Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2016 week three

Jonathan’s back with Wrinkles (insert your own jokes), Fresh Romance, Tales To Diminish, vol 2 of Injection and Starve! I’m kicking off with Black Monday Murders, Dame Darcy and Rachel Rising, still available as s/cs but…!

Rachel Rising Omnibus h/c (£67-99, Abstract Studios) by Terry Moore.

“What has Johnny told you?”
“About what?”
”About Rachel… and me.”
“Well… she told me you girls have had a lot to deal with lately. And you need your family and friends around.”
“Did she tell you we’re dead?”
“We all have our little quirks, dear.”

In a single sturdy hardcover you’ll find all 900 pages of horror-hybrid RACHEL RISING including the glorious full-colour covers not included in the trade paperbacks which constitute one of our top-five highest-selling series of the last six years. Cunningly, Terry has widened the margins at the spine so that nothing goes missing. Every stare, every glare, every threat, every promise, every nuanced implication, moment of kindness and witty one-liner has been preserved for you to read this so effortlessly – unless you’re dancing, out jogging or swimming your seventh length.

Trust me on this: it’s worth every penny. I was mesmerised from the very first page to the last.

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It begins in the early hours of the morning in a sequestered glade above a dried-up riverbed. Black birds take flight as a woman waits, silently and patiently, until a leaf spontaneously combusts…

And another woman claws herself from her all too shallow grave, slowly and painfully and gasping for air… then stumbles falteringly through the trees to make her way back home.

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I can promise you two things: Rachel’s no zombie; she’s very much aware of everything and everyone around her. But she’s definitely dead.

She just doesn’t know who killed her yet.

The pacing of the opening sequence – one of the most immediately gripping in comics – is masterful.

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The resurrection, pushing through dried chunks of clay, is so evidently arduous, and Terry’s is the sort of art where you can feel the soil when it grits beneath your finger nails. And then there are those stricken eyes – the irises bright, the whites blood-red from asphyxiation – as Rachel rises in her short black dress and starts to grasp where she is, if not why.

When she finally looks up there is no one to be seen. Instead she heaves herself up the furrow until the trees finally part and she emerges, exhausted, dirty and limp onto the grassy meadow beyond.

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Oh, so many questions! And those are the key to any instant addiction.

The first woman swiftly reappears as a catalyst for death, shadowing Rachel around town while corrupting the innocent, turning love into hatred and the town of Manson into a mass graveyard. Well, it already is – look to the past.

Nothing good can come from a town called Manson.

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Note Terry’s seasonal deployment of the same silhouetted tree as a landmark.

From the creator of STRANGERS IN PARADISE and ECHO, this third epic, RACHEL RISING, proved to be another tour de force combing comedy and tragedy, mercy and mischief, fury and the foibles which make human beings the flawed individuals we all are. It’s the humanity I love in a Terry Moore comic.

That’s what I mean by ‘horror-hybrid’. I emphatically do not imply that this is comedy-horror whose burlesque obviously has its own place. Instead Moore has ever evidenced the knack of juxtaposing tragedy and comedy so that each acts to underline as well as undercut the other when it’s so desperately required. The comedy’s funnier for its juxtaposition, the horror all the more startling.

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Terry’s books always focus on real women full of quick-witted, arched-eyebrow attitude but also vulnerability and kindness with complicated friendships rather than two-dimensional bravado, and that’s reflected in his art for he draws fulsome curves where they are, rather than where our modern plastic surgeons or prurient photo-shop dingbats dictate they should be.

It’s not enough to show someone in pain: almost every other month for some fifteen years throughout STRANGERS IN PARADISE‘s epic, heart-felt run, Moore managed to summon the best in his characters to care for each other whenever tragedy struck or wrong decisions were made. Not necessarily immediately – who of us gets it right every time at the very first sign? – but in the long run, when the chips are down, when it is needed the most.

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There’s more nature than ever in RACHEL RISING, both flora and fauna, in open, snow-swept landscapes with skeletal trees or dense summer woodland populated by deer and dogs and ever so many crows. Life and death are central to its premise, the natural cycle all too unnaturally broken by Lilith and Rachel and – of course – in a different way, by the man who’s been slaughtering women then burying them, face down with a rope around their necks in shallow graves.

Sorry, did I abruptly introduce Lilith there? You’ll find her quite the cultivator.

“Wow, Lilith… I never pictured you as a gardener.”
“Really? I was the first.”

Then there’s small Zoe whose tender years and delinquent behaviour belie her true age and enthusiasm for extreme, psychopathic violence. Giving her the sharpest knife in Christendom probably wasn’t the wisest idea. What’s her connection? You’ll see.

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Now, along with her best friend Jet – guitarist and mechanic – and beloved Aunt Johnny the town’s top mortician, Rachel must try to come to grips with her condition, its attendant… properties… and try to find clues to who killed her, all while avoiding the repercussions of a history which has lied buried under that selfsame riverbed for years.

Jet in particular is a goldmine of deadpan, pithy rejoinders. She and Rachel make for the perfect tag team of intimate friendship born of frank understanding, which makes what follows all the more horrifying. Zoe’s no slouch on the comebacks, either, and this series is all about comebacks.

Terry Moore, meanwhile, is all about inclusivity. It shone throughout STRANGERS IN PARADISE, and does so here. I know you’ll adore Aunt Johnny, the mortician who is resolute and unflustered even when out of her depth. Typically, that’s when she’ll start digging deeper.

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And if I care for anyone above all here it is her quiet, self-contained, mortuary assistant Earl whose eyes you never see while hidden behind such thick glasses, but who nonetheless wears his great big heart on his equally gargantuan sleeve and doesn’t have a duplicitous or disloyal bone in his body. Bulky and bald, he’s not as simple as he seems for he knows right from wrong. He’s just reticent and easily embarrassed, so suffers in silence because of it.

There will be history, there will be tragedy in its truest sense, and there will be subplots so very well hidden because Terry trusts his readers enough to know that perfect sense in retrospect is a much bigger payoff than signposting. There will be crime and there will be punishment.

And before the end it’s not impossible that you’ll come to love Lilith, too.

“You should have more respect for human life.”
I would if they would.”


Buy Rachel Rising Omnibus h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Black Monday Murders #1 (£3-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Tomm Coker.

“Are you sure I can’t help, sir? You’re bleeding quite a bit… Perhaps I should call a doctor.”
“It’s not me, you damned fool… It’s the money.”

The cabal made a deal. It brought them money, which bought them power.

But when Wall Street crashed on October 24th 1929 and America started haemorrhaging money, the man sat in the Stone Chair at the moment the music stopped started to haemorrhage blood.

There’s no way to circumvent their original transaction: the balance must be paid.

Big, fat-cat package of occult crime satirising investment banking in which conspiracy theory turns out to be decades of carefully constructed practice. Surprising no one.


If you thrilled to KILL OR BE KILLED #1 by Brubaker, Phillips and Breitweiser, our biggest order for August, then this will make your heads spin.

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I’m thrilled to see Tomm Coker back. Hopefully you remember him from the likes of the equally umbral BLOOD + WATER and UNDYING LOVE VOL 1, and here his masterful eye for tight composition gives us an elaborately staged, cryptic crime scene with a timely message.

The very first panel is set ominously under the shadow of a barrage balloon which – rightly or wrongly – I always associate with war. What’s bombing is the Stock Exchange. On the second page there’s an acute emphasis on the vertical, on the drop. First there’s the aerial shot of Caina Investment Bank tower / spire; then there’s the blood from the one going down.

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One free-fall aside, Coker controls all other expressions – just as Garland does the colours – with enormous discipline, lending the dialogue a weight and a power and a shadow, if you like, under which you are drawn to wonder what lurks: all sorts of nasties dressed up to the nines.

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Hickman shines parenthetical light in extensive, symbol-laden documentation of the history of the cabal – pieces for us to puzzle together stretching from the 1929 crash to the present day which is where the main meat is located – and the wheel around which its quartet rotates, indicating quite the dynasty. It’s only fitting of a crime comic that you’re invited to do your own detective work.

Speaking of which, the page that made me laugh was the one in which a website is suggested whereby…

“People can go to fact-check supposed urban legends. I want it to appear to be completely above board. Open-source documentation, superusers who can edit articles, etc. We’ll literally traffic in openness and truth.
“Except when we don’t.”

The example that follows is ingenious (and pertinent to the proceedings), leaving enough readers in doubt, I’ll wager, that they will Google the incident… and then wonder how just authentic the sources they discover really are.

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Anyway, back to the bankers and their oh so lovely opportunism, making money from money or even money from nothing when their shenanigans have insured that money’s worth nothing.

“First comes the great flood and the loss of faith in the market.
“Then they will panic, Mister Bischoff. And panic always produces a bottom.
“Watch. They will all sell. They always sell. And when the time comes – when they can be had for pennies – we will buy it all.”


Buy The Black Monday Murders #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Wrinkles (£17-99, Fantagraphics) by Paco Roca…

“The director is busy finishing up your paperwork. She asked me to show you around.”
“Thank you.”
“Uh, she also said that you need to pay a ten-dollar document processing fee. It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”
“I was a bank manager.”

“Oh yeah? Well, it’s a standard charge for all new arrivals. A silly thing.
“Perfecto! If you need anything, let me know. I can get you whatever you want.
“Come on… I’ll show you around.
“There are two floors… here on the first floor are the healthy ones… those of us who can look after ourselves… more or less.
“Almost everyone here still has their wits about them. Maybe not as sharp as before. But we can think a little.”

Multiple-award-winning heartbreak from Spanish creator Paco Roca on the touching subject of descent into dementia. I knew this was going to be a very bitter-sweet read and so it proved.


I think if there is one way out of this life that I really don’t want to have to endure it is losing my marbles, and thus with it, all semblance of dignity. Extreme physical pain wouldn’t be fun clearly, but at least one would be present. On the other hand, as Paco demonstrates with some beautifully tender daydream sequences, not entirely knowing what’s approaching seems for some a fairly peaceful meander towards expiration…

“Excuse me. Is this seat taken?”
“Are you going to Instanbul also?”
“The mountains are so beautiful in the springtime.”

Our main character, the distinguished Emilio, finds himself parked in an assisted living facility by his family, caring as they are, and at the tender mercies of his new roommate, the caddish Miguel, who may well have had a career as a conman, given the way he blatantly perpetuates his various cash-collecting schemes on his unsuspecting vulnerable fellow residents. With no family of his own, he professes love and loyalty to no one. Though, as our story progresses and Emilio finds himself becoming gradually more confused, it’s Miguel who steps up to protect Emilio from himself, and the dreaded, inevitable one-way trip up to the second floor…


I really enjoyed this work and I can well understand why it was made into a critically acclaimed animated film, voiced by Martin Sheen and Matthew Modine, a few years ago. It has a poignancy running throughout that will inevitably get you choked up, particularly a sequence where it’s explained to Emilio precisely why he is in the facility. It’s an absolute revelation to him and shatters the very bedrock of his existence beyond repair. From that point on, as the story focuses more and more on his inevitable decline, and Miguel’s ever more ingenious and crafty means of hiding it from the attentions of the staff, I found myself welling up.

There’s also a subplot which, as the rear cover blurb states, has echoes of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, albeit very mild ones, as some of the inmates plot a dramatic escape. The blurb also draws a comparison to the wonderful mid-eighties, Oscar-winning film Cocoon directed by Ron Howard, but I can’t make that connection myself, as we know there aren’t going to be any little green men whisking Emilio off for an implausible happy ending. But despite that, it’s a surprisingly uplifting read as we gradually see that love of every kind can thrive in even the most unusual and trying of circumstances.


Paco’s art matches his gentle storytelling, at times making me feel like he’s a softened version of I.N.J. Culbard. It’s a very soothing style, and I could feel myself being lulled into a rather relaxed frame of mind, much like the sedated and sedentary residents, most of whom simply sit around waiting for the inevitable, lost in their own imaginary worlds which Paco brings to life so convincingly for them, and us.


Buy Wrinkles and read the Page 45 review here

Meat Cake Bible (£44-99, Fantagraphics) by Dame Darcy.

“The living are more transparent than the ghosts.”


Behold a brand-new hefty hardcover with a die-cut cameo, and adorned with a golden heart-lattice frame, cake wedges and bats.

Too, too heavenly!

Within you’ll find all seventeen issues of MEAT CAKE and their full-colour covers, along with new material created for this collection and a fashion-shoot photo gallery of Dame Darcy herself decked out as a lace-loving naval officer, bare-chested-sailor-strewn mermaid and genteel country lady, coming across in toto like a sublime marriage of Danielle Dax and Lynsey de Paul. Sorry…? Okay, Stevie Nicks, then.

Magnificently individualistic, Dame Darcy has always been a Renaissance Woman: comicbook creator, musician, actress, fortune teller (I did not know that), and dollmaker.

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From 1993 she summoned louche and sybaritic, macabre and mysterious neo-Victorian fantasies full of dastardly deeds, with decorative chapter titles that glide and slide across the mastheads. Think Emily Carroll’s THROUGH THE WOODS in spidery black and white, a delinquent Donna Barr in a secret passage full of cobwebs and bats, or early Kate Bush lost alone in the woods! Jonathan’s just suggested Richard Sala, and he’s not wrong.

“Any of your friends can become your enemy but a relative is one from the start.”

In 2003 Mark previewed a less extensive edition thus:

“I love people who draw and write as if no one matters but themselves. Selfish storytelling, done for their own obsessions and somehow leaked out into the world for the occasional sympathetic eye to wander over. If Edward Gorey had a sickly daughter who refused to live in – and was possibly allergic to – the 20th Century, she would look and draw like the singular Dame Darcy.

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“Willowy, kohl-eyed waifs summoning up the energy to pine for a similarly insubstantial beau, identical twins, ghost girls, animal-headed ne’er-do-wells all live here in the woods.

“A keepsake collection of the best of the first decade including the collaboration with Alan Moore. Darcy followed in Melinda Gebbie’s tailored satin footwear by drawing the ever-slinky Cobweb stories for Alan’s TOMORROW STORIES. Here she brings more attic-creaky, two-headed girl freak stories littered with romantic Victorian prose and consumptive females. Characters named Perfida and Hindrance are not to be passed over.”

To which I would add stockings. There are lots and lots of tiaras, stockings and knives.

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Here’s an advertisement from 2007, and if you think persuading Joan Collins of even Elizabeth Taylor to endorse a spellbinding perfume would be a coup…

“Hi! I’m Helen of Troy.
“Thyme derives from my tears and thus shares my essence.
“Bathe in an infusion of thyme and you will radiate the power of a…

Looking back at us over her shoulder as a ship sails towards her between two ominous rocks, she adds:

“Use with caution!
“I was kidnapped twice!”


Buy Meat Cake Bible and read the Page 45 review here

Fresh Romance (£22-99, Oni Press) by Kate Leth, Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Kuhn, Marguerite Bennett, Kieron Gillen & Arielle Jovellanos, Sarah Winifred Searle, Sally Jane Thompson, Trungles, Christine Norrie…

“But Megan… Fresh Romance coverhow does one go about revealing such… intimate information?”
“Hell if I know. Maybe try being honest?”
“I am part of an otherworldly species that prides itself on assisting other beings with a variety of essential tasks, I was sent to your dimension to help humans find love, and I did make Josh kiss you using magic.”
“You are a massive weirdo. And I love that! But… how about a simpler version of honesty?”

I am probably not the target demographic for this title, I suspect, but I like a bit of romance as much as the next comics reader. Particularly where, as the great Bard himself put it, the course of true love never did run smooth. So STRANGERS IN PARADISE, LOVE AND ROCKETS and the NAO OF BROWN, then. I also have no idea why I am now minded of the theme tune for the early ‘80s sitcom A Fine Romance starring Judi Dench and Michael Williams, but then the course of my mind never seems to follow much of a logical path either these days.

So… five very different stories from a host of talented writers and artists, on the thorny topic of finding love. And indeed keeping or even losing it.


There’s high school comedy with a dash of magic from Kate INK FOR BEGINNERS & ADVENTURE TIME: BITTER SWEETS Leth and Arielle Jovellanos in School Spirit that involves much frantic and farcical parental mis-direction to ensure Prom night passes off smoothly for all concerned. The lengths people will go to for a snog behind the bike sheds without mum and dad finding out! Still, if my parents were wizards and witches I might be tempted to take extra precautions!


Next up is probably my favourite, the wonderful extended Jane Austin-esque period piece Ruined from Sarah ALEX + ADA Vaughn & Sarah Winifred Searle about first love lost amidst the strictured confines of an arranged marriage. I was genuinely captivated by this and therefore somewhat gutted to find it was only part one. Noooooo!!!


Sarah BARBIE Kuhn and Sally Jane SCARS Thompson’s The Ruby Equation features Ruby the not-so-accurate cupid from the pull quote above with a massive crush on someone herself, which frustratingly she has absolutely no idea what to do about it. Honesty, where affairs of the heart are concerned, is always the best policy, at least for us viewing salaciously from the safety of outside the pages! There’s some wonderfully excruciating, toe-curling moments of embarrassment in this one.


Then there’s two powerful little shorts rounding out this collection in the form of Beauties, a very enchanting take on the Beauty and the Beast from Marguerite INSEXTS & DC BOMBSHELLS Bennett and the enigmatically named Trungles, and finally First, Last And Always from Kieron PHONOGRAM & THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE Gillen and Christine HOPELESS SAVAGES Norrie which shows that you do indeed need to risk it all to even have a chance of finding true, everlasting love. Forewarned is not always forearmed though.


There are five very different stories in terms of plot and art style, which only adds to the heart-warming depths of this anthology that’s sure to ignite, or indeed perhaps rekindle, a spark in your eye for the object of your own heart’s desires. The first three stories also feature fascinating postscript discussions from the respective creative teams about their process and approach to producing their work. Bravo to Oni for publishing such an excellent collection of material from a relatively neglected genre, in current comics terms at least.


Buy Fresh Romance and read the Page 45 review here

Tales To Diminish (£4-50) by Paul B. Rainey…

“The van has been parked outside of my property for two days now and I have absolutely no idea whose it is!”
“That’s very interesting, professor, but we really called you to take part in our religion versus science discussion.”
“Well, of course, there’s absolutely no evidence that God exists so, if you believe in him, you are an idiot! In the meantime, this damned van is all I can see from the front windows of my house and, I daresay, it is causing an obstruction on the public footpath also!”

Another collection of comedic capers from the man behind THERE’S NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT and POPE FRANCIS GOES TO THE DENTIST. In a similar vein to the satirical look at the papal woes on finding a decent N.H.S. dentist to attend to ones pearly gates, I mean whites, plus taking a well deserved dig at various political clowns such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, here Paul’s once again taking potshots at a plethora of demented demagogues, various celebrity numpties and other odious public figures.


Michael Gove once again gets a very satisfying bashing, this time in his ‘Comic Collectors Corner’ feature, Chancellor Osbourne makes several appearances trying to be down with da’ kids as ‘Master Of The Mystic Arts’, then there’s Eric Pickle “fighting for your consumer rights” as he harangues various small shopkeepers demanding bargains for himself, plus Ed Miliband’s In Spaaace as he tackles the testing delights of Klingon fast food!


I think my favourite, though, is Richard Hawking’s ongoing travails of badly parked white vans in Man Versus Van. Every time he finds his rather limited patience stretched to breaking point, up pops an imaginary hippie and a hoodie on his shoulders to provide some salient words of wisdom of the merits of compassion versus confrontation. In short, Paul perfectly captures what a complete self-aggrandising dickhead he is.


Plus there’s several other very amusing shorts such as Janet Street Preacher, Dumpster Beard, Time Travel Teacher, Oooops Professor, I Just Think Charity Should Begin At Home plus Peter The Slow Eater which in particular had me just howling with laughter at Peter’s children’s ever-escalating despair whilst they wait for their father to finally finish his fodder so they can leave the table! Paul is truly a master of the visual punchline as well as the satirical stiletto in the ribs.

But I’ll leave you with the titular, self-explanatory excerpt from the opening panel of They Forgot About Kelvin MacKenzie which neatly sums up the chortle-worthy disdain in which Paul so rightly holds one of the pillocks, sorry pillars, of the Great British tabloid establishment (i.e. Murdoch’s lap dogs) and made me cry with tears of mirth. And that’s before the actual strip where Kelvin’s epic meltdown ranting about Piers Morgan’s success in America has even begun!

“They say that after a nuclear attack only the cockroaches will thrive. But they forgot about one other thing…”

Heh heh heh.


Buy Tales To Diminish and read the Page 45 review here

Injection vol 2 (£13-99, Image) by Warren Ellis & Declan Shalvey…

“I am Headland. I am offended by your ham, sir.”

We’ll return to the porcine proclamation but first let me introduce Vivek Headland properly. He’s, shall we say, a loving homage to the greatest consulting detective of them all, and this arc follows him almost exclusively as he attempts to crack the mysterious and mildly titillating case of a man apparently having sex with the ghost of his late wife.

A former member of the Cross Culture Contamination Unit, whose purpose was to research possible futures on behalf of the British government, Vivek’s therefore one of the five people who thought injecting an artificial life form directly into the internet to spice things up a bit might be a good idea. Unfortunately, given the Injection has started to mess around with the human race and perhaps even reality itself – albeit on a very small experimental scale for now, at least – it’s starting to look like a somewhat rash decision. But, from Headland’s point of view, it’s certainly made the world a less boring place, which was partly his motivation for wanting to administer the Injection.

At this point, you might want to catch up with Stephen’s review of INJECTION VOL 1.


So, the ham… Don’t worry, I’ll get back to the ghostly sex in a minute, I realise that’s more exciting than the bad pork product but the pig is key to the plot, trust me, you blithering buffoon, Watson – I mean, dear reader. For much like a certain detective’s encyclopaedic knowledge of tobacco scents and various other trivial topics apparently utterly tangential but in fact absolutely crucial to curtailing criminal endeavours, Headland is an aficionado of, amongst many other things, meat. The two pages of flashbacks relating to his accumulation of knowledge on the topic of human flesh, including a very cheeky cameo from the Dalai Llama, provoked by a most perturbed question from his personal chef is one of my favourite sequences in this volume.

“Sir? How did you know? Because the only way I can see is that you know what human meat tastes like.”
“A full education is crucial to a complete life, chef.”


I’m enjoying Warren’s writing on this series immensely, just as much as his speculative, slow-building, post-alien-invasion yarn TREES. With both series Warren is clearly taking his time setting up his considerable cast of characters, plus building up the mystery, which hopefully means he’s settling in for a long run on both. I’m still adjusting to Declan Shalvey’s minimal angular art here, I have to reluctantly say, coloured as it is by the ever excellent Jordie Bellaire. Just a personal thing. In fact, it reunites the team that put out, sadly, just one excellent volume of MOON KNIGHT: FROM THE DEAD together.

Shalvey really doesn’t seem to like putting in much background detail which I find a touch distracting myself, but I think it’s certainly a bit churlish of me to get hung up on that. You know what it’s like, though: when you’ve spotted something, you can’t then unobserve it. A friend recently pointed out to me how Rafa Nadal seems to have a nervous habit of pulling his pants out of his behind between every single point and, sure enough, the Mallorcan maestro is indeed seemingly a chronic sufferer from bum-crack-climbing undergarments. Just thought I’d share that with you so you too can be similarly afflicted…


So, back to the ghost sex. Headland instantly knows the Injection is involved, of course, he’s was in no doubt about that from the start. The fascinating question for him, though, is why has the Injection chosen to mess with this particular individual? Along the way he’ll have to deal with various idiotic interferences such as a fanatical cult-like group who have become aware of the Injection and are convinced it is the mythical Philosopher’s Stone, capable of gifting immortality to those who posses it, and thus will stop at nothing to acquire it. Seems like Headland’s going to get that uplift in excitement he’s been craving!

Looking forward to the third arc already.


Buy Injection vol  and read the Page 45 review here

Starve vol 2 (£13-99, Image) by Brian Wood & Danijel Zezelj…

“Gorgeous things, the red crab. We’ll catch ‘em, stash ‘em, and cook them for our adoring audience here and at home.
“I’m having a pretty decent day.
“Almost makes me forget about Greer.
“Ah, Christ, the wife.
“Stabbed me, nearly snuffed me out, but who can blame her?
“Mother of my child, and all that.
“But no more clichés.
“She deserves some mercy.
“She’s lost the war, the fight’s completely gone out of her.”

I’m happy to report the second and concluding platter of former Page 45 Comicbook of The Month STARVE VOL 1 is just as tasty a feast for the discerning connoisseur of graphic novels as was the starter! Chef Gavin Cruishank continues his one-man guerrilla mission of culinary vengeance on those who’ve done him wrong, in his (cook)book at least, as he simultaneously carves his way through the contenders on his gladiatorial cooking show with consummate ease.


Though, as he’s starting to realise – and deep down knew all along but has been finally brave enough to admit to himself – perhaps the cause of his wife’s fervent desire to destroy him completely and utterly might just have been entirely his own fault. Ooops! Thus, in this case, the chilled dish of revenge he thought he’d be savouring is proving somewhat less palatable and rather harder to stomach than he’d fantasised about.

So, now, for a man used to deconstructing cookery classics and reinventing them with a modern twist, it’s in fact the reconstruction of Gavin Cruishank the man, the father, and the soon to be ex-husband that’s proving to be his most testing creation to date. Of course, it’s easy to take the moral high ground after you’ve driven your estranged wife to try and stab you to death and she’s cooling her now not-so-designer heels, facing a very long stretch between courses, sorry, behind bars.

Gavin, though, a veritable walking contradiction akin to that craziest of desserts, the baked Alaska, all burnt and caramelised, crispy surface, but an icy cool exterior underneath, well, he’s never been a man to take the obvious approach to human relations as his long-suffering wife well knows. It’s his special lasagne that seals perhaps the most amicable divorce deal ever, though.


So, having put family matters to bed, with his rapprochement with his long neglected daughter complete, and now on civil terms at least with his wife, there’s the small matter of the Network to deal with. But filleting those ruthless sharks is going to take even more finesse than possibly even Gavin possesses. For as he now ruefully recognises, he sold his soul when he gleefully took their offer of fame and fortune all those years ago, so he’s determined to protect his daughter Angie, herself a potentially extremely talented chef, both blessed and cursed with the Cruishank moniker, from their avaricious clutches, but also from repeating his own mistakes. There’ll be a hefty bill waiting for Gavin to pay to get out from under them when all’s said and done, but he’s still got a couple of crafty ideas tucked under his chef’s whites about how to beat the bastards once and for all.

Fantastic finale to a series that has ultimately been all about deep character flaws and their effects on family, tempered with the possibility of emotional resurrection and redemption.


Buy Starve vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Devolution (£17-99, Dynamite) by Rick Remender & Jonathan Wayshak…

“But still, the war went on. Politicians debated for months before reaching a conclusion. It was clear to them all, in secret meetings of course, that the stem of the problem was religion… and science can cure that.
“They created a secret research team to produce a viral agent to neuter the part of the brain that believed in God.
“An international coalition of scientists devised the agent, named DVO-8, which would isolate the part of the brain associated with belief and devolve it, shrinking it away to nothing. Turning off the recipients’ belief in God.
“Of course there were side effects, but nothing severe enough to preclude its use in a few tests.”

And of course they all lived happily ever after…

Ha ha, of course not. The clue as to what those pesky side effects might have been lies in the title… Yes, aside from a chosen few who were inoculated against the virus, and perhaps some with natural immunity, the entire animal and indeed vegetable population of the planet has devolved. Not just humans, who have regressed physically and intellectually to cavemen, but every living species has also devolved into far more toothsome, scary prehistoric versions of themselves, even the insects and the plant life.


For those few humans not affected, the world has thus become considerably more hazardous, which is of course the exact opposite of what the great and good intended. But one such lady, our heroine Raja, is convinced the situation can be reversed. She believes there is a revolution agent antidote in a laboratory in San Francisco. She just has to make it there alive… Between the primitives patrolling the overgrown streets for food, and the survivalist remnants hunkered down in their fortified camps – including one run by a completely insane white supremacist with a penchant for hanging people she comes across – it’s clearly not going to be like nipping down to the local chemist for some paracetamol…


Another fascinating speculative fiction premise from Rick which once again isn’t that far removed from what could conceivably happen in the labs of meddlesome government scientists. Apparently this is an idea he’s had on the back burner for the last ten years, presumably whilst working on DEADLY CLASS, BLACK SCIENCE, LOW, TOKYO GHOST and myriad merry projects for Marvel. Fans of his previous stuff will certainly enjoy this self-contained work. The only real criticism I can level at the writing is it’s a real shame he decided not to spin it into a longer series because it wraps up far too quickly. Perhaps after having it kicking around for so long he just needed to get it over and done with. As I say, a shame as I think he could have done a lot more with the story. Perhaps that’s why this has come out on Dynamite rather than Image.


I wasn’t remotely familiar with the artist Rick’s working with this time, Jonathan Wayshak, though I thought I could recall seeing his stuff before. Sure enough, he did a LOST BOYS: REIGN OF FROGS movie prelude which we (very) briefly stocked. His style reminds me of Mark Texeira, actually, just a tidier version. I rather like it and it certainly suits the visceral nature of the story.



Buy Devolution 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.

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

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

Agatha: The Real Life Of Agatha Christie (£12-99, FirstSecond) by Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau & Alexandre Franc

The Comic Book Story Of Beer (£14-99, Ten Speed Press) by Jonathan Hennessey, Mike Smith & Aaron McConnell

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

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

Hound vol 2: Defender h/c (Signed & Numbered!) (£29-99, Cuchulainn Entertainment) by Paul Bolger & Barry Devlin

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

The Trial Of Roger Casement (£12-99, SelfMadeHero) by Fionnuala Doran

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

Star Wars vol 3: Rebel Jail (£17-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron & Leinil Yu, Angel Unzueta

Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles h/c (£22-99, IDW / DC) by James Tynion IV & Freddie E. Williams II

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

DC: The New Frontier s/c (£31-99, DC) by Darwyn Cooke

Injustice Year Four vol 2 h/c (£20-99, DC) by Brian Buccellato, Tom Taylor & Bruno Redondo, Mike S. Miller, various

Deadpool & The Mercs For Money vol 0: Merc Madness s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn, Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn & Salva Espin, Scott Koblish

New Avengers: A.I.M. vol 2: Standoff s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Al Ewing & various

Fairy Tail Zero (£9-99, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Fruits Basket Collectors Ed vol 3 s/c (£14-99, Yen Press) by Natsuki Takaya

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


ITEM! Watch Jamie Smart drawing BUNNY VS MONKEY!

Old skool pencil, brush and ink. Mesmerising. Fascinating to see how long he’ll go without dipping brush back in. I’d have slapped on waaaay too much ink.

Read reviews of Jamie Smart’s PHOENIX COMICS: BUNNY VS MONKEY collections and FISH HEAD STEVE here.

Trillium perfect cb moment

ITEM! Jeff Lemire writes about creating comics, process and time management.

He’s currently working on 8 monthly comics and drawing one as well. Also, his house is insanely clutter-free and clean. *gazes round study floors and walls woefully*

Pop ‘Jeff Lemire’ into our search engine then please click on covers for reviews.

Trillium perfect cb moment reprise


– Stephen

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