Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews February 2016 week three

Featuring Chris Oliveros, Sarah Burgess, Evan Dorkin, Boulet, Eddie Campbell, John Cassaday, Bob Fingerman, Atsushi Kaneko, Keiichi Koike, Emmanual Lepage, Taiyo Matsumoto, Frederick Peeters, Paul Pope, Katsuya Terada, Naoki Urasawa, Bastien Vives, Tommi Musturi, Joshua W. Cotter Lando, Andy Diggle & Aaron Campbell, Brian K Vaughan & Pia Guerra.

Don’t forget the New Books and News underneath!

The Envelope Manufacturer (£12-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Chris Oliveros.

“It was clear that there were no longer any possibilities.”

A poignant three-act graphic novel about a business already niche and long left behind, it begins with six colour portraits of chunky and clunky manual machines, silent and free-standing on benches. Without even a hint of automation, they are at once as antiquated and unfathomable as Jack Kirby’s then futuristic constructions.

There follows a two-page prologue gazing up at a small city’s rooftops – both tenements and town houses – as a painfully slow “Ta-tlak Ta-tlak” emanates from the tenth-floor window of what is little bigger than an office. Three more panels it musters before the machine belt breaks, giving up the ghost forever. We will never hear quite the same sound again.

None of the office’s occupants are young.

Hershel, already owed two months’ wages, declares that “There’s no way it’ll hold up for a fourth repair”.

Poor Patsy pronounces “We don’t have the funds to make a new purchase this month”.

But proprietor Mr Cluthers isn’t listening.

“New orders will be coming through by Wednesday, I’m sure of it.
“If we prepare in advance and have the envelopes ready beforehand we can fulfil all of the orders as they come through.
“No point in being caught off guard, is there?”

With what machinery, Mr Cluthers? With what machinery?

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Written and drawn by the founder of Drawn & Quarterly who gave up so much of his own creative time to foster other artists’ futures, both the ailing-industry and period aspects may put readers in mind of Seth’s CLYDE FANS whose second part is still being serialised in PALOOKAVILLE, but the lines are markedly different. Tone-free, they stand stark and exposed, many of them quivering with fragility as if what is drawn is teetering on the point of collapse.

The business is on the point of collapse and Mr Cluthers is on the point of collapse. Denial is followed by delusion which his wife has witnessed before.

I loved Mildred’s hair, rolled up like a gigantic sausage at the nape of her neck, but it’s Patsy I fell in love with. Aged around sixty or seventy, she has some weight to her and you get the very real sense that her inflamed feet might be finding her shoes difficult to squeeze into. Eyes blank behind half-moon glasses, it is to Patsy that the unenviable task of stalling creditors falls, holding the fort in Mr Cluthers’ absence as the struggling business faces the final threat of repossession.

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All the while Mr Cluthers is in a daydream. Optimism and stoicism and a refusal to give in are all admirable qualities but here it’s all hot air, blown not to inflate the business but to keep cold reality out of the door. It’ll get slightly surreal in places, hilariously so towards the end in a free-fall sequence suspended in space, presaged during the middle act when Hershel is shouting from the sidewalk “Jump!” “Jump!” at a suicidal window-ledge walker. “Jump!” “Jump!” he encourages – if encouragement is the right word.

There’s a quiet comedy to be gleaned from the absurdity on offer and I think that’s its strength. It’s touching but not maudlin; ridiculous instead. Ridiculous, brilliant and ever so sad.

“It’ll take some big changes, but things will get better before long.”

For more on Oliveros and the publisher please, please see DRAWN AND QUARTERLY: 25 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY CARTOONING, COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS comics anthology and its absolutely riveting retrospective.

SLH

Buy The Envelope Manufacturer and read the Page 45 review here

The Tipping Point h/c (£22-50, Humanoids) by Boulet, Eddie Campbell, John Cassaday, Bob Fingerman, Atsushi Kaneko, Keiichi Koike, Emmanual Lepage, Taiyo Matsumoto, Frederick Peeters, Paul Pope, Katsuya Terada, Naoki Urasawa, Bastien Vives…

“There’s that great, wonderful day, the one that makes your eyes light up just thinking about it.
*ATCHOO*
“There’s the tragic one, the one that comes out of nowhere and kicks you in the gut.
*ATCHOO*
“There are the historic days that change the face of the world.
“And there’s the day that makes us who we are…
“I’m ten.
*ATCHOO*
“My parents have shipped me off to camp so I can make lots of friends.”

Intriguing anthology of fourteen shorts, all between eight to twelve pages long, which have at their heart, change. Some changes are entirely personal, internal moments of revelation, like Emmanuel Lepage’s story of the sensitive boy on the edge of adolescence attending summer camp.

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Lepage

Others like Atsushi Kaneko’s ‘Screwed!’ featuring a Yakuza whose summary execution at gun point is rudely interrupted by a certain explosive geopolitical event are obviously on a far grander scale.

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Kaneko

But what those moments all have in common, if you reflect upon them, is that they are the titular tipping points. From each particular moment forwards, nothing can be quite the same ever again. For better or worse, from seemingly personally inconsequential to most definitely world altering, the proverbial genie is well and truly out of the bottle in each and every case.

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Koike

The stories cover pretty much all the fictional and non-fictional bases: romance, crime, speculative, science fiction, fantasy, comedy, mythological, philosophical, religious, plus Eddie Campbell wandering around his neighbourhood looking for his lost cat… Which was his fault, obviously!

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Eddie Campbell

That’s definitely the most thought-provoking of all the stories actually, Eddie and his lost cat. It’s the musings of a man who, “… might have seen this neighbourhood differently under different circumstances.” Just pause and reflect on that a second. How the particular personal situation we find ourselves in when we first encounter a place affects our perceptions of it.

Certainly, it’s the story of a man continuing to boldly experiment with his art form. I can see hints of all his previous works here in different panels: including the pencils of ALEC and BACCHUS, the silhouettes of FROM HELL, the painting of THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS H/C, the colours of THE PLAYWRIGHT, all interwoven or overlaid in greater or lesser degree from panel to panel with some photography! It’s an evocative mix of techniques exquisitely judged. Whether it’ll help him track down his cat or not is a different matter!

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Vives

There is something for everyone in this anthology and probably, on balance (see what I did there…), enough to satisfy everyone. They are all great little snippets, but no sooner do you feel you’ve started something than it’s all over. So it feels very much like a plate of delicious canapés, rather than an indulgent feast, simply because they are all very concise, one premise, shorts.

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Boulet

So, reading a few pages of fellow LICAF patron Boulet, and despite howling with laughter at the punchline to his hilarious tour de farce of conspiracy theories, just made me want to read more of him. (Happily, he has recently translated and republished the entirety of his weblog in English HERE.) Taiyo Matsumoto’s story of a schoolgirl’s errant fart instantly made me want more SUNNY.

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Matsumoto

Paul Pope’s art, unsurprisingly, in his pirate-based esoteric yarn blew me away as ever and left me wanting more, of anything of his – ideally some THB, but I’d certainly settle for the next BATTLING BOY. That’s a common theme with Mr. Pope, though, as we know, being left waiting…

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Pope

Katsuta Terada’s ‘Tengu’, which closes the book, just made me desperate for him to do some manga, rather than illustrations. If this mythological piece is anything to go by, I think he’d be perfect for anything Brandon Graham wanted to get him involved with. Go on, Brandon, give him a call!

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Terada

And… I really can’t help but be left wondering… did Eddie ever find his cat?!

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Cassady

JR

Buy The Tipping Point h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Brother’s Story part one (£5-00, Zetabella Publishing) by Sarah Burgess.

How refreshing: a book of brotherly love!

From Sarah Burgess, the creator of those three delectable volumes of THE SUMMER OF BLAKE SINCLAIR, comes something equally affectionate but radically different in form and content: it’s bursting with full-colour washes for there’s magic in the air.

Deryn adores his older brother Seren. He’d follow him anywhere. And Seren does like to explore, scouring the countryside in order to collect botanical samples to study. Today they were only intending to collect firewood for their family home in the village, but on one they discover radiant magic crystals growing like fungi from the bark. Seren breaks them off.

“Mum and Dad will flip out if they see this stuff.”

According to their parents, magic is not to be messed with and, according to legend, there’s magic everywhere in the big, wide world except in the village. It happened like this: magic and humans were once one and the same, but over time humans found a way to consume magic, turning it into language. They ate it all until there was none left save for a vast, untouchable Angel in the sky. Nonetheless the humans couldn’t resist trying to reach up and bite pieces off and in retaliation the many-eyed Angel bore down on the planet and swallowed it whole before restoring its magic. Everywhere, that is, except for in the village.

At least, that’s what Seren says – their parents tell it somewhat differently, making the Angel seem awful: a bogey monster to keep kids safely at home. Sure enough when Deryn lets slip what they’d been up to there is an almighty row with Seren bearing the brunt, accused of squandering his skills and endangering his younger brother.

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There’s a tremendous two-in-one panel just before Seren sits alone on the rooftop, as Seren strides upstairs past a cowering Deryn who is wracked with guilt that he’d let his brother down and got him into trouble, sweating with terror that there might now be a rift. There isn’t, of course. Deryn makes sure of that by following Seren up to sit side by side overlooking the village and the forest beyond.

“I feel so alone.”

Deryn thinks about that.

“I know Mum and Dad don’t understand, but I understand. I – I don’t care if the forest is dangerous. I just want to see what’s out there. We can’t be scared forever. We shouldn’t be trapped here forever. You’re not alone.”

It’s an endearing moment of fraternal affection and reconciliation broken beautifully by Seren wrestling his arm round Deryn’s neck and pulling roughly him back into his chest.

“Go to bed, dufus!”

It’s an echo of my favourite page on which the brothers tussle and tumble in the forest between comicbook gutters of sinuous wood which cocoon their struggling forms so tightly that you get a very real sense of their exertions, locked in mock-combat, against each other. How clever is that?

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I love the brothers’ physicality and the consistency of their relative statures. I like the rosy cheeks of youth and Deryn’s hunched shoulders as he tentatively tries to coax his mother’s side of the Angel’s story out of her.

Ah yes, the Angel, drawn like a dragon. Surely it doesn’t exist. The story’s some sort of extended metaphor, right? A legend, a fable, a cautionary tale… Don’t bite bits off: magic needs to be whole.

Aaaaaaaand we’re done. It’s your turn to read the rest next!

SLH

Buy Brother’s Story part one and read the Page 45 review here

Nod Away (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Joshua W. Cotter…

“While streaming doesn’t exactly turn the user into a mind reader, it does provide one with a connection to a higher collective mind.”
“A higher mind?”
“Yes, you see, the user is, in fact, enabled to connect remotely to a central hub, of sorts, which in turn, is connected to thousands and if all goes as planned, potentially millions of other users.”
“I see.”
“Through these connections, each individual user’s knowledge is drawn, culminating in a rich stream of information.”
“Mental peer-to-peer file sharing if you will.”

Hmm… this is quite the epic. I started off reading and mistakenly assumed it was going to be whimsical fun, not quite serious science fiction and metaphysical philosophy. That misapprehension was entirely down to the art style, which reminded me a bit of Robert BOOK OF GENESIS Crumb, Derf MY FRIEND DAHMER Backderf and even Peter OTHER LIVES Bagge and Judd BARRY WEEN Winnick! My wake-up call should really have been the prologue, though, which was a surreal, abstract construction more akin to something from Simon Russell’s NEARLY MADES

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So it therefore took me a while to be able to settle down into the story and realise it has, in fact, got much more in common with the likes of Frederick Peeters AAMA and even Anders Nilsen’s BIG QUESTIONS as Joshua Cotter attempts to explore the thorny question of the very nature of consciousness. Plus also tell an extremely engaging speculative fiction story about where we might all be heading in terms of how we access the internet, indeed how the general repository sum of all information itself will inevitably evolve, and how, why and indeed where, humanity might be forced to change in response to that. That prologue was suddenly starting to make a lot more sense…

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Set in the near future, a small crew of colonists is being prepared to head into deep space to attempt to colonise a planet in a nearby star system. Meanwhile the next iteration of the internet, being referred to as the ‘innernet’ or ‘streaming’ is heading rapidly into the realms of telepathy and shared thought, at least for the sixty percent of people who will be physically compatible… Somewhat disturbingly the core hub of this new achievement, however, is a very unusual human child whom Doctor Melody McCabe has been hired to help mature on a huge second generation version of the International Space Station.

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The chapters switch between the different storylines, and also between the real and psychological worlds, which does take a little getting used to until you realise what is going on. Though I think that itself is probably a deliberate conceit to some degree. It’s well worth persisting with though, if you are a fan of speculative fiction. Joshua wisely realises he needs to lighten the tone occasionally, and that’s more than amply provided for by the moderately flawed Doctor McCabe’s mildly erratic social life in the relatively confined quarters of the orbiting research station. I concede the art style may not appeal to everyone, which is a shame, because this is an extremely well-written, thoughtful story.

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JR

Buy Nod Away and read the Page 45 review here

The Book Of Hope h/c (£25-99, Fantagraphics) by Tommi Musturi…

“Sniff. Sniff. What’s that smell?”
“Ahem… must be the dog.”
“The dog’s been dead for years.”
“Well… I guess it’s me then. Tee-hee. The truth may lurk anywhere.”

I reviewed the second slice of this work in its individual self-published form and was greatly tickled. This collected edition of THE BOOK OF HOPE from Fantagraphics is surrealism at its most elegant, and indeed eloquent. The simplest way I can start to describe this material is that it has the feel of Chris Ware’s JIMMY CORRIGAN, albeit living in a cabin in the arse end of nowhere. Tone-wise too this is just as downbeat and melancholic as Jimmy’s urban non-exploits, but there are some significant differences.

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For whilst Jimmy is a kind and simple mouse of a man, destined to never succeed, instead being continually trampled and trammelled down by life (and his relatives), here our middle-aged, moustachioed married lead is left wistfully wondering how it all got away from him. Just how did he end up right here in this moment, in this place, so far removed from anything? And yet, there are also fond, nostalgic reminiscences of joyful moments long since gone which raise a smile. An unusual palette of tertiary colours, purples and mustards, only adds to the backwoodsy, isolated feel.

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For the most part, though, there is silent contemplative acceptance of his lot, punctuated with daydreaming moments and extended sequences of inner flights of fantasy or the occasional utterance of some choice savant philosophy to no one in particular. Here’s one such soliloquy offered to the universe, brought on by staring into the remaining eye of a tatty old childhood teddy bear whilst attempting a bucolic bowel movement on the outside privy at in the lonely cold depths of night, full moon shining down through wispy clouds and bats fluttering through the air…

“Childhood ends when the fight begins.
“Youth fades when the word falls from your lips for the first time.
“Say it slowly, and you can hold on to it for an instant…
“… before you are overwhelmed by the wary weight of midlife…
“… you console yourself, saying…
“… perhaps there was no before…”

Movement complete, I was too. Moved, that is…

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That was my review of one of the five chapters that form this work. So if that was a movement, then the whole book really is a glorious symphony of sanguine reflection. Obviously, given symphonies have four movements, and although each chapter does have a different emotional tone, my metaphor breaks down rather quickly, but you get my point!

JR

Buy The Book Of Hope h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Eltingville Club h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Evan Dorkin.

“It just isn’t fair…”

With the rise to internet prominence of the over-obsessed with their over-entitlement, this scathing satire of malicious male fandom is more relevant than ever, horrifically so.

It is emphatically not an attack on comicbook readers in general or enthusiastic sci-fi and superhero fans specifically. It’s not an assault on the awkward or the reticent, the cosplayer or the collector.

It is one long, lacerating diatribe aimed squarely and ever so fairly at those who are nasty. Who are callous and cruel towards their fellow fans, and send professionals hate mail and death threats for killing off characters which are fictional; the thumb-sucking men-children who send worse to comics journalists because they are women.

It’s an exposé of those who forget in their self-involvement that this is supposed to be fun.

Absolutely horrific and delivered with no punch-pulling by the creator of the equally comedic and combustible MILK & CHEESE, it comes in the form of the whining, bitching, in-fighting, self-destructive pack of maladjusted brats who proudly pronounce themselves to be… The Eltingville Comicbook Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror And Role-Playing Club! (Membership closed.)

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In one hundred and twenty pages not one of them displays a single act of kindness, even to each other.

Nobody wins, everybody loses as teenagers Josh, Jerry, Bill and Pete argue about everything, insult each other below the belt, compete for rare Star Wars action figures, stash others away at Toys R Us in secret locations so that innocent, wide-eyed children don’t get a look in, implode during a caffeine-crazed 32-hour Twilight Zone marathon (I love how the pages shatter as their frazzled sanity erupts into acts of violence), and steal with self-justification and assumed impunity just to get their fix. One even rips open multiple loaves of bread in a supermarket-search for that elusive, rare trading card which, umm, creator Evan Dorkin confesses to – along with much more in the back!

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Their crazed, red-eyed rage is drawn with such visceral power – it’s as though they’re on the verge of bursting blood vessels – that I can only imagine the process to be sublimely cathartic. The closest contender for such similar meltdowns is Roberta Gregory’s Bitchy Bitch in her beloved, much-missed NAUGHTY BITS.

Eventually they take their one-upmanship shambles to the streets for an organised zombie crawl. But blasphemy strikes in the form of more modern, fast-moving-zombie fans, trampling over our True Believers’ nit-picking standards and indeed our Stan-Lee-loving losers. But believe it or not, the worst is yet to come as one amongst them finally gets his dream job, and it’s fiercely well observed.

“Holy shit. I made it. I have died and gone to Heaven.”

Welcome to Comic Shop Hell.

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Evan Dorkin

 

Eltingville Club blog only

Jack Kirby

Kicking the doors straight in with a virtuoso parody of Jack Kirby’s classic rainy-night splash-page, “This Man… This Monster” (MMW: FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 6), Dorkin delivers “This Fan… This Monster”. It may make your skin crawl, but some of us do love to scratch!

Bill, ostracised by the rest of the group is hired by Joe as his side-kick stooge at Joe’s ‘Fantasy World: Comics – Games – Cards’ and every exchange between the monomaniacal misanthropist and his new acolyte comes with a cringe-inducing superhero reference: they cannot communicate without nerd-boasts.

It’s that specific sort of run-down, cluttered comic shop which is superheroes and sci-fi merchandise only. You’ve heard about it, you’ve maybe endured it, and all its malpractices are blurted out by its owner to his new employee as retailer wisdom, foresight and insight:

“No cheques, no credit cards, no special orders, no arguments, no problems.”

No kindness, no accommodation, no integrity, no diversity, no hope of growth.

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Yet still he has customers, albeit young, spotty and every one of them male whom he belittles and berates.

“We don’t carry manga. We carry comics.”
“…”

So, this is Bill’s big chance. Surely he won’t cock it up or let it go to his head? You wait until the other club members turn up.

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Speaking of “Alternative Comics”, don’t think the most elitist, hateful, self-righteous and self-serving fans of those don’t get a roasting. The Northwest Comix Collective wasa  seven-page flipside in which four hypocritical alt/indie wannabes with delusions of adequacy struggle to create, disseminate and get their foot in the professional door. They have just as much a sense of perspective as their Eltingville counterparts and don’t take rejection at all well.

“All we’ve gotten for our troubles is a catalogue and that fucking two-page letter from Evan Dorkin where he says our comics “need work”.”

Yes, it’s a personal, two-page letter from a top-tier, deadline-driven creator in response to unsolicited material and a form letter.

“God! Who the fuck is he to say anything? Christ, he did fucking PREDATOR books – he wouldn’t know a good comic if we sent it to him.”
“Pretentious asshole. It’s not like we asked him for his opinion.”
“Actually, we did. It’s in our form letter.”
“Yeah, but we asked for comments, not unwarranted criticism!”
“Why is Dorkin even on our mailing list? None of us like his shit!”

And so it very much goes. What are the chances that at least one of these dismissive dim-wits secretly adores the superhero comics he purports to despise?

None of this material has ever been reprinted, even in the DORK collection, and it’s come from all over the place.

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SLH

Buy The Eltingville Club h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Gardens Of Glass (£14-99, Breakdown Press) by Lando…

“She needs help, this is bad.”
“This is no longer possible… she needs only to bathe in my waters to ease her pain.”

I think that might be precisely half of the sum total of words uttered in this dystopian surrealist collection of short stories from Greek euro-sci-fi master Lando. I have no idea if that is his real name or if he was just rather taken with everyone’s favourite jive talking <ahem> galactic entrepreneur back in the day. Lando doesn’t seem a particularly Greek name, I must say, but then nothing about this work is of the usual. If I tell you the rejoinder uttered above comes from a statue that controls a small swimming pool which can fly around the desolated and desiccated planet Earth – and indeed enter hyperspace in a manner akin to the finale of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey – you’ll probably get some sense of what I mean…

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The age of man is all but over. All that’s left is a handful of individuals and small groups warring over the scraps. My first thought upon finishing this collection was that I was reminded of some of Moebius’ more experimental abstract, science fiction works, simply without the humour. You can’t make that comparison art-wise, but Lando certainly has a fetching style all of his own. Fine line work but with a deliberate, rough touch, verging on almost fragility seemingly, that greatly adds to the sense of the total disintegration of the world.

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It’s not the same style, but Christopher Mitten’s more heavily inked black and white work on Antony Johnston epic WASTELAND has exactly the same effect on the reader. For me this reaches its zenith in the story where laser-toting survival-suited explorers battle zombies, and each other, to reach some sort of Pantheon-topped, floating Mt. Olympus. The reward for the victor, the first in the race to reach the promised land, is escape from the desolation, to join the demi-gods who now live apart in luxury from the dying remnants of humanity. I think fans of Brandon Graham’s PROPHET and 8HOUSE material would absolutely love this.

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JR

Buy Gardens Of Glass and read the Page 45 review here

Uncanny: Season Two (£14-99, Dynamite) by Andy Diggle & Aaron Campbell.

Increasingly this is becoming a book about families. Whose members treat each other very badly.

It’s also a comic with powers but without the capes, and I love it.

Previously in UNCANNY SEASON ONE:

Weaver is a man who can, for a span, absorb other people’s memories and physical capabilities. Take Mr Lee’s bodyguard, Xiong, a black-belt in Taekwondo. One bluffed handshake later and Weaver’s a champion too – plus he also “remembers” exactly what the bodyguard’s packing. Well, almost. There’s a limit to what you have time to recall in the middle of a duff-up.

I admire how Diggle has thought all of this through: both the potential and the pitfalls – the limitations without which there can be no tension. Here our newly formed gang of four’s search for the Source of their preternatural abilities has taken them to a remote island. Wonder why Weaver’s never flown a plane?

“We shoulda just rented a chopper instead.”
“You know how to fly one?”
“You could pull it out of a pilot’s head!”
“And then forget how to fly, two thousand feet above open water? No thanks.”

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With thrilling, shadow-strewn art richly textured by Aaron Campbell (THE TRIAL OF SHERLOCK HOLMES) whose wolves now haunt my own dreams, it’s written by SNAPSHOT and THIEF OF THIEVES’s Andy Diggle whose childhood memory of a night-time fair matches mine exactly:

“Smell of hot sugar and diesel.
“Whirling lights.
“Roar of generators under blaring music.
“And people. All the people in the world.”

Weaver’s first ally was Miss Maggie Ford, a woman with remarkable regenerative capabilities who used to work for Deacon Styles, an enigmatic and acquisitive man of many assets including the ability to cause changes in behaviour both in mind and body through neural induction. If that sounds tame, you’ll soon think again. During a devious double-cross by Deacon which only just backfired they located Deacon’s brother Morgan under circumstances which ensure there’s no love lost between brothers. Morgan is a technopath – an electronics-orientated telepath, if you like – whose “residence” at the clandestine Cadre’s HQ has given him the key to finding the Source. It’s Weaver’s father who abandoned him in parking lot aged 4.

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To find the Source they must first find Weaver’s Dad which is where those fairground memories come in, now being used by their fourth member, Holly, a remote viewer who also used to work for Styles. Looks like those assets are diminishing rapidly but the first to find the Source will find almost everything else redundant.

Firstly, when that happens what happens is very clever indeed.

Secondly, the abandonment of young Weaver by his Dad late at night is ever so touching, especially after being seen from both their points of view. But wait until you find out what happens to a lad in social care when other people’s memories – their very minds – start invading his own, unbidden, and all doctors and psychiatrists resort to textbook diagnoses.

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Not nice at all, but I cannot emphasise strongly enough how much of this is far from obvious. You’ll see what I mean in the very first chapter when it comes to ex combat medic, Denelle.

SLH

Buy Uncanny Season Two and read the Page 45 review here

Y – The Last Man Book 4 (£14-99, Vertigo) by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, Goran Sudzuka.

Gripping premise in which everyone on the planet in possession of a Y chromosome haemorrhaged in an instant. Now every male on the planet is dead except escape artist Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand. What happened and why?

I love a premise you can précis so succinctly. For something more elaborate please see our review of Y- THE LAST MAN BOOK 1.

The writer of SAGA, PRIVATE EYE, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD and EX MACHINA now takes us on a journey to Japan for further clues in a storyline that focuses on Dr. Allison Mann, her new girlfriend, her old family, the assassin and Israeli commander that have been tracking them. Does the catastrophe have anything to do with Dr. Mann’s attempt at cloning herself, or am I sending you up the right alley but to the wrong address? Knock a little harder and someone may answer – just not who you’ll be expecting.

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Before we get there, every member of cast is now withholding secrets from each other. You’d think by now that they’d have all come out, but no, here are some more, and the sheer weight of dramatic irony threatens to thrust the story pell-mell over the side of a cliff. Fortunately it makes for one of the most sizzling episodes in the series so far, including the flashbacks wherein, for example, we learn that Ampersand – Yorick’s pet monkey who may provide the key to saving Earth’s human population – has done a lot more travelling than we thought. Recently he’s been abducted, but now we learn where he originally came from and why he might be that key. Yes, yes, we already discovered the how, but this is the why.

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This one dashes all over the place from Japan to Australia – where Yorick’s searching for his girlfriend – back to America where another girl is now eight months pregnant with Yorick’s child and suspects it’s a boy. Why is that so important? Yorick is the last man on Earth. His very existence is known to few, until he’s forced at gunpoint to drops his drawers for an international photo-journalist. With so many vicious factions at play in this all-female world, that single photo could see him dying of exposure, let alone start an international war, but what’s Yorick really worried about?

“I… I didn’t even have time to chump up. I was like, preternaturally flaccid.”

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I grew increasingly fond of Brian’s dialogue here (it’s a much earlier work that those referred to above), even if it is ridiculously well-informed. Conversations back at my house used to go something like this:

“Ah, these stuffed mushrooms smell great, don’t they?”
“Miaow”

But in Y – THE LAST MAN you’d have been treated to a discourse on the psychotropic properties of fungi, along with an annotated history of their social consumption. For example, this time out we learn that the weapon of choice of the Vatican’s Swiss Army is a Halberd (and that it was a Renaissance weapon and that it held off the Nazis in 1943); that men’s buttons are sewn onto a specific side of a coat so that they could draw swords without them getting snagged; that women’s are on the other side so that their ladies in waiting could fasten them from the front; and that “the average human bite strength is two hundred pounds, but some women can crunch up to a grand”. All that, in casual conversation. Well, maybe some of those were the characters’ specialist subjects and they wouldn’t do so well on the general knowledge round, but crikey, Vaughan’s a real swot, isn’t he?

SLH

Buy Y – The Last Man Book vol 4 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.

The Fade Out vol 3 (£9-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser

American Vampire vol 8 h/c (£16-99, Vertigo) by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque

The Ark h/c (£18-99, Humanoids) by Stephane Levallois

City Of Clowns (£16-99, Riverhead Books) by Sheila Alvarado

Doom Patrol Book 1 (£22-50, Vertigo) by Grant Morrison & Richard Case, John Nyberg, others

Godzilla In Hell s/c (£14-99, IDW) by James Stokoe, various

The Trouble With Women h/c (£9-99, Square Peg) by Jacky Fleming

Zawa-Zawa: The Treasured Art Works of Ashley Wood (£24-99, Comic Art Pie) by Ashley Wood

Midnighter vol 1: Out s/c (£10-99, DC) by Steve Orlando & Aco, various

Civil War: Warzones! s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Charles Soule & Leinil Francis Yu

Deadpool vol 7: Space Oddity s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way & Carlo Barberi, Sheldon Vella, Bong Dazo

Groot vol 1 (UK Edition) s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jeff Loveness & Brian Kesinger

X-Men: Gambit – Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Fabian Nicieza, Tom Defalco & Pasqual Ferry, Steve Skroce

X-Men: The Age Of Apocalypse vol 3 – Omega s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by various including Scott Lobdell, Jeph Loeb, Terry Kavanagh, Mark Waid, John Francis Moore, Warren Ellis, Larry Hama, Fabian Nicieza, & Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert, Carlos Pacheco, Chris Bachalo, Steve Epting, Terry Dodson, others

Invincible vol 22: Reboot (£12-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley

Fairy Tail vol 52 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Inuyashiki vol 3 (£9-99, Dark Horse) by Hiroya Oku

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus Edition Book 3 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Eiji Otsuka & Housui Yamazaki

Monster Perfect Edition vol 7 (£12-99, Viz) by Naoki Urasawa

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Side: P3 Volume 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by So Tobita

Adventure Time Sugary Shorts vol 2 s/c (£9-99, Titan) by Roger Langridge, Noelle Stevenson, Frazer Irving, various

News!

SpiderMan Deadpool cover

ITEM! DEADPOOL’s Joe Kelly is the first guest to be announced for The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2016 from Friday October 14th to Sunday October 16th. He also wrote FOUR EYES, a haunting graphic novel about poverty and dragons set during the Great Depression.

Four Eyes 0 photo

ITEM! Tribute to David Bowie – including the most beautiful portrait – by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz, creator of STRAY TOASTERS, ELEKTRA ASSASSIN, both adored by Mark and DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS, SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS, much beloved by me.

Daredevil End Of Days blog

 

Breaks 1

ITEM! Yowsa! Malin Ryden and Emma Vieceli’s free online comic BREAKS reaches its two-year anniversary with quite a cliff hanger! Three more pages until the end of the episode!

Breaks 2

You can begin BREAKS on the its first, front-page cover here.

BREAKS is completely and utterly free, although you can support our beloved Emma Vieceli by becoming a Patreon here.

Breaks 3

Page 45 has copies of the BREAKS prologue signed by Emma Vieceli and reviewed by meeee!

Breaks 4

Vieceli is the artist on the brand-new Young Adults action epic ALEX RIDER: SCORPIA, two AVALON CHRONICLES, three VAMPIRE ACADEMY books and her own DRAGON HEIR and well as appearing in YOUNG AVENGERS VOL 3, all also reviewed by me. Just click on those links, please.

Young Avengers blog

Thank yoooooooooooo!

– Stephen

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