Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews April 2016 week two

News underneath including Re-imagining Beatrix Potter competition!

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

Now that is a cover.

Against all your understandable expectations, it is not a scene that happens anywhere in this ever-so-sad graphic novel.

By the time the rain pours down back in Italy, Piero will have stopped doing anything so care free as riding that bike and Lucia will no longer be such an inexperienced teenager caught in the summer-sunshine of its headlights.

Lucia will have moved on and then on again, but Piero the worrier will still be dwelling about what he had and what he lost, and why. Alas, self-knowledge was never his forte.

No, it’s not a scene that happens anywhere, but it does encapsulate the whole perfectly. For although it begins in the blinding lemon-yellow and lime-green of a blissfully hot summer in Italy when adult concerns and parental practicalities seemed so constrictive, restrictive and dull, the rain begins falling almost immediately between each consecutive chapter in one drop, two drops, three drops then four as Lucia and Piero find themselves 5000 substantial kilometres and one second apart.

Après ça, le déluge.

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This is a graphic novel rammed full of possessive jealousy, one of the most potent poisons in any relationship, pushing away everything and everyone it seeks to contain and sustain.

Lucia will bear the brunt of it not just once but shockingly twice. The second time when she is far more vulnerable is perhaps infinitely worse but in any case it is telling that after escaping the first she writes to Piero, “I felt like I could breathe again.”

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As to Piero, well, we’ve already established that he’s far from self-aware so if he’s the victim as well as the culprit of this sort of smothering intensity and it singularly fails to register, do not be surprised.

It is oh so cleverly crafted with Piero’s childhood friend, Nicola – sweet, loving, loyal and uninhibitedly tactile Nicola – caught to one side / in the middle.

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“From the moment we got together Nicola became so jealous,” says Lucia.” Not that he liked me… he was just scared of losing his friend.”

Entirely understandable: not only had Piero’s eyes alighted upon new arrival Lucia, but he was also about to move away soon to university while Nicola, far less gifted academically, was always going to stay behind and take over his father’s shop. Yet in spite of all this – in spite of his friend about to leave him behind on the metaphorical beach (see ROBOT DREAMS), Nicola did nothing wrong.

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Fior’s forte for me came in the form his portraits of a mature Lucia, out to dinner, so happy to be laughing until she could barely catch her breath, then quietly and with defence-free dignity considering her failure in love, after which her face almost implodes with grief (?) embarrassment (?) at what she considers her diminished appeal. I remove one spoiler yet this remains:

“I teach literature at a provincial technical school. I’ve gotten as fat as a cow.”

She really hasn’t. But the worst face comes later when Piero just won’t let it lie.

Expect telling dream sequences, anger, resentment and an unexpected element of futurism dropped in at the end.


Buy 5000 Km Per Second h/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

“It’s nice here. I like it.
“Lots of ground. Nice, dependable, solid ground.
“Very nice indeed.”

Poor Mister Selim! Flying boats are not his cup of tea.

Come to think of it, even when they were sailing on the ocean he was all at sea.

He doesn’t know his port from his starboard, but do you know what? Delilah could have said “left” or “right”, couldn’t she?

A couple of weeks ago I raved about Tony Cliff’s all-ages DELILAH DIRK AND THE KINGS SHILLING with its gorgeous Portugese and Spanish landscapes, its British stately homes, its exceptional fight-scene choreography and the genuine wit in the snappy patty patter between Delilah Dirk and her travelling companion, Erdemoglu Selim, whose first name will henceforth be Mister. Feedback informs me that you liked the promise of running tea jokes best and there are plenty more here from page three onwards.

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This is the first book in the series which chronicles how the unlikely pair met in Constantinople, Istanbul, 1807. Mister Selim was a lieutenant in the Turkish Janissary Corps; Miss Dirk was the Agha’s captive. Neither party’s position there lasted very long. There’s an exquisite early sequence with Selim extolling Delilah’s reputed prowess in escapology and combat, his master believing not one word of it, culminating in Miss Dirk bashing her captors through a thick wooden door and waving.

“Hi, Selim!”

So that’s Mister Selim unceremoniously sacked. I wouldn’t feel too sorry for him. He wasn’t earning very much. The Agha’s method of distributing his soldiers’ salaries was far from orthodox: he threw a bit pot of gold coins into the centre of a room and let his employees scrabble about the floor, snatching up whatever they could.

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Surrounded by much bigger bruisers all poor Selim came away with was much bigger bruises.

It’s at this point I break to remind you just how lithe Cliff’s figure work is, and how supple their limbs in motion. There are some thrilling perspectives as well, some of the action being perceived from ground-level.

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The balance between the calms and the storms is very well judged. The pair’s travels go uninterrupted just long enough to soak up the bucolic beauty and for Delilah to contemplate why she lives her nomadic existence and explain it to her charming and charmed new recruit.

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Speaking of charming there’s another perfect piece of sequential art storytelling when the couple are offered ten days’ respite as guests of a full-on friendly man and his family, the images contradicting Mister Selim’s somewhat disingenuous narration in every possible way. Wonderful!

Indeed all the Turkish people we meet are open, kind, convivial, and generous to a fault apart from evil pirate Captain Zakul The Terrible, but you can’t exactly accuse him of wearing sheep’s clothing. Also explaining his somewhat sullen behaviour, Delilah may have slightly stolen a great big cart load of treasure from him.

This is where we came in, with Delilah and Mister Selim fleeing the hoards of Captain Zakul (The Terrible) in a flying wooden boat bombarded with multiple flaming arrows. It’s an incendiary combination that causes them to crash-land under an aqueduct and I don’t suppose that landmark lasts very long, do you?

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What I’m trying to get across to you is how much fun this all is. Personally I’d still start with DELILAH DIRK AND THE KINGS SHILLING which packs quite the punch but I will take anything from Tony Cliff I can get. There the journey’s Delilah’s, here it’s Mister Selim’s for as our story opens Delilah craves adventure and thrives upon it; Mister Selim emphatically does not.

“Ugh. What is happening? Why… did you cut me free back there? Why did you bring me all the way out here?

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“Because, Mr. Selim…. you make the finest tea in all of Europe.”


Buy Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant and read the Page 45 review here

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

You can tell that these animals are all from the North because it tends to be snowing, ice features fairly prominently in their habitat, and several are found walking whippets.

100% class through and through, this deliriously seductive all-ages art book has bugger all to do with comics but I am so far past caring because beauty.

Recommended to fans of Brrémaud & Bertolucci’s LOVE: TIGER and LOVE: FOX, the paper stock is thick and matt and the hardcover itself roams free from the fetters of any unsightly insta-rip dust jacket, thus making it ideal for school libraries.

As a kid myself I own that my idea of nature-book heaven would have been one illustrated by KINGDOM COME’s Alex Ross but as a big kid now this more stylised approach with elements of Jonathan Edwards lights my fire far, far more.

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The forms are bigger and bolder for their blocked-out beauty and I strongly suspect that any family acquiring this educational excellence will discover their young ones equipping themselves with paper, pencil and paint in no time in order to emulate its awe.

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Featured creatures come with a paragraph which is far from predictable, eschewing cold stats in favour of something more akin to storytelling, bringing each animal’s individuality alive.

Snow leopard:

“A snow leopard never roars.” Already I am surprised. I never knew that.

“Its call is drawn-out howl which – depending on the direction of the wind – can be mistaken for the cry of the yeti.” I’ve never heard a yeti, so I’m not sure what that means.

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“Because it’s so shy and rare, the Kyrgyz people also call it the ‘ghost of the mountain’. Its long busy tail gives this avid climber the necessary counterbalance it requires for scaling the mountainside. When resting, it uses its tail to protect itself from the cold by curling it around itself and covering its nose. It is said to jump over 15-metre crevasses – and even if the crevasse were a few centimetres shorter, this cat would still be the world champion long-jumper of all mammals.”

See? Instantly memorable even if you have the attention span of a five-year-old that’s just washed down a dozen packets of Tang-Fastics with five fizzy litres of teeth-melting pop-u-like.

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Other birds, amphibians and mammals, alas, come with little more than a name but maybe you can make your own entry up for Mountain Goats which I’ve seen abseiling down cliffs without ropes. I’ve also spotted them walking along sheer drops, halfway up on what must be three-millimetre-thick ledges, suggesting that each and every one was once bitten by a radioactive spider.

I know my natural science!


Buy Wild Animals Of The North h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Clan Apis (£18-99, Active Synapse) by Jay Hosler –

From the creator of all-ages entertainment and education EVOLUTION: THE STORY OF LIFE ON EARTH, comes his first classic graphic novel from 2000 which BONE fans adored. Our Mark was particularly smitten and wrote this:

“I discovered this treasure on a glorious sun-filled afternoon, spent lying on the grass in one of my favourite quiet places and reading this surprising book. It’s partially an educational volume – you’ll get to learn plenty about the life cycle of a bee and the rules and traditions of a hive – but it’s also a fine dramatic story.

“We meet Nyuki as a larva basking in the hedonistic glory of being able to relax and just plain eat for five days. She’s unwilling to make the move and metamorphose into her next state, for growth can be a frightening concept. Luckily she has Dvorah on hand to explain her role in the community and the life outside her cell. Once fully grown she ventures outside, meets other insects, collects pollen and generally does what bees do.

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“Holser has managed to give the central characters enough individuality without removing them from the hive collective mentality.

“There’s an introduction which echoes the ‘form & void’ creation of the world seen in CEREBUS: CHURCH & STATE and an attached sense of religious invention that recalls Jon Lewis (a high recommendation).

“The guy’s a research biologist so he knows his bees.”

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Editor’s note:

Hosler also knows his beetles as evidenced in this far more recent graphic novel, LAST OF THE SANDWALKERS, which maintains educational standards whilst upping the adventure element considerably.

Here too there’s a host of educational extras in the back putting both bees and insects in general into context, as well as the story itself. Sub-titles include How To Build A Bee and The Calm Before The Swarm which, I assure you, is no mere pun.

For more education please visit]


Buy Clan Apis and read the Page 45 review here

The Fix #1 (£2-99. Image) by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber.

“If you liked classic crime comics like CRIMINAL and 100 BULLETS we apologize in advance for letting you down.”

Having read over 100,000 solicitation summaries over the past 25 years – most rammed full of po-faced hyperbole – it’s refreshing to read something that redirects a mug of tea right through your nose.

It also sets the tone perfectly for this is far closer to the mischief-riddled THIEF OF THIEVES, except that these contemporary criminals here have zero finesse, cannot conceive of pre-planning and couldn’t even spell ‘fiscal prudence’. Thanks to Steve Lieber there’s even some fine visual slapstick as the buffoons who pass for our heroes only just get away to steal another day.

Let me be perfectly clear: if I were a betting man I wouldn’t bet on these two.

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They do, however, have an ace up their career sleeve I which I won’t spoil for you even if the original solicitation copy did. It’s delivered in the form of a very specific car radio after their old people’s home heist, during which they are gentle, respectful and far more considerate than their absentee orderlies and supervisor.

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That car radio changes everything you thought you were about to read, but then that’s what this comic does: confound your expectations at every comedic corner over and over again. Sometimes it’s no bad idea to return to the scene of a crime; sometimes you simply have no choice. And always these two cannot resist pushing things just a tad too far.

“I wish we could chalk this up to being a learning experience…
“But that would require learning something.”

What they have learned is that modern crime is virtual. The only people who carry cold, hard cash are old age pensioners, hence the heist, and it’s true. It is not unusual for someone to pay by credit card for a two-quid Lizz Lunney comic at Page 45 after they’ve asked for a Student Discount.

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What you will learn is the lack of wisdom in sticking someone up while wearing a floral shirt, and at this point I would like to thank all the shoplifters who’ve taken the trouble to identify themselves in advance with very specific, stand-out tattoos.

Far more when the book is released but for now I’ll simply assure you that you will laugh and laugh and laugh. Though by the end our champ chumps will have their grins wiped right off their gormless faces.


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

Empress #1 (£2-99, Icon / Marvel) by Mark Millar & Stuart Immonen.

Ive Svrocina produces some lovely lambent colours for Immonen’s art which delivers dinosaurs, a vast arena, space ships, dogfights with ‘dactyls and many a ‘sploding flight deck.

It is sleek, it is slick, it is sexy.

A man of many feathers, Immonen here is in shiny ALL-NEW X-MEN mode rather than the cartoon bomb of NEXTWAVE, SECRET IDENTITY’s neo-classicism or RUSSIAN OLIVE TO RED KING’s quiet if colourful restraint. He’s basically delivering your epic  STAR WARS space opera, just as he is in, umm, STAR WARS right now.

It’s a very quick comic which accelerates from nought to warp in under a dozen pages even if there’s nothing you can call new so far.

Do we trust Mark Millar? I think we do.

This is the man responsible for KINGSMAN, JUPITER’S LEGACY, JUPITER’S CIRCLE, ULTIMATES, NEMEMIS, MPH, SUPERIOR, CIVIL WAR, AMERICAN JESUS, CHRONONAUTS, MARVEL 1985, SUPERCROOKS and so much more. Hey, that’s what our search engine’s for.

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In summary, then:

Implacable tyrant, big and burly, as merciless as Ming; a right old grumpy-chops with a sadistic smile.

Disillusioned Missus, miffed that life with an implacable tyrant isn’t as exotic or erotic as it looked like from the other side of the bar she once served him in.

Children, sundry; allegiances varied until fired upon by Daddy’s Dobermen.

Captain loyal to miffed Missus effects swift departure from Terminal 5 (non-domestic) before there’s a domestic.

Much spluttering in soup etc.


Buy Empress #1 and read the Page 45 review here

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

Matt black hardcover with gold-foil design which reprints the first two WICKED + DIVINE softcovers with the following back-matter:

Variant covers
Promo poster
Two-page promo teaser comic
Gillen’s photo-comic on pre-ordering comics
That Nathan Fairbairn fresco in full
Three early character descriptions with Jamie’s design sketches
Process pieces
‘Immortality, Of A Kind’ poem by Gillen
All 11 issues’ Writer’s Notes

We begin with Side A:

“Reach out and touch faith!”

Popstars on their pedestals: that’s where we place them in order to worship, just as we used to old gods. Mass hysteria really is nothing new. Add in unhealthy hubris and the confluence of ideas here makes perfect sense.

There is little more likely to drive me to ecstasy than a gig.

“Her eyes scan the front row like the sun rising and setting. Oh god. Oh god.
“The girl to my left passes out, hyperventilating. The boy to my right falls to his knees, cum leaking from his crotch. She’s not even looking at them. She’s looking at me. I swear, she’s looking at me.”

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I love Amaterasu there, her black eyes blazing with the corona of a solar eclipse.

Amaterasu is a relatively new pop goddess already catalysing the sort of tearful, screaming crowd hysteria formerly generated by the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Duran Duran; commanding a Bowie-like level of devotion which inspires one to dress up and make up to match. Also: generating all the cynical, scornful nay resentful press coverage that can come with it. Paul Morley is a very clever man, but he can also be the world’s most crashing bore.

The difference is that Amaterasu isn’t just a pop goddess in Smash Hits terminology, she’s a pop star who claims that she really is a goddess and she’s not alone. There is a pantheon of them performing gigs separately, each with a shtick of their own – which is fabulous marketing.

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And that’s all today’s interviewer sees: a sophisticated advertising campaign built around bullshit. Mythological claptrap. Pretention. Dissemblance. Malcolm McLaren. To Cassandra – a journalist with a Masters in Comparative Mythology – the very idea that Amaterasu is anything other than Hazel Greenaway from Exeter is preposterous. She did her thesis on The Recurrence and she’s taking it all very personally.

The Recurrence is supposedly this: every ninety years twelve gods are born again, found within young, extant lives then activated by the pantheon’s keeper, the ancient Ananke, a woman wizened with age, austere and unknowable. Throughout the flux – the rise and the fall – Ananke appears to be the one constant. And yes, there is a fall for in two years each god will be dead: immortality doesn’t last forever. But for those two years the twelve gods will blaze as bright as the sun before burning out. Surely that price is worth paying.

Cassandra remains unconvinced and in is giving Amaterasu a hard time which really gets the most vocal of the pantheon’s goat. That would be Lucifer, by the way, the devil herself.


“Please. The empress of stupid is annoying me.”
“Do you know what I see? Kids posturing with a Wikipedia summary’s understanding of myth. I see a wannabe who’s never got past the Bowie in her parent’s embarrassingly retro record collection. I see a provincial girl who doesn’t understand how cosplaying a Shinto god is problematic at best and offensive at worst. I see someone who’s been convinced that acting like a fucking cat is a dignified way for a woman to behave!”

All of which is witnessed by seventeen-year-old Laura – last to pass out, the first to wake up – who has lucked into Lucifer’s favour and been taken under her wing. Suddenly the ultimate fangirl finds herself very much on the inside. And so, shortly, will Luci…


I love Luci: sexy, slinky, positively sybaritic. As styled by McKelvie she is the ultimate in androgyny, immaculately dressed in pressed white. As scripted by Gillen she is an arch, knowing merchant of mischief but beneath the velvet veneer there is something sharp and a little brittle waiting to break. Oh yes, it’s called a temper.

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From the creative crew behind PHONOGRAM and YOUNG AVENGERS and the writer of Ancient Greece drama THREE and cyberpunk MERCURY HEAT, the first issue moved startlingly fast in a flash. For a writer who relishes wit-riddled repartee – and provides plenty here packed with musical winks and nudges – this is quite the “fuck, no!” jaw/floor thrill, and you just wait for the final fifth chapter’s wham/bam double punchline. I nearly wet myself.

Without giving the game away (which is what someone usually says when they are about to give the game away) McKelvie and Wilson have come up with multiple special effects involving dots, rays and flat, spot colour to make the more miraculous moments stand out a mile from the warmer, graded pages. Who decided what is always difficult to discern with Team Phonogram, but there is some gorgeous design work on display as well (hello, Hannah Donovan!) from the logo to the make-up and most especially the recurring round-table / constantly ticking clock of symbols, each denoting the twelve gods’ current status. After each major act it’s updated depending on whose hour has come round at last. Study it closely and infer what you will.

As ever with Gillen there’s many a contempory pop culture reference – and I don’t just mean music – like Twitter DMs and “snapchats” and the odd naughty crack in that febrile fourth wall as when Laura starts Googling the gods on her mobile. This is what pops up:

“Blah blah blah…

“Yet more blah…

“This is turning into homework…”

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Laura, by the way, is visually modelled on Gillen’s good friend Leigh Alexander, one of games’ most insightful journalists who campaigns eloquently and relentlessly for individuality, diversity and creativity in her chosen craft very much like Page 45 does for comics.

Meanwhile if I misread Baphomet and The Morrigan’s subterranean tube-station appearances as The Sisters Of Mercy’s Andrew von Eldritch and Patricia Morrison, well, there’s none-more-goth than me.

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What is any live performance, however, without an encore? I won’t tell you why Lucifer is remanded into custody but it’s that which propels this first epic act. Here she is at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, being visited in Holloway Prison by Laura:

“Now I know you must feel terribly teased we didn’t consummate our flirtation, but this screen makes it somewhat tricky. Intangible cunnilingus is beyond even my abilities. That said, I’ve never tried. They do say I’ve a wicked tongue… Do you have a cigarette? Or cocaine? Ideally cocaine?”
“Not even a little bit of cocaine?”
“What kind of teenager are you that you don’t have Class A Drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me?”

Tuned in.
Turned on.
Drop doubt.

It’s time to get recreational.

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Side B:

“You are of the Pantheon.
“You will be loved.
“You will be hated.
“You will be brilliant.
“Within two years you will be dead.”

One of the most important lessons my maths teacher taught me had nothing to do with geometry.

“Always ask why,” he said. Always ask why.

For more, please see my WICKED + THE DIVINE VOL 2 review.


Buy The Wicked + The Divine vol 1: Year One h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Invincible Iron Man vol 1: Reboot (£18-99 h/c; £10-99 s/c, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez.

This is the first book since SECRET WARS which I am not about to spoil with its most enormous repercussion here. I’ve even chosen the illustrations carefully.

There will be no love lost there but in Dr Amara Perera Tony may have finally found someone worth dropping his facade for. She’s not feisty, she’s thoughtful, and I like her already.

“I have a cure for the mutant gene.”
“You do not.”
“One that would absolutely do not harm to the host.”
“But it… it is like curing Judaism. It’s not to be done. I won’t do it.”
“Because by the weekend it would become a law that everyone has to take the cure.”

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should is no new scientific argument, but usually those who have discovered fight the opposite, self-serving corner. I told you I like her.

“I didn’t even write it down. I didn’t want anyone to find it if I died.”
“That’s not good enough, actually. There are psychic spies, psychic industrial spies, and psychic mutants. And psychic mutant industrial spies.”

If that does become sub-plot it’s not happening here.

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Under David Marquez the various Stark Towers, particularly the one is Japan, are slick pieces of architecture and Marquez’s fashion sense is impeccable with smooth, broad strokes for soft-skinned beauty contrasting with the most intricate details of Dr. Perera’s necklace or Madame Masque’s mask. It’s almost unearthly – which is handy given what will become of Madame Masque and her mask.

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Yes, sorry, the protagonist is Stark’s ex-lover Madame Masque who – in an uncharacteristic departure – has taken it upon herself to seek out mystical artefacts which that have fallen through the cracks between dimensions into ours. What would possess her to do that?

None of this has ping-ed on the astral radar of our Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, but it’s certainly set off alarm bells at Castle Doomstadt – home to Doctor Doom – which Masque has raided for a Wand of Watoomb. Apparently there are five of those spell sticks. Who even knew there were two?

Again, not Doctor Strange, but in case you’ve forgotten Victor Von D is an accomplished mage himself and here comes before Stark as a much-changed man, and in more ways than one.

It’s going to drive Tony nuts.

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As much as anything else, this is a comedy. Everything Bendis writes is at least in part a comedy, even JESSICA JONES. The reason it works so well here is that Tony Stark is at the top of his inventive and mental-health game, but he’s thrown by all the magic involved, confounded by Doom’s open-arms about-face* and finally found a woman – in complete contrast to mentalist Madame Masque – who deserves being dealt with sincerely rather than charmed using his trade-mark, defective, deflective, non-stop quippery / self-deprecation:

“I can’t shake the idea that becoming the man that would actually deserve you… would be a good goal in life at this stage of the game.”

It’s not the only serious thing he says, either. For the first time there is some serious consideration of whether Tony truly has any friends he can offload to when things go wonky on the scale that they do. It would go some way to explaining his former ‘friend’ in the bottle. Offloading is important, but Stark’s faced with two walls few seem prepared to scale: in his line of work someone else’s day was almost certainly worse, and poor little rich boy, boo-hoo.

Some of the best exchanges are between Stark and his dead-pan, on-board artificial intelligence called Friday, partly because they can afford to upset / annoy each other, and do. I cannot wait, however, to see what happens when someone new joins the crew next volume. She’s been a major supporting cast member of another title for decades and Bendis has written her before but within NEW AVENGERS instead.

Lastly, this delivers the best “Hail Hydra” ever, in the most unexpected context.

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* I am trying to be subtle here!


Buy Invincible Iron Man vol 1: Reboot h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Buy Invincible Iron Man vol 1: Reboot s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

While Garth Ennis continued to bring serious real-world issues like sex slave-trafficking and military geopolitics into PUNISHER MAX, Fraction was assigned to tackle his interactions with the spandex brigade of Marvel Universe who at this point – you might have heard – had a bit of a bust-up called CIVIL WAR.

I haven’t wanted to read much of this which appears to be one long arched eyebrow from Luke Cage and co. aimed at Captain America enlisting the aid or accepting the assistance of Frank ‘Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right: I Think You’ll Find It’s 5,722 Wrongs’ Castle, but when I dipped in I quite enjoyed the issue set in a bar where some C-list super-villains are holding a wake for one of their own: the dude at high altitude, Stilt Man, a thief who’s shtick was to totter on top of a couple of ever-expanding tin tubes.

“Are there a lot of banks up on the 30th floor or something?”

It had the added advantage of being drawn by Deodato rather than Ariel ‘Opaque’ Olivetti, and you don’t generally associate Deodato with comedy, do you?

“It’s just – I’ve struggled with depression, you know? This is hard.”
“Let it out, guy. Let it allll out.”

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Every so often the primitive Doombot (Victor Von Doom decoy) which they’ve rigged to make the Stiltman’s wife think he ranked higher than he did declares “Kneel before Doom!” at random and increasingly funny intervals, even as he attempts to get served at the bar.

Here they’re toasting Wilbur Day, the Stilt-Man:

“To the man that made me a momentary super-villain!”
“Wilbur Day!”
“Wilbur Day!”
“Kneel before Doom!”


Buy Civil War: Punisher War Journal s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Goodness, you don’t think that cover gives the game away, do you?

In spite of some of the names credited above we are in the realms of Public Service Announcement rather than recommendation for – on top of all the ugly, unlisted dross to appear here – the Brubaker / Fraction / Aja IRON FIST short story will mystify anyone who’s not read Brubaker’s run on DAREDEVIL.

In addition the post-CIVIL WAR pieces written by Ellis and Bendis leading into THUNDERBOLTS and MIGHTY AVENGERS VOL 1 respectively are drawn by Silvestri and that’s no good thing by this point, the women being drawn in porn poses. Even the final shot of an armoured Iron Man from behind makes him look like he’s braced in stilettos. You’re not missing anything.

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Buy Civil War: Marvel Universe and read the Page 45 review here

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

Ah, bless ol’ Spidey: he’s Amazing, he’s Sensational, he’s Friendly in your Neighbourhood, and he manages to be all three at the same time! Maybe you read CIVIL WAR and then CIVIL WAR: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and you thought you knew what Peter’d been up to during those hours. Somehow he’s managed to squeeze in all this as well.

I wish I had three titles: I could accomplish so much more!

I could do the dinner, the dishes, the drinking and play PS4 games in the HILARIOUS, HOUSE-BOUND HOLLAND. At the same time I could burn off all those calories down the Derbyshire Dales in SEASONAL STEPHEN, SAUNTERING while making money at Page 45 as TILL-MONKEY TURPIN. I could even take at least one ANNUAL holiday.

Anyway, by pure chance I actually read the first issue of this (SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #28, with art by Clayton Crain), and it’s brilliant. Its focus is Jordan, one of Peter’s students, a young man whose passion for marine biology has driven him to contact the University of Miami well in advance of needing to apply, just to find out what he should be doing right now. He studies hard on his own, but wants to be pushed and Peter – as Jordan’s fill-in biology teacher – has promised he’ll be there to push. Then, one morning, Jordan wakes up to see his teacher splashed all over the news, at a specially held press conference. Well, I know I’d be thinking “How does this affect my grades?!”

The script’s neither heavy nor sloppy, but warm with a twinkle in its eye, and with Dr. Octopus feeling just a little bit dim that – after originally unmasking Peter back when the boy was fifteen – he dismissed the kid as being too young to be Spider-Man and “threw him back”.

Can’t say I’ve read the rest or want to, but you may…


Buy Civil War: Peter Parker Spider-Man 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.

Take Me Back To Manchester (£12-00, self-published) by Oliver East

Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus h/c (£16-50, Drawn & Quarterly) by Chester Brown

An Olympic Dream: The Story Of Samia Yusuf Omar (£14-99, Self Made Hero) by Reinhard Kleist

Discover… The Ancient Egyptians (£8-99, Frances Lincoln) by Imogen Greenberg & Isabel Greenberg

Discover… The Roman Empire (£8-99, Frances Lincoln) by Imogen Greenberg & Isabel Greenberg

Hellboy: In Mexico s/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola & Mike Mignola, various, Mike Mignola

I Am A Hero Omnibus vol 1 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Kengo Hanazawa

Lone Wolf And Cub Omnibus vol 12 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima

The Manhattan Projects vol 6 (£10-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra

Rat Queens vol 3: Demons (£10-99, Image) by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Tess Fowler

Batman: Europa h/c (£16-99, DC) by Matteo Casali, Brian Azzarello & Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Lee, Diego Latorre, Gerald Parel

Superman vol 6: The Men Of Tomorrow s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & John Romita

Invincible Iron Man vol 1: Reboot s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez

Mrs Deadpool And The Howling Commandos s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Gerry Duggan & Salva Espin

Thanos: The Infinity Finale h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jim Starlin & Ron Lim

Uncanny Avengers vol 1: Unity – Lost Future s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Gerry Duggan & Ryan Stegman, Carlos Pacheco

Attack On Titan: Before The Fall vol 7 (£8-99, Kodansha) by Ryo Suzukaze & Satoshi Shiki

Fairy Tail vol 53 (£8-99, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Tsubasa: World Chronicle 2 (£8-99, Kodansha) by Clamp


Love Lion 1

ITEM! Six-page preview of Magnetic Press’ LOVE: LION graphic novel.

You can pre-order LOVE: LION by Brremaud & Bertolucci from Page 45 here

Love Lion 2

You can buy LOVE: TIGER by Brremaud & Bertolucci, reviewed by Page 45, here

Love Tiger waterfall


Love Tiger waterfall 2

You can buy LOVE: FOX by Brremaud & Bertolucci, reviewed by Page 45, here

Love Fox 3


Love Fox 4

ITEM! Gerard Way interviewed about his very own ‘Young Animal’ DC comics imprint

Already written by Gerard Way we have:




Delilah Dirk King 2


However, to whet your appetiteTony Cliff has a 36-page self-published comic DELILAH DIRK AND THE SEEDS OF MISFORTUNE available online as a pay-what-you-want e-book.


ITEM! Italian graphic novel LUMINA just needs a few more Euros to fund it. Looks pretty swoonaway to me!

1 Lakes Fest Clock Tower

ITEM! Ah yes, a rollickingly well edited promo video for The Lakes International Comic Art Festival:

LICAF Beatrix Potter Competition


Beatrix Potter Competition

ITEM! New Beatrix Potter Competition For Students from The Lakes International Comic Art Festival!

Spread the word far, spread the word wide, my lovelies! Judges for the competition are #LICAF Patrons:

Sean Phillips
Emma Vieceli
Bryan Talbot
Mary Talbot

Stephen El Holland

Yes, this old buffoon! What on earth do I know about creativity? About Beatrix Potter…?

Enough to remind you that you really should have read Bryan Talbot’s THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT by now! Contemporary fiction set in the Lakes District, it’s pretty powerful stuff!

Tale Of One Bad Rat cover


Tale Of One Bad Rat 1


Tale Of One Bad Rat 2

– Stephen

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