Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews March 2017 week two

Featuring Fabrizio Dori on Paul Gauguin, Jason Shiga, Joan Cornellá, more!

Student Prize Competition in News underneath!

The Foldings #1 (£4-99, Two-Toed Press) by Joann Dominik & Faye Simms.

Speech bubbles!

You will find speech bubbles!

And they will come floating right out of mage Micah’s mouth!

Yes please! Yes please to any comic as fun and inventive as this! For considering its medium, and for such a wealth of world-building – as evidenced in the extensive, annotated sketch section beyond – which has not yet even begun to come into play in this perfectly composed, initial self-contained salvo.

Riddled with wit, pumped up with heart, and threaded with tantalising clues as to so much that will inevitably come next from these two new comics visionaries, this debut delivers on every front including its price point. I have no idea how Dominik and Simms have found the means to produce such a lavish, glossy and glowing package for a mere five quid.

They give you an entire comic story with a beginning bursting with subtle intrigue as to Jasper’s unique nature – provided by his insatiably inquisitive propensity to dive in and discover novelty at the very real and rash risk of revealing his resistances – a middle in which those advantageous attributes are challenged as flip-sided flaws, and the most ecstatic end in which passion is provided in the form of a representational, phosphorescent firework display!

Phosphorous was always my favourite element. Drive it from water then see for yourself! Oh, wait, maybe it was Caesium. Do not add any water or all your bone china will be brutalised! It’s possible I was expelled from a Chemistry class. Anyway…

 

Only then, once your value for money has already been delivered in dove-winged droves do these two ridiculously generous creators give you seventeen additional pages of lavishly illustrated, eloquent prose illuminating an entirely new and different but equally well thought-out perspective on this self-same world. An additional adventure!

And then Simms gives you her research: four full pages of gasp-inducing art intimating so much of what will follow.

The confidence and flawless execution is astounding.

Another thing I adored in very particular order: the third of four succinct paragraphs of what is so often too much introductory waffle:

“Doors change where they lead to, and if you step into a shop it may have moved by the time you step out”

Oh, you’ll love The Foldings. It’s basically Venice, free-floating in the sky.

Everyone knows that Venice rotates half its geographical mass overnight by 45% so inviting those of us over-confident in navigating its canal-crossing bridges the discomforting joy of experiencing misaligned hubris.

But this is a Venice not built on water but floating in air. There is no bottom to its depths, no sea-bed to which you might sink. Or is there? I experienced more than one extreme episode of vertigo for which I will be thanking neither Dominik nor Simms.

Oh, these two are so good!

And wood! Wood! Almost everything there is built of warped, creaking wood! And that carries – in addition to so much architectural beauty – additional consequences when the world is so structured on steam-punk.

Now, where do I buy some dust-eating fabric? I could do with a furlong or two of that.

“You know, if you ever did go in for assassination, I bet you’d accidentally use something totally harmless.”
“Perfect, no one would ever suspect if no one actually died…”

SLH

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

Gauguin – The Other World (£12-99, SelfMadeHero) by Fabrizio Dori.

“In these lands, I experienced a lightness such as I had never known before. My mind had freed itself of its old burdens.

“It was so simple to paint what I saw! Putting red or blue on the canvas without a plan, freed from former constraints, freed from the shackles.”

In which Fabrizio Dori nails Paul Gauguin on every level and constructs an exceptionally witty way, informed by Gauguin’s own art, of getting to the heart of the man and conveying that heart’s duality.

Liberation was everything to Paul Gauguin.

In his paintings he sought to liberate himself from traditional, formal, physical composition, concentrating instead on instinctive, suggestive harmonies of colour.

He sought to liberate himself from the conservatism and supercilious snobbery that becomes entrenched in any Institution – including the Art Establishment – however enlightened its predominant contemporary movement.

In his life he sought freedom from his financial failings and so constraints which came to prey upon him terribly, from the civilisation of a Europe so grey compared his early years in Peru, and the Parisian prison of a school whose teachers and pupils he didn’t understand and who did not understand him to the extent that – as soon as could, aged seventeen – he signed on with a merchant marine vessel headed for South America, and sailed the West Indies, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea before learning of his mother’s death and returning once more to Paris.

This book is so cleverly structured as to show, right at its centre, that Gauguin had finally achieved all that freedom and more. He had escaped Paris by uprooting himself to Tahiti in the Tropical Pacific Ocean, rejected his initial port of call in Papeete as a “colonists’ town” too reminiscent of the Europe he’d left behind, and settled in a southern coastal fishing village where he made friends, began learning the language and absorbing its mythology before exploring its even wilder terrain and finally finding a lover in Teura.

Not only that, but Gauguin acknowledged that he found his freedom, his peace, his idyll, his Eden and his inspiration for what he was certain was his artistic success… and he threw it all away.

Because the one thing Paul Gauguin could never liberate himself from was the desire to win.

“I had to ensure that everyone admired my work. Otherwise, what was the point?
“I was right. I’d always been right. And they had to acknowledge that.”

Combative, stubborn, he had to win the argument, to prove he’d been right in his rejection of some of Impressionism’s constraints, to have his new paintings admired.

“Tossed like a boat in a tempest, we live at the mercy of our contradictions, our needs.
“More than anything, I wanted to go back to Paris to get what was mine! I had to go back because it was my duty and my right to be there.
“Besides, not having a penny to my name, I was forced to. Paradoxically, at the same time, I wanted more than anything to stay in Tahiti.”

Yet that desperate imperative to achieve artistic recognition dragged him back to Paris. It was an unmitigated disaster, and although he would return to Oceania, things would be very different the second time round. For a start, there would be no Teura.

Fabrizio Dori successfully incorporates so many elements of Gauguin’s work within his own. The colour lighting could not be more vital in planting you firmly in Gauguin’s perspective. It is bleached, leaking off the page whenever Europe is revisited, yet springs immediately back to vibrant life in French Polynesia. It is rich, it is dark, it is exotic. And in its more visionary episodes – this graphic novel is one long visionary episode, as you will see – it is mysterious.

“Soyez mystérieuses!”

One of Gauguin’s biggest mysteries and most celebrated painting is ‘Manao Tupapau’ (1892), traditionally translated as ‘Spirit Of The Dead Watching’ with the additional ambiguity of meaning “Watching The Spirit Of The Dead”.

I promised you a witty narrative construction informed by Gauguin’s own paintings and it begins right at this centre with ‘Spirit Of The Dead Watching’ which we know was a portrait of Teura and almost certainly a reversed riff on Édouard Manet’s ‘Olympia’ (1863).

Please note: this actually is Gauguin! ‘Spirit Of The Dead Watching’ (1892)

For a start, Teura was Gauguin’s Tahitian wife, the love at the heart of all his newfound, deeply desired freedom and peace. There has been much to and fro about her position and her expression, but amongst Gauguin’s own written accounts he mentions the local’s superstition that at night the spirits of the dead roam, and they do not like to sleep alone in the dark.

What Dori has done, firstly, is incorporated Gauguin’s decision to leave. In Fabrizio’s account Teura is found by Gauguin in precisely this position, in the same colours, after his day trip to Papeete in order to begin preparations for his repatriation to Paris, without telling Teura that this was his purpose. Having had to travel back on foot on through a rain-drenched, storm-struck night, he arrives late to find the oil in their lamp had run out and Teura very much alone and afraid in the dark.

“Never leave me alone again. On nights like this, ghosts come down from the mountains.”

Fabrizio then has Paul Gauguin remember this:

“I held her close in my arms and, knowing full well I was lying, promised I’d never leave her alone again.”

Everything he had; everything he threw away.

If that wasn’t poignant and indeed clever enough, ‘Spirit Of The Dead Watching’ depicts an old woman sitting behind Teura in the dark, explained by Gauguin to some as that very spirit of the dead. And it is during this central sequence that Dori has Gauguin recall:

“It was at that exact moment I saw you.”

Pull back to the beginning of the main narrative of this graphic novel and we are introduced to a much older, world-weary Gauguin weakened by alcohol, sickness, morphine, betrayal and failure, on the Marqesas Islands, alone on a bed of his own:

“Is that you? I know you.”
“Yes.”
“I’ve seen you before. Long ago…”
“That is as it should be.”
“I’ve painted and drawn you before, many times.”
“And you have looked for me.”

He’d tried to commit suicide.

“I’m right beside you.
“As I have always been. I am the shadow that accompanies men all their lives.
“But when they die, it is their turn to follow me.”

I leave you to follow Paul Gauguin as he accompanies the Spirit of the Dead on what artistic circles do like to call a Retrospective. It’s full of dreams and colour, of light and darkness, of hope, ambition and disappointment, at the end of which the artist must answer a very important question.

Fabrizio Dori has done a phenomenal job of focussing our attention on the two opposing elements which pulled Paul Gauguin apart, while incorporating as much as possible of his critical reception with concision and precision. It would be impossible to address every aspect of his personality and performance in such a relatively short work – or address every aspect of this graphic novel in this review (what happened upon his return to Paris) – but it should be noted that he did like to perform, playing to his reputation as an outsider, and outcast spurned by the establishment, and often went to elaborate lengths to do so.

He was, in short, a bit of a martyr in the modern sense that we so often use when someone throws themselves on the self-sacrificial bonfire with a certain degree of relish.

SLH

Buy Gauguin – The Other World and read the Page 45 review here

The Autumnlands vols 1 & 2 (£8-99 & 14-99 respectively, Image) by Kurt Busiek & Benjamin Dewey…

“Whuh. Where…? Back in barracks, or…?”
“Nope, nope. Sheep in a hat. Still here. Hey.”

Which I will grant you sounds a rather more salacious way to wake up than it actually is…

In fact, Dusty the redoubtable terrier and the Great Champion a.k.a. human Sergeant Leroy are in the mountains, tracking down the source of strange magical emanations as you do. The human part is significant because the good Sergeant is in fact the only one on the planet, which is full of various highly evolved animal races either dwelling in mystically powered, luxurious, floating cities, godlike in the skies above or eking out a far less privileged, Medieval-esque, serf-level existence on the ground below.

Each tribe of animal hubristically believed the mythical Great Champion was of their own species, and so it was somewhat of a shock when the traumatic thaumaturgical events of AUTUMNLANDS VOL 1 resulted in Leroy’s explosive arrival from their far-flung past. The greatest mages of the age had gathered to attempt to rend the fabric of time itself and bring back the being apparently responsible for the very existence of magic, to enlist his aid in combating their current travail: that the mystical essence permeating their world was now gradually, undeniably beginning to ebb and fade away.

It all went spectacularly tits up, of course, bringing down one of the gigantic floating cities, primarily due to the bird-brained incompetence of the egomaniacal, slimy owl Sandorst of Samia. Who post-disaster has somehow managed to inveigle his way into being in charge of the survivors. Some people just lust after power, without any thought of what they are actually going to do when they’ve got it. Animals too in our world, judging from some of the nature documentaries I’ve seen!

Good job those land-dwelling, oppressed species here aren’t out to take their high-flying chums down a further peg or two, bringing them back to earth figuratively following on from the very literal fall, or indeed perhaps put them under the ground entirely. Ah…

Or so we thought…

Leroy being the only human that is…

And that is where I shall leave my plot summary of volumes one and two. Suffice to say this is Kurt Busiek on absolute top form with what is hilarious, thought provoking, wildly engaging speculative fiction of the most entertaining kind. Benjamin Dewey’s art is truly spectacular too, some of the best anthropomorphic art I’ve ever seen, including exquisite double-page chapter breaks, complemented beautifully by the redoubtable Jordie Bellaire on colours, who is right up there with Elizabeth Breitweiser and Dave Stewart in my mind in wielding the palette.

I shall conclude with a perhaps spurious and mildly frivolous “TRIGGER WARNING!!” as the tender youth of today might utter whilst dabbing their beading brows. I can’t completely explain the presence of a jauntily swinging penis in both volumes, as Leroy sans loincloth makes a recurring appearance. It seems rather unnecessary and perhaps a touch self-defeating on the capturing an audience front, certainly where we end up having to rack it on the Page 45 shelves, but hey ho. It doesn’t remotely spoil what is a veritable triumph of a title. Depending on your sensibilities it may even enhance it!

JR

Buy The Autumlands vol 1: Tooth & Claw s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Buy The Autumnlands vol 2: Woodland Creatures s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Demon vol 2 (£14-99, FirstSecond) by Jason Shiga.

More blinding brilliance of the analytical ilk you’d be hard pressed to find in comics or anywhere else outside of Professor Stephen Hawking’s brain.

Jason Shiga is the ever-inventive mathematician of comicbook creators responsible for MEANWHILE,

(and EMPIRE STATE), the laminated, all-ages graphic novel equivalent of those Pick-A-Plot novels we all relished in childhood wherein you chose the trajectory of the story by presumptuously making split decisions on the protagonists’ behalf, thereby determining which page you jumped to and what happened next.

We have two of those in the form of Sherwin Tija’s YOU ARE A CAT and YOU ARE A KITTEN which – do not be deceived! – are far less fluffy than you might suppose. Please don’t buy them for young minds to fall foul of: their outlook on life will grow bleaker than an abandoned bus station at half-past two on a frozen Sunday morning.

DEMON is real, honest to goodness comics but comes with the same weather warning: not suitable for kids or indeed your parents unless you want some awkward family conversations.

Jason Shiga, meticulous with detail, is known neither for imprecision nor for being random. He is a logic-driven puzzle-maker and a puzzle-solver, and in DEMON VOL 1 he invited you to solve a seemingly baffling, complex puzzle before his protagonist did. The satisfaction after the final reveal – when you then go back and realise how far from random and watertight it all is – will have you grinning your heads off then evangelical in spreading the word.

In DEMON VOL 2 what is exceptional is the forensic detail with which that protagonist, Jimmy Yee, now sets about considering his condition, experimenting with it (without a care in the world for whomever he expends), analysing his findings, understanding their ramifications then formulating a brutal plan of action.

It is delightfully deadpan and you will laugh your heads off, for our Jimmy Yee is not a very nice man! He is, however, a devoted Dad and since I’m still in two minds as to whether to give the game away in order to get you on board, I highly recommend you read my review of DEMON VOL 1 in which I take you, step by step, through experiencing Jimmy Yee’s predicament as he himself discovers it, whilst being equally meticulous in objective observation lest I spoil the plot.

I do not!

Aaaaand I’m not going to here. I can’t risk it. I’ve even been as circumspect as I can be with the interior art, one piece of which contains a piece of information vital for this instalment’s massive, startling new reveal and subsequent reversal of Jimmy Yee’s goals, but which typically looks merely lobbed in as arbitrary background fluff. I cannot emphasise this enough: nothing about Jason Shiga’s writing or drawing is arbitrary.

Indeed its how he chose to represent Jimmy’s initial map of a morning visually that make it so… I’m struggling to avoid the word ‘genius’ but I’ll bet you good money that any Mensa results put Shiga at the high end of that category.

Please don’t believe that Yee’s new-found capabilities are anything as anodyne as invulnerability or immortality. Au contraire, you’ll find mortality absolutely integral to everything that occurs.

I can promise you parachuting, Mexican standoffs, suicide, mass murder, custom-built wrist watches so cleverly deployed, tranquiliser darts as a far more effective method of containment than a gunshot to the head and two more volumes to come whose direction I cannot begin to fathom, although I have read the last two pages involving a phone call and a very expensive ice cream.

SLH

Buy Demon vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Zonzo (£13-99, Fantagraphics) by Joan Cornellá.

Return of the rectal blood-letting and rictus grins.

Note: not actual cover. I cannot bring myself to reprint the cover.

If I describe these as six-panel gag strips, the emphasis is certainly on choking.

Of Cornellá’s first offense, MOX NOX, I wrote, “Innocence is such an anathema to Joan Cornella that I can only compare him to Ivan Brunetti.

“Clothed in the brightest, most child-friendly colours, this is truly transgressive, crossing all boundaries of common decency and good taste, and if there aren’t multiple mutilations on any given page it’s only because something even more awful is happening.”

If it’s any consolation I wrought my revenge the first time round by getting Joan’s gender wrong. I’m not naive or sexist enough to contend that no woman would write such Wrongs, but it’s still a relief to know I can now blame a bloke.

Nothing’s changed: the final reactions are still those least expected, except for the sixth panel in my favourite strip involving an engagement ring. The man’s expression in the final panel, – as we zoom in on his blank, black eyes reflecting the degree to which his brain has quit functioning, and the enormity of what has caused such an immediate and complete cessation – is exquisite.

It’s a classic case of act in haste, repent at leisure. They can’t have known each other that long.

I’m not giving you any more: that’s probably the only page we could publish.

I also wrote:

“Some strips present the wonkiest of solutions to problematic situations and most make those situations a great deal worse. Extreme Problem Solving, you could call it. Many of them involve skewed priorities and play on what is considered customary behaviour, upending it, and the unacceptable is accepted with all those gleeful grins.”

Same!

SLH

Buy Zonzo and read the Page 45 review here

Glitterbomb vol 1: Red Carpet s/c (£8-99, Image) by Jim Zub & Djibril Morissette-Phan…

“You’re taking this in stride. That didn’t freak you out?”

“Detective. I live in Oakwood. I see crime shit all the time.”
“Fair enough. Here’s what bugs me, Ms. Durante… Someone walked in the door, beat the living hell out of Mr. Tulder, and then dragged his presumably unconscious body away without anyone in the office noticing.”
“You think he was kidnapped?”
“Kidnapped, killed… Whatever happened, he’s not here. So, unless you know how to hide a three-hundred-pound loudmouth executive in fifteen minutes or less. I’m at a bit of a loss.”
“Hmmm…”

Well, Miss Durante ate him, obviously… Which isn’t remotely a spoiler as it happens right at the very beginning! No, consider it more a statement of intent…

 

Despite the stomach-churning, gory opening, I did think this was going to be a slow-burning, creeping horror that would span several volumes as the suspense regarding Miss Durante and her… friend… built up. In fact, it rather feels like the third act begins with the final issue of this collection, and given the dramatic conclusion goes out live on television, I can’t imagine how they can put the monster back in the proverbial hat, or person, and go much further with this.

Miss Farrah Durrante is an actress, darling. In Hollywood, no less – albeit a washed-up, over-the-hill one. And actually she only ever really had one moderately significant extended bit-part in a long-running science fiction TV show. A low rent Star Trek rip-off, basically. Scrabbling around for roles, always getting passed over for younger, more fresh-faced versions of herself, she’s struggling to make ends meet and provide for her young son. When a meeting with her asshole of an agent starts to go somewhat pear-shaped, she loses the plot and strange tentacles fly out of her mouth, stab him through the brain, and well, you know the rest.

She’s rather disturbed about it, as you might expect, and embarks upon the go-to Hollywood panacea for all such situations: therapy! With a deliciously dark sense of humour to complement the fright-filled chunks, plus reasonable enough art from Djibril Morissette-Phan, I reckon fans of Alex De Campi’s crackpot GRINDHOUSE series will really enjoy this.

JR

Buy Glitterbomb vol 1: Red Carpet s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Karnak: The Flaw In All Things s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Warren Ellis & Gerardo Zaffino, Roland Boschi.

Let me introduce you to the green-cowled Karnak, now Magister of the Tower Of Wisdom, a rigidly austere and imposingly tall “temple” built of heavy grey stone, sequestered on a plateau high in the misty mountains of what I infer are the Andes or somewhere of that ilk.

A member of its royal family, he once enjoyed the company of his fellow Inhumans. Now his life is solitary, monastic and focussed on silent contemplation, broken only when one of his acolytes announces:

“Magister. The Infernal Device is calling.”

Hidden behind doors so thick that it takes four to heave them open – and even so, they budge only grudgingly – the Infernal Device is an old-skool, two-way radio supplied by S.H.I.E.L.D., the international espionage agency which now summons him from seclusion to an old substation in Svalbard on the Arctic Ocean where they are experiencing security breaches.

“Attilan, the seat of Inhumanity, was once located in the North Atlantic. It was a little like this. Bleak. Isolated. Cold. It is pleasing to me.”

Karnak is being called upon because a couple’s son – recently traumatised and transmogrified by the Inhuman’s Terrigen Mist into one of their own – has been abducted by a death cult. S.H.I.E.L.D.S.’s investigations have been hampered by legal restrictions and by infiltration whose source Karnak spots instantly.

“My curse is that I see the flaw in all things. Systems. Philosophies. Structures. People. Everything.“The bullet you fired at me was flawed simply by the act of being fired.
“You were flawed by being born.”

His insight allows him to target these weaknesses and so shatter structures, be they walls, bones or even illusions: comforting thoughts that get us through each day. He does so ruthlessly and remorselessly. Never a party person, Karnak is no longer a people person, and he is far from eager to please. Small talk is an anathema to him; smiling is an insult.

Yet he may be the best Marvel-Comic company you can hope to keep right now outside of our good Stephen Strange or Jessica Jones.

Always reliable for reinvention, Warren Ellis – whose creator-owned comics like INJECTION I hope need no introduction – has stayed true to the character’s focussed nature and distilled it into raw single-mindedness. He’s delivered a much more fractious take on a character about whom you need know nothing prior to this.

The austerity’s enhanced by Gerardo Zaffino’s gruff, grainy textures and superb command of half-light and midnight when confronted with Karnak’s eye-piercing, soul-searing gaze. The entire comic experience is led by colour artist Dan Brown’s rich olive green. But coming back to Karnak in action, Zaffino stops time virtually dead its tracks as that bullet is fired, the space ahead of its trajectory ruptured as any wound would be while what’s left in its wake flares brilliantly behind.

You will have plenty Matt Fraction & David Aja  IRON FIST kung-fu fighting, with the cliffhanger promising much more to come.

You are always, always encouraged – whoever you are – to buy Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee’s self-contained, exceptionally literate, deliciously delineated and lambently coloured INHUMANS collection (think Neil Gaiman, I kid you not), but you certainly don’t need it for this.

Now, what do you think Karnak’s biggest flaw is?

SLH

Buy Karnak: The Flaw In All Things s/c and read the Page 45 review here

New Avengers by Bendis Complete Collection vol 3 s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis & Jimmy Cheung, Alex Maleev, Francis Leinil Yu, others.

It’s all about trust and former friendships torn apart.

A single page of silence followed by a double page of silence, then:
“Oh my God… What — what does this mean?”

Post-CIVIL WAR, each member of this now very different, covert cell of hounded individuals who still consider themselves Avengers stands stock still in mute disbelief, trying to process the ramifications of their discovery, and way back then, I was right there with them.

It was enormous, paving the way for what follows this huge repacking of NEW AVENGERS vols 6, 7 and the ILLUMINATI mini-series.
This was phase three of Bendis’ reinvention and reinvigoration of the Avengers team and, with Yu on board for the dirtier pencils, it felt very different indeed.

First Bendis tore it apart from the inside in NEW AVENGERS COMPLETE VOL 1, then he built it up again in reaction to a conspiracy involving high-level corruption at S.H.I.E.L.D..

So far they’ve been too distracted to follow that through, and with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the legally sanctioned Mighty Avengers now led by Tony Stark himself, what’s left of the dissident group is joined by others who’ve fallen foul of the Superhero Registration Act and refused to sign up to a more military approach under direct orders from the very organisation that’s compromised.

All that and the SECRET WAR (singular) now converge very satisfyingly as Luke Cage leads Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Iron Fist, Dr. Strange and a second, unidentified Ronin to rescue the original Ronin, who’s been left stranded on her undercover mission in Japan by the fall-out of the original CIVIL WAR:

“Who are my friends now? Who do I go to when I’m ready? Captain America recruited me, but Iron Man offered to stake me. Who do I go to? What side am I on?”

Very clever, that, for now Echo truly is a Ronin – a masterless samurai – and she’s about to fall victim to The Hand. But it’s also a question everyone is going to be asking, of themselves and each other for some time to come.

As I say, it’s now a very different dynamic. For a start, their new base of operations couldn’t really be anywhere else but Doctor Strange’s sanctum sanctorum, now necessarily disguised by a cloaking spell as derelict, abandoned, and about to be turned into yet another bloody Starbucks. Otherwise Stark’s almost limitless technology would be able to trace them. And try he does, after luring our lot into a trap with rumours that Captain America is alive.

Already they are constantly having to watch their backs, and protect Jessica Jones and her baby. But now, following the discovery of a certain substitution which I quoted above, internal issues of loyalty are necessarily examined with no small degree of paranoia, especially when it comes to new Ronin – though you will very much love who that is!

It’s also structured very differently, shifting backwards and forwards with astoundingly disciplined timing, as our renegades find themselves threatened on all sides with no time to analyse or to think their way forward.

So we come to the ILLUMINATI mini-series pencilled with panache and much glossy sheen by Jimmy Cheung, and it is not unrelated.
Years ago, we now learn, Iron Man led his covert cohorts – Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, Namor and Doctor Strange – on a provocative counter-strike against the shape-shifting Skrulls following the KREE / SKRULL WAR  which saw the two alien races bring their violent animosity to Earth.

The Illuminati’s message: don’t fuck with Earth again. Their messenger: the traditionally tight-lipped Black Bolt.

It’s also a huge act of hubris for which they each pay the price right there and then, and for which Earth may be billed as well once their lost property has been rummaged through thoroughly.

“Lost property”?

They’ve left more than their footprints behind.

Please don’t click on this link if you want to keep the spoiler-free nature of this review intact.

To be continued in SECRET INVASION

SLH                       

Buy New Avengers by Bendis Complete Collection vol 3 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.

Giant Days vol 4 (£13-99, Boom! Box) by John Allison & Max Sarin

The Best We Could Do h/c (£22-99, Abrams) by Thi Bui

The British Invasion! (£17-99, Sequart) by Greg Carpenter

Cannibal vol 1 s/c (£8-99, Image) by Steve Buccellato, Jennifer Young & Matias Bergara

The Metabaron Book vol 2: The Techno-Cardinal And The Transhuman h/c (£20-99, Humanoid) by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jerry Frissen & Niko Henrichon

Pretending Is Lying h/c (£22-99, New York Review Comics) by Dominique Goblet

USCA – Independent Manga For The Next Generation (£10-99, Diorama Books) by various

Astro City: Honor Guard s/c (£17-99, Vertigo) by Kurt Busiek & Jesus Merino, various

DC Comics / Dark Horse Comics Crossovers: Justice League vol 2 s/c (£22-99, Dark Horse) by Peter David, John Ostrander, Ron Marz & various

Deathstroke vol 1: The Professional s/c (Rebirth) (£14-99, DC) by Christopher Priest & Carlo Pagulayan, various

Death Of X (UK Edition) s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule & Aaron Kuder, Javier Garron

Assassination Classroom vol 14 (£6-99, Viz) by Yusei Matsui

ICHI-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir Of The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (£21-00, Kodansha) by Kazuto Tatsuta

Tokyo Ghoul vol 11 (£8-99, Viz) by Sui Ishida

Doctor Who: Supremacy Of The Cybermen s/c (£12-99, Titan) by George Mann, Cavan Scott & Ivan Rodriguez, Walter Geovanni

News

ITEM! Students! Will Eisner ‘The Spirit’ Of The Lake District Prize Competition 2017!

Be creative, and win prizes including Page 45 Online Gift Vouchers!

I’m not sure I was allowed to say that, but I happen to know they’re at least some of the prizes, perhaps all of them! You heard it here first!

2017 marks one hundred years since the birth of legendary American comicbook creator Will Eisner.

Most revered at Page 45 for the heart and humanity he poured into historical fiction about diverse communities like THE CONTRACT WITH GOD TRILOGY, about bigotry and hypocrisy within said communities like THE NAME OF THE GAME (the name of the game being ‘marriage’), for his non-fiction, blistering anti-racist exposé THE PLOT, and above all – for me – for his thinly veiled autobiographical work TO THE HEART OF THE STORM, Eisner also produced an earlier, artistically innovative series of masked detective fiction comics called THE SPIRIT which wittily incorporated its titles, for example, into its backgrounds.

It’s THE SPIRIT specifically that we want you to have a shot at! You’ll find everything you need here on the new Lakes International Comic Art Festival website.

ITEM! Conveniently, SANDMAN’s Neil Gaiman writes about Will Eisner in the Guardian March 7 2017.

You should probably pop both Neil Gaiman and Will Eisner into our search engine. So many reviews!

We Ship Worldwide!

ITEM! The Lakes International Comic Art Festival podcasts!

So far they’ve interviewed THE WALKING DEAD’s Charlie Adlard, the current Comics Laureate, and LICAF’s director Julie Tait.

Julie Tait is truly a force of nature, a force for good, and the only leader this obstinate anti-authoritarian is ever likely to follow. Tait’s embracing enthusiasm is such that she sweeps you up in her infectious wake.

Future interviewees include fellow LICAF Patrons Emma Vieceli, Sean Phillips, Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot.

Please scroll down, do!

ITEM! Reminder: The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017 Brand-New Website & Creator Guests!

ITEM! I totally forgot to include this on the relevant week, but here are links to the free, full Hourly Comics Day comics by its instigator Dan Berry and veteran Joe Decie, both of whom you may already know from their Page 45 Comicbook Of The Months. Please click on any cover in the grid there for reviews. Or pop Dan and Joe into our search engine. Ta!

Dan Berry’s Hourly Comic Day Comic 2017

Joe Decie’s Hourly Comic Day Comic 2017

Top Tip One: Joe Decie is pronounced “Dee-See” not “Dee-Chee” as we do most days. That’s all the fault of fellow comics creator Professor Lizz Lunney who christened the pint-sized prankster ‘The Deech’.

Top Tip Two: Lunney is pronounced “loony”.

#TrueFact

 – Stephen

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