part of that thrill! One amongst them, Travis, is more worldly-wise: a seasoned traveller in India and he’s impressively eco-friendly, resourceful when it comes to money and admirably “freegan” in that he cares about excess and waste.

But even Travis is going to find what comes next almost impossible to grasp and – fuck – those smiles are going to be wiped off their faces in a catastrophic instant which is agonisingly teased out across two tense pages as time expands before…

And now they’re in trouble – more trouble than they can conceive of.

“This is – This is – not good territory. We have, we have to leave here at once.”

Straight fiction so contemporary it will cut you.


Buy No Mercy #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look At High School (£9-99, Microcosm) by Lisa Wilde…

“Yo, miss – the way Oedipus flipped out on his pops, even though he didn’t know it was his pops, wouldn’t you call him a real O.G.?”
“A what?”
“O.G. – ‘Original Gangsta’!”
“Huh… class, what do you think? Was Oedipus acting like an O.G.?”

Who doesn’t deserve a second chance? We all like to think we are, by and large, a caring, inclusive society, prepared to offer people the opportunity to be educated and thus thrive. But what about those students who can’t or won’t succeed in mainstream education? How do we go about supporting and encouraging those children to help them achieve their potential?

Lisa Wilde spent fifteen years teaching at John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy, a ‘second chance’ high school in New York City where all the students have ‘dropped out, been kicked out, or flunked out’ from at least one other high school, several in some cases. The kids range from those in social care due to serious family issues through to those on probation for serious criminal offences and gang-related activities. The sort of tough-skinned, street-wise kids that would eat the Breakfast Club for err… breakfast, basically. Which makes the process of trying to educate them a daily grind of extreme determination and incredible patience. Discipline is obviously a major issue, needless to say.

Perhaps surprisingly, therefore, Wildcat Academy has an excellent record of getting kids that all-important US high school diploma. Indeed, it’s not unknown for pupils to be referred directly to Wildcat by other schools. Undoubtedly a lot of these kids do want to learn, and better themselves, they just need the right environment – and teachers – to do so. YO, MISS tells the fictionalised (purely due to the need to protect the identity of minors) story of eight students, albeit based directly on Lisa Wilde’s experience, and using, with permission, the written work of some of her students.

Inevitably, there is as much drama outside school going on in their markedly different lives, in addition to the not inconsiderable amount inside the classroom, which affects their educational chances just as much as their desire, or lack of it, to learn. YO, MISS is a very sensitive look at the real challenges these kids face in attempting to graduate high school, before the legal cut-off point of twenty one years old. People who presume that ‘problem’ kids just don’t want to learn, and that teachers in this type of institution just don’t care, will find those assumptions rightly challenged in this fascinating, insightful look into a world that is simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking. Not everyone will succeed, some won’t even come close, but it’s those who are so near, but ultimately so far, which will really affect you. I would agree completely with Alison FUN HOME Bechdel’s quote on the front cover: “It’s riveting”.

One of the most profoundly moving passages for me was when Will, back in school after a night in the cells, recounts to Miss Wilde about talking to one of the many other prisoners in the holding cell who, upon learning he was a high school student, asked him what he was working on…

“He wants to know what I’m studying, and I tell him Oedipus.
“And he doesn’t know the story, so I begin telling it.
“And I’m getting into Oedipus and Thebes and Tiresias and the corruption, and all of a sudden I notice the whole cell is silent – everyone is listening to me.
“So I keep talking… and now I’m getting to the part where Jocasta’s trying to front on Oedipus, acting like she doesn’t know, and the whole cell is into it… and there’s this giant commotion… C.O.s come in to take guys out, they bring new guys in, doors slammin, yellin’… and the story’s lost.
“Finally things settle down, and I’m thinking maybe I’ll try to get a little sleep. So I’m moving to the back of the cell to see if I can find a corner where I can sit down, and this whole group of guys turns to me. Now, I’m not stupid, so I’m watching my back. But then they say to me, almost in one voice: “What happens next?””

Perfectly illustrating that in almost any conceivable circumstance, with the right person communicating interesting content, of course people want to be educated. It’s human nature.

Finally… my opinion would be that no, Oedipus was not an O.G. because he didn’t get out of the game intact. Yes, he might have achieved a position of power (King of Thebes), amassed a fat paper stack (royalty not usually being short of a few bob), probably wore vast quantities of regal bling, was undoubtedly a hit with the ladies (his mother, granted, but clearly a playa), but ultimately going mad and gouging out his own eyes…? Decidely not O.G. behaviour in my book.


Buy Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look At High School and read the Page 45 review here

Dark Ages (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Dan Abnett & I.N.J. Culbard.

“Never have I asked the Lord our God for much, for I never wanted to owe him.”

Very wise, very wise.

“I feel his disapproving eyes on me, most days, and I fear his wrath.
“For it is sudden and it is awful.”

My headmaster had a temper on him too.

Still, there are worse things in the world and indeed off-world as Captain Hawkherst and his not-so-merry men are about to find out.

It is early winter, 1333, in Europe, four years before the 100 Years War. The Captain’s cadre are tired and hungry. Being war profiteers, right now times are tough and food is thin on the ground. What they desperately need – and are tempted to pray for – is for hostilities to erupt. They don’t particularly care on which frontier for their loyalties lie only to each other. Be careful what you wish for.

Up in the sky they spy brand-new heavenly bodies: five oddly shaped stars dancing like diamonds in the night. They appear to be in formation. They are. But they are far from heavenly.

From the creators of NEW DEADWARDIANS which we loved so much we made it a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month comes another historical mash-up, this time medieval in nature: aliens versus chain-mailed, human predators. I have my money on the aliens every time.

Crucially the aliens are indeed suitably alien in aspect, their otherness truly terrifying to Hawkherst, Galvin, Aelfric and co. The hardened veterans actually turn tail and run. They run and seek sanctuary in a mountain-top monastery, but its resident monks prove equally unnerving. Their faces hidden under cowls with but silver beards shining through, they say nothing. They talk to no one. And up in the evening’s cold, obsidian sky something even darker approaches, blotting out the stars. Something darker and much, much bigger.

There’s a stupendous final, full-page flourish from Ian Culbard (BRASS SUN etc.) after an already-chilling opening chapter, while Dan Abnett will put the fear of God into you. On so many levels as well.

Its dialogue is suitably sparse and direct, his superstitious soldiers pragmatic all the same. The language has been chosen carefully and lavishly laced with “bloody”s, plus there’s a satisfying cadence to sentences like this, particularly its final clause:

“There are too many princes and kings who want a war won, but are coy with their purse strings when the bill for that bloodshed draws due.”

As to his monks, one at least has a tongue as well as an ear and to one wall, for he has been waiting a while.

“They’re here.”

Whom do you think he is talking to?

Culbard has craftily based other elements of the alien invasion on medieval woodcuts of the devil and the opening shot to the final fourth chapter when those “demons” begin the final assault screams Steve Ditko at his most otherworldly, including the weapons they wield.

I confess that they final three pages currently confound me but the fact that I’m still left pondering them several days on says it all.


Buy Dark Ages and read the Page 45 review here

A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel s/c (£10-99, Square Fish) by Madeleine L’Engle & Hope Larson…

“But how could we have gotten here? Even travelling at the speed of light it would take us years and years.”
“Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything. We tesser. Or as you might say, we wrinkle.”

Nice to be completely unfamiliar with the original material for a comics adaptation for a rare change, as I don’t recall even hearing about the prose version of this as a kid, which is a little surprising given how much sci-fi and fantasy I read in my childhood days. The story itself actually reminded me of Philip Pulman’s more recent Dark Materials Trilogy (for several reasons, and I would be very surprised if he hasn’t read this work) plus also the works of C.S. Lewis given some of the Christian references and allusion to the real identities of certain characters, but also children’s books like the Captain Cobweb series and Milo And The Phantom Toolbooth for their vast sense of surreal adventure.

Originally written in 1962 – and rejected by about fifty publishers before someone picked it up, primarily because they felt the time wasn’t right to have a female lead character in a science fiction work (really) – the central plot revolves around feisty young Meg Murray and her search for her missing father, who apparently vanished whilst researching something mysterious for the government. That mysterious something turns out to be instantaneous travel across space by means of bending space-time using the tesseract principle, or ‘tessering’ for short.

Unfortunately for Meg’s father it seems that there is a dark force abroad in the Universe, seeking to enslave whole planets at a time, and during an early explorative tesser he has been captured. How, precisely, has Meg found out this extremely top secret information, given the government haven’t been willing to tell them anything for months? Well, by means of her super-intelligent younger brother Charles equally mysterious friends, Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which who, initially at least, appear to be witches, but in fact may be rather more than that. Fortunately for Meg and her brother, the three W’s also have the power to ‘tesser’ them and thus launch an expedition to find and rescue their father.

Okay, that’s probably enough of a synopsis to give you the general idea of what to expect plot-wise, so let’s talk about the adaptation itself, because that is for me the highlight here. This is an exceptionally beautifully illustrated book which is, I feel, Hope’s finest work to date. I get the impression from the art that this was certainly no chore, but probably rather a labour of love, such is the consistency and fluidity of the illustration. CHIGGERS, MERCURY (and the subsequent SOLO) are absolutely wonderful works in their own rights, but in terms of the art A WRINKLE IN TIME has that little something extra, the sense of touch that someone who had already fully realised and harnessed their exceptional talents has, however improbably, been inspired to surge one step further. I found an almost seamless sense of continuity from panel to panel, page to page, the whole work moving onwards with an almost animation-like quality in my mind’s eye. In other words, near perfection.

There were in fact several pages where I almost unconsciously slowed down my reading pace to better take in all the exquisite background details, which always gently embellish the scene, adding real depth and warmth. And without question Hope has completely succeeded in capturing every nuance of the emotional wringer that Meg is put through on her quest, and indeed her whole family at the anguish they feel over the continued absence of Mr. Murray. Just flicking back through looking at the art (again!) you could easily get a complete sense of the story without even needing to read the speech bubbles, just from observing the myriad expressions on the various character’s faces, particularly that of Meg and her brother Charles who go on such an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows during the course of their travels!

Definitely one for fans of Hope, absolutely one for children who love action-packed adventures, but also a great all-ages read in the vein of AMULET and MOUSE GUARD as adults will also be captivated by the surreal world that Madeleine L’Engle has created and which Hope brings so vividly to life to furnish us with a genuine magical mystery tour.


Buy A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Yamada-kun And The Seven Witches vol 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Miki Yoshikawa.

Yay for gender swapping! Yay for secrets and furtive glances and embarrassed body jokes!

Ummmm… There’s no hint of any witches so far. And inside bears no resemblance to the cover whatsoever – it’s much more fun than that!

Teenage Ryu Yamada is far from the ideal student. He is notorious for turning up late, leaving early, sleeping in class and his grades set likely to fail him. He’s simply not interested.

One morning he spies beautiful, blonde and high-achieving honour student Urara Shiraishi clip-clopping up some school stairs and his jealousy / resentment is instinctual. Pride, however, goes immediately before a fall and they crash down upon each other and Ryu passes out. When he wakes up he has large breasts and nothing between his legs. Which is pretty disconcerting for a lad. He’s swapped bodies with Urara and doesn’t handle it well!

Urara, meanwhile, has calmly returned to her studies in Ryu’s body and everyone’s rather curious about his new, feminine, knees-closed posture. When they meet up Ryu’s still freaking out while Urara dispassionately observes…

“I don’t like having something strange between my legs.”

Hilarious! The very first thing Ryu did when he woke up in Urara’s body was take a quick gander under her garments but the very idea that Urara’s looked down his boy-pants and seen what he’s got – eeek! There appears to be a slight-subplot about what Ryu’s packing down below. She’s not going to be the last one to assess his credentials: stud-muffin Toranosuke’s going to take a good look when he swaps bodies with Ryu.

I think I’d better explain:

It seems that Ryu has the ability to trade places with others simply by kissing them – when he fell on top of Urara they accidentally kissed. The reason he’s only just found this out is that he’s never actually kissed anyone before. Aww. Now he’s going to be doing a lot more kissing whether he likes it or not – and it’s actually “not” every time, although he does discover its uses.

What he also discovers is that being a blonde bombshell or an honour student isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the once dismissive drop-out begins to discover he does actually care about what Urara has to put up with from boys and girls – enough to do something about it.

This is far from the finest example of Japanese comics and although I did admire Yoshikawa’s use of body language – Ryu as a girl is thoroughly ungainly; he doesn’t know how to comport himself in a body he’s unused to – it was signposted almost every time in the script unnecessarily. On the other hand it wasn’t as obvious as it could have been and its publisher Kodansha has quite the pedigree (AKIRA, ATTACK ON TITAN etc) so it’s almost certainly going to go somewhere.

(I so would, by the way; and so would you!)


Buy Yamada-kun And The Seven Witches vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Uncanny Inhumans #0 (£3-99, Marvel) by Charles Soule & Steve McNiven.

Ah, what a lambent surprise!

The cover doesn’t half soak up all light in a room, but inside this shines under its clear blue skies, crackling temporal energy and the sound of a whispered word. No clues as to whose required.

This seemed on the surface to be an oddly low-profile book for the high-profile creators of the DEATH OF WOLVERINE but, haha, I suspect it will prove key on the other side of the tumultuously anticipated SECRET WARS series beginning in May.

If you are unaware of what’s imminent, events first brought to light in motion in NEW AVENGERS VOL 1 are about to come to a cataclysmic head as the two main Marvel Earths (regular and Ultimate) are about to collide, wiping them both out along with their universes. That is why Black Bolt’s palm is glowing: the final Incursion is imminent, and there is one thing above all which he must ensure – that his son survives.

Now, how would you ensure someone survives the end of the universe, do you think? Who are you going to call on? The major Marvel villain will seem so obvious in retrospect but I’m sure not going to spell it out here.

Sorry…? Yes, of course I’ve left clues: I always leave clues.

The Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee INHUMANS hardcover comes highly recommended as an introduction to the family but also to all as a very clever, considered and beautiful self-contained work about society. Some of it smacked of Neil Gaiman. No lie.


Buy The Uncanny Inhumans #0 and read the Page 45 review here

Avengers: Rage Of Ultron h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & Jerome Opena.

“Earlier you pondered if there is a God.
“There is now.”

Ooooh, Ultron’s got himself into a right old tizzy.

He’s got a total strop on!

Feel his rage! Raargh!

Actually, he hasn’t. The title seems to be no more than a convenient pun on the other year’s AGE OF ULTRON event. Ultron’s far more calculated than that. If anyone’s bellowing the loudest it’s The Vision, one of whose chief appeals used to be his complete dispassion! I don’t follow the fate of these people so slavishly that I have a clue what’s changed him so drastically, but here he’s miffed at the guilt-ridden creator of Ultron, Hank Pym, as insecure as ever but dispassionate enough to simply switch his enemy off like any other malfunctioning toaster burning the bread.

Good call, if you ask me, but that’s what’s got The Vision – also a machine – pretty grumpy even though Hank has taken pains to ensure The Vision is immune to his Automatic Neural Inhibitor. Cue a great deal of hand-wringing amongst all while millions die.

If they’d listened to Hank it would have been a much shorter graphic novel and things wouldn’t have gone so disastrously wrong that, umm, well it sure doesn’t end well for everyone, I’m afraid.

Instead this is a very, very wordy slugfest which doesn’t have any of the defining parameters / limitations required for a sense of tension. No one is using any particular skill sets skilfully except artist Jerome Opena who serves up two particularly terrifying spreads of the face of Ultron carved into Titan’s lunar, city surface like a malevolent deity.

 His angles and figure work throughout are impressive, increasingly so as this original graphic novel – it’s not a reprint – throws itself forward to its unexpected, game-changing end.

Before that there’s some soul searching about whether parents’ love for their children is unconditional and who is more disappointed in whom as a parent or child.

FYI: Avenger Hank Pym created the artificial intelligence that is Ultron, Ultron immediately went homicidal and created The Vision as an agent of the Avengers’ destruction, The Vision overrode his own programming and earned himself a spot in the Avengers.

This was all back when I was paying attention… in the 1970s. For Ultron’s and The Vision’s first appearances please see MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AVENGERS VOL 6.


Buy Avengers: Rage Of Ultron h/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?

Jupiter’s Legacy vol 1 s/c (£7-50, Image) by Mark Millar & Frank Quitely

Lulu Anew h/c (£20-99, NBM) by Etienne Davodeau

Zenith: Phase Three h/c (£20-00, Rebellion) by Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell

Behind The Curtain (£15-99, SelfMadeHero) by Andrzej Klimowski & Danusia Schejbal

Crossed vol 12 s/c (£18-99, Avatar) by David Lapham & Francisco Manna

Astro City: Family Album s/c (£12-99, DC) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Eric Anderson

Deathstroke The Terminator vol 1: Assassins s/c (£14-99, DC) by Marv Wolfman & Steve Erwin

Harley Quinn vol 1: Hot In The City s/c (£12-99, DC) by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & various

Harley Quinn vol 2: Power Outage h/c (£18-99, DC) by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & various

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman vol 1 s/c (£10-99, DC) by Gail Simone, Gilbert Hernandez & Ethan Van Sciver, Phil Jimenez, various

Captain Marvel vol 2: Stay Fly s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Marcio Takara, David Lopez

Dragon Ball 3-in-1 Edition vols 22-24 (£9-99, Viz) by Akira Toriyama

Naruto vol 69 (£6-99, Viz) by Masashi Kishimoto

Strangers In Paradise vol 1 Pocket Edition (£13-50, Abstract Edition) by Terry Moore


ITEM! OH YES INDEED! From the creator of ALEC which I’ve declared to be the single finest body of work in comics, finally the first half of Eddie Campbell’s BACCHUS has been announced with Neil Gaiman exhorting you to relish this mischievously modernised mythology for yourselves! Do you trust us? Do you trust Neil? You can pre-order BACCHUS VOL 1 of 2 for worldwide dispatch or collection in-store! We’d be terribly grateful!

ITEM! The magnificent Mr Culbard has generously declared that every copy of THE KING IN YELLOW ordered from Page 45 before it is published will be signed and sketched in for free! Pop “Culbard” in our search engine and you’ll see why he’s the perfect choice to adapt this prose so influential both to H.P. Lovecraft and to Neil Gaiman.

ITEM! Learn how THE WICKED + THE DIVINE’S creators Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie first met and more in this Emerald City Comics Con interview.  Intrigued? Our reviews: THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, PHONOGRAM, YOUNG AVENGERS.

This is PHONOGRAM: THE SINGLES CLUB, by the way:

ITEM! Andy Waterfield takes the time and trouble to write about what makes a great comic shop.  Cheers, Andy!

–       Stephen

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.