Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2016 week four

“If it doesn’t already exist, Eddie Campbell will invent it.”

 – Stephen on Bacchus Volume Two

Bacchus Volume Two Omnibus Edition s/c (£35-99, Top Shelf) by Eddie Campbell.

“The Screamin’ Habdabs! How did they get back?”
“It’s beyond me.”
“Everything’s beyond you, Mortal Ken.”

Let the revelry recommence!

ALEC’s Eddie Campbell recounted tales of his 4,000-year-old, weather-worn demigod for nearly one and a half decades, ending in 1999. Sub-titled “Immortality Isn’t Forever”, BACCHUS VOLUME ONE found the Greek god of wine washed up on strangely sympathetic modern shores in far from fine physical fettle but with his spirits still riding high.
It was as much about the stories Bacchus had to tell – of his and other gods’ escapades – as it was about Bacchus himself, who wandered across the globe from bar to bar or beach to beach in a battered old coat and a fisherman’s cap which hides his wizened brow and his twin, stubby horns but not his lived-in laughter lines. Wherever he roamed he found ancient friends, along with new devotees eager to imbibe his wisdom.

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In this concluding volume our weary one seeks successive sanctuary in two English country pubs, the second of which – on the shore – secedes from Britain after being condemned by Health & Safety.

Structurally, things will not improve save for a singular and substantial erection commemorating the King’s birthday. The King in question is Bacchus himself who brews beer from abstract concepts on which – as an independent state – they refuse to pay taxes. Worried lest some Scottish islands distilling whiskey follow suit, thereby depriving the government of millions in revenue, the pub is besieged by the police; but it’s that glorious morning’s monument which will finally put paid to the monarchy and bang Bacchus back up for a much longer stint than the one during which we first met him – at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Meanwhile there’s that revelry I made mention of, which is where Eddie’s cohort in ‘Campbell Industries’ comes to the fore, because Pete Mullins has one hell of an eye for drop-dead gorgeous ladies dancing their deliciously curved hips off.

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These contours are accentuated by ever-so-chic dresses patterned with horizontal black and white stripes which – in the interests of equality – will serve a similarly revealing purpose on Bacchus’ old-skool bathing suit, showing off his own not inconsiderable assets.

Unfortunately this attracts the attention of both Delirium Tremens and dour, disapproving Mr Dry, the latter pursuing the drink-loving demigod through a series of paintings, leaving each one a great deal less lively for his prohibitive presence. Hogarth’s ‘Beer Street’, for example, loses all its lust, lustre and indeed frothy beverages, rendering its remaining denizens so sour-faced that one of them petulantly kicks a cat.

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There are so many background jokes in that sequence alone, but this entire penultimate storyline is packed full of similarly anarchic ideas including a lady called Collage and a whole host of your favourite comicbook creators – Dave Sim (“I’ve fixed it so I can’t be wrong!”), Neil Gaiman (constantly in demand to write blurbs for the back of the bar menu), Alan Moore, Jeff Smith et al – enduring mischievous mockery and considerable indignities, all in the aid of an elaborate storytelling slight-of-hand.

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Eddie Campbell’s portraits are so spot-on that you’ll recognise anyone you know immediately – so much so that when a character copyrighted by a certain corporation crops up without signing-posting, your brain will flip in a single second from an incredulous “He hasn’t…!” to a grin-inducing “Oh yes, he has!” As to Campbell’s ability to mimic, there’s also an extensive parody of superhero trends at the time, right down to Rob Liefeld’s inking style. If you think that’s odd in such a body of work, then it’s perhaps because I’ve yet to remind you that two-thirds of each volume is given over to the insane and highly explosive antics of the Eyeball Kid.

I alluded to Campbell’s love of Jack Kirby in BACCHUS VOLUME ONE, but here there’s an out-and-out 90-page slugfest (‘Hermes Versus the Eyeball Kid’) specifically inspired by Lee & Kirby’s Hulk VersusThing showdowns. It comes complete with similarly structured splash pages, as well as more than one homage (making much use of that cog-based Spirograph toy which was all the rage half a century ago) to the photographic special effects which Kirby occasionally introduced to his line work. As to its laugh-out-loud, OTT “Behind you!” climax, it is ever so worthy of Kirby and Lee.

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Anyway, stories: instead of Bacchus regaling his acolytes, this time he’s on the receiving end both in clink and in his cups. In ‘1001 Nights of Bacchus’ it’s a Sheherezade-like situation, only without the threat of instant execution. As Bacchus settles in at The Travellers Joy and threatens to fall asleep, the storytellers’ incentive is to keep him awake and so each evening’s Last Orders at bay. Eddie explains his colleagues’ collaboration and later the whole ‘Campbell Industries’ semi-satirical scenario in the various introductions, but – initially inspired by the short stories of O. Henry – Campbell and co come up with a dazzling array of entertainments, diverse in form, content and execution. There’s an illustrated, rhyming ditty on bad beer penned by Marcus ‘Minty’ Moore, a ridiculously elaborate twist on the stock scenario of the Englishman, American/Welsh/Scottish and Irishman joke involving a badly behaved superhero (the stuff that Campbell can pack in to a single six-page story!), a wordless wonder ostensibly mimed by a Marcel Marceau – and when I say “ostensibly” and “wonder”, it actually stars an impeccably drawn Stan Laurel surviving a day of very bad omens and incredibly good luck with “another fine mess” of a punchline – and, perhaps my favourite, the complete discombobulation of ‘The Man Who Couldn’t Say Boo’ for whom order is all and firing someone such an anathema that he goes to increasingly ludicrous, message-leaving lengths not to do it in person.

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As to the styles used in rendering, we have crisp and clear for the meticulous one above, photography with attendant ransom-note cut-and-pasted lettering, lots of scalpel-cut Letratone, a dirty sort of affair employing background textures acquired through grained paper or board rubbed with graphite for a grave-based, hallucinatory horror story which may owe something to Aristophanes’ Ancient Greek play ‘The Frogs’ (I’m thinking the “Bobok” refrain – and also the frogs!) … and that’s just for those opening short stories!.

Basically this: it is by now a cliché – which I am as guilty of as anyone in perpetuating – to describe Eddie Campbell as the finest raconteur in comics.

But I don’t just mean his gift of the gab in person or in print. I mean Eddie’s ability to time his tall tales with such pin-point precision for maximum mirth, conjuring whatever visual tricks he deems most efficacious from previously thin air.

If it doesn’t already exist, Eddie Campbell will invent it.

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For more salutations and celebration, please see our review of BACCHUS VOLUME ONE, ALEC and so much more by popping Eddie Campbell into our search engine.

“It’s been centuries since I commanded such devotion.
“And I thought that young people today had no respect for traditional values.
“And in these post-convivial times, too. My cult is born again.
“The doings of this day will re-establish my worship in the world.
“My disciples will carry forth the word and the word is…


Buy Bacchus Volume Two Omnibus Edition s/c and read the Page 45 review here

10 Great Ways To Spend A Day in Nottingham Print (Signed, Limited Edition of 75) (£6-00) by Christian Palmer-Smith.

“God, this fills me with such affection for Nottingham.”

– Chris Gardiner

Bigger than a 7-inch single, printed on quality paper, backed, bagged and signed by Christian Palmer-Smith, this glorious artefact to treasure forever is limited to 75 copies worldwide. I tried to persuade Kit to go for a higher price point but he wasn’t having it, so now you can instead for a ridiculously affordable six quid.

Mine’s mounted and framed, hanging opposite original Page 45-related art by Duncan Fegredo and Marc Laming with some Bryan Lee O’Malley thrown in for good measure. For yes, Page 45 features stage-centre here along with 9 other Nottingham Independent outlets including Rough Trade, Ludorati and Ideas On Paper.

It’s an inspired and inspiring print that reflects not just the diversity of Nottingham’s independent pleasures but also their quality and individuality. And since time passes, we can comfortably call it a comic!

10 of my fav things to do in Nottingham

I love the real wit of each panel, evidenced by precisely which aspect/details of his visits Christian has chosen to illustrate, the parenthetical asides and the carefully chosen colour palettes. Page 45’s shelves aren’t the same soft faun, nor are all its graphic novels, yet by restricting himself to a warm and gentle range, Page 45 is presented as a relaxed and comfortable place to browse and one’s eyes are drawn to this central panel around which the more colourful recommendations can then orbit in an orderly fashion without bombarding your brain.

By contrast, Ideas On Paper’s magazines – catering for every interest you could imagine, no matter how recondite – are rendered in all their multicoloured splendour against a spacious white wall and reproduced with a mind-boggling level of detail which put me in mind of Philippa Rice’s diorama window for Page 45 many moons ago. In Rough Trade’s case, the evening’s entertainment is spotlit instead, just like any gig. Clever!

In many other hands this would have been a simple checklist, but by considering each experience from its singular perspective (dwarfed by a modern art exhibition at the Contemporary; intimate, framed, with heads seen from behind at the Broadway Cinema) and by indicating added value (“Get a tutorial in comics from Page 45: they sure do know their stuff” – we do love providing shop-floor recommendations to anyone who asks!) it surpasses any mere A-Z and becomes a journey to cherish and remember.

We begin, of course, as is customary for all Nottingham assignations, by meeting Mr. Palmer-Smith at the Lions.


Buy 10 Great Ways To Spend A Day in Nottingham Print (Signed, Limited Edition of 75) and read the Page 45 review here

Hellbound (£8-99, Retrofit) by Kaeleigh Forsyth & Alabaster Pizzo.

“I’m going to start wearing lipstick and if that doesn’t get me anywhere I’ll begin to address my emotional problems.”

All the funnier for being delivered deadpan by writer and artist alike, these are succinct Notes To Self satirise bad behaviour, warped priorities and consumerist claptrap like editorial advertisements.

With primary colours which belie the procession of daily disappointments, they’re clever without screaming about how clever they are.

“Intimate life details I know about dudes who only possibly remember my name”, for example, is not just a list of extraordinary confidences or confessions, which sounds sweet, but – when you consider the title – a searing indictment of the self-obsessed: those who don’t listen nor care to ask questions.

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HELLBOUND is also one big commiseration with those who feel – or are made to feel – lonely, inadequate or unfulfilled.

“New goals for 2016” includes:

“Cry less in public
“Cry less in private
“Continue not having children
“Get to 5pm every day without fastening cinder block to ankle + walking into East River
“Clean grout in shower.”

Boastful round-robin Christmas or New Year messages are given a good roasting, as is Ernest Hemingway, while “Problems I’ve Learned To Live Around’ will speak volumes to the world’s worst procrastinators like me.

You can be sure that self-validation through approbation on social media like Instagram and Twitter crops up and I laughed at myself a lot then.

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One of the finest sequences involves a language learning app taken “to kill time & quell the mind demons on the flight home”. The humour is cumulative as the app offers up sentences to translate from German which are as random as they are ridiculous as they are least likely to lull your thoughts from imminent plane-crash conflagration.

My favourite, however, is a single page in which our long-suffering lady has dressed up smartly for a date (lipstick dutifully applied) and sits with all the composure in the world on a train en route to meet him, while casting her mind back on all their previous liaisons. She’s drinking. Heavily.

“by the time i get to the stop i hate him abd am embarrassed to br seen our w/ him”

Now would probably be a good – if not propitious – time to start addressing those emotional problems instead.

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Buy Hellbound and read the Page 45 review here

Cry Havoc vol 1: Mything In Action s/c (£13-99, Image) by Simon Spurrier & Ryan Kelly, various.

And the award for very best titular pun goes to…

“So why is she on her own?”
“Huh. She ate her sister. Ah, it was ill. Probably would’ve been put down anyway. But Princess Giggles, there? Whoof.”

In which you will learn more about hyenas’ genitalia than you expected to. Certainly more than I’m comfortable talking about here. If you care to read Si’s extensive annotations in the back you will learn even more about lithium, opium, exocannanibalism, theophagy, Blackwater (a right old, well deserved rant), assorted American military hardware and oh so many myths from throughout history and across the globe including a rich vein of vampires which make Bela Lugosi look bland. About werewolves you will learn that we shouldn’t be calling them werewolves. For now, I will be calling them werewolves.

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I like a comic whose arcane aspects have been thoroughly researched but which isn’t insistent on ramming that research down your throat in order to get a First Class degree in Esoterics and require readers do same to decode it. By all means give us a gander in the back, but not in the story itself, please. Hurrah for Si Spurrier, then! I thought this was enormous fun.

Drawn throughout by LOCAL and THE COMPLETE NEW YORK FOUR artist Ryan Kelly, CRY HAVOC flips between three time periods colour-coded by Nick Filardi for the sequences set in London (the past), Matt Wilson in Afghanistan (the present) and Lee Loughbridge in… well, not in a good place. In a cage.

That’s where we know blue-haired violinist Louise Canton ends up, some undisclosed time in the future on the very first page. Back in London she’s looking inside that other cage – the hyena’s – in the zoo where her girlfriend works. And in the middle sequences Louise is in Afghanistan, dressed in military combat gear, and looking outside a CH47-F Chinook Helicopter which is hovering above the exploding guts of a goat it’s just fired upon.

It’s not an obvious career move, I grant you.

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But back in the beginning while busking by the Old Bailey, she was bitten down an alley by what looked like a werewolf and it unleashed in her a sensory overload, a craving – an intoxication – followed by a transmogrification.

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Each of the crew Louise has now found herself with, working for Inhand Org, appear to have had similar transformative experiences with differing results and know more about their condition and its history than she does. One by one you will meet their… inner demons? Too judgemental – let’s say what’s been unlocked in each individual.

For now Louise is being transported to a deserted U.S.-run rendition centre which was mothballed when “a civilian employee lost her shit, killed five C.I.A., released ten insurgents”. By “lost her shit” he means she went feral.


They’re here to track her down.

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It’s not just the colour-coding and panel grids which differ between time periods, but Kelly’s art too. London’s the style you’ll be accustomed to. I’ve never seen him draw anything like the Afghanistan sequences before: much sharper, more detailed lines in both the interior and exterior shots of the rendition centre, while the faces in places are closer to Mark Laming’s and, in one notable instance, almost as if inked by Tom Palmer. That Chinook’s pretty mighty when seen from below with a tremendous sense of weight which is being so improbably held aloft by the whirling blades above it. Below and behind, the dusty mountains fade into an almost infinite distance. It’s quite a big country.

There’s plenty of politics to sink your teeth into, playful dialogue, behavioural and cultural analysis, and blood-baths galore once the timelines join up and each player’s hand / paw / claw is revealed.

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Wherever you think this is going is far from where you’ll wind up. I haven’t the first clue what to expect next.


Buy Cry Havoc vol 1: Mything In Action s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Superf*ckers Forever #1 (£2-99, Top Shelf / IDW) by James Kochalka.

Too, too funny!

I can’t quote a single sentence – at least, not the most uproarious proclamations – for fear of offending and sending the more mature amongst you scuttling for the hills, hands over your horrified, gaping mouths, for this is as delinquent as the title suggests.

However, like the preceding SUPERF*CKERS collection, family man James Kochalka milks maximum comedy here from the self-evident juxtaposition of the wholesome – or at least innocent – inherent in 1950s superhero team comics like the Legion Of Superheroes and the profane. It’s emphatically not a seedy Johnny Ryan profanity, more a joyous abandon which injects the already juvenile with the uninhibitedly puerile, focusing on Jack Krak’s obsession with his missing lady parts.

Yes, you read that right.

It culminates in two howlingly funny pages with Jack Krak’s entire arm up a rip in the Space-Time Continuum.

Poor Kyle.


Buy Superf*ckers Forever #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Lucifer vol 1: Cold Heaven s/c (£13-99, Vertigo) by Holly Black & Lee Garbett…

“You don’t look guilty at all, coming back here with that wound. Fought someone, did you? Someone powerful, I’d guess. Did you win?”
“I didn’t kill him.”
“They call you the prince of lies for a reason.”
“I tempt, I deceive, I trick. I am cruel and I am ruthless, but I dislike being foresworn.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I am going to help you discover his murderer.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because no one gets to kill God but me. And because he was my father too.”

And so Samael, better known as Lucifer Morningstar – or just plain the Devil – has returned from the void into which we saw him disappear at the end of Mike Carey’s expansive run on LUCIFER, now collected in five chunky books. God, meanwhile, is dead, which as you might imagine, is causing some consternation in the Silver City. And, as the rest of the angelic host are very keen to point out to him, Lucifer was the last person to see God alive, during their melodramatic climatic chat over a cup of tea at the end of Carey’s LUCIFER BOOK 5.


That’s why the host have set Gabriel, himself a fallen angel courtesy of John Constantine and Ellie the succubus waaaay back in HELLBLAZER VOL 7: TAINTED LOVE*, to investigate the murder, hopefully pinning it on Lucifer, in exchange for his wings and heart back. Except Lucifer really didn’t do it. Not that he’s expecting anyone to believe him, which is why he decides to help Gabriel. Or maybe he has his own agenda too…

This, then, is effectively a direct continuation on from the previous Vertigo material, though it is not penned by Mike, but Holly Black. I’m not aware of her writing any comics previously, but she does seem to have written a lot of fantasy fiction, and possibly the best compliment I can give her, at this point, was if you were unaware this material wasn’t written by Carey, you would never realise. She’s even kept Lucifer’s trademark devilish font for the lettering of his speech which I always rather liked. (It’s Meanwhile Uncial if you’re interested.)


Clearly this is going to appeal to fans of the original, who will see a number of other familiar faces returning including the Lady Mazikeen, Lucifer’s former squeeze, now ruling Hell in his stead. She’s not best impressed at the return of the prodigal son, not at all. Hopefully Holly will take a similar long-game approach to this title like Mike did, his run effectively being one huge arc about Lucifer’s grand plan for getting out from under the thumb of God, interspersed with much other sub-plot oddness, as the longer narrative really added something. She’s already set up a nice little sub-plot of her own featuring another relative of Lucifer, though not a fraternal one this time… Readers of the original may have an inkling as to whom I’m referring… Whether that person is truly a king or merely a rook remains to be seen, though.


Lee Garbet picks up the pencils this time, again, not a name I was familiar with, though he has done some bits and pieces for Marvel and DC. It’s a style that fits very neatly with the story, I think he’s pretty decent actually. I’ll certainly be continuing to read this title; it’s certainly nice to have an old school Vertigo character return at the same high standard that was set originally. (On that note, please be aware the softcover of Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III brilliant SANDMAN: OVERTURE is now available for pre-order.)


Which brings me to * Can someone at DC please, please sort John Constantine out? It really shouldn’t be too hard. Re-reading just a tiny bit of HELLBLAZER VOL 7: TAINTED LOVE to check it was the right volume to reference reminded me of how bloody brilliant it was. I didn’t want to put it down. Every incarnation since leaving the Vertigo imprint, including the current Rebirth reboot (the Rebirth one-shot was just such awful, trite nonsense), has been such a pale imitation in comparison that reading it is as painful as an eternity spent in Hell itself. Just admit you were completely wrong, take John Constantine out of the mainstream DCU and get a proper Vertigo HELLBLAZER title going again.


Buy Lucifer vol 1: Cold Heaven s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Hellblazer vol 14: Good Intentions (£22-99, Vertigo) by Brian Azzarello & Richard Corben, Marcello Frusin, Steve Dillon, Dave V. Taylor.

“All I’m sayin’, is chose the right words…
“And you can talk a person into just about anything.”

The first three books of Brian Azzarello’s stand-out, self-contained and so perfectly accessible American tenure on HELLBLAZER collected in a single exceedingly grim grimoire even by the series’ own harrowing standards.

For the most part 100 BULLETS’ scribe Azzarello was accompanied by Marcello Frusin whose chain-smoking occultist John Constantine is all saturnine scowls and wicked, knowing grins, primed to bait you. Relentlessly and remorselessly terrifying, visually he’s the most charismatic he’s ever been.

Some prefer the more matey Ennis & Dillon interpretation or Alan Moore’s enigma in SWAMP THING, whence he first came. I love both of those without reservation but under this pair he’s a cold, calculating and dangerous son of a bitch, and as masterful a manipulator as ever, choosing his words very carefully indeed. That’s the core Constantine – the user, the player. He’ll be getting his pawns lined up to perfection here, long before showing up to play…

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The first chapter of the second story, ‘Good Intentions’, is a perfectly formed short in its own right. The tension is held by a very tight, ominous, arched-eyebrow script and a claustrophobic palette of midnight, headlight and silhouette, as John hitch-hikes his way across the US of A, never missing a trick. The subgenre of hitch-hiker as victim/serial killer is given a great new twist with immaculate timing.

After that, Constantine’s travels take him into the forested hills of West Virginia and a town called Doglick whose name you’ll like even less when you learn its relevance. There the cocky bastard has the smirked wiped right off his face when he finds himself an unwilling, sexual participant in what looks very much like a snuff flick.

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The third arc, ‘Freezes Over’, is at heart a cleverly crafted and equally claustrophobic, old-fashioned whodunnit with a singularly Constantine twist. Several parties are stranded by a snowstorm at Keith and Hope’s remote bar. There are the regulars, Rudy and Alma, there’s Pete, a couple with their young girls, a burly trucker and three surly strangers, one of whom is bleeding from the gut. And then there’s the guy in the car…

Enter John Constantine, strolling through the blizzard with that oh so knowing look on his face. He stops to look in the car window, and the two men’s eyes meet. A few minutes later the trucker finds the man in the car dead, impaled on a chunky icicle. Then the phone lines also go dead, the strangers grow hostile, their guns come out and fear of the local legend – the so-called Ice Man – takes hold.

But if, as Constantine maintains, there is no Ice Man, then who killed the guy in the car?

We begin, however, with ‘Hard Time’. Here artist Richard Corben has put away his airbrush in favour of forms and textures which are puffy, rancid and grotesque. They’re physically unpleasant for a script which pulls no punches when it comes to depicting the brutal racial and sexual politics of a maximum security US penitentiary.

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You won’t find out why Constantine’s in there until the final chapter, but you’ll be too busy wincing and wondering just how John’s going to keep his arse and tackle intact long enough to give everyone exactly what they deserve.

Which he does.

Collects issues #146-161 and a story from VERTIGO SECRET FILES: HELLBLAZER #1.


Buy Hellblazer vol 14: Good Intentions and read the Page 45 review here

Snowpiercer vol 3: Terminus h/c (£22-99, Titan) by Jean-Marc Rochette & Oliver Bocquet…

“Who are these people? How can they be alive?”
“No one can survive outside without an ice suit.”
“Apparently they can! We have to let them in!”

Concluding part of Jean-Marc Rochette’s examination of the perils of post-apocalyptic train travel, I believe, but then I mistakenly thought that after SNOWPIERCER VOL 2! I did think it was a bit of an oblique ending to volume 2, but now having read Oliver Bocquet’s afterword about receiving the invitation from Jean-Marc Rochette to illustrate the next instalment because Bocquet felt there was still more story to be told, I suspect he was probably hedging his bets!


So, after decades of never-ending travel on the titular Snowpiercer, ploughing its way through the endless frozen wastelands of an Earth plunged into a new Ice Age, with nary even a tiny scrap of tundra to break up the monotony, the train has at long last come to rest. The mysterious signal playing music detected at the end of volume two has been shown to be a long-abandoned radio transmitter much to the despair of our ragtag nation of hobos. That is until one bright spark asks the question where the transmitter is still getting its power from… Cue one quick game of ‘follow the cable, excavation and discovery of a buried skyscraper’ later and we have ourselves a story!

What follows, whilst not having quite the intense, claustrophobic, condensed insanity of the first two volumes, simply due to the fact that our passengers have disembarked their confines, is just as disturbing in terms of social commentary when our hardy travellers find a whole underground city seemingly thriving. There are a few customs that seem a little odd, sure, but it’s not like the inhabitants are going to turn out to be complete mentalists, right…?


Rochette does indeed have another worthy tale to tell! Bocquet’s art, the third artist to take a turn after the late Lob and then Benjamin Legrand, once again provides a slightly different feel to proceedings. All three have their merits, but it is probably testament to the strength of the writing that any differences in art style are completely unimportant. The ending this time feels more definitive, though it’s by no means conclusive so I suppose if Rochette does come up with yet another idea, there may well be more SNOWPIERCER. Given the mantra of those aboard is “Forward, forward, forward, the train only knows that word…” I wouldn’t bet against it.


Buy Snowpiercer vol 3: Terminus h/c and read the Page 45 review here

DC Superhero Girls: Finals Crisis s/c (£8-99, DC) by Shea Fontana & Yancey Labat…

“Aunt Martha, I have big news, I’m quitting school.”
“What happened?”
“Nothing yet.
“But something’s coming.
“Something bad.
“Tests were my kryptonite even before kryptonite was my kryptonite.”
“Supergirl, you’ve fought supervillains and saved Super Hero High more times that I can count. Surely a little test can’t be that bad?”

Ha ha, oh, it will be, especially given someone is abducting all the girl heroes and anti-heroes of Super Hero High for some all-ages mildly nefarious non-sinister ends. Yes, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Katana, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are being excluded from school by a mysterious shadow figure intent on making sure our chums fail their finals!! To what possible end?!


Well, I’m not going to give the culprit away, but it’s nice to see DC doing some material squarely aimed at younger kids, and girls in particular, as some of the animations and their spin-offs can be a little heavy handed on the violence for the teeny-tiny ones aimed more as they are for the man-child market.

It’s well written enough with art that’s clearly aimed to appeal to the on-tap cartoon generation. I did try explaining to Whackers that ‘when I were a lad’ we got five minutes of Tom & Jerry a day if you were lucky and if you missed it, there were no catch-up rewinds or on-demand replays. The look of total and utter disbelief on her young face was hilarious. She was quite convinced I was perpetuating another of my many wind-ups. Kids today…

Anyway, decent enough fun filler of a superheroine bent whilst we all actually wait for the next HILDA (not long at all now!!!) / AMULET (far too long!!!) / ZITA THE SPACEGIRL (not sure, but Ben Hatke does have the first volume of a new kids series MIGHTY JACK VOL 1 out very soon!!!).

[Editor’s note: ZITA THE SPACEGIRL was a trilogy. All books in stock, but it is over. Do check out Hatke’s big book of empathy, LITTLE ROBOT, though!]


Buy DC Superhero Girls: Finals Crisis 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.

March: The Trilogy Slipcase Edition (£44-99, Top Shelf) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell

Pretty Deadly vol 2: The Bear s/c (£13-99, Image) by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios

Scarlet vol 2 h/c (£22-99, Icon / Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev

Alena (£15-99, Dark Horse) by Kim W. Andersson

Bera The One-Headed Troll (£12-99, FirstSecond) by Eric Orchard

Invader Zim vol 2 (£17-99, Oni) by Jhonen Vasquez, various

Viking vol 1: The Long Cold Fire s/c (£14-99, Image) by Ivan Brandon & Nic Klein

Amazing Spider-Man: Amazing Grace s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Jorge Molina & Simone Bianchi

Deadpool: World’s Greatest vol 3: Deadpool Vs Sabretooth s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Gerry Duggan & Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli

Batgirl vol 3: Mindfields s/c (£14-99, DC) by Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher & Babs Tarr, various

Fairy Tail vol 55 (£8-99, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Inuyashiki vol 4 (£9-99, Kodansha) by Hiroya Oku

Tokyo Ghoul vol 8 (£8-99, Viz) by Sui Ishida


ITEM! Big blog’s heading your way in the next week/fortnight with all our free creator signing details (who/when) at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival Oct 14-16 2016.

In the meantime I’m afraid I spent far too much time last week with my Ma being completely surrounded by cute at Twycross Zoo. You could actually walk amongst lemurs!

Lemurs 3


Lemurs 2


Lemurs 1


Lemurs 4

I’d like to have swung with the gibbons too, but they were 60 feet up and my physical grip is almost as bad as my relationship with reality.

– Stephen

P.S. Regarding our headline review, I drank this the other night and it was Heavenly! British too!

Bacchus Wine

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