Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews March 2016 week four

Includes less news but a lot more Retrofit Comics – by Kate Leth,  Ben Sea, Yumi Sakugawa – thanks to UK suppliers, Avery Hill Publishing. And this, by the by, is a brand-new review for a much treasured classic…

Pocket Full Of Coffee (£5-00) by Joe Decie.

“Leaflets, leaflets!” shouts Sam, picking up a leaflet. “What does it say?”
“It says don’t waste paper picking up leaflets.”

Ha! This comic features the best back-cover blurb ever!

“The ink-washed tale of one family’s Wednesday.
“It’s autobiography, but with lies.”

It’s certainly the most honest assessment of autobiography as entertainment and yet the most mischievous, telling you everything you need to know about Joe Decie’s propensity to set the cat amongst the pigeons and revel in all the feathers flying!

“A day-in-the-life story of Joe spending time with his son,” wrote Jonathan, “whilst trying with varying degrees of success to perform other essential adult tasks, this will ring many bells – a veritable cacophony, in fact – with those people who have children. It certainly did with me. As commentary on precisely just how your daily routine will never quite be the same again after the introduction of your very own personal tornado into your life it’s absolutely bang on, even down to Joe’s slightly wistful observation that he doesn’t even have time to indulge in mild hypochondria anymore.”

Pocket Full Of Coffee 1

Campanology aside, children are inherently funny whether you’ve bred them or not. Minds fizzing, mouths open, internal editors entirely absent, they are an endless, free-flowing stream of nonsense, non-sequiturs and the innocently inappropriate or direct. You can’t possibly listen to everything, which is why so many of Sam’s speech bubbles drift off panel – out of sight, out of mind, and well out of earshot.

They will spare your feelings not one jot.

“You look really scruffy, Daddy. TURBO BOOSTER!”

They’re also tenacious.

“Can I have a sister?” asks Sam, three times, as if requesting an ice cream.

Pocket Full Of Coffee 2

It helps that Joe himself is as mildly ridiculous as the rest of us. The difference is that Joe The Deech delights in self-denigration and embellishing the already absurd. Do you really think he mans a National Dandruff Helpline?

“I’m listening.
“Do you rinse?

It’s all so whimsical, almost every page accompanied by a punchline which is often prepped by one or two preceding observations about jobs, statistics and to-do-lists written after you’ve already to-done them in order to inflate your sense of accomplishment. There’s even a joke within that joke if you look down the list. Same goes for his household objects like ‘Cheap’ ‘Shoe’.

The ink-washed portraits are an inherent part of the comedy. Decie excels at his own body language but also his own likeness: no one else’s glasses hang on their nose quite like Joe’s. But they’re also beautiful in their own right and some of the compositions are ever so clever – quite subtly so.

Pocket Full Of Coffee 3

Take the first full-page panel in which those trainers appear on the bedroom floor at eye level, the only thing closer being an empty comic page. They’re sleek and satisfyingly aerodynamic, drawn with the clairest of lignes, the ‘Cheap’ and ‘Shoe’ appellations appearing on one heel then the other, each under a £-sign brand. But that’s by-the-by. What thrilled me was that this particular perspective threw Joe into centre-stage below an open, empty ceiling, the arm he’s studying for its newfound rash exactly halfway up the page and the prime focus of a pentagon which moves from its elbow across Joe’s other arm, then up to his shoulder, from there up Joe’s neck, then back down Joe’s angle of vision to said spotty rash on this wrist.

It’s also a page of perfect three dimensions, each object or appendage cutting just a little in front of the others.

Anyway, all that sounds way too serious so I’ll only add that there’s a lot of clean white space on each and every page which I do so wish students of sequential art would take note of, along with the diligent economy of text. I’ve said it before, but Joe’s lettering is amongst the most attractive and individualistic in the business, achieving the neat trick of make capital letters look and feel like lower case, and therefore more direct and accessible.

SLH with JR

Buy Pocket Full Of Coffee and read the Page 45 review here

Eyelash Out (£3-00, Retrofit) by Ben Sea.

Think Donya Todd’s BUTTERTUBS gone Southern Gothic.


I saw something I wanted last week but I didn’t barge past everyone, slapping them out of the way to pluck the object of my desire from someone’s tender eyelid.

There’s something unique about plucking an eyelash: it’s a very particular and pointed prick of pain – mild, brief but because it’s so close to your eye it’s feels quite the intrusion. To steal an eyelash is therefore a very personal theft.

That’s how this begins, so it was never going to end well. Almost immediately the couple on the bendy-legged run become corrupted by this act of anti-enlightenment, their own sore eyes swelling. I felt no sympathy.

Eyelash Out 2

The lash is not the last thing which will be pulled on, either: laces, entrails, those sorts of things. And there’s a lot of lactating as well – eruptions and excretions galore.

The whole heavenly skyscape seems alive – flashing, twinkling, puffing, dripping, sweating in celestial semi-sentience.

What the hell am I on? It’s quite the trip.

Eyelash Out 1


Buy Eyelash Out and read the Page 45 review here

Ink For Beginners: A Comic Guide To Getting Tattooed (£3-00, Retrofit) by Kate Leth…

“Hi, I’ll start here: I’m Kate, and I have a lot of tattoos!
“I’ll probably have more by the time I’m done drawing this, to be honest.
“I got my first tattoo quite young, so I’ve been a sounding board for questions, advice etc. for a long time. I get asked a lot of stuff…”
“Does it hurt?”
“How expensive is it?”
“Can I bring a friend?”
“Should I tip my artist?”
“How do I take care of it afterwards?”
“Where should I put it on my body?”
“What if my job doesn’t allow visible tattoos?”
“Can I use my own design?”
“Does it have to mean something?”

The answers to all these questions and many more besides you will find within the covers of this handy little primer to permanently printing on your body! The most important I would have thought being, where can I find the Da Vinci of subdermal decoration?


But no, it would seem the topic that probably concerns people the most is just how painful is it going to be. And as Kate says…

“Yes it hurts.”

… but with the important caveat…

“Differently, in different areas and different ways.”


And so she provides two full-page spreads, front and back, of the human body, from tip to toe, detailing all the various places you might wish to get inked with a colour-coded traffic light indicator of just how close to breaking the World High Jump record you might get… from a seated start. Me, all I can see is red, red and more red!


Kate gradually works her way through the various queries one by one and provides her thoughts, plus those of various experienced tattoo artists, to give both perspectives of victim and torturer! So, if you’re planning on turning yourself into a human canvas, I heartily recommending reading this, as it probably will answer just about every single question you might conceivably have. But yes, it will hurt…


Buy Ink For Beginners: A Comic Guide To Getting Tattooed and read the Page 45 review here

Ikebana (£4-00, Retrofit) by Yumi Sakugawa…

“Welcome class, to our final day of critiques.
“As you can all see, we are switching the order of things around a little bit.
“Cassie will be going first today. And in lieu of presenting a year-long body of work as the rest of you have, she informed me via email this morning that her senior thesis will instead be…
“… an organic bio-painting / ritualised movement piece.”

Someone clearly hasn’t done their homework. A whole year’s worth… Rather as I felt entering my second year organic chemistry exam, as long-term review readers will no doubt have heard me mention before, which was most definitely my academic nadir. I somehow managed 14% in case you were wondering…

Still, I’m not sure that even if someone had offered me the opportunity of wondering around Nottingham in my underdraws wearing a pair of palm leaf wings and a giant lotus blossom as a hat instead of taking the exam, I would have taken them up on the offer. Stark naked in the mentally unprepared sense I can deal with, even if I do still wake up occasionally in a panic some twenty-five years later having dreamt I am just heading into said examination room. Physically naked, without the aid of several pints of alcohol at least, is an entirely different matter.


Most of Cassie’s student colleagues aren’t best impressed either, seeing it as a gigantic 365-day skive which their professor seems daft enough to have fallen for. Still, they all traipse off following her around as her silent, one-woman interpretation of The Emperor’s New Clothes begins. By the end, though, there’s only one person left in the mobile audience, as the figurative invisible curtain comes down in a manner entirely befitting the rest of the performance.




Ricky Miller of Avery Hill Publishing, which distributes on behalf of Retrofit in the UK, mentioned to me how much he enjoyed this particular work and I can completely understand why. It’s that perfect blend of sublime and ridiculous. One can entirely believe some desperate art student would come up with such a crackpot scheme, and the conceit is fleshed out and pencilled to perfection by Yumi Sakugawa. All assuming this isn’t some sort of quasi-autobiographical yarn, of course!


Buy Ikebana and read the Page 45 review here

Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography 10th Anniversary Edition (£16-50, Drawn & Quarterly) by Chester Brown.

In one of the most extraordinary transformations in comics since Ed Brubaker ditched autobiography for superhero crime, Chester Brown, better known for his confessional reflections, turned his attention first to Bible and then to Canadian political history in a book which, in its hardcover form, sparked enormous intellectual interest from the likes of Dave Sim, yet also a level of ground-floor sales here which has utterly astonished us (next I’d like to see his mate Joe Matt poke his nose from under those semen-stained sheets and draw a jaunty little travelogue, please).

Here’s a little of what Mark wrote:

“Riel was a 19th Century mystic and politician from Quebec. Due to his bi-lingual skills he was, initially, dragged into the fight between his people (the Métis, half-European, half-Indian) and the Canadian Government. Their land had been sold out from under them by the British and this is partly their battle for independence but mostly about a tumultuous period in Riel’s life, running for Government, his exile in the US and his religious visions.

Louis Riel 2

Brown has, as he admits in the lengthy appendix, changed a few of the facts, avoided the route of straight historical fiction. Even for Canadians this is a pretty obscure figure but for Brown the story (or the parts that he’s attracted to) has elements that have popped up in his work for years. The historical reconstruction (beautifully done, nothing is crowbarred in) works in the same way that his bible stories did. There was a question about Riel’s sanity which ties in with Brown’s ‘My Mom Was A Schizophrenic’ [reprinted in LITTLE MAN] and the process for that piece was a springboard for RIEL. And he makes it compelling.”

Louis Riel 1

Coming from Chester Brown April 2016: MARY WEPT OVER THE FEET OF JESUS, in which Chester returns to the Bible and indeed prostitution (see PAYING FOR IT).

In stock right now and reviewed: CHESTER BROWN: CONVERSATIONS.


Buy Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography 10th Anniversary Edition and read the Page 45 review here

Nameless h/c (£18-99, Image) by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham.

“From Earth to the Moon.
“Malkuth to Yesod.
“Shit rains down.
“Nothing is real.”

I don’t think I’ve every typed the words “Morrison”, “predictable” and “pedestrian” in the same sentence before.

I remember “passionate”, “compassionate”, “fiercely intelligent”, “parapersonality” and “transtemporal, pansexual, mulltidimensional fight for the future’s freedom”.

You wouldn’t really forget that one, would you?

Also, drugs: I remember a great many drugs and extreme vacillations between “Comics are ephemera, bound only for bins” and “Comics are the last medium unsullied by compromise with corporations – like the one that publishes most of my comics” depending on which horse du jour he felt like backing that day.

But before we begin, may I take a personal moment to say how fondly I recognised and remembered Glasgow’s Botanical Garden Gates, having lingered there long-time, but not with all those plump, floppy fish seen skewered on its weathervane here?

Nameless 0

“Hebrew letter “mun” means “fish”. “Fish” and “Death”. And death is daath.”

Fair enough. I suppose all that has something to do with The Veiled Lady’s henchmen wearing deep-sea anglerfish head masks when they kidnap our titular protagonist who apparently will remain nameless and dump him in a supermarket shopping trolley. He tumbles out tellingly because our man and his proverbial trolley parted ways way back in 2001 since when, we learn later, he’s been on the run from the police.

Maybe he tried to steal the fuzz’s Dream-Key to their Empty Box in a Tombraider-like dream-space? That’s what our nameless one’s done to The Veiled Lady, which is why she is ever so slightly brittle. Or maybe they want him for pretension, since he’s quite evidently got a Christmas-cracker crash-course on the Kabbalah lodged in his throat.

Nameless 1


Nameless 2

Once rescued, our man of arcane knowledge is told there’s an asteroid 14 miles in length and 6 miles wide on a collision course with Earth. It’s called Xibalba, otherwise known as the Mayan underworld, the “Place of Fear” because whichever astronomer was on duty that night was feeling portentous as fuck.

In 33 days there will be an Extinction Level Impact somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, but long before that there will be planetary-wide panic. Of course there will! Have you read Dan Berry’s THE END? So psychologically astute!

If that wasn’t bad enough the asteroid bears a symbol carved into its surface. This sigil is three miles tall and half a mile wide. It’s the glyph denoting the door to the Anti-verse, and if you think that already sounds a far from promising picnic spot, there are the transmissions emanating from Xibalba in the Enochian angel language of John Dee – Astrologer Royal to Queen Elizabeth I – which, when translated, don’t bode well for hospitality at all!

“Man – every one of you – prepare for wrath.”

And that’s just the opening gambit. The rest of the message / curse speaks of “one thousand thousand-strong thunders”, “torment”, “flaming firmament”, “poison stars”, “Wormwood” (seldom propitious) and “woe”. All things considered, therefore, I’d probably stick to the original operational agenda which is fly out to the asteroid, drag it off course using tractor physics from off-planet, then bugger off back to moonbase lickerty spit.

I definitely, emphatically, would in no way descend into the crevasse / scar / open wound and investigate gigantic sealed entrances because I have watched Alien many times over and things went awry. I wouldn’t even dispatch drones down there.

Artist Chris Burnham you may remember from Grant’s BATMAN INCORPORATED VOL 1 where he did a mighty fine impression of Frank Quitely. While retaining no small element of that, here he comes over all Richard Corben which is perfect for this kind of psychotropic horror. It’s the creepiest sort of horror going wherein things grow into or out of you, and Burnham will certainly make you wince more than once on that front. He does diseased and invasion of personal space all too well.

He’s also spectacular when it comes to the crevasse’s epic contents, its off-the-scale monumentalism, and indeed the textured surface of the asteroid itself as seen from above in the form of a gigantic, circuit-board skull. That’s worth the price of admission alone.

Nameless 4

In this sort of horror there’s nothing you can fight, only things to scare you shitless like the degradation of the body and degradation of the mind  – madness itself – and the terror of being lost and alone.

“There’s only me left.”

There are a great many doors here. Doors can be very disturbing. Opening one is quite the commitment.

As well as psychological horror, Morrison’s also very good at that sort of awful, gaping nihilism, here evoking the very opposite of Lovecraft’s “most merciful thing in the world” which, in case you’re wondering is “the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents”:

“Humankind is a disease, a malignant mistake. The natural world seeks to purge its blissful, ignorant Eden of our contagion.
“Self-awareness: there is the black worm in the apple. Our curse is to know there’s something terribly wrong with us.”

Nameless 3

But that’s when he uses language one can comprehend and ideas one can take seriously. The rest is occult psychobabble for which I have a notoriously low threshold, and if you think his ‘Keys to the Abyss in THE NAMELESS’ will clarify shit, I’m afraid it’s mostly more mystic mumbo jumbo involving Thantifaxath, Baratchial, the qlippothic Tzuflifu (are you laughing yet, because I have tears streaming down my face) and tarot cards.

For an infinitely more imaginative, coherent and constructive take on the Kabbalah, please see Alan Moore & JH Williams III’s PROMETHEA.


Buy Nameless h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Beauty vol 1 s/c (£7-50, Image) by Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley…

“Two years ago, a new sexually transmitted disease took the world by storm.
“This S.T.D. was unlike any other that had come before.
“This was a disease that people actually wanted.
“Victims of this epidemic were physically changed by the virus.
“Fat melted away, thinning hair returned, skin blemishes faded, and their facial features slimmed.
“It became known as The Beauty.
“The Beauty quickly became a fad.
“Suddenly, perfect skin, flawless features, and a gorgeous body were only one sexual encounter away.
“The only downside appeared to be a slight constant fever, but that didn’t seem to slow people down.
“Now, over half the country’s population has The Beauty, and the other half of the country hates them for it.”

Which is where our story begins, followed almost immediately by the apparent spontaneous combustion from the inside out of someone rather pretty on the subway.




Ah, so there might just be at least one more teensy-weensy downside to The Beauty than everyone thinks! Consequently, the cops are dispatched to investigate, including the dashing and debonair, virus-free Detective Foster. Sure he has a few grey hairs and some laughter lines, but he’s ruggedly handsome, and completely devoted to his equally naturally lovely wife.

His professional partner, meanwhile, Kara Vaughn, has been virally enhanced to statuesque, goddess-level looks, but she’s actually one of the few people who managed to contract the virus unwittingly, and would rather she hadn’t. Particularly once the forensics expert has given them the run down on what she thinks killed their subject, before agents from the Centre for Disease Control swoop in and quarantine the scene. It’s enough for Foster to draw his own conclusions…

“It was The Beauty. The Beauty killed her, and they know it.”

Still, the why and the how, that remains unexplained, and so our cops do what they do best, and start running down leads on anti-Beauty terror cells – the type of people who might have the inclination to want to induce some temperature-based terror in the more glamorous half of the population. One such lead results in a shoot out with a suspect, requiring some prompt and messy – but ultimately unsuccessful – medical assistance from Detective Foster. After another yet late night on the job, and another missed dinner date with his doting wife, he’s more than happy to hit the sack, but his wife wants to share a tender moment or three before they fall asleep. So imagine his surprise when he wakes up in the morning, feeling twenty years younger. He looks it too. Oh dear. I guess The Beauty might suddenly not just be sexually transmitted… Maybe…

Excellent speculative fiction premise, plus our leads are well written, I can certainly see some potential for sidebar drama. Is Detective Foster’s wife really going to believe the excuse for his – and presumably by extension her own – unexpected midnight makeover? Especially with that hot partner who’s prone to calling him up at all hours of the day and night. I think he might well have to earn his detective corn just to save his marriage, never mind half the population! Still, at least he’s got a real incentive now, what with being a ticking time / sex bomb himself!

Great art too from Jeremy Haun, including a fabulous cover. I can see strong hints of Michael LAZARUS Lark in there, though obviously with softer colours here.


Buy The Beauty vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Judge Dredd: America (£13-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner & Colin MacNeil…

“I can’t remember when I first became aware of the Judges.
“I suppose it’s because they were always there. A dark presence in the background of our lives – as much as a part of growing up as the air we breathed and the streets we played on.
“Wherever we went they were there. Watching. Always watching.
“They could fix you with a special kind of stare, like they could see right into your soul.
“Adults, they’d tell us the Judges were there for our good, to protect us and make the streets safe.
“But we’d hear the tremors in their voices when they talked about them and see their furtive expressions whenever a Judge caught their eye – and we’d know they were afraid.
“And at night mothers would tuck us in with warnings – sleep or the Judges would come for us.
“So we didn’t need ghosts or goblins. We had the Judges.
“And they were worse.
“We knew that they did exist.
“And there was a strong possibility they would come for us.”

Hmm… might have to try informing Isabella about Judge Dredd. Grud knows, I’ve tried everything else to get to her settle down at bed time. Perhaps the concept of someone even more fascistic and totalitarian than her parents might actually have some sway. Failing that it’s going to have be five to ten in the Juve-Cubes for her, or perhaps more likely a Kook-Cube for me…


So, I got this back in because I was doing some recommendations for mail order customer Finlay Jones by email the other day and he had asked about good Judge Dredd jumping on points and self-contained stories. I had commented that you used to be able to get various epics published separately but now they were all reprinted in the many COMPLETE CASE FILES collecting  everything. So, for example, the epic Block War and Apocalypse War are both in COMPLETE CASEFILES VOL 5 and that is a perfect early-ish slab of Dredd to go for. Then once things had gone full colour COMPLETE CASEFILES VOL 14 would be a good modern-ish introductory Dredd chunk as it collects the big epic Necropolis with all the Dark Judges etc.

I was also trying to work out which CASEFILES this story was in when I discovered to my surprise it was completely omitted (possibly because it isn’t a Dredd story). I think I probably did know this but had forgotten. Given it is Dredd co-creator’s John Wagner favourite ever Mega-City One story and considered by many to the best storyline ever, particularly in terms of the socio-political satire it brings to bear, it seems very odd the powers that be should have chosen to omit it. It’s almost as though the powers that be don’t want this seditious material getting into your hands…

Anyway, seen from the perspective of Bennett Beeny, whose unrequited love for childhood friend America Jara eventually drives them apart, only for them to be reunited in the most unexpected and shocking circumstances, this story tells of the growing discontent amongst the covert pro-democracy ranks of the Mega-Citizens that eventually fosters the Total War terrorist organisation, who are dedicated to overthrowing the Judges by any means necessary. Clearly, the Judges aren’t about to take it lying down and what ensues is as brutally violent as it is heart- (and head) breaking.


This collection contains the initial story “America” which was published in Judge Dredd Megazine #1.01-1.07, the sequel “America II: Fading of the Light” from  Judge Dredd Megazine #3.20-3.25 and the coda “Cadet” from Judge Dredd Megazine #250-252. All are penned by Wagner with art from redoubtable 2000AD stalwart Colin MacNeil.

Over the years, as I occasionally re-read some Dredd and have the odd gander at a 2000AD I find the material I am the most fond of is that which really has something to say, beyond the confines of the pages. Which was a surprising amount of the very early material, actually, even story-of-the-week driven as it mainly was for the first few years. In the interim there are only so many repetitive action-based derivative storylines you can recycle over nearly forty years, which I’ve why I’ve long since stopped reading Dredd regularly. But undoubtedly material like this storyline deserves to remain available as part of the historical record of great British comics by great British creators, if nothing else. Plus possibly to scare children to sleep at nights as well…


Buy Judge Dredd: America and read the Page 45 review here

Wormwood Gentleman Corpse Omnibus s/c (£22-50, IDW) by Ben Templesmith.

From the artist of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, Warren Ellis’ FELL, Antony Johnston’s DEAD SPACE some SILENT HILL and, unsurprisingly, THE ART OF WORMWOOD GENTLEMAN CORPSE, this was an investigative comedy horror in the vein of Steve Niles’ Cal McDonald CRIMINAL MACABRE starring a sentient worm / maggot animating a dapperly dressed corpse to fend off supernatural disaster.

In the first issue, his favourite lap dancing club hosted by Medusa was infected by a transdimensional, parasitic weed, all because someone was doing something unspeakably rude to the beer pumps.

Or, as Tom once wrote:

Wormwood spends his time “driving” corpses with the sole intention of downing a cold Guinness in Medusa’s strip bar. Which is interrupted every so often by having to save the world from pan-dimensional invasion.

Easily some of the finest art Templesmith has ever done with some really imaginative touches, such as Medusa’s serpents being all-over body tattoos that flow off her as glowing, ethereal, skeletal snakes. Whereas the paralytic, paranormal plots tumble along nicely like HELLBOY off-duty. Cthulu never looked so good (through beer goggles).

Collects issues #0-8, the one-shot, CALAMARIS RISING #1-4, and LAST CALL.


Buy Wormwood Gentleman Corpse Omnibus s/c and read the Page 45 review here

International Iron Man #1 (£2-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev.

Hallelujah! Bendis is back off autopilot, a word which Maleev can’t even spell.

It’s time once again to throw away the costumes and enjoy some honest-to-goodness human interaction and humour à la JESSICA JONES: ALIAS which was the very best comic ever to be published by Marvel.

As brilliant as Bendis & Maleev’s DAREDEVIL with all of its wit-riddled snappy patter, this catches Iron Man at an inopportune moment under Bulgaria’s Monument To The Soviet Army, dead, paralyzed, or “rethinking his disastrous life choices that led up to this humbling moment”.

Amongst those disastrous decisions was Stark’s determination – twenty years ago while studying at Cambridge – to get to know a mysterious young woman with an overprotective family, famous in some circles at least. She knows exactly who Tony is, but Tony…?

“You really don’t know who I am?”
“Should I? Is your father a big deal or something? Is it – is he Bono?”
“My mother.”
“Is she Bono?”

International Iron Man issue 1 1

“What does your Mom do that warrants bodyguards? I only ask because they’re coming this way and I think one of them is about to punch me in the face so hard I probably won’t remember even meeting you.”
“Ugh! You’re going to get tasered.”
“I’d really rather not.”
“I’m not joking.”
“Neither am I. Can you request that they don’t?”

All the while Maleev plays it as deadpan as usual, except with a new energy and irreverence of youth. Tony cannot help throwing his head back and laughing with joy at Cassandra Gillespie’s fantastic name, nor can he resist smiling at his own bravado and wit.

Paul Mounts’ daytime colouring adds a new air of optimism to Maleev’s fresh-faced students meeting for lunch (less of an assignation, more of stalked-stalking-stalker scenario) and lo if you don’t look at those panels, concentrate on the eyebrows and lip-line especially, imagine a moustache, chop the flop of his hair right back… and that really is our Tony Stark.

“You Googled me by now.”
“I did.”
“How’d that go?”
“I found out you’re a world-class trapeze artist.”
“Is there a trapeze artist with my name?”
“Just admit you trapeze. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

New verb: to trapeze.

International Iron Man issue 1 2

What could any of this possibly have to do with Iron Man flat on his back, systems down, in Bulgaria?

Well, first it’s time to meet Cassandra’s family for dinner in not the most awkward and hostile reception by prospective in-laws ever (he lies)… and then there’s the unsolicited postprandial intervention by those oh-so-shouty, regenerative ones.

Has Bendis watched ‘Brideshead Revisited’ recently? Because Cassandra’s mother is Evelyn Waugh’s Catholic matriarch Lady Marchmain – specifically as played by Claire Bloom – to a tee.


Buy International Iron Man #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Civil War: Fantastic Four s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by J. Michael Straczynski & Mike McKone, Paul Pope.

One of the closer tie-ins to CIVIL WAR, though by no means as integral as the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN volume, this follows Reed and Sue’s bust-up, showing it to be less abrupt or final than it might seem in the main event – which makes sense. Sue can turn invisible, and you probably would check in on your husband once in a while if you loved him and were engaged in superhuman combat against him.

I have no raw data on this, so if you can turn invisible and you have at one time or another been engaged in superhuman combat against your husband or wife, please let me know how you spent your down-time.

The arguments go round and around in circles, as arguments do, and Sue gets angrier and angrier at what she perceives to be her husband’s cowardice and capitulation, while he sits there like a deflated whoopee cushion, saying, “I know what I’m doing is wrong, but it’s the law.”

Civil War Fantastic Four 1

Actually he has an altogether different motive which he’s kept to himself, and whether it’s scientifically feasible to make the calculations he has or not, common sense weighs in his favour: carry on out of control and things can only get worse. It’s still difficult to sympathise with the pro-registration brigade when they’re being such knobheads in the way they go about things, but still…

I’ll say it again: McKone draws the best Ben Grimm since Barry Windsor-Smith.

Civil War Fantastic Four 2


Buy Civil War: Fantastic Four s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Civil War: Front Line s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Paul Jenkins & various.

The first half contains two concurrent stories and a real-world history lesson.

The first follows reporters Ben Urich and Sally something-or-other as they move from mourning the loss of a fellow journalist in the Stamford Disaster to covering the imminent Registration Act (see CIVIL WAR itself). Both are liberals, but the Bugle is enforcing its editorial policy of support for the new laws with an iron fist. Spider-Man pops by Sally’s apartment in the hope that she’ll convey to the public exactly why superheroes with family need to maintain their secret identities, whilst Iron Man makes a public announcement that’s going to make that argument more difficult to sustain.

To be honest, it all felt a bit stodgy.

The second, shorter segment, however, reveals that one of the brazen attention-seekers who appear to have triggered the explosion has survived. You also learn how.

He’s about to learn, however, that he’s probably the most unpopular git in America.

The second half contains Captain America’s last interview before his assassination and Tony Stark’s real game plan uncovered by reporters Ben Urich and Sally Floyd.

It also follows the shooting and masochistic re-emergence of the sole survivor of the original massacre as Penance, and the clandestine use of Norman Osborn as a weapon of “choice” and, as such, leads directly into Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato’s magnificently dark and sweaty THUNDERBOLTS.


Buy Civil War: Front Line s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Captain America: Fallen Son s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & John Cassady, John Romita Jr., David Finch, Ed McGuinness, Leinil Francis Yu.

What a waste of some top-tier artists!

Previously at Page 45, following the most excellent DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA:

“In the meantime, it does make sense to explore such an enormous development in depth — if that’s what Loeb ends up doing.”

Yes, well, I suspected otherwise, and here’s the reason I wish I’d stopped reading ULTIMATES post-Millar and Hitch. (I didn’t, hence this review of Loeb’s ULTIMATES SEASON 3 with a bright red triangle round it as a warning to website traffic of a landslide ahead – if not of rocks, then of standards.)

What is it with Loeb that when teamed up with Sale he’s reasonably magnificent? Is it because those books, like BATMAN: LONG HALLOWEEN, are set in the past? That he’s good at nostalgia? Because modern, he ain’t! This is everything Marvel Comics used to be – juvenile, superficial, crass:

“You ready to do this thing, Thing? Heh. Thing thing.”

Was that one of the pre-pubescent Power Pack twerps trying to impress his babysitter? No, believe or not, that was JESSICA JONES‘ Luke motherfucking Cage.

Anyway, just in case you forgotten how dead Captain America was this week and how terrible it all was, the mourners obligingly remind you during a poker game:

“Spidey, you aint planning on wearing yer mask while we do this?”
“Yeah… uh… sure… just… <sniff> Look, Ben, my eyes are kinda red and… I just never thought…”

Oh, Christ – cartoon emotion.

And then they fight each other, obviously.


Buy Captain America: Fallen Son s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

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

Patience h/c (£16-99, Jonathan Cape) by Daniel Clowes

Cursed Pirate Girl vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Archaia) by Jeremy Bastian

The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye h/c (£22-50, Pantheon) by Sonny Liew

All My Ghosts (£7-50, Alterna) by Jeremy Massie

Blood And Honor: The Foreworld Saga Graphic Novels (£10-99, Jet City Comics) by Tony Wolf, Erik Bear, Christian Cameron & Joao Viera, Haiwei Hou, Dmitry Bondarenko

Carpet Sweeper Tales (£12-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Julie Doucet

Delilah Dirk And The King’s Shilling (£13-50, FirstSecond) by Tony Cliff

Rivers Of London: Body Of Work (£10-99, Titan) by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel & Lee Sullivan

Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis h/c (£14-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & Alisson Borges, Dexter Soy

Starfire vol 1: Welcome Home s/c (£10-99, DC) by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & Emanuela Lupacchino

Civil War: Marvel Universe s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, Paul Jenkins, Dan Slott, Ed Brubaker, more & Marco Silvestri, various

Civil War: Young Avengers And Runaways s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Zeb Wells & Stefano Caselli

Punisher Max Complete Collection vol 2 s/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Garth Ennis & Dougie Braithwaite & Leandro Fernandez

Bleach vol 66 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo

One-Punch Man vol 5 (£6-99, Viz) by One & Yusuke Murata

Paradise Residence vol 1 (£10-99, Kodansha) by Kosuke Fujishima

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Side: P4 Volume 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Mizunomoto

UQ Holder vol 7 (£8-99, Kodansha) by Ken Akamatsu


Katzine 2 3 photo

ITEM! We adore Katriona Chapman’s dreamy autobiographical KATZINEs.

Now Katriona Chapman walks Broken Frontier through her KATZINE processes – and earlier work – revealing a few secrets completely new to me!

Katzine 1 2 photo

ITEM!  Watch Duncan Fegredo draw, draw, then draw some more; redraw, redraw, draw. Top drawer!

More hairstyles than I’ve had in my entire lifetime.


ITEM! Ryuko, apparently. No, not published in English yet – it’s more of an excuse to reproduce that beautiful drawing.

– Stephen








Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.