Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews April 2016 week one

Julie Doucet returns! So does The Phoenix Weekly Comics’ Von Doogan in a second fiendish puzzle comic for kids! Alan Turing sadly does not return, but is here all the same.


Paper Girls vol 1 s/c (£7-50, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang.

“I am tripping my face off.”

And it all looks so innocent and straightforward on the cover.

I’m not sure chain-smoking’s a particularly wise idea for a 16-year-old – or at any age, trust me – but then MacKenzie’s going to be displaying a distinct lack of wisdom, 1980s-style, throughout. It wasn’t a particularly compassionate time, was it? I think you can trust the writer of EX MACHINA and SAGA to make that matter. Retrospect is a funny old thing. “The past is a foreign place” etc.

Before we begin, I like what Matt Wilson – colourist on THE WICKED + THE DIVINE etc – has done with the faces within. The mouths, eyes and brows have retained Cliff Chiang’s black lines while the more subtle shadows round the lips, nose and furrows are gentle, darker tones of the flesh itself.

Apart from the winged apparition of Challenger astronaut Christa McAuliffe in full space helmet; and shaggy old Beelzebub torturing Erin’s young sister in her school classroom. Dreams, eh?

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“We warned you… Never eat from the Tree Of Knowledge.”

Of course it’s an apple. There will be a lot of apple for you to discover / decipher / decrypt along with a secret language – I’m not even joking. Decoding that by substituting letters of the alphabet for the symbols will yield many more lines of dialogue. There’s even an apple phone – which is ahead of its time.

November 1st 1988 and Erin awakes from her nightmare at 4-40am to prepare for her paper round. She’s got a big stash of cash in her bedroom’s desk drawer next to the keys and elastic-band ball so she’s obviously not doing badly, but this morning she’ll have to contend with the teenage detritus of last night’s Halloween. Thank goodness for MacKenzie, KJ and Tiffany, then – three more paper girls who’ve banded together for mutual protection precisely in case of dweebs like these.

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Erin is slightly in awe of MacKenzie, the first local paperboy who wasn’t actually a boy.

“Hey, I was the altar girl long before Mac took over her brother’s route.”
“Yeah, Tiffany’s like the Amelia Earhart of crap that doesn’t matter.”

They’re going to need it too because umm, that thing in the basement. Extra constellations in the sky. Extra creatures in the sky. Three skulking figures wrapped in black linen with far from humanoid pupils. You won’t like what they find underneath. Thank goodness one of the young ladies had saved up enough paper-round money for a set of walkie-talkies. You remember them…! Oh god, you’re only eighteen, aren’t you?

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I love how the kids attempt to rationalise all the strangeness their lives have just become in terms they can comprehend without completely freaking out. People keep blinking in and out of existence as if they’re not really there. Or weren’t there. Or won’t be.

Take MacKenzie’s mom who is well past freaking out and reduced to glugging bourbon straight from the bottle. She introduces herself to Mac’s friends, but…

“Actually Alice is my stepmother. She met my dad in A.A.”
“Which part of anonymous don’t you understand?”
“I don’t know, which part of not drinking don’t you understand?”

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There’s an excellent execution of environment with Cliff Chiang providing scowls, late ‘80s early teen fashion, exquisite figure work, pavement-level perspectives and a sprawling, early morning suburbia with enough trees to make it somewhere you wouldn’t actively hate too much to live – unless, like MacKenzie, you have the local cops on your case. Once this essential grounding’s been done in dullsville, the odd giant flying reptile tends to mark more of an impact.

Best sequence so far: Tiffany’s life flashing before her eyes. All of it.

“…Why didn’t I stop when I was stuck at Level 28…”


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Buy Paper Girls vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Photo-comics – weren’t they fun?

Julie Doucet: she was a riot too!

Now the creator of MY NEW YORK DIARY and MY MOST SECRET DESIRE is back, but she’s ditched the drawing board for paper, scissors and glue, creating satirical short-story collages from 1970s Italian fumetti and – by the look of the type-faces – slightly earlier magazine adverts.

The women are kohl-eyed, demure, wistful and all waiting for Mr Wonderful to come along and sweep them off their suburban feet with the latest carpet cleaner or sundry other domestic appliance. That’s the state of the sweet nothings on offer from these Connery Bonds and Roger-Moore Saints as they express their adoration in words that only a housewife would understand:

“Kiddie, I AM Dust-Resistance for you. ME Clean “Magic” carpet LOVE.”

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And if you think love and romance is all that’s become commoditised, I offer you spirituality in the form of Sister Chevrolet!

Sister Chevrolet – the nun who runs on many more miles per gallon than any other wimpled recluse – pimps the Virtue Bra and teaches caution at all times, especially when it comes to one’s own inner plumbing:

“Install the new Safest Chimney ever built NOW!”

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Yes, do it now – and at all costs before page 132 when the first of the one-track brat packs appear! These James Dean drop-outs have got on their bikes in search of skirt, and got their leathers in a virtually monosyllabic lather:


You can almost see the drool dripping onto their chrome handlebars. Finally the poor woman snaps and confronts them face-on.

“STOP it you APES, me no banana.” This they clearly can’t comprehend, for she’s met from a floating fence of question marks and she’s not best pleased – disdainful in fact – “Boo boo!”

By the time we get to “Tuf! Treat ‘em Ruf They Plenty Tuf!” the Marlon Brando bonobos have forgotten what women even are, along with vowels. Instead they turn on each other with one long, primal and guttural consonant: “ggggggggggggg”.

“Bbbbbbbbbb,” begins another before their allegiances dissolve and they resort to that time-honoured past-time of all healthy young males: smacking seven shades of shit out of each other. Down goes the weakest, held face-down in the dirt before hissing a resentful submission. It’s good to be a guy!

All this is rendered in multiple type-faces which I can’t duplicate in this blog or on our product pages, ‘B’s, ‘b’s, ‘G’s and ‘g’s in multiple fonts flaunting most laws of grammar. It’s all very merry and mirthful, although I have to confess some the material in the middle lost me.

I leave you with the inner musings of a nascent feminist determined to stand on her own two feet:

“I AM me NO hangers around, no Sponge no Rfrigerator…



Buy Carpet Sweeper Tales and read the Page 45 review here

Golem (£14-99, Magnetic Press) by Lorenzo Ceccotti…

“People don’t want to be free. They want to be slaves. They want to be told how to live. They want an excuse to complain, an excuse for failing in life.
“Peace is the greatest gift we can offer humanity, but sometimes violence is necessary to obtain it. Peace can only be maintained by absolute power. And absolute power comes from money. This is why the masses must endure misery: to live in peace.
“Nanomachine G is an attack on capitalism and the very balance of our democracy. The people find peace from envying the rich and taking no accountability for themselves.”

All hail President Trump! Ah, sorry… wrong dystopian future…

Well, Magnetic Press have turned up another gem! Following on from the likes of LOVE: THE TIGER, LOVE: THE FOX (and the forthcoming LOVE: THE LION), DOOMBOY and A GLANCE BACKWARDS comes another slice of self-contained hybrid Euro / Japanese style sci-fi in the mode of former Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month ZAYA.


Set in a frenetic hyper-capitalist Italy – now little more than a tiny node within the overarching Eurasian superstate, which is itself merely a front for four controlling mega-corporations that have achieved almost complete control of the citizens through an indoctrinated culture of spend, spend, spend – paid-for politicians front the show and ensure the wheels of industry run ever smooth.

Every consumer’s need is anticipated and a simple and immediate route to purchase provided. About to run out of toothpaste? Don’t worry! A virtual advert, floating in mid-air, complete with buy button will pop up in right front of you. About to run out of comics? Don’t worry! Head to and… whoops, got a bit carried away there…


This relentless, quite literally in-your-face continuous 24/7 sales pitch, all under the auspices of making peoples’ lives simpler – of course – has greatly contributed towards turning the populace into good little consumer drones. That’s exactly how they wanted it, though, if you believe the faceless ones in charge that is… Cash dispensers even offer an optional fruit machine game: a chance to win some extra cash for a small fee, though in reality it is of course a mug’s game. What a hideous nightmare, though it is really that unbelievable? I suggest to you it is already well on the way. It might only be targeted advertising on your browser today…

However, there is hope. Several years previously a scientist was on the verge of a miraculous breakthrough called Nanomachine G, a particle capable of recombining matter at the molecular level using just a little water and light. Anything could be transformed into anything else. Limitless inorganic and organic resources beckoned… removing the need for production and all its associated waste, pollution and energy consumption at a stroke. Removing the need for commerce, therefore. But no commerce means no need for money… which means capitalism dies. Unsurprisingly, those four mega-corporations controlling the status quo were not happy at all.

“Our power is based on commercial consumption. A one-way channel of goods!”
“A machine that can freely transform and recombine matter will allow people to produce any goods they want! It will eliminate the very concept of purchase and possession!”
“An economy based not on money, but on the concept of sustainable recycling and the free sharing of knowledge… do you have any idea what that would mean??”
“Stop them. By whatever violence necessary. Or you will pay with your own life. Go! That’s an order of the high board of Eurasia!”


So they thought they’d silenced the scientist permanently, before he could complete his work. In a way they did, but not before he’d hidden it in the most unlikely of places. Now, a small resistance group of futuristic ninjas known as the Shorai, aimed with illegal cutting edge technology, have seen a unique opportunity arise to try and take down the government and free the population from their ideological and fiscal chains.

I really, really enjoyed this. Yes, it’s a wee bit whimsical in that way Euro sci-fi can be, rather than pure hard sci-fi in the ilk of say LAZARUS. But it’s clearly pushing a message that the vast majority of us would dearly espouse. Evil mega-corporation owning overlords aside, I think we’d all like to see the sort of utopian future that Nanomachine G might bring about. Wouldn’t we? You don’t really find peace from envying the rich and taking no accountability for yourself, do you?


The art, though, is genuinely exceptional. If you are a Brandon Graham fan then I think you’ll be in absolutely heaven. I have no idea if Lorenzo Ceccotti is a Brandon Graham fan or vice versa, but the similarities are most certainly there in the illustration style. Then there are also those hints of other Magnetic Press books like ZAYA and LUMINAE, also present in pure manga like Tsutomu Nihei’s ultra-kinetic BIOMEGA. Plus there are some seemingly almost oil-painted dream sequences which are used to great dramatic effect. I presume they are actually done using computer software.

I’ll freely confess I hadn’t heard of this Italian creator before, but I am extremely impressed. I will have to ask my Italian bank manager mate who is a massive fumetti fan to see if he is well known over there. Hmm, actually thinking about it, bank managers, they wouldn’t want a world without money would they, or they’d be out of a job?!


Buy Golem and read the Page 45 review here

The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Game h/c (£15-99, Abrams Comics) by Jim Ottavani & Leland Purvis…

“That wasn’t the only madness he was up to.
“There was also, well… I don’t even know how to… I mean, I was proud of him, but…
“Machines that think? How… distressing.”

Hmm… she was very good at changing the subject, Alan’s mum. Particularly when people were trying to pin her down on whether she knew about his sexuality. I read an extremely good book regarding the wartime goings-on at Bletchley Park and the various code-breakers many years ago, the name of which eludes me now, unfortunately. But understandably it contained a substantial section on Alan Turing, though primarily focused on his immense contribution to the war effort, so I was reasonably aware of him already from that respect.

This work covers not only that esteemed service to King and country which saw him awarded an O.B.E. immediately after the war in 1945, but also substantially bookends it, beginning with his childhood as a socially awkward mathematical prodigy, his subsequent prodigious academic achievements at Cambridge and Princeton, and his burgeoning reputation as a leading thinker of his time. Post-war it covers his remarkable grounding-breaking work in the design of possible ‘stored-program’ computers and his still applied Turing Test which has become an indispensable concept in the debate surrounding artificial intelligence.


Then comes his devastating fall from grace due to his arrest for gross indecency in 1952, homosexual acts between men being a criminal offence in UK at the time, a law that was not changed, albeit then even partially, for over another decade. Offered hormone treatment as an alternative to imprisonment (in effect chemical castration), the immensely detrimental effects on his mind and body tragically led to his death within two years.

Whether it was suicide or not remains the subject of some debate, though it seems inconceivable to me given the circumstances of his demise that Turing did not choose to end his suffering. (Which is handled very well here, actually, and something Ottaviani talks about in his afterword.) That such a visionary, on the cusp of further amazing discoveries and progress, could be brought down in such a devastating and discriminatory fashion is a salutary reminder it really isn’t that long ago that times were very different and much less enlightened indeed.


This is an extremely detailed and thorough graphic biography. I shouldn’t be surprised, it coming from the same writer as FEYNMAN and PRIMATES: THE FEARLESS SCIENCE OF JANE GOODALL, DIAN FOSSEY & BIRUTE GALDIKAS. It works through both a direct presentation of the facts and also retrospective interview excerpts with family and colleagues, talking about Alan directly. What comes across very strongly is just what a remarkable man he was, held in the very highest esteem by those who understood his work, or him, just enough to see his brilliance, and through his shy, shuttering demeanour that could easily be misunderstood for aloofness.

It took me a little while to get into the art, I must say. Leland Purvis’ style not being so easy on the eye as Ottaviani’s collaborators on his other works, but once I had I didn’t find it a distraction at all. Though I suspect that is in great part testament to the fascinating subject matter and the writing. There are some excellent conceits and artistic devices employed upon occasion that add a little something, though. I particularly enjoyed a theoretical discussion between Alan and two colleagues on the subject of building a machine (the term computer not yet being in use) constructed of an infinitely long strip of paper with someone marking marks on it to give this construct instructions. As the three walk through their imaginary discussion, alongside the paper, Alan gradually leaves his colleagues behind in their respective capacities to understand his ideas, and eventually is surprised to find himself standing alone, holding the paper, looking around to see where they have disappeared to, before shrugging his shoulders and carrying on, theorising to himself.


For anyone wanting to learn more about this great man, a true genius of the 20th century, who ought to be held in as high regard as the likes of Albert Einstein for his contributions to science, this is an excellent starting point. Most people aren’t aware but there is actually an annual award, the A.M. Turing Award, which is given to an “individual selected for contributions of lasting and major technical importance in the field of computer science.” This award is recognised as the highest possible distinction one can achieve in the field, and is regarded as being as prestigious as a Nobel Prize. So it’s nice to know that at least his peers did find a way to recognise his brilliance for all posterity.


Buy The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Game h/c and read the Page 45 review here


Von Doogan And The Great Air Race (£7-99, David Fickling Books) by Lorenzo Etherington.

Suffering semaphore!

How keen are your code-cracking skills? How refined is your spatial awareness and how sharp your straightforward eyesight? Strategic planning? Is this the season of reason for you?

If your answers are “mighty” and “I leap logic for breakfast” then this is the comic for you!

Comic…? Why yes, from THE PHOENIX comic weekly, that stable of thoroughbred storytelling, this is both a death-defying, danger-driven, neurotic, exotic comicbook adventure and a set of 37 mind-frazzling puzzles so grin-inducing fiendish that they will ruin other puzzle books for you.

Except for Lorenzo’s previous puzzle-comic VON DOOGAN AND THE CURSE OF THE GOLDEN MONKEY, of course!

Von Doogan Great Air Race 1

To move the story along you will need to solve puzzles like these:

See through a disguise in a crowd by piecing together what someone’s torn up and trashed.

Escape through the burning wreckage of a fuselage using fire extinguishers to clear paths through a maze – but each fire takes up a whole tank and you can only carry two extinguishers at once – it’s trickier than you think!

Repair circuitry, avoid collision, and identify which pilot is flying which plane based on a series of statements.

Best of the lot: after examining a map of a cafe and 8 separate pieces of time-specific and location-centric evidence from 4 different waiters, work out who was the only diner that night who didn’t have an opportunity to poison competitor Klaus!

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Impossibility Levels ranging from one to five indicate how much of a meal you might make of things.

With puzzle 1, ‘Sandwich Secret’, you’re looking at a light snack – no, you actually are! There’s a tray in front of Von Doogan bearing sandwiches, a drink with a straw and umm, a triangle (because triangles are tasty?) You need to summon your spatial awareness skills to work out how each of the items would look to Von Doogan (who’s facing you) in order to decode a secret message, thence a secret location around you in the room. This has an Impossibility Level of Two Skulls.

But up immediately next is The Magic Square puzzle whose solution will enable you to work out numeric values of similarly square but quite complex symbols which when translated into letters in turn reveal the location of a race, after which there’s another challenge to discover its date… all on the very second page! This has an Impossibility of Five Skulls – Five Skulls already!

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What I’m trying to convey is that these are far from straight forward, and you will at the very least need a pen and scrap paper, a pair of scissors and Doogan’s Danger Kit, a copy of which you can download from an address in the back so you won’t need to cut up the book (or you can trace shapes and use coins).

You will also need maths skills. Not advanced mechanics skills, but maths skills all the same. At one point to you have to determine how long you’ve got to rescue a pilot bailing from her plane by calculating how long her parachute drop takes when free-falling then open, after which how long she can survive at sea during specific water temperatures.

There are clues in the back if you struggle on any particular page and then the solutions. I think I found an additional solution to ‘The Dreaded Fog’ which didn’t involve me crashing my plane and which may have moved me ahead in the race! Umm, it might also have got me disqualified.

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I cannot begin to tell you how much glee I gleaned from this, but I do wonder if you’ll work out long before I did exactly which character is attempting to sabotage your best efforts to win this whacky race. There is a certain logic I should have seen through earlier, and I think you may rechristen me Dumbo. Do let me know!

For laugh-out-loud Etherington Brothers idiocy (Lorenzo being joined by Robin), please see their LONG GONE DON and MONKEY NUTS graphic novels.


Buy Von Doogan And The Great Air Race and read the Page 45 review here

Freaky & Fearless: How To Tell A Tall Tale (£5-99, Piccadilly) by Robin Etherington & Jan Bielecki.

‘Chapter 5: The Shipshape Shop’

“The Captain did not choose the name of his shop because he liked to keep things tidy. The shop was almost as messy as Ruby’s bedroom. No, the real reason was that The Shipshape Shop was a shop shaped exactly like a ship. Which is hard to believe, but even harder to say.”

Haha! Brilliant!

A shop shaped like a ship! What could be cooler than that? If it sold comics, of course, and it does!

Two of its most popular titles are the titular FREAKY and FEARLESS – printed throughout this book in their EC-style, blood-dripping logos – much beloved by storyteller Simon and his ace-cartoonist mate Whippet. The book opens with the first three pages of the latest issue of FEARLESS and, my, how prophetic they’ll prove to be! Indeed, it gradually dawns on Simon that so much of what happens today will have been presaged by stuff that popped into his head – almost if he made it come true!

Illustrated prose perfect for those of my own mental age (if not reading ability!) written by one half of the Etherington Brothers, the mirth-merchants responsible for kids comics LONG GONE DON and MONKEY NUTS, instead of FREAKY & FEARLESS this could have been equally aptly entitled, ‘Smelly & smellier’ for it includes a chapter called ‘The Toilet That Trolls Built and it pongs like nobody’s business.

It clops along at a cracking pace and it is – as you’d expect – both thrilling and hilarious but it also boasts an arresting turn of phrase of two for, then it comes to said toilet…

“Darkness looked as if it had been painted across every inch of the rotten, two-storey shack, and painted with a brush made from pure misery.”

Simon had never seen the shack before because it was hidden under the archway of Turnaway Bridge whose foreboding nature had always instilled in Simon so much fear that he’d never been able to face it. Jan Bielecki’s illustration for the page on which he finally does so positively looms over the boy, the black left-hand page with its white words sucking all warmth as well as light from the scene.

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Does this all sound too scary? It isn’t! It’s eerie, to be sure, and exciting, I swear, but at the same time it’s mostly played for adrenalin and laughs as Simon, Whippet and the dual-crossbow wielding, no-nonsense, nine-year-old death-machine known as Lucy Shufflebottom pursue a shadowy creature which has escaped from Castle Fearless, pursued Simon at a distance then snatched his baby sister Ruby. Why?!

Have you ever played ‘Simon Says’?

I have so much I could shout about here, from the clever way Robin drops Simon’s age into the proceedings by pronouncing that his eleven-year-old arms weren’t up to a task (how much better than the dismally dull “Simon was eleven years old”) to chapter titles like ‘Seven Seconds In Which The Worst Happened’ during which the worst happens during seven bullet-pointed seconds arranged down a no-pause-for-breath time-line… and Simon spinning one of his fanciful yarns about The True Pre-History Of Garden Gnomes And The Slightly More Migratory, Predatory Dinosaurs.

“The word ‘massacre’ isn’t quite big enough, so let’s say that by the time the dinosaurs were finished, there were very few gnomes left in one piece. Those that did survive did so by hiding. Standing still didn’t work. The dinosaurs called the gnomes who tried to hide by standing still ‘ready meals’. The ones who tried to run were known as ‘fast food’.”

Look, we don’t stock that much prose here. With 7,000 different graphic novels we’ve no room for prose if it ain’t absolute genius like Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Dave Shelton, Gary Northfield, Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre, Patrick Ness & Jim Kay. I’m struggling to think of much more, making it less than 0.25% of our stock. I’m having this because I bloody loved it and any of our younger readers who enjoy our more ridiculous graphic novels in THE PHOENIX weekly comic range by Northfield, Smart, Murphy and Turner will laugh their snot-ridden heads off.

Oh, and do you remember The Shipshape Shop that sells comics?

“One final thought: you two can believe what you like, but Captain Armstrong really is a pirate. I’ve seen him in action. The real question to ask is why would a famous pirate sell comics for a living?”

*smiles benignly*


Buy Freaky & Fearless: How To Tell A Tall Tale and read the Page 45 review here

100 Bullets Book 5 (£18-99, Vertigo) by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso.

“No more attachés, no more revenge…
“No more hundred bullets. Graves’ game is over.”

Oh, but it has been a very long game, cleverly played, and it ain’t over until Agent Graves says it’s over. There are many more bodies to be bagged before then.

No one here gives up without a fight, least of all Lono and, let me tell you, it’s going to get gruesome.

There has been an additional mini-series since these 100 issues, already collected into 100 BULLETS: BROTHER LONO which, if anything, is even more wince-worthy. Each previous book has also been reviewed in greater depth than this. However, how’s this to whet your appetite?

100 BULLETS was riveting crime fiction which sensibly began with a simple proposition before spirally into all-out warfare.

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The war is being waged between the Houses of The Trust, The Minutemen they used to employ as keepers of the peace, and anyone Agent Graves believes he can use in his very long game of goading, guile and perfect positioning, even from the very beginning.

The proposition was this: ancient Agent Graves would turn up at your house and present you with a briefcase. In that briefcase would be irrefutable evidence that someone has done you wrong, who the culprit was, and how if not why. Also enclosed: a gun and 100 rounds of untraceable ammunition. By that I mean that if these rounds were found spent or unspent at the scene of any crime, all investigation into that crime would cease. You have immunity – from the cops at least. What would you do?

Every nuance, every cadence of contemporary urban street patter is captured. Each line has a lovely lilt, and every character is ridiculously witty that the series reads like one long Jim ‘Foetus’ Thirwell song.

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As the series unfurls sleeper agents are activated, sides are taken, sides are swapped and lives are wrecked at home, in the street, and in prisons, bars and hotels all over the country. Now the final battle is on.

The shadows – already dark – grow longer, the colours are very rich in red and, lord, but those bruises are livid.

“Some people just deserve to die.”

The End.


Buy 100 Bullets Book 5 and read the Page 45 review here

East Of West vol 5: All These Secrets (£10-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta.

“That’s all you got?
“My father hit harder than that.”


You love alternate Earths with divergent histories, don’t you? Stuff like LUTHER ARKWRIGHT, MINISTRY OF SPACE. Here’s another and it’s fiercely intelligent and fresh. There have been four substantial reviews of EAST OF WEST already – the first two by Jonathan; the second pair by me – so this is just a nudge to say that book five has arrived and that they are all very much deserving of your attention.

America which has been divided between Seven Nations, representatives of whom sit on a secret council and conspire against each other, vying for power, even though their goal is the same: to bring about Armageddon. It is their sworn duty, for they are The Chosen who follow The Message, a sacred text heralding the end of the world.

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

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Why? Death, had stayed behind as a white-skinned, white-haired, white-clothed, gun-slinging adult because he’d fallen in love with Xiaolian Mao, now leader of the Mandarin-speaking People’s Republic Of America and a woman who, he discovered, had born him a child.

The hunt is now on for that son dubbed The Great Beast, Babylon.

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

Death wants to save the whole world.

It’s that sort of a book, riddled with ironies, like the Endless Nation of Native Americans once so myth-based now being the technological champions of the modern world and, militarily, its mightiest: they have just conquered The United States of Texas.



Buy East Of West vol 5: All These Secrets and read the Page 45 review here

The Uncanny Inhumans vol: Time Crush 1 s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Charles Soule & Steve McNiven.

“Hnh. Almost amusing. The silent king cannot keep his word.”

Very good, very good! If I’d written a line like that I’d have taken the rest of the month off.

Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee’s self-contained INHUMANS s/c or h/c comes highly recommended as an introduction to this royal family but also to all – not just Marvel superhero fans – as a very clever, considered and beautiful series about society. Some of it smacked of Neil Gaiman. No word of a lie.

This is much more Marvel-centric and quite specific in its context but certainly one of the best most recent examples with a cracking punchline bursting with attitude which was set up very early on indeed. Comeuppances are so very satisfying.

From the creative team behind the DEATH OF WOLVERINE, the first chapter shone under its clear blue skies, crackling temporal energy and the sound of a whispered word. No clues as to whose required.

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I personally missed Justin Ponsor’s colours after that opening salvo, but it’s still all much more attractive than this stiff and ill-composed cover.

The silent king is Black Bolt who cannot speak a word for fear of levelling a mountain – the very essence of the strong, silent macho man – and he’s certainly going to be biting that stiff upper lip raw now that he’s been deposed and his ex, Queen Medusa, is dating the Human Torch. It’s a startling development given The Torch’s history with Medusa as a member of the Frightful Four and with Medusa’s sister Crystal as an ex-lover. Also given that Medusa is one of the most reserved and dignified characters in Marvel’s stable, while Johnny Storm is its mad, rutting colt.

It all came crashing down for Black Bolt in the highly recommended Avengers crossover INFINITY VOL 1 and INFINITY VOL 2 from which to you can move straight on to here. Here is mere moments before SECRET WARS – before the death of everything.

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Events first brought to light in NEW AVENGERS VOL 1: EVERYTHING DIES are about to come to a cataclysmic head as the two main Marvel Earths (regular and Ultimate) are about to collide, wiping them both out along with their universes. That is why Black Bolt’s palm is glowing: the final Incursion is imminent and there is one thing above all which he must ensure – that his son Ahura survives. Now, how would you ensure someone survives the end of the universe, do you think? I’d probably take them outside of time itself.

“If I do this thing for you, if I take your son back into the timestream with me, saving him from what is to come, then he is mine.
“Even if the death of the universe is somehow averted, know that Ahura will belong to Kang always.”

Yes, it’s Kang The Constantly Conquered.

Chapters two to five take place after SECRET WARS when, umm, the death of the universe was somehow averted. Whoops.


Buy The Uncanny Inhumans vol: Time Crush 1 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.

5000 Km Per Second h/c (£16-99, Fantagraphics) by Fior

Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant (£12-99, First Second) by Tony Cliff

Giant Days vol 2 (£10-99, Boom) by John Allison & Lissa Treiman, Max Sarin

Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal vol 2: Creation Myths s/c (£10-99, Archaia) by Joshua Dysart & Brian Froud, Alex Sheikman, Lizzy John

Chain Mail Bikini: The Anthology Of Women Gamers (£14-99, ) by various

The Complete Alice In Wonderland s/c (£14-99, Dynamite) by Lewis Carroll, Leah Moore, John Reppion & Erica Awano

Flink (£10-50, Image) by Doug TenNapel

The Journey h/c (£12-99, Flying Eye Books) by Francesca Sanna

Luminae h/c (£18-99, Magnetic Press) by Bengal

Munch (£15-99, Self Made Hero) by Steffen Kverneland

The Wicked + The Divine vol 1: Year One h/c (£33-99, Image) by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

Wild Animals Of The North h/c (£20-00, Flying Eye Books) by Dieter Braun

Batman: Adventures vol 4 s/c (£18-99, DC) by Paul Dini, various & Bruce Timm, various

Gotham By Midnight vol 2: Rest In Peace s/c (£12-99, DC) by Ray Fawkes & Juan Ferreyra

Wonder Woman: Earth One vol 1 h/c (£16-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Yanick Paquette

Amazing Spider-Man vol 1: Worldwide s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott, Christos Gage & Giuseppe Camuncoli

Black Panther: Complete Christopher Priest Collection vol 3 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Christopher Priest, J. Torres & Sal Veluto, Jorge Lucas, Ryan Bodenheim, Jon Bogdanove, John Buscema, Paolo Rivera

Civil War: Peter Parker Spider-Man s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Clayton Crane, Angel Medina, Sean Chen

Civil War: Punisher War Journal s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction, Frank Tieri & Ariel Olivetti, Mike Deodato, Staz Johnson

Invincible Iron Man vol 1: Reboot h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez

Awkward Silence vol 5 (£8-99, Viz) by Hinako Takanaga

Dragon Ball 3-in-1 Edition vols 34-36 (£9-99, Viz) by Akira Toriyama

Sword Art Online: Progressive vol 4 (£9-99, Yen) by Reki Kawahara & Kiseki Himura


Paul Duffield costume

ITEM! I think you’ll agree this is a pretty neat design from FREAKANGELS’ Paul Duffield which would look perfectly at home in his continuing FARLIGHT ISLE project, yes?

Now, imagine Paul Duffield actually inhabiting that costume. In real life! Photos! Pretty special, huh?

Fegredo time lapse - Copy

ITEM! Duncan Fegredo draws! Time-lapse! Jaw-drop! Etc! I find watching all those individual creative decisions and revisions being made fascinating.

Julia Scheele - Copy

ITEM! For those who’ve enjoyed the Sarah Burgess and Jade Sarson’s pages I’ve linked to here, I think you’ll love the empathy and understanding Julia Scheele brings to mental health / confidence in her comics.

Rachel Rising vol 4

 ITEM! Terry Moore’s RACHEL RISING BLACK EDITION OMNIBUS – pre-order now direct from Terry Moore only!

750 copies only worldwide
Signed, limited bookplate
Signed, limited print BUT ONLY FOR THOSE WHO PRE-ORDER
$90 before postage is not expensive. IT’S LESS THAN THE 7 SOFTCOVERS IT CONTAINS!

Why we love RACHEL RISING: all six books so far reviewed by silly old Stephen.

Giant Days vol 2

ITEM! John Allison’s most recent BOBBINS from the beginning. I’ll never get tired of typing sentences like that. Free online comics are one thing, but free online comics as funny as that?

Err, why we love John Allison: BAD MACHINERY/ GIANT DAYS / EXPECTING TO FLY / MURDER SHE WRITES comics all in stock and all reviewed apart from GIANT DAYS VOL 2, out today and in stock now!

ITEM! Another blog, another new graphic novel from THE PHOENIX weekly comic library reviewed above, plus an Etherington Brother prose book too!

Page 45 now has a category for all of THE PHOENIX comic’s graphic novels (as well as associates) which you can reach from our website’s front page by clicking on:

PHOENIX BOOKS at the top!

Cairo Mural - Copy

ITEM! Giant mural across 50 buildings in Cairo! And if you think this image is spectacular, click on the link for photos of its creation, night scenes and so much more!

Cairo Mural at night - Copy


Rough Trade cover

ITEM! Rough Trade has a brand-new music magazine out! Oh yeah! You can buy it from that product page or from Rough Trade shops in London, New York City and Nottingham. Nottingham!

Apart from our shared adoration of our respective media and our fiercely guarded independence, why that launch – and Rough Trade in general – is particularly important to Page 45 will become increasingly clear in the next few months.

Fabulous interview with Rough Trade Magazines’ curator Liz Siddall – another name you’ll be hearing a lot more of here. I like her No Wankers policy.

Rough Trade Nottingham

Rough Trade Records Nottingham, 5 Broad Street. 0115 8964012

– Stephen

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