Archive for December, 2016

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews December 2016 week three

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Featuring Rob Davis, Sophie Campbell, Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen, Kelly Thompson, Leandro Romero, Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov, more.

Page 45 Festive Opening Times in the News Section below!

The Can Opener’s Daughter (Bookplate Edition) (£12-99, SelfMadeHero) by Rob Davis.

“Making sense is can-openers-daughter-coveroverrated… It’s just confirming what people already think. Making new sense is more important.”

Making eloquent new sense is Rob Davis’ forte; making a nuisance is Vera Pike’s.

“Mum wouldn’t tell me what was going on. She wouldn’t speak to me at all. I tried asking Dad, but she confiscated him and locked him in a kitchen draw.”

We first met Vera in THE MOTHERLESS OVEN, my favourite book of that year, wherein we learned that although it is commonly acknowledged that children are the products of their parents – both by nature and nurture – in The Bear Park the parents are very much the product of their children. They are fashioned by their children before they are five in the Motherless Oven itself. They can be quite complex and caring. Certainly they are sentient.

Scarper Lee’s Mum was a barber-shop hairdryer and ever so maternal. Vera Pike’s Mum is the Weather Clock, Grave Acre’s bipedal, fully mobile, ruthless, dictatorial Prime Minister. She doesn’t do maternal. 


Her Dad is a can opener. The sort with a bayonet blade you have to thrust in to puncture whatever it is you want opening, then wrangle the lid off by force. He doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

You will find everything here so very familiar, yet looked at anew, askew or turned on its head. Words may have multiple meanings depending on intonation or a minor adjustment. Almost every panel demands a quotation, so dense is the wit on display. Perspectives are important, the fresher the better, so here is the second in Rob Davis’ trilogy, dovetailing precisely into the first to illuminate elements of what went before and leave us gasping desperately for more.

It is a phenomenal work full of surprises which end up making perfect sense.

For a start – just like THE MOTHERLESS OVEN – it explores the generational gap opened up even further by the conceit that all mums and dads are constructs of their children. As mechanical objects, most are dismissively pigeon-holed in their parental role rather than regarded as individuals, then consigned to the scrap head once that role is over.

“Parents are made to make children feel guilt. They exist to deny your freedom so they can make you believe it is theirs to give.”


That’s Vera’s take, and she has indeed been denied her freedom by being shut away in Grave Acre’s equivalent of Number 10, to be home-schooled initially by the household Ink Gods. These are vocal bottles of indelible ink, and I promise that they’re making sense right from the very first panel they appear in, however random their proclamations might sound. It’s that sort of book.

It’s also the sort of book which presents multiple perspectives. Here’s Vera’s mother:

“They say that parents exist to give children something to rebel against, something that prevents them rebelling against anything that really matters… But what happens when a parent rebels…?”

And it is most definitely a great big book of rebellion. Vera Pike is welcome whirlwind of vital rebellion – a natural impulse in the young – but she’s not alone. Not everyone is content to be constrained by their roles. Most parents choose to have children. As we have seen, that’s not the case in The Bear Park and, without giving too much a way, there is a satisfyingly circular structure to so much history here.


Time to pull back: THE MOTHERLESS OVEN was set in The Bear Park, a working class area with very specific and absolute boundaries. There was nowhere else. There were plenty of parents, but no brothers or sisters that I can recall. Instead of birthdays, everyone had a deathday. Scarper Lee’s was imminent.

THE CAN OPENER’S DAUGHTER begins in the much more affluent Grave Acre where everyone has a double-barrelled name and we see no such parents. Indeed the reigning (and raining) Weather Clock is terrified of being referred to in public as “Mum”. It may not surprise you to learn that it’s partly a class thing, but I won’t explain why.

In The Bear Park’s schools they teach Circular History and Mythmatics. In St. Sylvia’s School of Bleak Prospects and Suicide, the boarding school to which Vera is banished after a big breach of etiquette, they teach Probable History and Terminal Vertices.

“Everyone paid attention in Terminal Vertices, not because Miss Cavendish-Hole was any less dull, but because your life depended on it.”

In Grave Acre you aren’t assigned a deathday; you plot your own suicide graph using desolation logarithms found in Cullculus. You choose your fate. Vera Pike chooses not to have one. She hides her graph, unplotted, under the mattress.


It may be by now that those who’ve already read THE MOTHERLESS OVEN are starting to see the connections. They’re ever so clever once revealed, and I’ll just jog them along a little here when Vera speaks up during a class in Hauntology where they’re studying The Bear Park and deathdays.

“Sir, how do we get to Bear Park?”

She’s met with roars of laughter.

“C’mon, Pike. It’s as impossible to travel from Grave Acre to The Bear Park as it is to travel from today to yesterday.”

But Vera’s Mum originally came from Bear Park before she got ideas above her station, as did Vera and her Dad. So what’s up with that?


The art is deliciously British with nods at St. Sylvia’s to older boarding school comics and if I detected a Gorillaz / Jamie Hewlett vibe in THE MOTHERLESS OVEN, in THE CAN OPENER’S DAUGHTER I’m minded of the likes of Steve Parkhouse in THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA and, while watching the Weather Clock herself – with her spikes, claws, long, curved neck and grotesque in-your-face face – I couldn’t help thinking of Gerald Scarf’s work for Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’.


It’s partly on those grounds that I couldn’t shake the notion that the Weather Clock and the Can Opener were riffs on a strident Margaret and a cowering Dennis Thatcher, even if it’s the Weather Clock constantly sozzled after using her husband to uncork the bottles. Talk about enabling.

Speaking of ascensions, I loved Vera’s growth in the book from a baby-faced brat with bunches, through uniformed pudding-bowl private-school girl, to chic, commanding rabble-rouser by simply untucking her shirt and ditching the pinafore dress.


The animation of the Ink Gods – the glass, stoppered jars sat on small pedestals – is exquisite and all the more remarkable for being accomplished purely by the lettering. They don’t move, but they are emphatically alive.

If THE CAN OPENER’S DAUGHTER dovetails as wickedly as I’ve asserted with THE MOTHERLESS OVEN, you may be wondering how. I’ve barely mentioned the latter’s narrator, Scarper Lee, and Castro Smith not once. Castro, you may recall, has Medicated Inference Syndrome kept in check with a surgically implanted Brain Aid which stops all the signals becoming noise.

It is Castro who can see all the connections. He figured out who Vera’s Mum was long before everyone else. He’s writing a Book of Forks.

“Forks are choices, forks are everywhere. My book is a theory of everything.”

As THE MOTHERLESS OVEN concluded we left Vera and Castro alone together on the other side of The Bear Park’s fence, while Scarper’s deathday was still looming large. So how do we get there from here? I’m not telling you.

“My interest is piqued – you are a source of intrigue, Mr. Smith. What is a Book of Forks and what can it offer me?”
“It’s an encyclopedia of all possible histories and a post-mortem of all possible futures. It explains deathdays, how weather works, where Gods came from, why the Immortals died out and how to repair a kettle.”

He can be quite practical, can Castro.

“The forks… three paths into one… one path into three…”

Next: Rob Davis concludes his own Book of Forks.


At the time of typing, thanks to Sam Humphrey at SelfMadeHero, all our copies come with beautiful, free bookplates signed by Rob Davis.

“This is where the end starts…”


Buy The Can Opener’s Daughter (Bookplate Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

Wet Moon vol 2: Unseen Feet (New Edition) (£17-99, Oni) by Sophie Campbell.

“Uneasy friendships between a group of hesitant, second-guessing, slightly paranoid girls at college,” I wrote originally of volume two but, having now read all six WET MOONs so far, I only wish they were more paranoid, for one within them isn’t showing her true, seething colours.

The vulnerabilities are beautifully observed, as are the explorations of sexuality.

For these new editions I only had to adjust my WET MOON VOL 1 a little, while adding a new introduction for this did develop in most unexpected directions, and on re-reading what I wrote here I was delighted to discover that Campbell had continued to fool me and I still wasn’t looking in all the right directions. Before I forget I should mention that there’s a who’s who of WET MOON in the back should you need it to keep up.


After a quick flashback to High School, the second book picks up almost immediately after the first.

Cleo’s still finding messages left lying around campus saying “Cleo eats it” and one of the chief tensions in this is whether indeed she might be persuaded. She’s just bumped into Myrtle (literally) whilst fleeing a class containing her ex-boyfriend, and their new friendship – though as tentative as any of the others – does seem close with Myrtle appearing to be less judgemental than the rest of the crowd who could all Bitch for Britain. Audrey certainly “eats it”, but her new friendship with Kinzoku (who does actually appear to have a clue when it comes to love and friendships) threatens to unsettle her relationship with Beth. Meanwhile Trilby – the most mean-spirited and spiteful of the cast last book, who did actually try it on with Cleo – has got herself a boyfriend, but he doesn’t seem too confident in the bed department, whilst Cleo herself is disappointed to find out that pretty-boy Glen is [REDACTED].


I think I’ve just typed “friendship” four times already, so blatantly that’s what this series is about, along with body image and sexuality. The cast are constantly checking themselves out in the mirror and pawing themselves, changing hair styles, and then occasionally changing back based on approval or disapproval or anticipation of either.

Some of them are still getting to know each other so there’s a lot of naturalistic behaviour like languishing about on beds and sofas, exchanging crushes, secrets and scars, metaphorical and otherwise.


But what about the horror hinted at last time? Yes, that kicks up a notch too, and all those elements seem to meet in Zia, the girl with one arm who photographs herself lying on the ground as if dead, covered in mud and garbage; Fall who wanders around with her mouth open near the swamp, cooking burgers for her mute, scarred and blood-drooling Pa; and fetishist Fern, the uber-rich bald girl whose back bares a butcher’s brace of meat hooks. What is up with all that?

I leave you to see if anything becomes clearer for yourselves, but for me this book just opened things up further and I’m all the happier for that. As I wrote last time, Campbell has an eye for the more interesting female body shape, and relishes big, fleshy pierced lips and scowls. Her lines grow softer as she grows into the series, the eyes widen to become pools of doting and doubt, while her command of tones becomes rich and delicious.

It’s mesmerising, and actually very pretty except when they’re being ugly to each other.



Buy Wet Moon vol 2: Unseen Feet (New Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

Descender vol 3: Singularities (£13-99, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen.

Now wedescender-vol-3-cover pause for reflection.

Unfortunately not all the robots’ metallic surfaces are as shiny as they used to be or were intended to be. Good old humans, always tarnishing and sullying stuff with their selfishness, disregard or outright viciousness.

So it’s time for five warped recollections mirroring and marrying the present with the past, linking up with each other in unexpectedly intricate ways, then pushing events forwards far enough to make our wait for the next volume excruciatingly  tantalising.

It’s my favourite instalment so far. At least two of these chapters explore the past of protagonists you won’t have imagined even have a back story, but they do, and one of those is of critical importance to what’s gone before and why they’ve said what they’ve said, when what they said I dismissed  as mere whimsy. It’s not.


For extensive but non-spoilery analysis of the story and craft so far please see our reviews of DESCENDER VOL 1 and DESCENDER VOL 2.

As I’ve mentioned before, none of this would be half so effective or affecting had Lemire and Nguyen between them not made us care so profoundly for young Tim-21. Developed to be a personal companion to humans, he is compassion personified, his devotion matched only by the family’s robotic dog Bandit, as you’ll discover here. Originally Tim-21 awoke lost and alone, save for said dog, on a mining colony ten years after a disaster which wiped out all the colonists except one who went on to… well… none of it’s pretty.


Ten years ago a cataclysmic disaster also struck each of the nine Core Planets, in retaliation to which all robotic life forms were outlawed and as many as possible have been hunted down to be thrown into furnaces while still functioning. Not everyone concurs with this, while some of the most passionate anti-bot bounty hunters are those you hope would most be not. These two paragraphs may be related.





Eventually we met Tim-22 on the cover, as did Tim-21, and they seemed to hit it off immediately until things took a worrying turn for the worst. But to some extent or another we are all the products of our past, humans and androids alike, and once again Nguyen and Lemire have here in these flashbacks imbued Tim-22 with far more tender humanity than those around him. It is very, very, very upsetting.


Each of the memories flash back as far as ten (or in one telling instance seventeen) years ago, before leaping forwards in jolts until they conjoin with the present and wham, we’re off again. I particularly admired the three almost identical panels which moved forwards first then days, then ten months, then ten years.

That’s all you’re getting. Please see the two previous reviews.


Buy Descender vol 3: Singularities and read the Page 45 review here

Hawkeye #1 (£2-99, Marvel) by Kelly Thompson & Leandro Romero with Jordie Bellaire.

“Five A.M. is my nightmare.
“It shouldn’t even be a time.”

This is a truth, for which I apologise to all our loyal postmen and postwomen (in a trade rather than evolutionary sense) while truly appreciating all your pre-dawn delivery diligence. Too many of us take our Royal Mail maestros for granted, including myself until I typed both those sentences which have no bearing whatsoever on this comic.

It is a bright and beautiful thing. It is refreshingly free from clutter and it clatters on at a right old clop with all the attention span that you’d expect from a teenage narrator who won’t be distracted from her singular mission by anything other than abs. Mmm…. abs.

Kate Bishop is focussed. Kate Bishop can see what few others see. What she sees in her hawk-eyed, instantaneous intuition is presented by Romero and Bellaire in shutter-speed, potential purple targets which Thompson wittily designates as ‘Innocent Bystander’, a car’s ‘Poorly Covered Plate’, ‘Security Alarm’, ‘Smoke Detector’, ‘Glass Jaw’ and ‘More Hot Abs’.


In righting wrongs master-archer Kate Bishop will take care of business meticulously, efficiently and without warning whilst wearing purple and counting abs.

I am not at all obsessed with abs.

Speaking of business, YOUNG AVENGERS’ Kate Bishop is setting up shop as a private detective in California around Los Angeles’ Venice Beach. Where there are lots of… pecs. She has no license, she has dubious investigative skills, but what she does have on her side is a certain chutzpah and the ability to improvise swiftly.


I never thought I would type this, but I rate this right up there with her previous appearances in Fraction’s and Aja’s HAWKEYE which remains the only superhero comic which Page 45 has ever allowed into our window, largely because it wasn’t really a superhero comic but – in its true, theatrical sense – a comedy of manners so contemporarily designed by Aja.

This first issue at least is equally contemporary, dealing as it does with the scum who harass women online, for more of which I would refer you to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE VOL 3. The art by Romero and coloured by Bellaire is a mischievous dream which is ever so light on extraneous clutter and ever so sharp on sequential-art subtlety which is perfectly apposite for a clue-based drama. I cannot believe it would be intentional but in one panel I even got whiffs of Jack Kirby romance comics (ask me).


Here’s a good joke. Kate Bishop walks into a bank.

“Excuse me, I’m here to make a deposit. Do you accept… sass?”

We do indeed. This sort of sass is acceptable.


Buy Hawkeye #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Punisher Max Complete Collection vol 4 s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov, others.

“I don’t do redemption.”punisher-max-vol-4-cover

Ennis wraps up his impressive ten-year run on the implacable one with a finale that’s as thoughtful as it is furious and quite possibly the best thing he has ever committed to paper. He has something to say and it’s well worth hearing.

Before we get to ‘Valley Forge, Valley Forge’, however, although the vast majority of his MAX run was serious stuff dealing with real-world horror like sex-slave trafficking, there’s a brief return to the light relief Garth gave us initially in the likes of WELCOME BACK, FRANK.

Being a MAX title, however, we are well into the realms of the outrageous, almost as O.T.T. as THE BOYS. Sticking at least with the geopolitical, it’s a Central American revolutionary romp starring Marvel’s biggest, baddest – and most surprisingly liberal – big black mo-fo, Barracuda. Evidence includes an inference of two of the chapter headings (“A Mouth Is Just A Mouth,” “Curiouser And Bi-Curiouser”) and the fact that Wanda, his co-conspirator with a constant mouthful, is the world’s most lethal transvestite.


You don’t have to know who actor Christopher Walken is to understand his adversarial role, but make no mistake, it is Christopher Walken. It’s not just his impeccable likeness by Parlov, it’s also in the speech patterns as perfectly presented as any of Dave Sim’s guest stars’ in CEREBUS. Nor do you have to understand the intricacies of haemophilia to grasp that protecting a mobster’s boy with that particular condition in the middle of a gunship assault on the President’s villa is going to be… problematic.

Barracuda, of course, has his own long-game in play which should net him a small fortune, but he may not want to slap his own back – or anyone else’s – too quickly. It’s funny how Barracuda always ends up all at sea, but he usually figures something out.


By ‘Long Cold Dark’ you can tell that Ennis is wrapping things up by the number of bodies he’s counting. Yes, it’s another bloody massacre with a particularly spectacular claymore trap and its three-storey detonation at the top of a skyscraper. Artist Howard Chaykin done good there.

It’s been thirty years since Frank Castle last knew “the terror of being a parent”:  the wonder yet constant worry for your offspring’s safety. In Frank’s case he had very good cause for worry and now he does so again because Barracuda’s done some digging around and found the ultimate bait. Insane levels of violence precede and succeed a cleverly constructed, tense game of cat and mouse with a young girl’s life at stake.

Goran’s great: under him both brutes are enormous powerhouses. I think I’ve described him before as a sort of John Buscema who takes liberties, and the result is a carnage that charges away at a rapid rate of shots.

So it is we come to ‘Valley Forge, Valley Forge’.


A book is being written about Vietnam and certain soldiers who served there at the time of the Valley Forge Massacre where Castle was the only man left standing. It’s a book whose interviewees have much to say about race, contemporary social conditions and an army at war, while its writer, Michael Goodwin, reminds his readers about the recent revelations regarding the false premises on which war was declared that time as well when we illegally invaded Iraq.

It also harks back to Ennis’ ‘Born’ now found in PUNISHER MAX COMPLETE COLLECTION VOL 1, and it all ties together in the final issue, trust me.


Meanwhile, those ex-army chiefs who are looking forward to benefiting financially as board members on private construction companies or security firms in future armed conflict, those cowards who’ve hidden behind mercenaries like the Barracuda in their efforts to take Castle out and with him the knowledge of the treason they’ve committed (see ‘Mother Russia’ in PUNISHER MAX COMPLETE COLLECTION VOL 2), they know Frank will be coming for them next. But one of them discerns a weakness they can exploit: Frank will never knowingly fire on American soldiers.

I should just add that I’m tempted to transcribe the whole “Buffalo Soldier” excerpt from Michael Goodwin’s book as mentioned above in which he interviews the sister of the black youth his own white brother befriended whilst on their tour of duty in Vietnam. She’s eloquent, stirring and I did type our four paragraphs of keenly observed truth before letting you off.




The collection is rounded off with three earlier snap-shots of what passes for Frank Castle’s life which were originally collected in ‘From First To Last’, featuring youthful revenge and custodial revenge and post-nuclear revenge. He’ll have his revenge, will our Frank.

‘The End’ was early warning that Ennis had set his sights on having something to say about war in the world: who’s been instigating it, why they’ve been doing it and how far other nations can be bombed into submission before they retaliate with apocalyptic consequences for all but those self-same perpetrators. He fitted the Punisher into the story in a manner which made perfect sense.

Frank Castle is incarcerated when the story opens, and that’s how he survives the nuclear strike: in a purpose-built bunker deep under the penitentiary. Only a few manage to join him, but it’s interesting company which sends Frank back to the surface with one last mission in mind. It’s not a rescue mission.

Richard Corben’s vision of a post-nuclear-holocaust America is the stuff of science fiction nightmares, the very clouds on fire like massive, molten cinders. He is the definition of gritty while Ennis provides the grim.

In ‘The Tyger’ ten-year-old Frank deals with the fall-out of a classmate committing suicide. Veteran Marvel artist John Severin proved that he had not just maintained his power, but improved his craft and was perfect for this piece. I was in awe.

Finally, as to ‘The Cell’ drawn with formidable shadows by Lewis Larosa, you tend to lose track over the years, but until now Frank had apparently failed to bring his family’s killers to justice. I don’t mean they haven’t been locked up, because they have – which is why Frank’s just handed himself in to be sent down.

Because justice to Frank Castle is a very different affair, involving kitchen utensils and a monkey wrench.



Buy Punisher Max Complete Collection vol 4 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.

Brighter Than You Think 10 Short Works By Alan Moore s/c (£20-99, Uncivilised Books) by Alan Moore, Marc Sobel & Melinda Gebbie, Stephen Bissette, Peter Bagge, Mark Beyer, Rick Veitch, Oscar Zarate, Bill Wray, Don Simpson

Hopeless, Maine vol 1 – The Gathering (£13-99, Sloth Comics) by Nimue Brown & Tom Brown

Long Gone Don And The Terror-Cotta Army (£8-99, David Fickling Books) by The Etherington Brothers

Lovers In The Garden (£8-00, Retrofit / Big Planet) by Anya Davidson

Rivers Of London: Night Witch (£13-99, Titan) by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel & Lee Sullivan

Sky Doll: Spaceship h/c (£23-99, Titan) by Alessandro Barbucci, Barbara Canepa & various

Harley Quinn vol 5: The Joker’s Last Laugh h/c (£22-99, DC) by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & Chad Hardin, Alex Sinclair

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat vol 2: Don’t Stop Me-ow s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Kate Leth & Brittney Williams

Ultimates: Omniversal vol 2 Civil War 2 s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Kenneth Rocafort, Djibril Morissette, Christian Ward

Blame! Vol 2 (Master Edition) (£26-99, Vertical) by Tsutomu Nihei

Tokyo Ghoul vol 10 (£8-99, Viz) by Sui Ishida

Tomie Complete h/c (£25-00, Viz) by Junji Ito



ITEM! Not long until Christmas now!

I’m not sure any mail order will reach you in time but you may still find this handy for last-minute comicbook Christmas presents from Page 45 or any other outlets wise enough to stock these glorious graphic novels:

Christmas Shopping At Page 45, plus our Top 40 Tips for Comic & Graphic Novel Giving!


ITEM! Festive Opening Times at Page 45.

Page 45 is closed for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day only.

We close on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve around 4pm

We will be open on Tuesday 27th after Christmas and Monday 2nd January after New Year from 11am to 4pm.

New Comics Day for both those weeks will be Thursday rather than the regular Wednesday.

Other than that, it is wallet-whipping, credit-card-crucifying, sterling-snaffling business as usual!


ITEM! Lastly, given the way my regular days off / working at home fall this Christmas, it is possible that there won’t be reviews next week, soz!

I’m collecting my parental unit from Chester by car on Thursday, so working at the shop on Friday instead; plus Monday is Boxing Day and – quite understandably – my mother-type-arrangement would not take kindly to me ignoring family in favour of tapping tipsily on the keyboard. That just leaves the Tuesday during which my dearly beloveds won’t have dearly departed until midday or later.

We may work something out, or we’ll be back with a bumper edition in a fortnight’s time! You know, depending on what’s published.

Just in case this is Page 45’s last blog of the year, I’d like to lavish you all with love – whether you shop with us or not – for taking the time and trouble to read our reviews and buy beautiful comics and graphic novels wherever it is you tend to loiter.

I’d also like to hug each and every one of you for following our J45 on Bookface and this twit on our Twitter @pagefortyfive

Your endurance frankly astonishes me.

 – Stephen xxx

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews December 2016 week two

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

The Coldest Winter h/c (Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition) (£17-99, Oni) by Antony Johnston & Steven Perkins.


Possibly the most beautiful bookplate I have ever beheld, signed by both Antony and Steven, for which we are enormously grateful.

Not only that but once you’ve absorbed this graphic novel of such smile-inducing, head-shaking craftiness, you’ll understand why Page 45 is so honoured to be associated with it.

It’s a prequel to Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s THE COLDEST CITY but, unlike most prequels, you’re encouraged to dive straight in here first for a winter and a war that could not be colder.

“The snow makes leaving Berlin impossible. Planes are not flying, roads are impassable, and almost no trains are operating. Besides, Lubimov is badly injured. He is still in West Berlin, and they cannot hide him forever.”

West Berlin, 1982, and the entire continent of Europe is frozen in the icy grip of the coldest winter for over three decades. Everything has been brought to a standstill, except for the clandestine manoeuvres of the Soviet KGB and Britain’s own Secret Service.




For a single night in January Dr Lubimov has been released by Russia to address a science conference in West Berlin for the first time in ten years and possibly the last, because Kremlin doctors have given him but two years to live. His condition is believed to be a side-effect of very nasty nerve toxins the doctor has developed for Mother Russia and which Britannia would like to get her dirty hands on too under the disingenuous excuse of developing antidotes. Of course he’s not going to be allowed out unaccompanied by armed agents notoriously difficult to deceive even under the easiest of circumstances and these are far from ideal.




For a start there are the crippling weather conditions about which David Perceval, the West Berlin attaché assigned to the case, has protested in the clearest and strongest possible terms. Unfortunately for him he’s in no condition to complain for he’s already about to be sent home by his immediate commanding officer, William Woodford, after a succession of bodged operations. Then there’s West Berlin’s unique geo-political bind in being a fortress back then, but one designed to hem the West in rather than the keep East out. Not only was it cut off by the Berlin Wall from the east side of the city occupied and administered by Soviet Russia, but it was completely surrounded on all its extremities by both the wall and by the communist German Democratic Republic itself.

Difficult, much…? In terms of extraction, we’re talking the worst wisdom teeth ever.




This graphic novel begins in West Berlin on January 20th 1982, nine days after the conference, with a phone call between Dr Lubimov – sequestered but also trapped in a British safe house – and his aged, already defected wife Olga, desperate to see him again. By the end of that prologue Dr Lubimov has a gun to his head. We then retreat to East Berlin on November 25th 1981.

How did it all go so spectacularly wrong?




From the writer of THE COLDEST CITY (obviously, and we had 50 signed bookplates for that too but they sold out almost immediately so, you know…) and the much-adored UMBRAL, THE FUSE, WASTELAND, two of our three DEAD SPACE graphic novels and adaptor-to-comics of Alan Moore’s FASHION BEAST plus Anthony Horowitz’s Young Adults’ Alex Rider graphic novels like SCORPIA drawn by Emma Vieceli and coloured by Kate Brown… *draws breath*… I believe this is his most brilliant book to date.

The class deference, old school ties, the grudges and period tensions are all captured perfectly, with no one trusting anyone – even on the same sides – as are the semi-derogatory dismissals. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Russians referred to as “Ivan”, the French as “Fritz”, Americans as “Yanks” or “Yankees” and the British as “Limeys”.




It is also so wickedly, so deviously clever that although I emphatically will not punch the man in the face the next time I see him (Johnston would see any such angle coming and have pre-prepped for it in multiple ways, decking me 36-hours before I’d even made my first flailing move) I felt when I finished it as if he had just playfully slapped mine – and I enjoyed it.

Unfortunately I cannot possibly tell you why, for I have signed our own Page 45 Official Secrets Act which means spoiler-free reviews.




What I can extol are the extraordinary virtues of Steven Perkins’ art.

You’re on a hiding to nothing if you attempt to illustrate a book called THE COLDEST WINTER – set during a continent-wide blizzard during which political relations are glacial – without being able to convey sub-zero temperatures. I have never seen a starker graphic novel. On turning each page I felt as if I’d accidentally and inadvisably stuck my fingers into a deep freezer and touched its metallic insides. Have you ever done that? You skin sticks, and it is impossible to free it without tearing some tissue away. It’s essentially dangerous, and knife-edge danger is what Perkins delivers.




So much of this is spot-lit from above, casting impenetrable, black brow shadows which make seeing eyes – and so reading minds – impossible. Spectacles are rendered as blank glass screens. Think Sean Phillips’ half-lit art in CRIMINAL which gives you ambivalence and ambiguity, but with the additional effect in this book of poker-faced unguessability. It’s a trick which here renders straight-laced and straight-faced individuals certainly inscrutable and quite possibly implacable.

That is precisely what is required in a graphic novel wherein the dogmatically, diametrically opposed, prideful protagonists are playing dare-you games with each other: games on which real lives so depend.




Then there’s the central car chase prior to Dr Lubimov being stranded hopelessly in the safe house and this is amongst the very best that I have ever clapped my eyes on in comics. With barely any purchase on the compacted snow, you can feel the car tyres skidding in the opposite direction to the steering wheel, and you can experience for yourself the insane adrenaline rush when attempting to lose your murderous pursuit.




Still, doomed David Perceval isn’t without his key moves or parting shots. Here he addresses his opposite, Comrade Aleksander Grigori Bremovych of the KGB, as he leaves a room in which they have both been debriefed by their superiors:

Posli vas, tovarishch.”
“Your German accent was better.”
“So was my driving.”




Buy The Coldest Winter h/c (Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

Paper Girls vol 2 s/c (£11-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson.

“The present is not a gift.”paper-girls-vol-2-cover

I still have absolutely no intention of looking it in the mouth.

“Only time is timeless.”

You may have a point there, however high one’s default nostalgia setting’s dialled up.

Much of my mirth in reading PAPER GIRLS VOL 1 was derived from a recognition of the 1980s which was in equal parts affectionate and embarrassed, for it wasn’t the most enlightened era. Set in 1988, it starred MacKenzie, Tiffany, KJ and Erin, four twelve-year-old paper girls at a time where delivery routes were predominantly the sole province of boys. The first three had banded together a while ago for mutual protection while Erin joined them just in time for time itself to go tits-up.

The power grid failed, the sky went well-wonky, locals began to be disappeared (sic) and their quiet suburban neighbourhood was invaded by cowl-covered, incomprehensible, mutated teenage boys on the run from reactionary futuristic knights in shining white armour, riding giant, prehistoric flying lizards.

As you might imagine, no one received their Evening Edition that night.


Art from volume one

Lastly for now, Erin found a square, palm-sized metal device with a black screen and familiar (to us) silver Apple logo which looks like someone’s bitten a chunk out of it. It didn’t work for her, but then perhaps it was Forbidden Fruit fallen from the Tree of Knowledge – not something you’re supposed to nibble on. There were lots and lots of apples including an Apple phone which was obviously way ahead of its time even if it was one of those old-skool affairs with a circular dial and cradled handset. In this volume it will start working for Erin, but not our Erin or the space-suited Erin; it will start working for other Erin on the front cover who is forty years old.


There’s no getting round it: that’s who they met on the very last page of PAPER GIRLS VOL 1 and if that had us amused at how comparatively quaint the ‘80s look to us in retrospect, volume two will see you chortling mightily at the girls’ intense culture shock upon arrival in 2016.

“There are waters in the fridge if you’re thirsty.”
“There’s more than one kind of water now?”

Then there are our impossibly thin, gigantic television sets whose resolution might as well be three-dimensional, entire malls closed down in the wake of Amazon, the politics, profanity and just imagine you’re from 1988 and heard the following news bulletin:

“This just in from our social media department, an extraordinary Vine posted by Twitter user @JoanyFootball2.”
“What language is this?”


I’ll leave you to discover the circumstances our Erin finds future Erin in – the direction her life has since taken – and how about MacKenzie? Her house has certainly been spruced up.

Cliff Chiang once more provides all the vital grounding a science fiction series like this one needs in order to contrast the temporal disturbances – which are once more substantial, startling, enormous and delightfully ugly – with the everyday, out-of-their depth protagonists attempting to survive them. I adore all those clothes: the shirts and the jackets and the way young Erin’s jeans hang in loose folds while older Erin’s hug her thighs tightly. Similarly her mouth hangs agape naturally, even when not speaking, with a certain degree of weariness.


So much of the background detail is subtle but makes all the difference, particularly in the closed-down, deserted and dilapidated shopping mall: lots of detritus, particularly cardboard, scattered on benches or blown up against shop windows and doors; the grass between its parking spaces overgrown.

The two Erins are quite credibly the same person and, as you’d expect from the writer of EX MACHINA and SAGA, the characterisation throughout is top-notch too, the relationship between the pair evolves beautifully with an endearing empathy for each other even if things haven’t worked out the way the twelve-year-old would have wanted – perhaps.


Having given the game away about this instalment’s temporal location I think I’ll refrain from revealing anything more about the plot dynamics, but by its end you’ll have a much clearer indication of the sort of structure Vaughan’s working with here. I’m confident its neatness yet unpredictability will leave you with very satisfied smiles, just like the additional contractions and rearrangements our language has undergone, for the futuristic knights have followed the girls through:

“Bystand a nano, Grand Father. Ograph puts us smackmid of… 002016.”
“Ah, the year my mother was born. Must be right before this nation’s election. Poor bastards have no idea The Problems are about to begin.”

So those two are from verrrrry different time zones, aren’t they?


Buy Paper Girls vol 2 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Samurai vol 1: The Heart Of The Prophet h/c (£22-99, Titan) by Jean-François Di Giorgio & Frédéric Genêt.

“Why did hesamurai-vol-1-cover leave me here ten years ago?”

Ah, the glories of nature, sprightly coloured by Delphine Rieu and as crisp as a Blu-ray disc or a PS4 console screen! It put me more than a little in mind of the old Onimusha games so fondly remembered, and should certainly please fans of BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, VAGABOND, LONEWOLF & CUB and  LEGEND OF THE SCARLET BLADES which boasted wondrous winter paintings, fantastical wolves and an intricately woven story of cause and effect, of nature and nurture.

Absolutely epic landscapes here too: whether it’s autumnal foliage followed by snow-swept Japanese mountains, the low-lit, emerald, subterranean caverns, the lake bearing The Isle With No Name, the scale and perspectives of the hidden tombs glimpsed from above or the intricate wooden panelling on interior ceilings, it all looks like it’s been drawn on boards far bigger than the ones employed as standard then reduced without clutter or any loss of detail.


It’s to The Isle With No Name (apart from, you know, “The Isle With No Name”) that Takeo journeys in search of his brother. He’s accompanied by his catering servant Shirow, bumbling about and bemoaning his plight like dear Roy Kinnear in the Musketeer films. But as they approach the lakeside hamlet they’re distracted by the villagers’ chilling reaction to a young girl solving the unsolvable puzzle of The Prophet’s Heart.

Tied to an ancient cult led by insurrectionist General Akuma, the puzzle is a prophetic compass, and this single act will bring the Three Shadow Ladies down on their heads and herald the launch of an unstoppable army towards the gates of the Imperial Palace. For something unspeakable lurks in the stygian depths of The Tomb of Sei-I-Otsuka, and it craves the blood of the puzzle-solver most of all…


I really enjoyed this just for the sheer visual craft, and now that I think about it readers of Frank Miller’s 300 may also be swept away by the later battle scenes including a fold-out, triple-page spread. It’s a refreshing change to get my hamburger fix from something other than a superior superhero book. Because, don’t get me wrong, there’s little more profound beneath these trappings, but it’s tasty all the same.

Note: the next instalment, SAMURAI VOL 2: ISLE WITH NO NAME, has already arrived. Yup, he’s on his way back again.


Art from volume 2


Buy Samurai vol 1: The Heart Of The Prophet h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Poe Dameron vol 1: Black Squadron (£17-99, Marvel) by Charles Soule, Chris Eliopoulos & Phil Noto…

“Why, hellopoe-dameron-cover Poe. So nice to see you again.”

Indeed it is, as self-proclaimed best pilot in the galaxy Mr. Dameron was one of the few highlights, for me anyway, of the recent Star Wars film. Like Wedge Antilles with added charisma, oozing chutzpah, he clearly is being positioned to replace a certain cheeky, if irascible, character who apparently didn’t fancy making three sequels… And I don’t mean Wedge…

Speaking of people who weren’t interested in sequels, actor Denis Lawson was apparently asked to reprise Wedge, which makes you wonder if when he said no, they decided to create Poe Dameron in the first place.

Anyway, I have really enjoyed the main STAR WARS comic and the recently concluded DARTH VADER immensely, but have found pretty much all of the character-named minis a bit flat, indeed pedestrian. This, however, has a fresh, exciting feel to it, and thus succeeds in actually adding to the canon rather than just being propped up by it. Penned by Charles Soule, whose current DAREDEVIL run is also pretty decent, with clean-cut Marvel stalwart Phil Noto on art, it’s quite simply action-packed fun.


Every good hero needs a villainous nemesis to play off against, though, and Soule wastes no time in introducing the dastardly Agent Terex of the First Order, who’s like a passive-aggressive David Niven, all polished accent and impeccable manners combined with a close cropped half-Mohican and sneering, sarcastic turn of phrase. Oh, and he positively loves torturing and killing people, dear boy.

We get two stories for the price of one here, the first of which neatly establishes the characters, involving a strange egg-like artefact and a missing explorer who may know the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, but also allows Poe and Terex to perform the first of no doubt many a deadly pas de deux and competitive verbal one-upmanship.

“Everybody goes home, and we forget this ever happened.”
“Oh, I doubt I will ever forget this happened, Poe Dameron.”


The second story has Poe and his Black Squadron crew popping along to the most heavily secured prison in the galaxy to have a word with one of the lovely Hutts, who may have a lead on the errant explorer. Guess who else has decided to pay their respects…? Yep, that’s precisely where my first pull quote comes in. What follows is a neat twist on a jail break story as Grakkus the Hutt pits Poe and Terex against each other by offering to reveal his information to the side that can somehow spring him and get him off-world. Let the game begin!



Buy Poe Dameron vol 1: Black Squadron 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.

The Can Opener’s Daughter (Bookplate Edition) (£12-99, SelfMadeHero) by Rob Davis

Descender vol 3: Singularities (£13-99, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen

Rumble vol 3: Immortal Coil s/c (£14-99, Image) by John Arcudi & James Harren

The Spire s/c (£26-99, Boom) by Simon Spurrier & Jeff Stokely

Wet Moon vol 2: Unseen Feet (New Edition) (£17-99, Oni) by Sophie Campbell

Adventure Time: President Bubblegum s/c (£8-99, Titan) by Josh Trujillo & Phil Murphy

Assassin’s Creed: Templars: Black Cross s/c (£13-99, Titan) by Fred Van Lente & Dennis Calero

Bee And Puppycat vol 3 s/c (£13-99, Kaboom) by Patrick Seery & Ji In Kim

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 vol 6: Own It (£16-99, Dark Horse) by Christos Gage & Rebekah Isaacs, Juanan Ramirez

Copra Round Four s/c (£17-99, Bergen Street Press) by Michel Fiffe

Dark Souls vol 1: The Breath Of Andolus (£14-99, Titan) by George Mann & Alan Quah

Spectrum vol 23 (£23-99, Flesk) by various

Tank Girl: Two Girls, One Tank (£13-99, Titan) by Alan Martin & Brett Parson

Batman And Robin Adventures vol 1 s/c (£17-99, DC) by Paul Dini & Ty Templeton,others

Batman vol 10: Epilogue h/c (£20-99, DC) by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV & Greg Capullo

Batman vol 9: Bloom s/c (£14-99, DC) by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV & Greg Capullo

Deathstroke vol 4: Family Business s/c (£14-99, DC) by James Bonny, Phil Hester & Tyler Kirkham

Guardians Of Galaxy: New Guard vol 1: Emperor Quill s/c (£17-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Valerio Schiti, Arthur Adams

Ms. Marvel vol 6: Civil War II s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by C. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyagawa, Mirka Andolfo

Punisher Max Complete Collection vol 4 s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov, others

Spider-Man: Miles Morales vol 1 s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli

The Uncanny Inhumans vol 3: Civil War II s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Charles Soule & Carlos Pacheco, Kev Walker Kim Jacinto

Assassination Classroom vol 13 (£6-99, Viz) by Yusei Matsui

Blue Exorcist vol 16 (£6-99, Viz) by Kazue Kato

Fairy Tail vol 57 (£8-99, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition vol 7 (£14-99, Yen Press) by Natsuki Takaya

Monster On The Hill (£17-99, Top Shelf) by Rob Harrell

That last one keeps dropping off our website even though it’s permanently in stock. We have no idea why.



ITEM! Christmas Shopping at Page 45! Includes Personal Service Promises and a Top 40 Comics & Books from 2016 with some Christmas Present Classics.

THE COLDEST WINTER with its signed bookplate (reviewed above) would definitely have been included had it appeared any earlier!

 – Stephen




Christmas Shopping At Page 45 2016

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Graphic Novel Ideas & Personal Service

We love Christmas at Page 45!

We’re never too busy to help, and we promise it’ll be your easiest shopping this year.



Bring wish lists to the counter!

Be they long or short lists, we’ll find your books for you!
Not sure what the book you want is called? We know our stuff! A brief description’s all that we need.
If a graphic novel’s not in stock we’ll search the warehouses of different distributors: their delivery is ever so fast!

Ask for recommendations tailored to your friends’ tastes!

Come, conjure your friends in our minds!
Tell us a little about friends or your relatives and – even if they don’t currently read comics – we’ll find them some perfect presents and regale you with a little about of each.
We can find books for difficult Dads, all-ages beauties to make young eyes shine, and Young Adults excellence for the most discerning.



Comics & Graphic Novels for Christmas!

There will be Christmas Present Classics below too – graphic novels which we’ve tested and proved huge successes – but for now we present Page 45’s Very Best of 2016!

Please click on links below each to read their full reviews with interior art.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero (£18-99) by Isabelle Greenberg.

A beautiful book about stories, storytelling and story spreading, this is riddled with mischievous wit – parenthetical asides and slapped-wrist remonstrations – addressing the reader directly.

It’s also the heart-warming triumph of love over patriarchal adversity, in a world where women are forbidden to read or to write, but nonetheless prove the best at spinning yarns.

“But his eyes still slid hither and thither.”

Read the Page 45 review of The One Hundred Nights of Hero and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Guardians Of The Louvre (£17-99) by Jiro Taniguchi.

Architecture lovers are in for a blissful experience as an artist visits Paris and its Louvre for the very first time.

You’ll gasp at the sight of the glass Pyramid with its astonishing steel struts which rises within the vast courtyard of the Louvre, not so much taking up space but informing it, redefining it, refining it. Taniguchi captures the exquisite semi-relief under Paris’ window ledges and eves, casting just so much shadow over the creamy stone.

Full-colour comics from Japan are a rarity, and oh, the colour!

Read the Page 45 review of Guardians Of The Louvre and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Black Dog: The Dreams Of Paul Nash (£22-99) by Dave McKean.

“Art is an empathy machine. Art allows one to look through a fellow human’s eyes.”

BLACK DOG is a clever, profound and eloquent beast.

With sympathetic skill Dave McKean has succeeded not only in communicating to a new audience Paul Nash’s vision and visions but, in doing so, furthered Nash’s goal to “bring back words and bitter truths” to remind us of the horrors and insanities of war which show no sign of stopping, and to counter those who would perpetuate them.

“I hope my ochres and umbers and oxides will burn their bitter souls.”

Read the Page 45 review of Black Dog: The Dreams Of Paul Nash and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Audubon – On The Wings Of The World (£15-99) by Fabien Grolleau & Jérémie Royer

Jean-Jacques Audubon was so obsessed with the feathered miracles of nature that he abandoned his wife with her blessing to travel throughout the perilous wilds of early 19th-Century North America and draw them in all their vivid glory.

The awe with which Audubon regarded the mysteries of nature would be lost or left weightless were the art in this book anything less than spectacular, but in every single instance Jérémie Royer captures that majesty.

It is infectious.

Read the Page 45 review of Audubon – On The Wings Of The World and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

A City Inside (£7-50) by Tillie Walden.

“You gave up the sky for her.”

A quiet and contemplative gem from the creator of I LOVE THIS PART

Told in the second person singular, a young woman casts her mind across her life. It’s so engrossing, so that you won’t notice the switch in tenses, and as it concludes you’ll have forgotten where you came in so that the final three pages are truly startling.

The lines are crisp, the shadows deep and the night sky positively glows.

Read the Page 45 review of A City Inside and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Burt’s Way Home (£14-99) by John Martz.

A perfectly formed, poignant little book, this is set amongst snowflakes, staring out at the stars.

Two alternating perspectives are presented to us: Lydia’s and young Burt’s. Lydia is a mouse of a certain age, homely in a long, pleated skirt, cardigan and glasses. She has many family portraits on her walls. Burt is a young, blue bird. He’s not in those photographs.

“I hope he’s happy here.”

All our copies are signed & sketched in.

Read the Page 45 review of Burt’s Way Home and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Mooncop (£12-99) by Tom Gauld.

“Living on the moon… Whatever were we thinking? … It seems so silly now.”

Laconic ode to a future that’s come and gone, like the lunar population itself. To be honest, it never really happened.

Like Gauld’s GOLIATH, there is an impressive sense of space extended by the overwhelming silence. There are very few landmarks. It’s mostly blue vacuum although, hilariously, there is the odd palm tree isolated in its own bell jar.

YOU’RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK’s short satirical strips also highly recommended for Christmas.

Read the Page 45 review of Mooncop and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Hellbound Lifestyle (£8-99) 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.”

A book of neuroses all the funnier for being delivered deadpan, these are succinct Notes To Self satirise bad behaviour, warped priorities and consumerist claptrap like editorial advertisements.

It’s also one big commiseration with those who feel – or are made to feel – lonely, inadequate or unfulfilled.

Read the Page 45 review of Hellbound Lifestyle and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

The Singing Bones (£19-99) by Shaun Tan.

For each of these 75 dark, fantastical, folklore fables from the Brothers Grimm THE ARRIVAL’s Shaun Tan has created sculptural stories: miniature tableaux distilling them to their core characteristics.

These moments of theatre are painted in contrasting colours then lowly lit, as you might find them in a museum, to create harmonious wholes. Inspired by Inuit art, they are mysteries for you to discover like ancient artefacts and unravel for yourselves.

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

Read the Page 45 review of The Singing Bones and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

You Belong Here (£16-99) by M.H. Clark & Isabelle Arsenault.

You belong here. You really do.

Here is a brightly shining beacon of hope just when we need it the most, and it is beautiful to behold.

It is in part a love poem with a gentle lilt whose personal refrain of constancy and commitment is interspersed by an ode to the natural order of things. Free from fuss, it relies instead on its simplicity, its eloquence and its truth.

What follows is an assurance that every living creature is in its right place, wherever it chooses to be.

Read the Page 45 review of You Belong Here and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

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

Mmmm. Beer.

A fascinating and authoritative study of the world’s favourite beverage – globally people consume more beer than coffee, wine and even coca-cola – this covers its origins and history before coming to its current social and skilful resurgence in this enlightened era of craft brewing.

Have I just ruined the plot for you?

Read the Page 45 review of The Comic Book History Of Beer and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

For The Love Of God, Marie! (£16-99) by Jade Sarson.

This is a book so bursting with love that it will make your hearts soar!

If it’s kindness you crave, I present you with 225 pages of pure passion presented in the most heavenly, cohesive coupling of purples and gold. There will be many more couplings and, as the brilliant Baroness Benjamin once brightly advised, “It might have some sexy scenes”.

Just look at the cover with its natural, softly shaded flesh and flowing tresses as resplendent as Sandro Botichelli’s ‘Birth Of Venus’, the innocence of its daisy chain and the rosary beads broken – but why?

Read the Page 45 review of For The Love Of God, Marie! and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Arab Of The Future (£18-99 each) by Riad Satouff.

“On TV, they said that Gaddafi had announced new laws forcing people to swap jobs. Teachers would now be farmers, and farmers would be teachers.”

At which point Riad’s dad, teaching at university, decided it was time to leave Libya!

Welcome to a great big book of behaviour, all seen through the eyes of a pre-school Riad Sattouf and lavishly sprinkled with the brashest and rashest of generalisations from his perpetually pontificating, pan-Arabist father.

Riad Satouff is your new Guy Delisle. See also volume 2.

Read the Page 45 review of Arab Of The Future vol 1 and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

March book 3 (£17-99) by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell.

Blisteringly powerful first-hand account of the American Civil Rights movement.

In the first MARCH books we witnessed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee staging peaceful protests against segregation in schools, cafeterias and public transport. These were met with State-endorsed, governor-sanctioned, police brutality executed with relish.

What became shocking clear is the local refusal to obey federal law. When segregation at schools was outlawed nationally, State officials not only refused to enact those laws, they ordered the illegal arrest of those protesting the state’s illegal non-compliance. Now we move on to voting, and you’ll see the film Selma from another perspective.

Read the Page 45 review of March book 3 and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Tetris – The Games People Play (£12-99) by Box Brown.

Fascinating insight into both the genial genius of Alexey Pajitnov – who truly could have had no way of knowing what RSI-inducing monster of a time-thief he was about to unleash on an unsuspecting world – and the greedy, grubby shenanigans of big business, including one Robert Maxwell who engaged in a frantic scramble for the various rights for different territories and platforms.

The fact that they were all dealing with the inscrutable, hard-nosed Soviet party apparatchiks rather than a naïve game designer (thus being played off against each other beautifully) makes it all the more chaotically delicious a read.

Read the Page 45 review of Tetris – The Games People Play and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Equinoxes (£30-00) by Cyril Pedrosa.

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

With a complex, intricate structure and a dazzling array of art styles, we’re introduced to initially unconnected individuals watching others go about their business seemingly with purpose while wondering where their own lies. They fear that they are useless or (worse) mediocre: that they haven’t achieved anything, are failing to achieve anything, and never will achieve anything.

“Memory’s not fair, is it?” It is not.

Read the Page 45 review of Equinoxes and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

The Fade Out Complete h/c (£44-99) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips with Elizabeth Breitweiser.

“All he’d been thinking about the past few weeks is who could’ve murdered Val…
“He’d forgotten to ask why.”

Prime period noir set in Hollywoodland when the studios were insular and their secrets closely guarded. It was famous for its writing and acting and myth-spinning slights of hand. They’re lying professionally before they’ve begun to be truly mendacious.

Here you will see what an exceptionally vivid character actor artist Sean Phillips truly is.

THE FADE OUT also comes in 3 softcovers. See also CRIMINAL & FATALE.

Read the Page 45 review of The Fade Out Complete h/c and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Indeh – A Story Of The Apache Wars (£18-99) by Ethan Hawke & Greg Ruth.

“My grandson was ten years old before he understood that people died in any other way than violence.”

So there’s a sentence to dwell on.

The crisp, satin-sheen pages boast the most fluent storytelling through the most fluid choreography, and the tightest figure work rendered with loose, sweeping brush strokes.

The hand which reaches out to lift a young girl’s wrist from the palm of her mother’s is unmistakably both flesh and bone. Such is Ruth’s craft that you can feel not only the softness of skin and the tenderness of its touch, but also the emotion behind such a separation.

Read the Page 45 review of Indeh – A Story Of The Apache Wars and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Fight Club 2 (£22-50) by Chuck Palahniuk & Cameron Stewart.

ThisFight Club 2 cover isn’t some idle adaptation, vaguely endorsed, but written in full and especially for comics by Chuck Palahniuk himself.

Jonathan and I loved it so much that we fought to review the graphic novel before colluding on a co-conspiratorial compromise. Which is apposite enough – the conspiracy, rather than the compromise.

We also have  BAIT, a brand-new collection of short stories by Chuck Palahniuk illustrated by the likes of that there Duncan Fegredo.

Read the Page 45 review of Fight Club 2 and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Grey Area: Our Town (£7-00) by Tim Bird.

Tim Bird is a master at making you stop and think. Which is a tad ironic because his comics are all about the fluidity of never-ending motion through time and space, with the emotions such journeys can invoke. Except in Tim’s universe you don’t need a TARDIS to experience the miraculous or the momentous. No. It’s right there in front of you all along, a world of never ending wonderment, if you simply open your mind as well as your eyes and look…

Read the Page 45 review of Grey Area: Our Town and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

The Mirror (£13-99) by  Emma Rios & Hwei Lim.

“Nothing is entitled to anything.
“Only humans dream they are.”

A bright and beautiful comic full of fresh colours, ornate and organic designs, to read this is like being given glimpses through an open window.

There’s no hand-holding, no unwieldy exposition, just key conversations overheard about dominion, control, captivity, desire to be free, the need to be free and to be both recognised and understood as an individual.

An elevating tale of learning, change and growth, but a sober reminder that colonists are only visitors.

Read the Page 45 review of Mirror and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Habitat (£8-99) by Simon Roy.

On a vast, once thriving cylindrical space station now barely maintained by reclusive engineers, the rest of population has devolved into survivalist tribes, no longer understanding the technology around them.

The resultant, breath-taking environment, now overgrown with bamboo and trees, is resonant of Babylon 5, Mesomamerican culture and the Brutalist movement which spawned concrete multi-storey car parks and the tiered, balconied Alexandra Road flats in Camden Town.

Read the Page 45 review of Habitat and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Patience (£16-99) by Dan Clowes.

It would be fair to say that 2012 wasn’t a good year for Jack Barlow. Coming home and finding your pregnant wife murdered will do that to you.

When the cops prove disinterested, Jack attempts to solve the case himself… unsuccessfully for 17 years. That Jack is utterly convinced the killer is someone from Patience’s shadowy past only adds to his agony. But then he discovers a time-travel machine, heads back to 2006 to prevent his wife’s death in the first place, and complicates matters.

What follows as Jack is put through the emotional and temporal wringer, time after time, is as darkly comedic as it is disturbing.

Read the Page 45 review of Patience and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

The World Of Edena h/c (£44-99) by Moebius.

Writes Jonathan:

If you like the quasi-mystical malarkey going on in THE INCAL, you will love this, as it is undoubtedly the most philosophically inquisitive Moebius ever got in his own stories, covering pretty much all aspects of humanity, the structures of society, set against the backdrop of a so-called advanced civilisations and of course, the ever-enduring battle between omnipresent forces of good and evil.

Read the Page 45 review of The World Of Edena h/c and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Geis: A Matter Of Life And Death h/c (£15-99) by Alexis Deacon.

Fantasy, folklore, witchcraft and deceit.

Spectacular skies including an early shepherd’s warning behind the monumental composite of a castle whose cloisters we first looked down upon. An unfeasibly large Tolkien-esque fortress surrounded by minarets sits atop the base of an already gigantic, heavens-headed gothic cathedral, its architectural details bathed in brown shadow as the dawn behind it ignites in flaming reds, oranges, yellows and purples while the cold, spectral-blue shades of the challengers vying to rule the kingdom are whisked round and around then away.

Read the Page 45 review of Geis: A Matter Of Life And Death and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (£25-00) by Sonny Liew.

It’s not art-of-charlie-chan-hock-chye-coveran art book, but a sly sleight of hand: it’s the autobiography of an artist who never existed!

Charlie Chan – or Sonny Liew – masters classic comic art styles like Walt Kelly’s then uses them to tell stories using apposite language in their original tone which satirise Singapore history and politics.

Cumulative comedy comes from Charlie Chan Hock Chye’s entirely self-appointed status as “Singapore’s greatest comics artist” in contrast to his complete lack of commercial success.

Read the Page 45 review of The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Dogs Disco (£5-00) by Joe Decie.

Each copy comes signed and sketched-in, with unique song lyrics.

It’s the return of that cheeky Joe Decie, the pint-sized prankster for whom truth is of paramount importance. And who, when he read that sentence said, “I’m actually quite tall”.

Single-page four-panel comics in black, white and delicate grey washes, about Joe, his family and his surroundings, all astutely observed, endearingly individualistic and effortlessly funny.

He couldn’t make them up.

Read the Page 45 review of Dogs Disco and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Bobbins (£5-00) by John Allison.

Who calls their own comic BOBBINS?

Well, John Allison, obviously.

From the creator of sundry other BAD MACHINERY books comes a signed and limited edition comic of exceptional craft following the hapless employees of a British local newspaper called City Limit.

It only has one limit. And it’s not even a city, it’s the town called Tackleford.

The actual BAD MACHINERY books starring school-aged sleuths are among the best all-ages graphic novels we have. All self-contained, just a pick a cover you like! Some of Allison’s other books contain more adult elements.

Read the Page 45 review of Bobbins and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Delilah Dirk And The King’s Shilling (£13-50) by Tony Cliff.

Key words: energetic, refreshing; thrilling and funny.

Reputation is very much at the heart of this quick-witted, all-ages, action-adventure, dichotomous Delilah – as the cover suggests – having more than one to uphold.

Set in Portugal then Britain during 1809, Tony Cliff delivers landscapes with perfect perspectives and period detail, including both rustic country mansions and more Palladian affairs.

Read the Page 45 review of Delilah Dirk And The King’s Shilling and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Amulet (£11-99 each) by Kazu Kibuishi.

Nine-volume all-ages fantasy full of Hayao Miyazaki / Studio Ghibli flourishes which inspire awe, we have arrived at book seven and things are really heating up and coming full circle.

The only thing I would warn families about is that Daddy dies during the first ten pages. If that’s an issue for you, we understand. I’ve never revealed this in public before but: that death is not random.

To give you some idea of how highly I rate this, we normally let a series sell itself after a couple of graphic novels, but I have reviewed each and every one!

Read the Page 45 reviews of Amulet and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Hilda And The Stone Forest (£12-95) by Luke Pearson.

HILDA is a magical all-ages fantasy whose second instalment won the British Comics Awards as voted for by Leeds schoolchildren – and they are a mighty discerning bunch!

It stars a fearless young artist called Hilda who adores exploration. There will be maps and, in book one, the most perfect evocation of a night camping out under canvas.

Five books so far with a Netflix animation in development: Luke Pearson is personally involved.

Read the Page 45 review of Hilda And The Stone Forest and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Mezolith: Stone Age Dreams And Nightmares (£18-99) by Ben Haggarty & Adam Brockbank

Set in the unspoiled wilds on the eastern shores of Stone Age Britain, the luminous art is breathtaking beautiful.

There a boy called Poika takes his first tentative steps towards becoming a man, learning about hunting, survival and the balance of things. This is a world rich in folklore, and the oral tradition of passing down stories from one generation is key. Since knowledge came so often at a terrible cost and survival depended upon it, preserving as much as possible in the form of fables was essential.

Read the Page 45 review of Mezolith: Stone Age Dreams And Nightmares and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Compass South (£15-99) by Hope Larson & Rebecca Mock.

A cover makes a promise, but only the contents can deliver. With its energy, its urgency and its two young twins, this fine-line cover promises a period piece of adventure and opposition.

It certainly delivers. This first book’s 225 pages are packed with complications as Cleo and Alex strive to cross an entire continent while others – intent on tracking them down – hamper their progress and take what little they have left, while consequent repercussions conspire to keep them apart.

Read the Page 45 review of Compass South and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Lost Tales (£8-99) by Adam Murphy.

From the creator of CORPSE TALK which you’ll find in our PHOENIX COMIC Section which is a hallmark of Young Readers quality.

It contains eight exotic tales from across the globe and throughout the ages brought to wit-ridden life with an engagingly conversational, often conspiratorial twang sprinkled ever so merrily with current colloquialisms to wring maximum mischief from their ostensibly traditional form.

“The prince is here as well? You’re really in for it now…”
“Not helping…”

Read the Page 45 review of Lost Tales and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Carrot To The Stars (£6-00) by Regis Lejonc, Thierry Murat & Riff Reb’s.

“Some dream of love
“While dancing in the moonlight.”

A cautionary, all-ages fable, this has an elegant and eloquent simplicity, and a fearful symmetry whose missing element will haunt me for decades. Except that, as drawn by Riff, it isn’t entirely missing, and therein lies the power of its punch.

The cautionary note lies in entrusting your dreams to those with less beneficent interests than your own and it boasts a specific, all too awful pertinence to our wider world today..

Read the Page 45 review of Carrot To The Stars and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

We Found A Hat h/c (£12-99) by Jon Klassen.

Of course they did. Of course they found a hat.

“It looks good on both of us.
“But it would be right if one of us had a hat and the other did not.”

Awww! Kind and considerate, brotherly love. They’ll just have to leave it where they found it, in the middle of the desert, right? Hmmm…

From the creator of I WANT MY HAT BACK and THIS IS NOT MY HAT and the artist on SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE and EXTRA YARN all of which convey the real story visually, no matter what’s actually being written or said.

Read the Page 45 review of We Found A Hat h/c and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

They Didn’t Teach This In Worm School (£8-99) by Simone Lia.

At Page 45 we stock very few illustrated prose books, but we will make every exception for Simone Lia, creator of all-time Christmas graphic-novel godsends FLUFFY and PLEASE, GOD, FIND ME A HUSBAND.

It’s magnificently ridiculous but far from nonsensical, for its howl-inducing comedy is derived from a witty worm logic challenged with deadpan abandon throughout. We all know what a worm is. We all know what a worm can do. We all know what a worm is patently incapable of doing.
Like learning Mandarin.

Read the Page 45 review of They Didn’t Teach This In Worm School and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair (£8-99) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre.

Our other chief exception is anything from this delinquent duo, like PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH.

There will be screams, there will be squeals; there will be giggles galore and dodgem-car dashes in this all-ages outrage, full of the fun of the fair: a mad, moon-based fair, accessible by interplanetary spaceship only. Sequester your sandwiches and hold onto your hats – you’re in for the ride of your life!

For very young readers we highly recommend McIntrye & O’Connell’s rhyme-ridden JAMPIRES.

Read the Page 45 review of Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

The Trouble With Women (£9-99) by Jacky Fleming.

I howled with laughter throughout this book whose deadpan delivery is enhanced with immaculate timing.

It’s essentially a ridicule of the ridiculous: men’s crushing refusal to acknowledge any female accomplishment whatsoever and their inarguably superior capacity for patronising dismissiveness.

They cooked anything up to keep women in the kitchen and stitch-up the more privileged into leading a life of needlework bliss.

There are also bits which are made up, which is an outrage. I suspect that the author’s a woman.

Read the Page 45 review of The Trouble With Women and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Sent / Not Sent (£5-00) by Dan Berry.

The human race has strived with all its considerable, intellectual and inventive might to leave itself at the mercy of machines. Few institutions can function any longer if their computer systems crash.

Machines don’t need to rise up en masse and enslave the human race in a post-apocalyptic wasteland to be a cause of never-ending grief. As every one of us knows it is enough for them to sit there in our homes and offices, wilful and recalcitrant on a daily basis.

SENT / NOT SENT. SAVED / NOT SAVED. These things are sent to thwart us.

Read the Page 45 review of Sent / Not Sent and buy for in-store collection or shipping worldwide!

Christmas Present Classics at Page 45!

Please click on any covers for reviews!

Remember, the above and below represent but a slither of the 6,000 graphic novels we stock and what we’re continually recommending on our shop floor.

Search our website by title, creator or category tree here:

And I’d remind you once again that, for Young Readers, a handy shortcut is to go straight to our Phoenix Comics Section then to click on those covers for reviews! We’ve loads more besides but they are brilliant!

 – Stephen





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Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews December 2016 week one

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Antony Johnston & Steven Perkins’ The Coldest Winter has arrived! See News below for free, swoonaway signed Page 45 bookplate!

Bartkira: The Nuclear Edition h/c (£20-00, Floating World Comics) by Ryan Humphrey, various…

“Ralph has awakened!”bartkira-cover

Like The Simpsons? Of course.

Love AKIRA? Obviously.

Well then, this mash-up of manga and Springfield’s <ahem> finest will hit the spot. Conceived by Ryan Humphrey who drew a few scenes of Simpsons characters performing AKIRA that subsequently went viral on the internet, a collaborative online project was then launched to redraw the entirety of Katsuhiro Otomo’s six-volume epic. Which is obviously as crackpot an idea as it sounds, running as AKIRA does to some 500 plus pages!

A vast number of artists are currently drawing the even vaster number of different pages, hence some later bits of the story are finished and other earlier parts still in process. This book takes a selection that also works as a super-condensed ‘complete’ story in its own right. I did like the fact that the ‘correct’ page numbers are used here, so don’t get confused when it suddenly leaps from page 239 to page 300! Fans of AKIRA will still instantly recognise many iconic scenes portrayed here despite the radical re-imaginings.




The multiple art contributions contained within even this version are eclectic to say the least. Some pages I found amazing, such as those by Tom Neely, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Matias Bergara and Stephen Morrow. My one criticism would be I found myself wanting much more of those and less of a couple of the others, but I can well imagine in the final longer six-volume format, the endless rotating art styles will only add to the mayhem, of which there is plenty in AKIRA anyway, even before Bart and co. get involved! You can actually read all six volumes online (well, all the pages that have been finished so far) and also see the animated trailer at


The project’s profits are all going to charity, possibly by their own admission mainly to try and avoid wandering into any legal minefields, but by all accounts Otomo and Matt Groening are amused by the conceit. I was too!


Buy Bartkira: The Nuclear Edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Disciples s/c (£11-99, Black Mask) by Steve Niles & Christopher Mitten.

If you likedisciples-cover your science fiction dark and your space shots spectacular, I think you’ve come to the right, inevitably tampered-with cryogenic chamber. This is positively freezing.

That’s not what’s gone awry here, but awry things will go all the same.

From the writer of inky, Arctic fang-fest 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and the artist on the gobsmacking gorgeous UMBRAL, comes a voyage on Venture to Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s largest 62 moons. There a colony has been established by filthy rich, ultra-religious whack-job, McCauley Richmond, and when I write “colony” I mean cult. Rick, Jules and Dagmar have been hired to retrieve a young woman who, her parents claim, has fallen under the influence said whack-job.

“She’s the daughter of a senator and barely eighteen when Richmond… I don’t know, what do you call it? Seduced her?”
“Brainwashed her. Don’t tell Rick but I hope preacher man gives us trouble. I’d love to shoot him right in his Holy Trinity.”


That is an option under their remit, but it’s the extraction that’s essential. Unfortunately, just before Venture leaves its lunar dock Dagmar has a premonition – which she’s not prone to – of what they might find on arrival: hundreds of cadavers floating in space.

They don’t, of course, that would be far too obvious.

But that which finds them is horrific.

I promised you spectacular and Mitten delivers on the very second and third pages in a landscape spread whose scale is phenomenal. Jupiter’s a big beast. It’s diameter is over 11 times that of Earth’s and 2.5 times more massive than the rest of the planets in ours little solar system combined. What Mitten’s pulled off is, in its truest sense, awesome.


Firstly, but a sixth of Jupiter’s bright orange, storm-swirled curvature dominates the top-right of the page but cleverly and crucially three of its moons, glowing green, float in front of it, tiny in proportion. On arrival Mitten will up the ante: what’s lost on the skull-and-space-suit front is more than made up for by many more moons whose own size is emphasised by other lunar objects in front of them.

He’s barely started.


The flight itself comes with some thrilling, electrical, icy effects, and if you’re wondering why our three bounty hunters have super-soft skin, it’ll will serve to contrast striking with what lurks ahead. It’s… a pretty grim first-chapter punchline.

Behind massive and only reluctantly yielding bay doors, the colony’s no less impressive, dominated by its central cathedral which boasts elements both of the ancient and futuristic. And if you’re praying for some of those lovely light effects from UMBRAL, both Mitten and colour artist Jay Fotos have been only too happy to oblige once things go subterranean.


The script is relatively sparse but free from the false, forced camaraderie that irks me elsewhere. That they enjoy each others’ company is perfectly evident, with enough trust built over previous excursions to tease each other playfully. They’re together voluntarily too, so there are no bitter rivalries or bitching, and their friendship is deftly established in plenty of time everything to go terminally tits-up.

I do hope you don’t choke easily.

THE DISCIPLES falls firmly into the same vein of space-faring science fiction as CALIBAN and OCEAN rather than the more European aesthetic of, say, HABITAT or Moebius’ THE WORLD OF EDENA, and is certainly not as involved as the likes of UNIVERSAL WAR ONE, but I don’t always have time for that. Often I just want my eye-candy, cheers.


Buy The Disciples s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Diary Comics (£9-99, Koyama Press) by Dustin Harbin…

“In 2010 Idiary-comics-cover started making diary comics on New Year’s Day, in a little 4” x 5” notebook.
“They were hourlies at first.
“I remember thinking at the time…
“It’s hard to have fun when I have to keep pausing…to describe the fun.”
“Which… looking back now… has become a major theme for me.
“Both in my work and my life.
“Maybe the major theme.
“There’s a thing called the ‘Observer Effect’, often confused with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
“Essentially, you can’t measure some things without changing them.
“You see where I’m going, right?
“Observing the moment changes the moment.
“Not only that, it rounds all the corners and sharpens all the curves.
“It mushes things into a you-shaped shape, fits into a you-shaped spot in your brain, and moves on.
“Is that bad?
“Yeah, probably.”

You might think lettering in comics isn’t that important. It is, however, exactly how Dustin Harbin first came to my attention, by observing some, which had quite the effect on me. I happened to very much like the lettering in Matt Fraction & Fabio Moon’s CASANOVA, both upper case and lower varieties, and made a mental note of who’d done it. Not the butler in this instance. I then read Bryan Lee O’Malley’s awesome SECONDS and thought, hello, I love that lettering, and lo and behold, both were lettered by one Dustin K. Harbin esq.


We were then due to place a regular order of North American self-published goodness from John KING-CAT Porcellino’s Spit And A Half distribution emporium and I spotted a couple of very slim diary mini-comics by Dustin. I decided to give them a go, absolutely loved them because the guy can really tell a story and draw as well as letter beautifully, and then found out there was a much bigger, albeit pocket-dimensioned compilation with both quality and width.

Unfortunately Koyama Press, who’ve published an excellent selection of titles over the years such as SAFARI HONEYMOON by Jess Jacobs and BURT’S WAY HOME by John Martz, are not readily distributed in the UK, at least not until recently, so I resigned myself to having to wait until we ordered again from John P. In the meantime, I was chatting with Bryan Lee O’Malley (as one does…) at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal this year and mentioned Dustin and his lettering, and instantly Bryan said, “Have you read his DIARY COMICS? It’s brilliant.”


And that, dear reader, is how I came to be even more determined to get hold of this work. And, happy days, shortly thereafter Koyama Press books became available via one of our regular UK distributors! Having now digested it, I will boldly state that not only is Dustin one of the best letterers in the biz, but also one of the best comic diarists. Oh yes. For whilst he might not actually get up to a great deal out of the ordinary, Dustin successfully makes the ordinary out to be a great deal. Let’s be honest, although other people’s lives are typically fascinating in actuality, it is entirely as the late Frank Carson put it so succinctly, “the way I tell ’em!”, as to whether they are as interesting on the page.

Some autobiographical comics creators know how to spin a yarn, and others merely start a yawn.


You’ll see Dustin endlessly grapple with making comics and attending the merry-go-round of North American comic festivals such as The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), hobnobbing and schmoozing with the likes of Seth, Chester Brown, Michael DeForge, Kate Beaton, Sammy Harkham and many more besides. He also lays bare his romantic dalliances for our delectation, which he even chivalrously lets his girlfriend have the last word on, with an absolutely brilliant, skewering punchline! Plus he bravely exposes his battles with the black dog of depression. I must say, he seems rather the stoic to me, though, with his ingenious myriad ways of combating, indeed staving off an unexpected, impending dip in the old psychological weather systems, rather than just giving in to it all and retreating under the duvet in a blubbering mess.

There are two threads running through this work which elevate it to its heights: the genuine objective insight he provides us into his inner mental workings, mainly in his solo scenes, and the observational humour he delivers, usually at his own expense, pretty much whenever he’s interacting with another human being.


I’ll leave you with a two panel conversation with Bryan Lee O’Malley that made me howl with laughter because it’s about a subject Stephen and I comment on to each other every single time we see Bryan…

“Lots of my favourite people either live in Toronto or go to TCAF…”

“Hey Bryan!”
“Hey Dustin.”

“Although I’m still not very good at talking to any of them…”

“Man! You’re tall. Have you always been that tall?”

Bryan really is that tall. Quite why Stephen and I are continually surprised by that fact every time we see him I have no idea, but we’re obviously not alone in our misapprehension on the sheer size of Mt. O’Malley!


Buy Diary Comics and read the Page 45 review here

Young Avengers: Heinberg & Cheung Complete Collection s/c (£31-99, Marvel) by Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung with Michael Gaydos.

“I actually didn’t see that coming.”

You won’t from the cover, and deliberately so. For a start, by the second issue there will be two young ladies on the team, while others will experience… trauma.

This is a story of upheaval and flux because it’s a book about teenagers. This is a book of mysteries, the biggest mystery presented to its readership at the time – long before Gillen & McKelvie’s YOUNG AVENGERS run – being “Who are the Young Avengers?” and because it’s a book starring teenagers, it’s one which some of them don’t know yet the answers to. Which of us knew ourselves, aged 16?

Heinberg created the title at Quesda’s suggestion after two years writing and producing ‘The O.C.’.

“I do love writing teenage characters. Probably because I never got over being a teenager myself. I don’t know if anyone does.”

Not “stopped” being a teenager but “got over” being a teenager.


“It’s such a tumultuous, deeply felt period in a person’s life: you’re struggling to define yourself in relation to your friends and family; you’re expected to behave like an adult, but you’re not permitted to enjoy any of the rights and privileges which most adults take for granted; and you’re falling in love for the first time. There’s so much about being a teenager that goes unsaid and so many wounds that never heal.”

He continues:

“Being a teenager is all about the beginning of one’s search for identity. And that question, “Who are the Young Avengers,” haunted me to such a degree that it became the soul of my subsequent pitch.”

Every element Heinberg identifies there finds itself at the core of this book, and although Jimmy Cheung will dazzle you with the shiniest of big-battle superheroics fought by those you will be oh so familiar with and fondly attached to, what sets this apart from random costumed crime-fighting is that it comes with its own internal momentum. They’ll be dealing with their own dynamics determined by their own identities, their friends’ and their families’. Three of the individuals will be startled to learn who their parents actually are. As will you.

On the surface this looked corny, not only to prospective readers but to J. Jonah Jameson, ALIAS’ Jessica Jones and fellow reporter Kat Farrell when the first four of our youths appear in costume saving a dozen residents from a four-alarm fire. They didn’t call themselves Young Avengers – that was Kat Farrell – but each of them looked like fanboys aping their elders: The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America’s former WWII partner Bucky.


But key to all that is this: they are indeed all connected extraordinarily closely to the Avengers and their history… just not in any of the ways it looked like above.

They emerged on the scene while the Avengers were disbanded immediately following the murder of Hawkeye, Ant-Man and The Vision in AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED (whose self-indulgent, sentimental review is even more spoilery than that sentence, so I really wouldn’t read it, just the book which is blistering). That too is key, for Iron Man is still raw from those deaths while Captain America still feels responsible for Bucky’s. They’re determined to shut this team down before any of them gets hurt, especially when Ant-Man’s daughter joins in.

But these Young Avengers aren’t looking for trouble; trouble comes looking for them… because of who they are.


Since it’s a book of most excellent mysteries, so satisfyingly sewn together, I’m going to have to leave it there in terms of plottage, but as Captain America himself remarks, “I actually didn’t see that coming.”

Instead, here are a few things that I loved enough to review this book anew:

Heinberg does a mean impression of Bendis on Jessica Jones (who appears throughout and is even illustrated for many pages during the investigative special by ALIAS’ own Michael Gaydos), whilst having his own voice for the determined but less than experienced or adept kids. It’s grounded.

Secondly, during that special Teddy, who’s not a young Hulk but a very gentle shape-shifter, talks about how he wanted to “fit in” at school as do most teenagers, and so he did: he morphed to appeal more to his peers. The problem with changing yourself to suit others – to act or to lie and to pretend to be someone you’re not – is that you make all the wrong friends. So he did.

Things I liked third: by the time the book opens Teddy has already learned to be honest to the extent that he’s boyfriends with Billy. That relationship informs the whole of Gillen and McKelvie’s YOUNG AVENGERS stint – it is its very catalyst – but brilliantly it had nothing to do with them being gay. Similarly here their sexuality a complete non-issue, remarked upon by neither friend nor foe. They simply love each other. Brilliant!


Also, I adore the art by Jimmy Cheung. Coloured by Justin Ponsor, it’s a gleaming dream with tender, shiny eyes, costumes which are thick enough to feel between your fingers and discern one material from another and the most spectacular aerial fight scenes you could wish for. He’s exceptionally adept at vulnerability, and there will much of that witnessed within.

Oh, and lovers of Fraction and Aja’s HAWKEYE will be delighted to learn that this is where Kate Bishop comes from and quickly establishes herself as the bond that binds them all together and keeps them on course even when families unravel. Families matter.


For yes, this has a heart of gold. I like Heinberg. Plus, he’s done a great job of balancing the young wilfulness and glee of the star-struck newcomers (or, in one case, the baggage that comes from being the grandson of an unrecognised, underappreciated legend) with the respect they have for their renowned adult counterparts, and he’s done an intelligent job of presenting the converse view of authority. He’s put in some graft, in other words, and there are worse reasons to go out a buy a book than that it’s well written by a warm-hearted man, and gloriously drawn by an undeniable star.

Lastly, I know you can’t tell from the cover, but this is very much an Avengers title not a mere adjunct or a gimmick, firmly rooted as I’ve suggested in its history and co-starring core members.


Buy Young Avengers: Heinberg & Cheung Complete Collection s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Moon Knight vol 1: Lunatic s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood…

“Well, Marc, I don’t quite know what to say anymore… I had thought we were making some progress these past weeks, but now you say you remember nothing of that? I… I just don’t know what to believe anymore.”
“Doctor Emmet, please… I don’t know what to believe, either. All I know is I woke up this morning in this place, and I have no idea how I got here. I remember bits and pieces of different lives… before this… Moon Knight the vigilante, Jake Lockley the cab driver, Steven Grant the millionaire… I need you to tell me… Which of those really happened? Which one was really me?”
“<SIGH> Marc… none of those were really you. None of it really happened. It is all an elaborate delusion. Fantasies you created to cope with the truth.”
“No… I don’t believe that. I know Moon Knight was real. At least that. I know Khonshu was real.”
“Marc… we have had this conversation dozens of time… you want the truth? Well, here it is… There is a Moon Knight, Marc. But you are not him. You’ve been in this institution since you were twelve years old.”

Maybe… though presumably unlikely…


However, Marc is certainly experiencing rapidly changing perceptions of reality whilst seemingly trapped in a mental hospital populated by old cast favourites like Bertrand Crawley, Jean-Paul Duchamp a.k.a. Frenchie, Marlene Alraune and Stained Glass Scarlet. Oh, and Khonshu, we mustn’t forget Khonshu… The staff aren’t a particularly sympathetic bunch, either, with their penchant for a truncheon beat-down and electroshock charge-up. Then there is the mysterious Doctor Emmet who Marc becomes convinced is Ammut, the God of Judgement and eternal foe of Egyptian God Khonshu… As I say, maybe…


All I know for certain after the first five issues of Jeff Lemire’s baffle-worthy take on the moon-faced mentalist is that I am as utterly puzzled and perplexed as Marc. Particularly after issue #5 where guest artist James Stokoe takes us for a quick trip to the moon to fight werewolves in spaceships.


But luckily for us, Khonshu, if it really is Khonshu of course, is able to explain to Marc exactly what is going on, or perhaps tell him a huge pack of whoppers, which either way sounds exactly like the weirdest episode of X-Files ever. Or perhaps Marc is subconsciously using the illusion of Khonshu to construct an ever more implausible explanation to justify his whirlamagig carousel of hallucinations. I honestly have no idea, but this is certainly one of the very few stand-out Marvel titles at the moment in terms of writing, which I personally think is suddenly at its absolute nadir in my living memory following another interminable round of unnecessary reboots post-SECRET WARS.


Marvel do try and let the odd person do something a bit different and more sophisticated in story-telling terms like Lemire is doing here, I will give them that, such as the recent VISION VOL 1: LITTLE WORSE THAN A MAN S/C and VISION VOL 2: LITTLE BETTER THAN A BEAST S/C penned by Tom King, but frequently these left-field yarns struggle to resonate with sufficient fanboys to maintain an audience and get promptly cancelled, as the Vision just has, sadly.

Consequently I’ll personally be surprised if this incarnation of Moon Knight runs more than 12 issues, which is supervillain-level criminal frankly, but hey ho, as long as Lemire gets chance to explain to me what the hell is actually going on, I’ll be happy with our little dance in the moonlight.




Main artist Greg Smallwood (who has a bit of form with Moon Knight, illustrating part of the recent Brian Wood run) is a real talent too, he had me at the very first page of nocturnal ambiguity with Marc stood outside a huge temple hearing the voice of Khonshu beckoning him in. I really like his broad linework, use of shading as an illustrative instrument and some very clever page layouts with lack of defined panels and stark white backgrounds. It all adds very nicely to the discombobulated feel.

Finally, most appropriate sub-title for a Marvel title ever? Unless, that is, the next trade of All Nonsense, All Dreadful Avengers is subtitled Complete And Utter Shite…


Buy Moon Knight vol 1: Lunatic 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.


The Coldest Winter h/c (Page 45 Bookplate Edition) (£17-99, Oni) by Antony Johnston & Steven Perkins

Paper Girls vol 2 s/c (£11-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Cliff Chiang

Baltimore vol 7: Empty Graves h/c (£22-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden & Peter Bergting

Black Science vol 5: True Atonement s/c (£13-99, Image) by Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera

The Beauty vol 2 s/c (£13-99, Image) by Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley & Mike Huddleston, Brett Weldele, Stephen Green

I Hate Fairyland vol 2: Fluff My Life (£13-99, Image) by Skottie Young

Judge Dredd Casefiles 28 (£19-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner & various

Lumberjanes vol 5: Band Together (£13-99, Image) by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh & Brooke Allen, Carolyn Nowak

Star Wars: Poe Dameron vol 1: Black Squadron (£17-99, Marvel) by Charles Soule, Chris Eliopoulos & Phil Noto

Samurai vol 1: The Heart Of The Prophet h/c (£22-99, Titan) by Jean-Francois Di Giorgio & Frederic Genet

The Flash by Mark Waid vol 1 s/c (£22-99, DC) by Mark Waid, others & various

Justice League vol 8: Darkseid War Part 2 s/c (£14-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Jason Fabok, Francis Manapul, others

Captain America: Steve Rogers vol 1: Hail Hydra s/c (£17-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Jesus Saiz, Javier Pina

Neverwhere: A Novel (US Edition) (£14-50, William Morrow) by Neil Gaiman



ITEM! It has arrived!

THE COLDEST WINTER H/C (Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition) by Antony Johnston & Steven Perkins!

I am so, so grateful for every beautiful bookplate designed for Page 45 over the years – they have all of them been exquisite – but Steven Perkins has just shot his to top spot. I am in awe!

There will be a review next week, but for the moment, here’s my review of THE COLDEST CITY drawn by Sam Hart and written by Antony Johnston, scribe of UMBRAL, THE FUSE, WASTELAND, two of our three DEAD SPACE graphic novels and adaptor-to-comics of Alan Moore’s FASHION BEAST and Anthony Horowitz’s Young Adults’ Alex Rider graphic novels like SCORPIA drawn by Emma Vieceli and coloured by Kate Brown.

Coldest Winter 1

ITEM! Speaking of Emma Vieceli, boy can she sing! I’m not one for Christmas songs, but listen to this arrangement of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ sung by Emma Vieceli – I swear you will thank yourself.


ITEM! This new John Allison BAD MACHINERY interview on Comics Alliance explains exactly what I was describing r.e. Lottie’s fiery pronouncements towards the end of my BAD MACHINERY: THE CASE OF THE UNWELCOME VISITOR review.


ITEM! STRANGERS IN PARADISE / RACHEL RISING’s Terry Moore has a brand new website full of his graphic novels (obv.) and merchandise you can’t buy elsewhere.



 – Stephen