Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews November 2015 week four

Please see below New Arrivals for massive influx of new books  from John Porcelino’s Spit & A Half Distribution in America!

Giant Days vol 1 (£7-50, Boom! Box) by John Allison & Lissa Treiman.

“Making love is a beautiful way for two people to share their bodies. That’s what my Granny says.”
“It’s difficult to imagine the exact moment when she’d say that.”

Dear, dear Daisy! So sweet, so innocent, so much hair! Her hands are constantly clasped together or round someone she loves. This is her idea of a dirty secret:

“I was watching napkin-folding videos. They make me… feel nice.”

Aww. She’s just made best friends with Esther and Susan, the three of them thrown together at university during Fresher’s Week. They’re a month in and colds from all over the country have come together for a massive flu-fest, spread by snogging and whatnot. Gothstress Esther De Groot is pallid at the best of times, but now she’s looking like a cocooned corpse, wrapped head to toe in a duvet.

“I can’t tell if I’m hot or cold.”
“You live for compliments, don’t you? You’re hot! You’re very hot.”

That’s Susan Ptolemy, the more motherly of the trio, doing her best to look after the ditzy (Daisy) and the drama-magnet (Esther). Unfortunately she’s currently torn between a sore throat and her craving to smoke.

“Nic-O-Teen. Why are you treating me like this? You cost me a fortune! I demand loyalty!”

And nicotine patches are even more expensive.

“It’s a con! It’s a carnie game! The whole nicotine business is a scam!”
“Congratulations, Ptolemy. You worked it out.”

The man with the moustache clapping away is McGraw. Susan and McGraw have a childhood past. Now that McGraw has transferred in from another university, they’re about to have a somewhat problematic present. Throw in little Ed Gemmel with his shyly guarded pash on Esther, and that’s your basic set-up. It works like a dream, each chapter throwing up college-driven catastrophes-in-waiting with a sub-plot or two simmering underneath.

Written by John Allison, the creator of BAD MACHINERY and EXPECTING TO FLY, the discipline he’s learned from publishing individual pages episodically online – each one demanding narrative movement – means that there’s no filler whatsoever. Instead there’s panel after panel of wild declarations and pithy retorts as the women discover themselves, their new surroundings and each other.

We adore Allison’s art as well, but both his substitutes so far have been golden and I hate to say it but you won’t miss John for one second. Here it’s Lissa Treiman whose energy explodes on the page, matching that of its cast. Her eye for contemporary casual wear is right up with Allison’s and Jamie McKelvie’s, while Esther’s exotic new boots are monstrously fab, even if they’ve cost her a night’s clubbing.

“I apparently spent all my money on these boots. They spoke to me.”
“They said, “You’re not going to have any money any more”?”
“I wish I spoke Boot.”

Chapter three’s final-panel teaser was deliciously drawn by Treiman as Daisy walks away whistling, having dropped enough of a bombshell for Susan and Esther to stare at each other, wide-eyed, over the top of Daisy’s retreating bush of hair, both uttering a wavy, “oooooooooooh!”

That in itself is a joyfully satisfying composition but, brilliantly, Susan and Esther’s expressions are opposites: Susan’s more of a convex, upturned gasp, hair flying, while Esther’s mouth is a great big grin which is reflected in the concave curve of her ski-slope nose, black tresses cascading down.

What are they so intrigued by? Daisy’s new friendship with the gorgeous Nadia, she of the blue-streaked, asymmetrical haircut.

It’s Daisy’s 18th birthday soon. She’s never been clubbing before.

“I don’t… know… if this is the sort of music I like, Nadia.”
“You’ll get into it. You might just need a bit of assistance.”

Haha! It’s amazing what you’ll dance to under the right conditions.

I’m afraid Daisy’s just popped all the pills!


Buy Giant Days vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

King-Cat Comics And Stories #75 (£4-99) by John Porcellino…

“Excuse me young man, are you alright? Would you like a tissue?”

So… I settled down on the tram to read the latest missive from the maestro of US mini-comics and before long the waterworks were flowing. Yes, the pull quote above isn’t from this issue, but a concerned pensioner offering me assistance to wipe away the tears. On the bloody tram…  again!!

Following the saline stimulating powers of DAYTRIPPER and PLUTO VOL 1 whilst enduring the confines of public transport, I have been awaiting the next instalment of Crying Rigby with some trepidation. I knew it would happen, I just didn’t expect it to be a comic about a cat! I don’t even particularly like cats!

But then John P has always written from the heart, so honestly and openly about his life, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised at his ability to tug on one’s tear ducts. For this is the life story of Maisie, from the moment John first encountered her at his friend Donal’s apartment in Denver, Colorado in March 1992 as a four month old kitten, to her final moments, in John’s arms, over fifteen years later.

For Maisie soon became his cat, or perhaps more precisely John became her human, and for that period of time they had together on this earth, she was John’s one constant, a comforting, loving presence through traumatic personal illnesses (see THE HOSPITAL SUITE), mental health issues, family losses and two failed marriages (see MAP OF MY HEART: THE BEST OF KING-CAT COMICS & STORIES: 1996-2002). Throughout, Maisie provided John with the unconditional love we all thrive on.

Even now, as I type, I can feel myself welling up thinking about Maisie’s final days. Read this, and you will be in no doubt of the depth of love John had, has, for her. Following hot on the heels of a concluding photograph of Maisie in her pomp, the haiku below, the sole content on the back cover, perfectly capturing the moment John recently had an involuntary Maisie flashback some eight years after her passing, was the final slashing katana blow to my emotional composure…

“Even now
opening up a book
to find a Maisie hair”


Buy King-Cat Comics And Stories #75 and read the Page 45 review here

Doodle A Day (£9-99, Macmillan) by Chris Riddell.

Creativity is cool!

But sometimes we all need a little spark, a little nudge and a little inspiration to get our minds whirring and the artistic juices flowing.

That’s precisely what this is, a book designed to make industry leisure and crafting a pleasure while giving you the structure of a brief, daily routine to ensure you don’t just dawdle but doodle each day.

From Chris Riddell, the current Children’s Laureate and co-creator of Neil Gaiman’s THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE and FORTUNATELY, THE MILK (UK edition), comes a pocketbook of illustrated pages each with a blank space for you to add your personal flourishes to. They can be visual or they could be verbal. Some might involve a rebellious retort!

There are ‘Story Starters’, ‘How To’ guides, colouring challenges and blind dates with drawing during which you have to close your eyes and hope for the best.

Please don’t remind me.

Here are some examples:

“Draw some cubs for Sniffy the battle-cat.”
“What has been left all over the floor?”
“Write or draw what happens next…”
“What’s on the end of this stick?”
“Illustrate or decorate this word: DELICATE”

Being contrary, I’m inclined to paste on a more delicate, hand-drawn “delicate” and then leave a white space before slashing in bombastic, crazed chaos all around, so emphasising that unbattered calm left within.

“Write this postcard without lifting your pen off the page.”
“Draw all the square things you can find.”
“Try a modern abstract portrait of someone you know.”
“Listen to some instrumental music and draw what it makes you think of.”
“Look at the front and back of a book you haven’t read, then draw a scene you think might be in it.”

You might prefer to write that instead, for I fully believe that rules must be flaunted. In any case – every so often – anarchy is unleashed:

“Here’s a space to draw whatever you like!”

I’m buying one of these as Christmas presents for almost everyone I know – including my Aunties and Uncles! Creativity isn’t just for the young, it’s for the young at heart too, and thanks to this kindness so many of us can be entry-level students once again, no matter how many decades we’ve let pass since we last picked up a quill.



Buy Doodle A Day and read the Page 45 review here

Our Expanding Universe (£14-99, Top Shelf) by Alex Robinson.

“Trust me, a year from now you’ll be one of those dads telling me that my life isn’t complete until I’ve seen my child look at me and smile because he just shit his drawers again.”

Let’s hope so.

There’s a lot to digest here for this is an improbably well balanced discussion on – and examination of – friendship and parenthood with that bit in between: being part of a couple. But mostly it’s about bringing new life into the world and how that impacts on your relationship and your friendships, your freedom and your future.

Billy, being reassured above by his single mate Brownie, has just learned that his wife is pregnant. It shouldn’t be so much of a shock to Billy since he and his wife Marcy have been trying for a while. There may have been a little pressure from Marcy’s parents since Marcy’s sister Missy already has a kid; and there may have been a little encouragement from Billy’s other mate Scotty since he already has one child with wife Ritu and another on the way. And they seem happy.

But suddenly, to Billy, it is real.

As his single, divorcee mate Brownie says with sympathy, it’s like when you’ve embarked on a rollercoaster ride and the safety bar goes down. At any point before that you could have turned back. But when the safety bar goes down you are locked in to the rollercoaster ride which in the case of parenthood will last for a good two decades and beyond.

And Billy doesn’t believe he is ready.

He is on the precipice of regret.

How do you tell your wife that?

OUR EXPANDING UNIVERSE explores the dynamics over time between three male friends, Brownie, Billy and Scottie. It also explores the relationships between Scotty and his wife Ritu, Billy and his missus Marcy, and Ritu and Marcy’s close friendship. Then there’s Brownie, a single divorcee, who feels increasingly excluded by his friends’ forward momentum even though he was the very first to get married. Opinionated and with no internal editor, he does love to pontificate way too much about everything including children which he doesn’t have, and that drives Scotty, father of one – no wait, two – at times to venomous distraction. On the other hand, Brownie has a certain wisdom which comes from being well informed, and is surprisingly principled as you’ll eventually see. Maybe Scotty isn’t as happy as he seems. Maybe he should have come out with this long ago for Billy’s sake:

“Anyone who tells you parenthood is all hugs and ‘Little House on The Prairie’ and soccer games is a filthy fucking liar. You’re going to be stressed, you’re going to worry, you and Marcy are going to get into fights about who left the stuffed frog at the playground. You just hang on, cuz you’re someone’s dad now, and that’s what dads are supposed to do.”

I couldn’t imagine Billy and Marcy fighting. They’re the kindest of all the cast.

There is so much going on which will eventually come out but this isn’t the place.

Please don’t believe this is entirely male-centric, either. For one, there is the central scene published like a play. In it Ritu and Marcy host an evening for their fellow ‘Sirens of Brooklyn’, Julie, Nicole, Kim, Dani and Gina. They’re in various sorts and stages of relationships, some with children, but only one of them have we heard much about: Gina. Gina seems destined to be single forever. She’s had a seemingly endless string of catastrophic dates which she tends to offload to her friends who are in equal parts amused and sympathetic because they do love her dearly. They were united in relief when Gina finally extricated herself from her one longer relationship, which was abusive. Very abusive.

The evening meanders along pleasantly enough with different parties exchanging news, compliments and the occasional slightly overbearing advice. There’s only one awkward moment as Marcy side-steps Ritu’s rash declaration that Marcy might have something to announce, until the evening comes crashing down and we’re given a completely different take on the whole single versus couple scenario which had hitherto been left unvoiced. But it’s not over, for when Ritu and Marcy are left alone to clear up, Robinson pulls out the finest panel in the book as the play gives way to a moment of comics which is worthy of Will Eisner.

Robinson’s storytelling is faultless. There’s an earlier gathering of Marcy’s family, Billy suffering a little ridicule for his chosen profession, and I loved how the pages split vertically as the chatter split into one-on-one offshoots, before merging again as conversations converged, and so on. He’s particularly adept at presenting middle-age and something subtle much later on happens to Billy’s hair.

I wasn’t entirely sure what the astronomy interludes added even after the Planetarium show: I’m not sure they did put “things in perspective” because the point surely is that the dilemmas within are very real to each individual and so of the utmost importance. Although I did learn that there are “rogue” planets which don’t revolve around a star but roam the galaxy in darkness, forever alone.

So: singles, couples, commitment and the conscious decision or to pressures to reproduce. Oh, and one other element I’ve studiously avoided here.

A lot of my friends have got married and had children; a lot of my friends have got married but not had children; a lot of my friends have had children but not got married. They all seem blissfully happy in their unions albeit there are going to be stresses and strains because that is life and that is inevitably strife too once there’s a new, demanding element in the mix. I’ve seen how chicks squawk when they’re hungry!

To dive in regardless is to many a perfectly natural – even biological – imperative and a joy! To forgo that pleasure in favour of a fulfilling relationship free from such distractions is an equally understandable decision. I didn’t even know there was a ridiculous stigma attached to the obviously valid choice not to have children until I read Julian Hanshaw’s great graphic novel TIM GINGER. To remain single is far from the end of the world, but to some it seems so and I sympathise there as well. Every iteration and argument is explored, I promise you, in OUR EXPANDING UNIVERSE by the creator of TRICKED and TOO COOL TO BE FORGOTTEN and, originally, BOX OFFICE POISON.

It’s just a shame there have to be arguments, isn’t it? We do love to judge, and there will plenty of that going on here – just not by Alex Robinson.


Buy Our Expanding Universe and read the Page 45 review here

Hitler (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Shigeru Mizuki…

“You can have Austria. Sorry about that misunderstanding.”
“Don’t give it a second thought.”

Adolf Hitler was undoubtedly one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating, flawed characters. Countless experts have attempted to unravel the man, his rise to power and ultimate self-destruction, and here Shigeru Mizuki, one of comics finest documentarians of both historical geo-politics SHOWA: A HISTORY OF JAPAN 1926-1939, 1939-1944, 1944-1953, 1953-1989 and the up close and personal experience of war ONWARD TOWARDS OUR NOBLE DEATHS, provides his own irreverent take on the demagogue who had it all, briefly, before his insatiable desire for immortality in the form of total global domination and a thousand year Reich caused it all to turn to dust before his very eyes.

Mizuki wisely steers away from trying to understand what made Hitler tick, instead providing a fascinating précis of some of the known facts thus allowing the rich material to speak for itself, along with an occasional ridiculous punchline provided knowingly to camera by the man himself, such as when having a kiss and make up session with Il Duce Benito Mussolini over their little misunderstanding as to the future ownership of Austria, as in the opening pull quote. Surely a comedic turn only matched in odiousness by the late, not-so-great Bernard Manning!

Mizuki treats his subject, in the pre-political days at least, with a surprising degree of almost affection, playing up the buffoonery of the down and out failed artist in Vienna. Then Hitler’s action-packed military career as a runner in World War 1, including capturing fifteen French soldiers single-handedly, winning him the Iron Cross, First Class, something almost never awarded to a lowly rank-and-file solider.  Followed by his post-war infiltration of the tiny DAP political group, a mere six people, working as an intelligence agent for the German government, before deciding that a future role as a radical politician was the most logical career progression!

Hmm. The only illustrations I can find are in French. I promise you this is in English!

From there, this follows his ascent to real influence over people and the transformation of the DAP into the National Socialists, the early political then military successes as Chancellor of Germany. Before the megalomania, given free rein at last, consumed him completely, causing the rapid implosion of both the Third Reich and Hitler’s grip on sanity and ultimately power as the Allies were finally provoked into launching an armed response which soon bloomed into World War 2. Even then, the ever-escalating conflict only played to Hitler’s sense of grandiose self-destiny, before it became finally clear to him, long after the rest of the German high command, that all was lost.

Inevitably, covering such a vast complex period, Mizuki can only cover the basics, but he does so, particularly where Hitler is involved with a real sense of mischief that has become his trademark. This is mixed in with illustrations partially or fully from photographic reference when narrating factual battlefield events or matters such as death camps which clearly brook no attempts at abrogation through comedy. As a whole though, skewering material like this with a subtle comedic thread serves to capture the imagination and retain the attention of the casual reader. It’s not HIPSTER HITLER, clearly, but it’s just as cleverly done.


Buy Hitler and read the Page 45 review here

Low vol 2: Before The Dawn Burns Us (£10-99, Image) by Rick Remender & Greg Tocchini.

Riveting and wrenching subaquatic sci-fi about maintaining hope in the wake of barely conceivable adversity. The adversity is natural then compounded by man. We just cannot help ourselves, can we?

“The pamphlets contain a very potent breed of premeditative creativity. They have become… quite contagious.”

The disease these pamphleteers are spreading with their beautiful art and stories is this pernicious, seditious hope. In this society art has been outlawed and optimism is illegal, a crime punishable by death.

The law is enforced by Ministers Of Thought, one of whom lives with a girlfriend who loves to paint. The Minister is petrified of what will happen to her loved one if she’s caught with a canvas, and we’re given plenty of brutal if balletic evidence of what to expect in that nightmare scenario when the lights go out at a printers pre-publication.

That, however, is as nothing to both the love and terror so vividly rendered by both Remender and Tocchini during the final pages of the first chapter when the game back home is presumed to be up and the Minister of Thought knows only too well what is coming. You’ll have to wait a little while to discover exactly who that Minister is, for we then break to rejoin Stel’s quest to get to the surface.

For a far more extensive introduction and art overview, please see our review of LOW VOL 1: THE DELIRIUM OF HOPE, but briefly it has come to this:

In the future our sun will expand then go supernova, at which point the Earth itself as well as its inhabitants will need more than Factor 500. We will be engulfed. Obliterated. And that will be the end of our story. This isn’t speculative, it is a scientific certainty.

Long before then the radiation levels on the Earth’s surface will have exceeded intolerable, so if we haven’t already escaped this solar system we’ll have needed to move underground or deep, deep, deep underwater.

In LOW humanity hasn’t yet found an alternative, habitable planet but Stel – devoted wife and mother of three – is almost unique in remaining optimistic and focussed even though the enormity of the challenge is mind-boggling. Probes were first sent out in search of habitable planets over 13,000 years ago. 13,000 years without success, 13,000 years of failure! Can you imagine maintaining hope in that terrible knowledge? Few others have and, now that less than a year’s supply of air remains for Stel’s deep-sea colony, its leaders have caved in to drug-fuelled, let’s-take-what-we-can-get hedonism. They won’t assist or in any way enable Stel’s action, even when she believes she’s successfully retrieved a probe at least to the Earth’s toxic surface.

That’s where she’s headed now with a new group of allies so there really is hope. But there’s also adversity.

Did I mention what’s become of Stel’s husband, her son and two daughters?


Buy Low vol 2: Before The Dawn Burns Us and read the Page 45 review here

The Goddamned #1 (£2-99, Image) by Jason Aaron & r.m Guéra.

Well, this is all jolly European: the lines, the light, and the full-frontal nudity.

It’s male, by the way, and he’s blonde if that makes any difference to you.

It’s all very male here – not a woman in sight – perhaps reflecting the patriarchal nature of the Old Testament. Or maybe the women have all seen the brutal, bloody violence ahead and quite wisely eschewed an appearance in favour of something more sedate like a rugby match.

It’s all very western too, with a lone stranger wandering the wide-open landscapes – albeit muddy, faecal-flooded landscapes littered with carcasses being torn into by rabid wolves. He wandered into town last night, got set upon and sliced open by the Bone Boys. After lying face-down in excrement for hours, he seems much better this morning. Not a scar on his body. He’s going to mosey back into town now, and there will be much tohewen and toshrede.

It’s 1600 years after Eden and, my, how man has fallen! Or been pushed. These are those damned by God ever since our protagonist got a little angry and invented murder. Can you guess who it is yet?

“My brother was an asshole. The first two children born into the world and we couldn’t fucking stand each other. That alone ought to tell you how fucked we all are.”

That’s the least sweary passage I could find, FYI. Since then our man with a mission (I think it’s to die) has been cursing God for making him live in a Jim Foetus song:

“I’m watching my life swirl down the drain
And I feel about as Abel as Cain
But I guess that that’s the price of fame
When you’re destined to live in this Street Of Shame.”

Destined to live there forever, by the looks of things. Still, at least they’ve invented alcohol.

The art’s reminiscent of Brent Anderson on KA-ZAR with a little Barry Windsor-Smith modelling. No jungles, but many more cleaved skulls and fire-eyed dinosaurs guaranteed.

From the creative team behind SCALPED.  Ooh, look, here comes another Biblical figure. That explains the series’ sub-title.


Buy The Goddamned #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Red Thorn #1 (£2-99, Vertigo) by David Baillie & Meghan Hetrick.

“It rains in Glasgow like nowhere else in the world. It’s hard and cold, and it hits you in the face like a thousand tiny knives made of bone.”

Rarely do I quote a writer’s opening gambit. She or he will have put days of thought into the first few sentences of a brand-new series, so to steal that hard work for your own initial impact seems to me a little lazy. On the other hand, what a golden gift horse!

We’re in Glaswegian graveyard, by the way, with a magnificent mausoleum on its summit.

“The perfect place for a temper tantrum – or a valiant gesture. But whichever of those options this actually was, it was never going to stop the events already set in motion.”

The valiant but doomed gesture comes in the form of pages of a sketchbook being torn out by red-head Isla Mackintosh. They flap and flutter like autumnal leaves up into the stormy sky only to be battered by the positively Bratislavan downpour over the headstones towards us. The first and foremost depicts a wretched figure slumped forward, its wrists and ankles manacled in chains.

The panel beneath that depicts someone or something in a similar predicament, with a long, flame-coloured mane, flopped over her / his face. It is, however, emphatically not a sketch.

There’ll be plenty more of Glasgow, you mark my words, for Isla Mackintosh’s older sister Lauren studied architecture there. Indeed Lauren was much enamoured with the city’s most famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, of the recently burned-down art school. Then one weekend she took off inexplicably for the Borders and was never seen again. Isla was born twelve months later. “Classic replacement kid syndrome,” as she concedes, hence the 25-year gap between them. She’s American, by the way, though her grandparents were from Glasgow and, after trying to trace some fresh clues as to her sister’s disappearance and failing, that’s where Lauren’s landed up: at a gig played by Strathclyde’s premier Nirvana tribute act and talking to a young bloke with a beard sitting alone at the bar and reading Camus.

“I couldn’t have met a boy more perfect if I’d drawn him myself.”

I liked his t-shirt (he teases).

So what’s the problem? I have no problem with the comic at all or else why spend this time reviewing it? I loved Hetrick’s spirit of place and her invitingly soft figures and forms. I enjoyed Baillie’s mini-tour of Glasgow and his lovely Scottish lilt which was neither overly broad nor unnatural. There’s a moment of superb foreshadowing involving bridges plus I found his voice-over refreshingly direct and almost hilariously matter-of-fact, especially when it came to the real problem here, for that’s Lauren’s:

“In High School I’d spend most of my time doodling the cool, fun friends I really wanted. Then one day one of my drawings came to life and attended my school for a whole semester.”

I do beg your pardon?

That didn’t end well, but it did end abruptly, since when she’s vowed off sketching people for ten whole years. You’ll know exactly why when you get there.

Then she got drunk with that Camus kid and now something’s knocking on the door.

On the final page artist Meghan Hetrick reprises the first page’s promise but with a marked makeover, for she makes good – oh so very good – on the writer’s own promise when he was recently asked:

“What can we expect from RED THORN tonally?”
“Abs,” he replied. “Lots of abs.”

At which point David Baillie basically won interviews.


Buy Red Thorn #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Batman Deathblow: After The Fire s/c (£10-99, DC) by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo.

Brian Azzarello wrote 100 BULLETS, a dark and compelling epic of conspiracy, deception and manipulation where no one is necessarily who or what they seem. It’s a civil war, waged in secret between powerful parties in order to protect their vested interests. And so is this.

As such I aim it straight at the Milligan HUMAN TARGET fans rather than the Batboys, because it contains just as many twists.

Two sequences, a decade apart, form a puzzle of identity and loyalties revolving around Scott Floyd who, ten years ago, was a black-ops International Operations agent; The Falcon, a terrorist of Gamorran extraction who hasn’t been seen since; and Max Kai, a pyrokinetic firestarter, suited and booted – and highly volatile. All three were once involved on one side or another in a botched hit on The Falcon by the I.O. soldier codenamed Deathblow, as was the enigmatic Agent Fante of the C.I.A..

Now all five have converged once more, it seems, on Gotham where Floyd is a close friend of Bruce Wayne. When the former is burnt to a crisp in a restaurant mere minutes after Bruce Wayne has left the table, it becomes personal. The only lead so far is a charred, severed hand clutching the trademark death card of a man who is himself supposed to be dead: Deathblow.

Who is really working for whom?  What is Agent Fante’s agenda?  Where is The Falcon?  And are I.O. and The C.I.A. really on the same side?  It’s a book of covert licenses, granted by institutions who will use whomever they want to get whatever they want done, and it rings pertinently true (post-Afghanistan, post-Iraq) when you consider America trained the Taliban for their own anti-Soviet ends, and were happy to accept Saddam Hussein when Iran was seen as the greater evil.

Superb pencils (early versions of which are displayed in the back) are inked and coloured by some very talented individuals (including Tim Bradstreet), to form an impressively individual and atmospheric Gotham, replete with sun-blocking stone edifices and a dense smog belching from its industrial chimneys.


Buy Batman Deathblow: After The Fire s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Star Wars: Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire (£12-99, Marvel) by Greg Rucka & Marco Checchetto, Angel Unzueta, Emilio Laiso…

“You are verified. My message is for you, from the Emperor himself.”
“I serve at the Emperor’s pleasure.”
“Hear and obey.”
“Captain Duvet. You, and a handful and others unknown to you, have been selected for a particular honour. Resistance. Rebellion. Defiance. These are concepts that cannot be allowed to persist, Captain. Operation Cinder is to begin at once. Heed my messenger. He shall relay you to your target.”

“Lieutenant Gulin!”
“The message was from the Emperor himself, Lieutenant.”
“But… but the Emperor is dead, sir.”
“Repeating Rebel propaganda is an act of treason, Lieutenant. We have our orders. Prepare to set a new course.”

After the platoon of titles set post Star Wars IV A New Hope with the original characters in the first flush of youth – STAR WARS, DARTH VADER, PRINCESS LEIA, LANDO, CHEWBACCA – comes this official lead-in to the much anticipated new film. This is actually set immediately after Star Wars VI Return Of The Jedi, so presumably a few decades before the new film, but what it does is immediately establish the Empire are far from defeated.

Quite how it sets up the forthcoming film beyond that simple fact, I’ve absolutely no idea, but I’ll refrain from giving any further plot details just in case there are spoilers regarding the film. Often this type of lead-in tie-ins do enrich the plot of the films, sometimes on specific conceits or devices, so perhaps there are some tantalising clues in there… However, I genuinely can’t conceive the Emperor himself might have survived the climatic events of Star Wars VI Return Of The Jedi, but the powers of the Dark Side are strong indeed, so who knows?!

Essential for those of you who need their Jabba-esque, salivating appetites whetted further, aren’t quite already at Death Star planet melting laser fever pitch temperature, buy this to tease / torment yourself whilst continuing to count down the days until Han and the gang are back on the big screen. Stay on target!


Buy Star Wars: Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire 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.

A Glance Backwards (£14-99, Magnetic Press) by Pierre Paquet & Tony Sandoval

Blue Bottle Mystery – An Asperger Adventure (£12-99, Jessica Kingsley Adventure) by Kathy Hoopman, Mike Medaglia & Rachael Smith

Frankenstein Underground (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola & Ben Stenbeck

Hopeless Savages: Break (£13-50, Oni) by Jen Van Meter & Meredith McClaren, Christine Norrie

Kabuki Library vol 2 h/c (£29-99, Dark Horse) by David Mack

Take It As A Compliment (£14-99, Singing Dragon) by Maria Stoian

The Flash By Geoff Johns vol 1 s/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Angel Unzueta, Scott Kolins, Ethan Van Sciver

Jessica Jones: Alias vol 3 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos

A Silent Voice vol 4 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Yoshitoki Oima

Inuyashiki vol 2 (£9-99, Kodansha) by Hiroya Oku

UQ Holder vol 6 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu

Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol 5 (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Stan Sakai

Uzumaki Naruto: Illustrations (£12-99, Viz) by Masashi Kishimoto

From America’s Spit & A Half (limited distribution & quantities)

A Body Beneath (£9-99, Koyama Press) by Michael DeForge

Afrodisiac (£12-99, Adhouse Books) by Brian Maruca & Jim Rugg

Barrel of Monkeys (£16-99, Rebus Books) by Florent Ruppert, Jerome Mulot

Bear, Bird And Stag Were Arguing In The Forest (£4-99, Retrofit / Big Planet) by Madeleine Flores

The Body of Work (£3-99) by Kevin Huizenga

Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream (£3-99, Uncivilised Books) by Laura Park

Double+ Chapter One: For Seeking Heat (£4-99, Study Group Comics) by Ben Sears

Facility Integrity (£8-50, Pigeon Press) by Nick Maandag

The Frantastic Four (£4-99, Kilgore) by Sam Spina

Ghoulanoids (£4-99, Drippy Bone Books) by Stephen McClurg & Derek Ballard

How Art Can Save The Universe From Total Destruction (£4-99, Drippy Bone Books) by Mark Mulroney

Immovable Objects (£4-99, One Percent Press) by James Hindle

Island of Memory (£9-99, Wild Man vol 1: Island Of Memory) by Floating World Comics

Joey (£3-99) by Melissa Mendes

Limp Wrist (£3-99, Paper Rocket Minicomics) by Scout Wolfcave & Penina Gal

Lydian (£9-99, Space Face Books) by Sam Alden

Megahex (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Simon Hanselmann

Mimi and the Wolves Act 1: The Dream (£9-99, Alabaster Comix) by Alabaster


Mimi and the Wolves Act 2: The Den (£9-99, Alabaster Comix) by Alabaster

My Hot Date (£5-99, Kilgore) by Noah Van Sciver

Number 1 (£4-99, Retrofit / Big Planet) by Box Brown

Number 2 (£4-99, Retrofit / Big Planet) by Box Brown

The Oaf (£5-99, Pigeon Press) by Nick Maandag

Safari Honeymoon (£12-99, Koyama Press) by Jesse Jacobs

Sea Urchin (£5-99, Retrofit / Big Planet) by Laura Knetzger

The Second Book of Hope (£16-99, Bries) by Tommi Musturi

Understanding Monster 1 (£18-50, Secret Acres) by Theo Ellsworth

Understanding Monster 2 (£18-50, Secret Acres) by Theo Ellsworth

Understanding Monster 3 (£18-50, Secret Acres) by Theo Ellsworth

Ticket Stub (£12-50, Yam Books) by Tim Hensley

Turtie Needs Work (£3-25, Koyama Press) by Steve Wolfhard

Vampire Cousins (£18-99, Pow Pow Press) by Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau & Cathon

Very Casual (£9-99, Koyama Press) by Michael DeForge

Wet Cough (£4-99, Koyama Press) by Michael DeForge


ITEM! It upsets me no end when I see any shop close, but this eloquent article about product knowledge, curation and customers service – in this instance now all lost – moved me profoundly:  ‘I Worked In A Video Store For 25 Years. Here’s What I Learned As My Industry Died’ by Dennis Perkins.

ITEM! Sage, practical and vital advice from Andy Oliver for self-publishers about get press and retail coverage for your comics. I’m sure we’ve run this before but we’re never been so inundated by requests to stock comics so lessons learned from Andy are more important than ever.

ITEM! From the King of British self-publishers, Dan Berry, yet another new comic for you to read, free, online: ROUGH MAP. Pop Dan Berry in our search engine. Everything we have by Dan is sketched-in for free.

ITEM!Whoosh” Amazing short animation piece with incredible movement by Julien Grande.

ITEM! There is no logic whatsoever in using “genre” as a derogatory term. The subject matter of any comic, prose book or painting cannot possibly have any bearing on its quality. You might as well judge a book by its publisher. It’s the creators who actually count. ‘Literature Vs Genre Is A Battle Where Both Sides Lose’ by Damien Walter.

– Stephen

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.