Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews November 2016 week four

Shaun Tan! Roller Derby! More Avery Hill excellence! Young Readers’ educational adventure! News underneath!

Equinoxes h/c (£30-00, Fanfare / Ponent Mon) by Cyril Pedrosa.

“I’m thirty-one, equinoxes-coverI feel lost, I’ll have but one life, and it’s slipping through my fingers like a torrent.”

Camille is thirty-one. Without an apartment of her own, she’s virtually broke and she feels she’s wasted her ten years since college. Buffeted by wind and rain, she struggles to make progress, and in any case she has lost any sense of direction. She’s rudderless.

“I’ve been here for months and I feel like I haven’t found anything. It’s there, right in front of me, but I can’t see it. I feel myopic…
“What sense does it make to be turning up every stone without knowing what you’re looking for.”

She feels alone, but she‘s not alone.

In this remarkable graphic novel with its complex, intricate structure, we’re introduced to so many seemingly unconnected individuals all of whom – to one extent or another – are missing someone or missing something, awakening to their age and mortality, and watching others go about their business seemingly with purpose while wondering where their own lies.


There is so much fear and anxiety that they are useless or (worse) mediocre: that they haven’t achieved anything, are failing to achieve anything, and never will achieve anything.

“You think it’s too late?” asks middle-aged Vincent of his much-missed brother turned priest.
“Too late for what?”
“To stop playing Ping-Pong.”


Like Alessandro Sanna’s THE RIVER, Pedrosa’s EQUINOXES is presented in four seasons beginning in autumn and culminating in summer, each with their distinct colour palettes, textures, line treatment and weather conditions. There is ever such a lot of wind and rain in autumn and winter, drawn and coloured in an impeccable low light. It is difficult to forge through and obscures the vision.


Each begins with a silent sequence set in the Neolithic Age. Autumn’s depicts a young hunter surviving the curiosity of a predatory tiger by holding her or his breath underwater for lung-burstingly long time. Of course, like the tiger, you don’t know that’s what’s happening; you can only the smallest of ripples on the other side of a partially submerged tree. Eventually the tiger slinks off, and the youngster emergences onto the tree trunk, exhausted but alive.


The second shows the lone hunter pursuing multiple tracks that have successfully crossed ice, but it proves too thin and cracks, stranding the youngster on one side while the tracks continue on over the horizon. 

Believe it or not, like everything else in this graphic novel, these four sequences will prove connected to each other and to the whole.

Louis lives in a remote rural home where he’s helped out with practicalities like his internet connection by younger lodger Antoine. They share a political past of protest which Louis is now weary of, while former protégée Catherine Vallet is France’s newly appointed Minister of Sustainable Development and the Environment. She hasn’t contacted Louis. Louis visits his son or, more accurately, his son’s graveside (1951-1963), sees fresh flowers and asks him, “Has your mom been by?”

Samir Benjelloun is approaching retirement, but is being dispatched to the east of France to help dig the new Morteuil Airport. Its development is being protested against.


Vincent is that middle-aged orthodontist, divorced from Christine who does her best to stay friends, but his cantankerousness doesn’t make it easy. At weekends he picks his fifteen-year-old daughter up from Christine’s city apartment and brings her back to his modern coastal villa. They visit a jumble sale. Vincent grumbles that Pauline is a pain, shows no interest in anything important and that her friends have minimal IQs. But actually Pauline is paying attention in a way that will surprise Vincent, and is beginning to make her first tentative steps into the discovery of art and, with it, herself.

We know this because our first real encounter in this entire graphic novel is between Pauline and a charcoal portrait in an art gallery. A woman with a camera snaps a portrait of Pauline, her face a picture of uncertain curiosity.


The woman with the camera turns out to be Camille. There are dozens more connections which will become clear as the story progresses (I have three A4 sheets of paper covered in scribbles and arrows criss-crossing like a demented cat’s cradle which long went awry), but that’s the last of one I’m giving you for we only discover Camille’s name, let alone anything about her, much later on. She and her camera, however, prove a vital part of the book’s heart and structure, for not only does each season end with an insight into her world – one of painful loss, and a resistance to making contact or opening herself up at all – but also each snapshot she takes comes with its own attendant revelations about her intuitively chosen subjects.

There are three or four per chapter, some more unexpected than others, and together they build up a broader picture of perspectives which share much common ground.


Pedrosa deploys a dazzling variety of illustrative techniques within each season which affect the level of intimacy we see in front of us. There is, for example, an extended sequence in a log cabin high up in the forested hills at night in similar style to the Jeff Lemire-like cover, in which Vincent continues his deeply troubled exploration with brother Damien about what matters in life. Stripped to this visual minimalism they finally begin to get to the heart of the matter.


By contrast an early sequence between Louis and Antoine shows a masterful knowledge of body forms, body weight and body balance. Hands hang, clothes hang; shoulders are hunched over with age or are so clearly supported by spine.

With spring comes with a richness of colour after bleak winter, and a waxier treatment. It seems to me that’s where the honesty begins between individuals here. People receive visitors and begin to relax outside.


“Memory’s not fair, is it?” asks elderly Cecile of Louis.

No, as we shall see, in its erosion over time, memory robs us of what we would wish to remember forever, yet plagues us with the things we cannot forget yet. Our memories and minds can make us so hard on ourselves.

“I’d like to be forgiven for my mistakes,” confesses Camiile, “but nobody can do that. You have to be satisfied with your own forgiveness.”


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

Untitled Ape’s Epic Adventure (with signed bookplate) (£12-99, Avery Hill) by Steven Tillotson.


There are five things you should know about Untitled Ape’s Adventure: it is epic, it is insane, it is deliciously mischievous, completely unpredictable and mind-bogglingly beautiful.

It is also heart-rendingly poignant.

Do excuse my elementary grasp of geography here.

High above the dense canopy of the Congo jungle, below the craggy peaks of the Ruwenzori range, across the Horn of Africa, then back over the Victoria Falls floats the purple ghost of the Untitled Ape. It hovers over the tree tops before plunging down, deep down into a cold, dark cavern. The ghost of the Untitled Ape solidifies in pain and roars in anger.




This appears pre-prologue as if on parchment discoloured with age.

Much, much later – later than you can imagine – the Untitled Ape punches through the top soil of a verdant meadow rich in blooming wildflowers. He crawls up and out, pulling himself across the long grass, struggling to raise himself onto his hind legs and knuckles. He topples and falls.

“Oi mate! Big fella! Over ‘ere!
“Blimey! No offence, mate, but you look awful!
“Anyway, do us a favour and get me fags out of this tree will you?”

The cat’s dropped its cigarettes down the hollow of a fallen tree. The Untitled Ape is exhausted but strong, and tears the tree apart with his bare hands. They bond.


There’s plenty more of this sort of contrast to come, comically juxtaposing the mythical and mysterious with the mundane: names like Garry and Gail, Alan and Kevin belonging to beasts I’ll leave to surprise you.

I adore the form of the Untitled Ape, rising on its knuckles like on any gorilla, its forearms massive, its hind legs spindly, a skull that seems to float where its face should be.


The colours are gorgeous and the light effects striking as the two friends embark on their journey to find Untitled Ape’s family which he suspects is in danger. Hampered by a flood of biblical proportions and a highly suspect sense of direction, they row their way across the countryside then through a city submerged under water (with the most striking perspective seen from above) then out into the ocean, thence on their way.


Unfortunately a) it’s the wrong way b) they’re being followed. Why? And how – surrounded on all sides by water, with nothing on the horizon behind them – does the Untitled Ape know?


It’s going to a be long, arduous and very funny journey as they bump into families and become side-tracked by most unexpected creatures with long-standing friendly feuds. There will be ups (very high ups) and downs. There will be an ice-cream van stranded on top of a column of rock high above the sea.

There will also be sudden bursts of memory.


Buy Untitled Ape’s Epic Adventure (with signed bookplate) and read the Page 45 review here

The Singing Bones h/c (£19-99, Walker Studio) by Shaun Tan.


Truly this is a work of wonders, with an eloquent introduction by Neil Gaiman and historical context provided by Jack Zipes,

An exquisite and exceedingly lush hardcover from the creator of THE ARRIVAL etc featuring 75 tales from the Brothers Grimm, I strongly suspect that this a gift which you will keep on giving for years.


For each of these dark, fantastical, folklore fables Shaun Tan has created sculptural stories: miniature tableaux distilling them to their core characteristics. For make no mistake, although Shaun is a prodigious artist in multiple media he is, like many others also at heart, a storyteller and this is no mere art book.

Fashioned from clay – and often adorned with string or surrounded by sand, sugar and salt, and whatever else is deemed appropriate (upended carpet tacks!) – these compositions of animals, faces and figures are painted in contrasting colours then lowly lit, as you might find them in a museum, to create harmonious wholes. And that’s exactly what they are like: finds! Inspired by Inuit art, these are mysteries for you to discover like any ancient artefact and unravel for yourselves.

They are moments of theatre.


They’re also ever so tactile: the sort of thing you want to hold in your hand, cupping each orange-sized object or objects in your palm and perhaps stroking them in the hope that they’ll sing.

Plate 2 depicts ‘The Companionship Of The Cat And The Mouse’. In the story itself a cat and a mouse decide to hunker down together for the winter, buying a pot of fat which they would share through sparse season and so get them through it. Let’s just say that the terms of their agreement aren’t adhered to by the cat who covets the fat and, when the mouse discovers this betrayal of their friendship and protests at its greed, the cat gobbles the mouse up too. And so it goes.


What Shaun has sculpted is a tiny white mouse sitting “comfortably” inside the yawning maw of a thoroughly contented, well fed, fat, black cat. It’s ever so satisfying (for the cat, at least) but relatively simple.

However, Plate 7 is a deliciously complex interpretation of ‘The Twelve Brothers’.


It is spot-lit from the front against a shadowy background receding in focus. The twelve brothers are represented as the coffins they were intended to be confined to by the king, standing like the gravestones which would have been erected in their memory. This reflects their actual transmutation in the tale into ravens. At the forefront cowers their sister, the princess, inadvertently responsible for their current condition – and future fate should she utter a word – her face a mask of silent guilt, hands over her mouth both in horror and lest she speak, so damning her brothers eternally.

That is one complex narrative in a single composition.


Each visual tale in turn is accompanied by an artfully edited extract to form a specific, evocative vignette like the artworks themselves, while concise and elegant synopses of the stories as a whole are also provided in the back.

This is pretty handy, because if each of these sculptures doesn’t immediately intrigue you into wanting to learn more, then I would be extremely surprised.

In addition, further recommended reading is suggested so that you can track down the stories in full, in various iterations / states of sanitisation.


On the subject of which, I highly recommend Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti’s HANSEL & GRETEL which could not be less sanitised. Gaiman disinters its original, bleak, morally bankrupt bad parenting, while Mattotti goes to hunger town on its illustrations:

“They are eerie, awful things, crawling with shadows, swirling in darkness, with the thickest of tree-trunks blotting out the sky.
“Stark, dark and black with just a glimpse of white light, they are cold and claustrophobic, evoking all the bleakness of a land ravaged by soldiers to the point of being all but barren, bringing those few inhabitants left to the brink of starvation.”

And while we’re talking fairy tales, try Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell’s THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE and THE GRAPHIC CANON OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE.

Then pop ‘Shaun Tan’ into our search engine, for we have a wealth of storytelling excellence for you there!


Buy The Singing Bones h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Benson’s Cuckoos (£13-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Anouk Ricard…

“Morning! bensont-cuckoos-coverIt would seem you’re two minutes late! That’s not good.”
“I’m sorry. Uh… Happy Birthday, Boss?”
“Oh, this? It’s not my birthday. I just happen to like this hat. So what do you think of the team? Tiptop, huh?”
“Uh yeah!”
“We’re meeting at eleven o’ clock. I hope you bring some good ideas.”
“We are? I didn’t know. I’m just getting settled in.”
“Well, now you are. I don’t see the problem.”
“Well I don’t have anything prepared.”
“So go prepare something then! You’ve got two hours. And if it’s crap, you’re fired.”

I have worked for people as unhinged as new guy Richard’s boss, oh yes. He might be a slightly exaggerated caricature but not by much. I’m reminded of a certain boss in Colchester who, when I attended a sales meeting on my very first day in my capacity as Technical Manager, launched into the most insane blitzkrieg tirade against the sales reps, several of whom were also relatively new and looked utterly shell-shocked (it would be fair to say there was a high turnover of staff, particularly on the sales side), culminating in him screaming that they were a bunch of colossal c*nts who were costing him money. Interesting use of an adjective it struck me at the time, delighted as I was not to be the focus of his sudden ire.


The flip side of the coin was he insisted the senior management, a group of six of us, go to the pub every single day with him to play cards or pool where you had to drink beer or spirits, no soft drinks allowed. Lunches would routinely extend to a couple of hours and occasionally he would decide we weren’t going back at all and then things got rather messy indeed. Plus he let me stay in a house in the grounds of the business for free. He did fire me ultimately, when he found out I was looking for another job, but just a very strange chap, frankly.


Anyway, Richard seems utterly bewildered by his new boss’s antics, and the various other shenanigans going on at Benson’s Cuckoos, including the departure of his predecessor George, which he gradually begins to realise was probably more of a disappearance than a voluntary exit.

As we roll through surreal scene after scene of meeting, shaming, team bonding, awkward lift moments, the ribald laughs and head-shaking, wince-worthy, excruciating toe-curlers keep on coming.


Only adding to the mayhem is the anthropomorphic colourful cartoon style employed by Anouk. I struggled slightly with her previous work, ANNA AND FROGA, purely due to the storytelling which whilst heavy on the surrealism, seemed light on the coherence. This, though, flows seamlessly, keeping the chuckle levels high from silly start to farcical finish.


Buy Benson’s Cuckoos and read the Page 45 review here

Slam #1 (£2-99, Boom Studios) by Pamela Ribon & Veronica Fish.

What a fresh and far from obvious start!

This made me smile from beginning to end at its genuine joy and heart-felt belief in the empowering, bond-building nature of Roller Derby.

This contact sport, as I understand it, involves two opposing teams racing round a roller rink on roller skates but in the same direction, hell-bent on up-ending each other by any means necessary. Oh, I am told there are rules – there are certainly key and keen strategies – but it’s essentially hockey without the disingenuous excuse of why you really joined up: to knock seven shades of shit out of each other and score top marks in doing so.

“Are you a sportsman, Stephen?”

Clearly not, but I am a convert!

Moreover, its innovative presentation – not so much as an A-to-B narrative, but as an experience and induction to Roller Derby – proved as engrossing and as exhilarating as the real deal itself. Were I of the correct chromosomatic configuration I would run right down to my local arena and sign up on the spot.


“10 Facts about your new Derby life:
“1. You will have fun.
“2. You will get hurt.
“3. You will want to quit this forever. Every time.
“4. You won’t. Because you love it more than you’ve ever loved anything in your life.”

Persuade me.

“5. You will find your voice” and “6. You’ll learn all kinds of new phrases.” Namely:

“Pop a squat! Get in her crotch!”
“Fill those holes!”
“Take up space! Wall it up!”
“Get on her!”
“Hit her, hit her, hit her!”

I rest my hockey-claim case, my lord.


But what I love most of all about my new-found Roller Derby is that this is a sport for women. Wait, wait (and correct me if I’m wrong) but instead of all these boys-only sports like soccer and rugby and especially cricket with its gender-exclusive pavilions, this was originally and initially – and may still be to this day – a sport for women only which, if the lads want a look-in, they will have to apply for in order to join in, thence be looked down on, for decades to come, as second-best. Haha! The shoe’s on the other dismissive and disdaining foot!

If all that wasn’t enough, Ribon delivers a comic which is entirely congruent with this post-patriarchal experience. Men do not feature and are barely mentioned within. For once, none of this is about you, fellas! This is entirely about ladies getting together to rediscover themselves, their confidence and their individuality without comparison points. There’s one. There’s only one.

As to Fish, her art is ebullient yet controlled, imaginative and natural, depicting real women as they really are, relaxed in their own space with tall socks, baggy shorts and muscular, much sought-after thighs that are admired for their fearsome Derby downing-power, not frowned upon for their weight. Love the subtle bruises by colour-artist Brittany Peer.


There is nothing about this that is angry. Everything about this is celebratory.

It’s not ‘Kicking Against The Pricks’, it’s “Hello, here’s all the fun!”

We were all a little worried that this would be a banal, band-wagon embarkation because, mark my words, you can see so many comics currently being green-lit simply for their demographic-ticking boxes. No, this is fabulous, and if the cover screams Becky Cloonan meets Jamie Hewlett (a very fine pedigree), then let me assure you that it’s all Veronica Fish who knows exactly what she is doing.

“7. If your life is too busy, Derby will destroy it.
“8. But if your life was destroyed, Derby will fix it.”

Excellent! This is going to be the exhilarating experience of a lifetime. You will meet new friends for life and you will celebrate during the after-party even if you cowered in the toilet at the prospect of your first-day’s performance. You will find those who will hold your hand and never let you down and never let you go. You may try war paint, you may breathe deeply, and you may scream at the full-on, physical excitement!

“Fun fact about Derby life #42:
“It gets complicated.”

Ah. And now I am hooked.


Buy Slam #1 and read the Page 45 review here

At The Shore (£17-99, Alternative) by Jim Campbell…

A monsterat-the-shore-cover mash of sea monsters, zombies and teenage hormones make this pocket-sized work from Brooklyn based Jim Campbell pack a punch. Which is probably a very dangerous thing for a pocket-sized work to do thinking about it…

Gabi is continually trying to regale her school friends Bernard, Dean and Jorge with her childhood stories of her father’s strange experiences whilst harvesting seaweed. But every time she gets going they either decide it’s all too boring and repeatedly interrupt to tell her so, or all start to collectively swoon over new girl Astrid whenever she enters stage right. To be honest, Bernard, Dean and Jorge seem like a bunch of rude, lecherous idiots. Ah yes, they’re teenage boys aren’t they!


But when the zombie apocalypse begins during a trip to the beach, the boys fawning over Astrid in her bikini whilst Gabi glowers in her t-shirt, and barnacle covered cadavers are suddenly emerging from the waves wanting more than sushi, they’re unsurprisingly desperate to pay attention to what knowledge Gabi has to impart. For what she knows will prove vital to their survival.


I really enjoyed this fun-filled fear feature. The coloured art is excellent, a mixture of slightly toned down Joe SPENT Matt and HICKSVILLE-era Dylan Horrocks. The zombies are genuinely spooky with their pointy fish-like fangs. The plot was sufficiently weird and wonderful to keep me entertained right to the end.


Buy At The Shore and read the Page 45 review here

Little Tails In The Jungle (£13-99, Magnetic Press) by Frédéric Brrémaud & Federico Bertolucci.


Thoroughly accessible Young Readers’ educational adventure from the creators of the silent, more adult-orientated, thrillingly choreographed and quite stunningly illustrated LOVE: THE TIGER, LOVE: THE FOX, LOVE: THE LION and (in February 2017) LOVE: THE DINOSAUR. Please, please make no mistake, however, (as so many have before): those four books may look cute, but include scenes of a natural nature, which involves throats being ripped out left, right and centre. As I wrote quite explicitly of LOVE: THE LION:

“Not so much the Circle Of Life as the constantly turning tides of food-chain fortune and the constant threat of being stalked, surrounded, flattened, clawed, mauled, mangled and otherwise shredded by crocodiles, vultures, spotted hyenas and even other lions.
“I’ve never seen so many carcasses.”


You are, however, on perfectly safe and cuddly ground here as Squizzo the squirrel takes Chipper the puppy dog up, up and away in his cardboard aeroplane across the globe to visit the jungles of the world in South America, Africa and Asia.

In bright, white and sage-coloured comic strips most often above 9but sometimes below) full-colour paintings, the confident and knowledgeable Squizzo leads the initially more tentative Chipper in search of the jungles’ increasingly rare denizens.


Investigating at a discreet distance so as not to disturb the shy guys and avoid become part of the food chain, they encounter heat and humidity and insects that bite, but forge on to find jaguars and black panthers, tarantulas, toucans, tapirs and tigers, Asian elephants, gibbons, gorillas, a bright pink Amazon river dolphin, and many more beauties besides.

The emphasis is on adventure and excitement to entertain your young ones and introduce them to the majesty and colourful diversity of the jungle, moving ever swiftly on to keep wide eyes shining bright.


In the back of the book, however, time is taken to revisit some of the animals encountered earlier and learn a lot more. Why is a toucan’s enormous beak not too heavy for its head, toppling it over and knocking it off its perch? Where does a jaguar hunt and where does its name come from? What is the difference between a black panther and a leopard or jaguar? Answer: only the colour of its fur! They still have spots; you just can’t see them because of their dark pigmentation, a genetic trait which may or may not be passed down to the next generation, so that a black panther can still give birth to a regularly spotted leopard. I knew that once!


Finally a whole page is devoted to The World Wildlife Fund, Planète Tigre etc (with websites to visit) explaining why and how so alarmingly swiftly the animals’ ecosystems are being obliterated.

Key fact: there are fewer than 4,000 tigers in total left in the wild.


Buy Little Tails In The Jungle and read the Page 45 review here

2000AD Script Book (£19-99, Rebellion) by various including Peter Milligan, Alan Grant, Rob Williams, Dan Abnett, Pat Mills, Al Ewing, Gordon Rennie, Ian Edginton, Si Spurrier, John Reppion, John Wagner, Leah Moore, I.N.J. Culbard, D’Israeli, Carlos Ezquerra, Henry Flint, Simon Davis, Rufus Dayglo…

Zarjaz. 2000_ad_script_book-1Or in common Earthling parlance, excellent. The number of legendary writers and artists that have graced the pages of 2000AD since its launch in 1977 is simply staggering. It has proven to be an excellent launch pad for a number of British (and overseas) creators, who were given a relatively free hand on established iconic characters and just as importantly, the opportunity to introduce their own.

It’s remained at the forefront of the British comic scene as a viable publication for nigh on forty years in part due to this blend of old fan favourites like Dredd and crazy new characters, and in part due to the continuing shuffling of the stellar cast of creators combined with nurturing surroundings for relative newcomers to hone their craft.


I will bet more than a fair few of you who’ve picked up the odd Prog or thousand have at some point thought, I could do that, I could write or draw  (or if you’re a particular sort of smartarse both) for 2000AD. It is, however, not as easy as these prodigious talents make it seem. Fortunately for us, though, we have a chance to see how the professionals do it with such apparent ease with these scripts set page by page with the final art. It’s fascinating to observe how each artist has interpreted the writer’s notes and what changes end up getting incorporated into the finished version.


Inside you’ll find scripts for classic characters like a Judge Dredd tale from the Day Of Chaos arc, Psi-Judge Anderson, Bad Company, Slaine, Durham Red and Zombo. Then there are some more modern works like Brass Sun and Aquila, plus a great selection of the just plain weird like Lobster Random. Altogether there are 15 pieces for aspiring creators to analyse. Alternatively, if like me, you’d rather sit back and relax and peruse the finished product without peaking behind the curtain of creative process, you can find much Mega-City madness and everything else 2000AD related in one section HERE.


Buy 2000AD Script Book and read the Page 45 review here

International Iron Man vol 1 (UK Edition) s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev.

Hallelujah! In this companion title to his INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, Bendis is back off autopilot, a word which Maleev – his partner on SCARLET VOL 1 & 2 – doesn’t even know the meaning of.

Like Michael Gaydos, Maleev brings out the best in Bendis, so it’s time once again to throw away the costumes (for the most part) and enjoy some honest-to-goodness human interaction and humour à la JESSICA JONES: ALIAS which was the very best series ever to be published by Marvel.

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

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

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

He’s such a scallywag!


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

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


Paul Mounts’ daytime colouring adds a new air of optimism to Maleev’s fresh-faced students meeting for lunch (less of an assignation, more of the-stalked-stalking-stalker scenario) and when you look at those panels, concentrate on the eyebrows and lip-line especially, imagine a moustache, chop the flop of his hair right back… and that really is our Tony Stark.

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

New verb: to trapeze.


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

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

But essentially it’s Stark’s modern-day quest to discover the identity of his true parents now that he’s learned that he was adopted as a baby.


You’ll find out exactly who they are in this volume.

His father’s not whom I strongly suspected – which I think is a missed trick and a shame – but it could certainly make things interesting. I’d tell you right now (you can always ask at the counter so long as I’m not serving), but it may be that Bendis still has a trick up his sleight-of-hand sleeve.


Buy International Iron Man vol 1 (UK Edition) 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


Dogs Disco (£5-00) by Joe Decie

Losing Sleep (£9-99) by Joe Latham & Luke Hyde

The Fox (£5-00) by Joe Latham

The Wolf (£5-00) by Joe Latham

The Woodsman (£5-00) by Joe Latham


Little Tails In The Forest (£13-99, Magnetic Press) by Frederic Brremaud & Federico Bertolucci

A.D. After Death Book 1 (of 3) (£4-50, Image) by Scott Snyder & Jeff Lemire

Soft City – The Lost Graphic Novel h/c (£20-00, New York Review Comics) by Hariton Pushwagner

Black Canary vol 2: New Killer Star s/c (£13-99, DC) by Brendan Fletcher, Matthew Rosenberg & Annie Wu, various

Flash vol 9: Full Stop h/c (£22-99, DC) by Robert Venditti, Van Jensen & various

Amazing Spider-Man vol 3: Worldwide s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott, Christos Gage & Giuseppe Camuncoli

Captain Marvel By Jim Starlin – The Complete Collection s/c (£31-99, Marvel) by Jim Starlin, others

Darth Vader vol 4: End Of Games (£17-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larroca, Mike Norton, Max Fiumara

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vol 4: I Kissed A Squirrel And I Liked It s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Ryan North & Erica Henderson, Jacob Chabot

One Piece vol 80 (£6-99, Viz) by Eiichiro Oda



ITEM! Annual Auction Of Original Art for The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is go!

Includes Bryan Lee O’Malley’s SCOTT PILGRIM / MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO shout-athon above, and Duncan Fegredo’s HELLBOY below.

Donations come from Bryan Lee O’Malley, Craig Thompson, Duncan Fegredo, Edmond Baudoin, Emma Vieceli, Hunt Emerson, Ian McQue, Jonathan Edwards, Jordi Bernet, Mick McMahon, Petteri Tikkanen, Sean Phillips, Stuart Immonen – and the guys from VIZ.

More on the LICAF Original Art Auction 2016.


ITEM! Nottingham City Council is selling off the Nottingham Central Library building with no site earmarked for a replacement.


Because who needs books? A fast buck, yes; books, quite evidently not. And this, in our City of Literature.

Should you give a monkey’s, you can sign this petition to Save Nottingham Central Library.



ITEM! At the time of typing – and I haven’t been in for two days – Oxfam Nottingham, just up our round, has a acquired a complete set of SANDMAN (#1-75 plus the special) in lovely nick and is selling it for £300.

You don’t see many of those around!

Since it was gift-aided, if you stump up the £300 then Oxfam will actually receive £375!


Claire at Oxfam Nottingham works incredibly hard in her collation and curation of their extensive selection of back-issue comics (there are some beauuuuuties in right now: Vaughn Bode, Robert Crumb – first print of HUP #1 – early Barry Windsor-Smith NICK FURY, early Mignola sword-and-sorcery, SIN CITY one-shots… with early FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, IRON MAN and Jack Kirby KAMANDI to come as soon as Claire and I have priced them), so please keep your exceptionally generous donations coming and your spending power spending.

Every donation is treated with due diligence and respect, and Oxfam Nottingham makes a huge amount of much-need money from them.

Thanks very much!

 – Stephen







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