Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews May 2017 week one

I should probably mention THE PAGE 45 2,500-GRAPHIC NOVEL 50% SALE!

And I probably will (with photos) in our News underneath.

The Nameless City vol 2: The Stone Heart (£10-99, FirstSecond) by Faith Erin Hicks with Jordie Bellaire.

Halfway through this extraordinary graphic novel – and so the trilogy – there is a moment so shocking that I had to re-read it three times to ensure it had actually happened.

It actually happened.

Take nothing, and no one, for granted.

“What’s your name?”
“Names are for people. I’m just street vermin.”
“No one is street vermin. Under Dao law, all the people of the city are equal.”
“You’re very stupid if you think that’s true.”

Quite. Saying everyone’s equal does not make it necessarily so. The American Declaration of Independence loftily stated:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

But by “men” it meant “white men” and certainly not women. Slaveholders signed as readily as anyone.

No one is treated equally in America, Britain, or anywhere else. The hierarchy remains absolute.

 

As with all Faith Erin Hicks books, this is a tale about friendships. So much time is taken to explore their nuances if new, or their history in the case of old acquaintances.

The above was eight years ago, with young Erzi – Prince of the Dao Empire and heir to the Nameless City’s throne – riding alongside his father in a petal-strewn procession. I don’t think you will find either of them “equal” under Dao law to the ragged, green-eyed street urchin he’s just rescued from a beating by one of his soldiers. This was the even younger Mura: angry and defiant after being tossed out of The Stone Heart by its resident monks for trying to steal something they had long locked away.

She is the same Mura who now acts as Erzi’s bodyguard after last volume’s attempt on his life and that of his father, the General of All Blades. She is now stern and taciturn, ever so watchful with those piercing green eyes, and on each sleepless night she haunts the palace’s library.

In THE NAMELESS CITY VOL 1 we learned that – sprawled out at the base of a vast mountain range, and surrounded on all sides by enemies with eyes set on conquest – The Nameless City straddles the River of Lives at the bottom of an unnatural gorge.

The Northern People who first built the city also carved that improbable passage through those enormous mountains, but no one knows how for their language is lost. However, in joining the river to the sea they ensured that this city, through which all commerce now passes, controls the flow of wealth. It is a city of a thousand names for everyone envies its strategic position and it has been conquered and re-conquered, named and re-named except by its native inhabitants to whom it is Nameless.

One of those inhabitants is Rat, a young athlete able to run across rooftops at blinding speed, which is how she first met Kaidu or Kai. Kai only arrived in the city four months ago to begin training as a rather reluctant warrior. It was the first time he’d met his father Andren, also a general, who now has a plan to form a unifying Council giving everyone a say – not just the Dao – in the city’s future. Obviously the monks are keen, as is Rat who was brought up by them after the death of her parents. But the Dao have many enemies including the Yisun from whom they took the city, and they’re refusing to come to the table. The pressure is on and time is running out.

Right, I think that’s all the context you need, but for more hop back to THE NAMELESS CITY VOL 1.

As I say, like FRIENDS WITH BOYS, this is at its heart a book about friendships, and it has so much heart! Dozens of pages are devoted to sharing and caring enough to listen. You will, for example, finally find out what happened to Rat’s parents after Kai finds a small statuette of them which Rat normally hides away. Hicks is a master of these natural conversational triggers, and the way confidences then impact on consequent behaviour.

She’s also exceptionally gifted when it comes to exploring the joy, and sometimes initial difficulties, in being introduced to new friends for the first time. When Rat introduces Kai to Hannya and Iniko who are older, Hannya is open and solicitous towards Kai, encouraging him when he shows an interest in Iniko’s string instrument and teasing Iniko about his own dubious prowess. Kai in return is delightfully self-deprecating, but Iniko remains wary, protective, defensive and even slightly resentful towards this son of a Dao general.

It’s beautifully played by Hicks and colourist Jordie Bellaire who knows exactly how to flush a face in myriad different ways to denote tentativeness, bashfulness, awkwardness, embarrassment, shame, disdain and fury all in the same exchange after Kai finishes strumming.

“What’s the song about? I’ve never heard it before.”
“Oh, um… It’s about a battle between the Yisun and the Dao. Uh, we beat them pretty badly.”
“Pft. Even Dao music is about conquering. Everything is about violence. What they conquered, who they killed – “

Rat interrupts him.

“Iniko, stop it.”
“I’m just saying –“
“And I said STOP IT.”

I don’t have that page for you, sorry!

As to the music itself, evoking harmony and melody, it swirls around the page in purple and pink in a way that put me in mind of Hope Larson, as did the first page following the prologue with Rat underwater before she bursts to the surface in an open air swimming pool reminiscent of Roman baths. The midday, summer-sunshine light is remarkable – with hot skin against cool blue and pale, cream-coloured stone – as is the sense of space the two artists create between them both there and throughout with wide gates, broad corridors and evening, rooftop views of a glowing city below.

Kai and Rat’s new and unlikely friendship – between the conquering and the conquered – points to new hope for a far brighter future if Kai’s father can fulfil his plan for a united council. Unfortunately unity will prove in short supply in the most extraordinary quarters, and there was something which Rat let slip out without thinking, which she probably shouldn’t have.

“Sometimes I forget the monks have secrets they want to protect.”

SLH

Buy The Nameless City vol 2: The Stone Heart and read the Page 45 review here

Big Mushy Happy Lump (£9-99, Andersen) by Sarah Andersen.

Do you want to feel happier about your own life?

About your hang-ups, neuroses and self-confidence issues?

Sarah Anderson is here to make that happen, and hilariously so!

Perhaps you don’t have any hang-ups, neuroses or self-confidence issues: laugh at Sarah’s instead! She’s positively inviting you to do so in a warm and welcoming way, from inside the most recent big woolly sweater she’s stolen.

Highly recommended to readers of Allie Brosh’s HYPERBOLE AND A HALF, anyone who’s already read Andersen’s ADULTHOOD IS A MYTH will know that she is mischievous, open and honest; and honesty is vital for this sort of comedy for without it you wouldn’t connect and so be ticking all those recognition boxes.

I, for example, read this very first page in bed when I had written not one weekly review so far and desperately needed to crack on. I didn’t get up until I finished the book.

To be fair, that’s not so much my fault but Sarah’s. Her comedy is comics’ equivalent of Jaffa Cakes or Maltesers. I saw a bag of Maltesers the other day which boasted that it was resealable: I laughed so f***ing hard.

You also need consistency and conviction. Cumulative jokes are funny when they’re variations on a theme and if you pander to what’s popular you will lose your signature identity. Although there is the most excellent extended sequence involving Andersen’s conversion from aversion to cats through the necessity of containing her mouse infestation, which grew so bad that she’d find half a dozen of them hanging off the latest sweater she’d stolen… while she was wearing it.

One of those variations on a theme involves hurt feelings. When someone hurts Sarah’s feelings she shrugs them off; when someone hurts her friend’s feelings she rides through the wall in a tank.

Although you remember I mentioned that matter of honesty? Exuberantly, flamboyantly, wearing a fur coat and shades:

“I’M A TOUGH B****!!! I DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE SAY!! I’LL DO WHATEVER I WA –“

Reality Rabbit, the tiny white bunny of truth, sympathetically steps in:

“Somebody hurt your feelings, didn’t they?”

Silent panel, close-up, shades lifted: it’s quite the beat.

Then, quietly, hands clasped around knees in a panel shared with Reality Rabbit but with ever so much grey space around them:

“Maybe.”

Click on images to enlarge! You should be able to do that with most of our art.

There are so many different devices deployed in the punchlines.

There’s the ellipsis in ‘There Are Two Types Of People’, Anderson edging, slowly, gingerly into cold water followed by another girl throwing herself eagerly in: the joke lies in what you know happens next.

Then there’s the paralysis on discovering the shocking cost of cute clothing. The camera pans back. A new gulf appears between the article in question and its previously smitten but now horrified, freeze-framed, bog-eyed potential customer widening, white-faced in the void.

What else will you find within? A whole load more clothes (seasonally adjusted), the squeeze of time when even on a Sunday you are worrying about Monday; finances, fears, learning and lyrics; tattoos and traumas, plus the brilliance of bottling up emotions so that neither you nor your friends have to face them. That’s always a good idea, isn’t it, because that glass is never going to shatter then leave sharp shards in your gelatinous brain fluids or mental make-up?

Emotional rollercoaster rides! Just because it’s obvious, that doesn’t make it any less than 100% true.

Then there’s the cruelty of memory which wilfully chooses to fixate on mistakes. It’s another extended sequence involving self-perception and over-thinking things which I for one am far from immune to. Jumping to conclusions? Andersen pole-vaults to them! You have to put some real effort into that.

So much of this comedy is visual that I could not possibly do Andersen justice in words.

I adore her when she dips into the difference between the sexes, during puberty especially or hanging out in a bar. Time and again she taps into truths then articulates them with verbal and visual, pithy wit and dexterity.

My favourite truth above all in this outing is ‘How I Spend Money’.

I have gleefully shown so many customers this page over the course of the week and each one of them howled. They giggled, guffawed; they cackled and cried real tears at the counter in recognition.

After which I successfully rinsed them for every penny they had.

SLH

Buy Big Mushy Happy Lump and read the Page 45 review here

Fun: Spies, Puzzle Solvers And A Century Of Crosswords (£15-99, SelfMadeHero) by Paolo Bacilieri…

I am not, I must confess, a fan of crosswords, but my dad is, hugely so, so that’s one Christmas present sorted then! For this is, in part, a fascinating history of the original fiendish word puzzle from its inception in pre-World War One New York. The other part is a fictional story, itself a protracted puzzle whose ‘solution’ is only revealed right at the climax.

The two are seamlessly melded together through the conceit that our ‘hero’, the oddly titled Zeno Porno, (being a character from a previous work by Bacilieri who is a Disney comic book writer and also apparently a former secret agent of the CIA, though nothing is made of that latter point in this work) bumps into a long-time hero of his in Milan, the equally implausibly named Professor Pippo Quester (based on Umberto Eco), who just so happens to be writing a book on the history of crossword puzzles.

 

 

What follows is a both an insightful and fascinating historical analysis of the rise of the definitive fiendish word game, in all its various subtly different international flavours, and a gripping yarn that becomes a thrilling piece of suspense with a conclusion I certainly didn’t guess. Pretty much like any crossword clue…

JR

Buy Fun: Spies, Puzzle Solvers And A Century Of Crosswords and read the Page 45 review here

Surgeon X vol 1: The Path Of Most Resistance s/c (£13-99, Image) by Sara Kenney & John Watkiss.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“True for bacteria and people.”

If you thought LOW’s futuristic premise based on scientific certainty was pretty crushing, welcome to another far, far closer to the bleak hour at hand.

All too topical, this medical and medication-based conspiracy thriller addresses bacterial immunity to antibiotics – which is already reaching dangerous levels – and speculates on its repercussions for a society in a political climate currently lurching horrifyingly far to the right.

It’s 2036, and the Conservatives have been eclipsed by the ultranationalist red-on-white Lionheart Party which is currently in power. I imagine they once had no members of Parliament whatsoever, but were given equal airtime by a feckless, controversy-cultivating and so complicit media. That’s wild speculation of my part, obviously. It couldn’t happen here.

In 2016 700,000 individuals died from antibiotic-resistant infections. By 2036 that annual figure has risen to 9 million. Tuberculosis, pneumonia, meningitis and most STDs have become untreatable. The condition is critical: you could now die of an infected paper cut.

This is far from a sensationalist prospect, I promise you.

“Alexander Fleming’s messy lab led to the serendipitous discovery of penicillin. The very first class of antibiotic,” we are told in a lecture by microbiologist Dr. Martha Scott. It saved hundreds of thousands of lives during WWII and “became the bedrock of modern medicine, curing once deadly diseases and infections”.

That is all true, and so is this:

“By 2010, antibiotic use was rife in farming as well as medicine. And no new classes had been found since 1987. Some poor countries even sold them like sweets since it was cheaper than seeing a doctor. And so the resistance grew.”

Bacteria adapt and evolve a great deal faster than we do: they multiply faster than we do.

“For decades, big pharma failed to invest in new antibiotics – not profitable. And governments didn’t devote enough resources until it was too late. Hospitals have become breeding grounds for these deadly infections, and enforced home isolation is now the only option for the seriously ill.”

Complacency is one of the things modern humans do best.

Featuring the finest (and unfortunately final) art of John Watkiss’ career, printed on paper stock which make his deep and rich blacks glow alongside James Devlin’s colours, this is a nightmare scenario so grippingly executed not because of its death toll (that is not what this is about) but because Kenney has concentrated on its ramifications for individuals under a regime which has decided – as a result of the limited resources and their efficaciousness – to ration the remaining antibiotics.

For a start, you will not receive treatment of any kind if you do not qualify for it under the stringent Productivity Contribution Index.

If you are deemed and dismissed as a waste of space by The Powers That Be – by being disabled and/or obese, for example – then you can probably fuck off and quite literally die.

The scenario has been so well thought through.

There are of course riots, for what else can one do when you are otherwise powerless and outright rejected by intransigent authorities? We begin with a bombing at a London mayoral election debate which injures both candidates and in attendance by accident is Dr. Martha Scott’s sister, Rosa. Like her mother, Dr. Martha Scott is a microbiologist involved in education and active research; but, like her father, Dr Rosa Scott is a frontline surgeon. She works for the NHS. Under the Hippocratic Oath she has sworn to uphold certain ethical standards. She does not believe in the rationing, by governmental command, of antibiotics: these decisions she believes should be made by doctors. She believes all patients in need should be treated equally regardless of the PCI and that she must certainly do them no harm through her actions or inaction.

Yet faced with two political candidates in need she chooses to help the one whose policies are in accord with her own, and hesitates to help the other. There are… dramatic repercussions.

Two weeks earlier Dr Rosa Scott operated on a patient whose life was immediately at risk but who didn’t qualify under the PCI and, threatened with disciplinary action, she quit the NHS. Instead she opened her own long-planned private surgery in the basement of her house. Unlike her father in the private medical sector, she is determined to operate on patients in need regardless of their financial resources. She is Surgeon X: underground and illegal. But she’s going to find that those initially most in need are those closest to home.

And that’s where the heart of this series lies: so close to home.

Far away from home was Rosa and Martha Scott’s mother six weeks earlier, last seen on a refugee boat off the coast of Burma, injected with a paralysing drug then drowned in the sea. She was on the brink of discovering a new class of antibiotics but someone evidently didn’t like what she’d found.

I know what you’re thinking: this is packed!

And it is. I haven’t even hinted at Rosa and Martha’s half-brother Lewis, a schizophrenic desperately in need of maintaining his medication but who ditches it in order to feel liberated by its side-effects and suffocating restraint. If Sara Kenney hasn’t had personal experience of a loved one in this condition then I would be stunned, for every element is perfectly played from Lewis’ deluded decision that this time he will be fine (when he wasn’t in the past) to the resultant suspicion and distrust of those once again closest to home and the wider, deep-rooted paranoia regarding authority and a conspiracy to constrain. The mind-set and language are both spot-on. I know: I’ve been there with two mates.

But what is brilliant is that it dove-tails into this scenario so well.

Also exceptional: the poetry when it’s practised, the history lessons and the extrapolation of a credible future from where we are today (surgeons still only 15% female – long live the patriarchy, eh? – see Y – THE LAST MAN), with lovely little satirical side-swipes at Twitter (“Chatterblast”) and cabbies who can’t keep their predictable, opinionated gobs shut even when they’re self-driven / automated:

“Welcome to London cabs. Would you like to know the predicted weather for this afternoon?”
“No.”
“Would you like to discuss politics or a topic of your choosing?”
“No!”
“Okay. How about King Charles’ views on architecture, the environment or complementary medicine?”
“Noooooo!”
“University College London – Cruciform Building. We’ve arrived at your destination. Have a nice day – and please don’t slam the door…!”
*SLAM*

My only complaint is that because this series is so rich in skulduggery that it does at times suffer from excessively expository dialogue. In this instance I can live with that: other than being released as an original graphic novel I’m not sure how it could have been avoided. It’s just that we don’t naturally remind each other in conversation of events that have dramatically impacted on our shared lives in the form of little memorandums or post-it notes.

I loved the bits out in orbit, the sunsets in Scotland, the flashbacks to Rosa’s mistake working in the war-torn Libyan field, and the entire examination of how highly we regard surgeons when they are – like us all – individual, flawed human beings who cannot get everything right their first time. Institutional failings are unforgiveable but individual mistakes are inevitably made.

So tuberculosis, pneumonia, meningitis and most STDs have become untreatable and the condition is critical: you could die of an infected paper cut.

But what if an old-school epidemic reached our shores…? One with “prior”, as they say.

It gets worse.

SLH

Buy Surgeon X vol 1: The Path Of Most Resistance s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Saga Deluxe Edition vol 2 h/c (£44-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples.

I love that the deluxe hardcovers’ covers focus, close-up, on young Hazel’s development.

She is, after all, SAGA’s narrator, filling the series with foreshadowing, the wisdom of experience, and the insight of hindsight. What don’t know yet is how long she has had to acquire her worldview, for we have no idea at what age Hazel is telling her story.

It’s essentially a comedy about love – of relationships, parents and children – and a discourse on the atrocities of war in which no one is safe. That its setting is science fantasy gives Vaughan and Staples the opportunity to fill it with the wonders of diversity, which they’ve both taken full advantage of, as well as its attendant bigotry. Hazel is having to hide her biological nature, for she’s a miraculous child born of two distinctive species which are at war. One has wings, the other has horns; Hazel has both.

 

 

Not only have they been at war for as long as anyone can remember, but for so very long that no one has so far recalled a moment when they were once at peace. Hazel’s not the only one within who has decided to hide a truth, but she is the only one privy to that secret.

It’s a deliciously inclusive series, is what I’m saying, and prospective newcomers are heartily encouraged to read my overview of SAGA DELUXE EDITION VOL 1 H/C even if you end up buying one of the seven softcovers so far. That contains the first; this contains 4 to 6 so please click on those SAGA covers if you want to read those reviews because conjoining them – as I did for Brubaker, Epting and Breitweiser’s VELVET h/c or Brubaker, Phillips and Breitweiser’s THE FADE OUT – is far more work than you’d imagine, involving a great deal of cutting and splicing, and the occasional bloody finger.

 

 

You know, if Fiona Staples hadn’t nailed the image above with those incredible eyes accentuated by the occasionally worn glasses, then that sentence would hang limp. As it stands, it shines. I remember the first few pages of SAGA  when she did the same for Marko: the love in his eyes when Hazel is born!

Not included in this volume, obviously:

The deluxe hardcovers come with extras, this time in the form of brand-new guest art from Jen Bartel, Bengal, Cliff Chiang, Pia Guerra, Faith Erin Hicks, Karl Kerschl, Jason Latour, Marcos Martin, Todd McFarlane, Sean Murphy, Steve Skroce and Chip Zdarsky.

Each of these pieces is accompanied by an introduction by Brian, then a Q&A in the same spirit as the periodical’s annual readership survey, while the extras themselves are introduced by a page of musings and an illustration by Pia Guerra which reminds me to warn you that there is in each volume One Of Those Moments which will leave you exceptionally relieved that you never leant this book to your grandma or grandpa. One of those here involves a dragon in an act which you will never, ever forget.

SLH

Buy Saga Deluxe Edition vol 2 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Simply Samuel h/c (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Tommi Musturi…

A few years ago there was a wordless Nobrow work I absolutely loved called ADVENTURES OF A JAPANESE BUSINESSMAN by Jose Domingo. It was utterly surreal, brilliantly bonkers and totally hilarious featuring the horrifically relentless worst day ever in the life of the titular protagonist. This is definitely the closest anything has come to that since, with its weird, trippy sequences featuring the main character. Also, artistically, it has a number of similarities to that work too.

It also visually very strongly reminded me of Marc Bell’s SHRIMPY AND PAUL, plus I could see, believe it or not, elements of Chris Ware in there with some of the crazy little design elements that are thrown in and Tommi’s frequent use of straight lines and perfectly formed half circles. Also, at times, believe me, this is as odd as Jim FRAN Woodring, in fact even Hans FOLLY Rickheit.

 

I shouldn’t have been totally surprised, given this came from the crazed mind that produced THE BOOK OF HOPE. But whereas that is a strangely soothing and whimsically philosophical musing on the passage of time as seen through the lens of the autumn years of a perennial underachiever, this is just an all-out assault on one’s sanity with a number of reality distorting and flipping devices deployed at regular intervals throughout. He’s clearly a very versatile writer, our Tommi.

 

I finished this absolutely none the wiser as to what the hell it was all about, but I did feel like I had certainly had an extremely interesting and enjoyable experience.

JR

Buy Simply Samuel h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Drugs & Wires #3 (£4-99) by Io Black & Crylocliare…

“The, um, the idea, Miss H…, uh, Ma’am, was to make the software more approachable to the American public. Using some of today’s most beloved young sitcom stars, we created a pitch, that’s a little more, uh, light-hearted, more funny…”
“Funny? FUNNY? Bleeding Christ almighty, we had more laugh lines at my second husband’s funeral. What else have you got?”
“Um.”
“Let’s cut to the chase. When we bailed your operation out two years ago, you said you were making VR bigger than big. Building a virtual future, with virtual gaming, virtual vacations, virtual concerts, virtual fucking. Something for everybody. So we kept our hands off, even after you blew three release dates and every last cent of your development budget twice over. Didn’t even blink when you paid some washed-up New Wave act a quarter million for a piddling three-second start up noise…”
“…Error noise, Ma’am. Specifically for when the user…”
“The point is that we’ve put a lot of time, money and patience into this little project of yours. Now we’re in the show me phase and all you’ve shown me so far is this.”
“All due respect, Ma’am, but Dreamspace ’95 is the best VR creation tool on the market today. The problem is not with the software.”
“Of course it isn’t! That’s why you chucklefucks are being outsold by ‘Freddie Ferret’s Fun With Fractions!’ at every retailer on the East Coast.”
“Maybe if our Director Of Sales would…”
“I’m done talking. Get this fixed or start blowing the cobwebs off your resumes. It’s that simple.”

Haha, I do like a good tirade. I did initially mis-read the last part and think the choice insult in question was chuckleferrets, which only tickled me further. This mirth-moist third instalment of DRUGS & WIRES only serves to further deepen the mystery regarding precisely who is trying to wipe out the fringe headwear community, and indeed now messing around with VR providers. There’s a curious game afoot, and neither I, nor those at the pointy end of the virtual probings, have a clue about what’s really going on.

This title, neatly blending speculative fiction and relentless humour fits perfectly into the sci-farce sub-genre. I have no idea if that’s a genuine term, mind you, but if not, it should be! Anyone who has ever read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy would appreciate the digital daftness of this mash up of cyberpunk and clown school. Main character Dan is such a hapless car crash of an individual he fits perfectly into that Arthur Dent–esque idiot on the loose role.

JR

Buy Drugs & Wires #3 and read the Page 45 review here

Amazing Spider-Man: Worldwide: The Clone Conspiracy (UK Edition) s/c (£16-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott, Christos Gage & Jim Cheung, Giuseppe Camuncoli, R.B. Silva, Javier Garron…

“Great! So Doc Ock’s back now?! Perfect! I guess Jackal’s just cloning everybody, is that it?! Couldn’t he clone somebody cool, like, I dunno, Prince? No! Let’s go for Tubby McPsycho here!”
“Your taunts ring hollow, Spider-Man. I know you well enough to see that, in your heart, you know the truth. I am no mere clone, simulacrum, or hologram. It is I, the one true Otto Octavius. The man who cheated death itself!”

Errr… I think Peter got the ‘back-from-the-death’ badge (along with half the Marvel Universe, mind you) long before you, Otto. But still, it is good to see Tubby McPsycho back in all his monologuing, ranting glory. Though he’ll be working on that physique with a most extreme weight-loss plan before the end of this latest Spider-epic…

Ah, it feels good to finally enjoy the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man again. The first three volumes of the current ‘millionaire playboy’ so-called ‘Worldwide’ run have been spectacularly average so it’s really nice to see Slott back on better form.

 

Casting my mind back over Slott’s now extremely lengthy run, the thought does occur that the highlights have definitely been the events: SPIDER ISLAND, SPIDER-VERSE and now this. I did also enjoy the entirety of the SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN run when Otto was on the loose in Peter’s body, which again, was something a bit different. It has to be hard to keep writing the same title and character for so long, and inevitably there will be downs as well as ups in the quality, I suppose. Long-term Slott collaborator Christos Gage also provides the bulk of the excellent pencils throughout.

Anyway, here Peter is pretty much correct: the Jackal is indeed cloning and thus resurrecting everyone who has ever died with the likes of Captain Stacey and Gwen Stacey returning from the great beyond. For long time Spider-fans, the reappearance of that particular duo will provide a little tug on the old heartstrings. Then there’s a plethora of villains, such as the Rose, the Rhino, Mysterio, various Goblins, Enforcers, the Stiltman, Miles Warren… hold on a minute, Miles Warren was the Jackal… So if it’s not him behind the Jackal mask, who is it?

It all makes perfect sense, as much as anything can in the Marvel Universe when you get the big reveal, but when this new Jackal offers Peter a Faustian pact to bring back [REDACTED] by twirling the test tubes with all the power and none of the responsibility… it’s a reincarnation too far for Peter and tips him over the edge. Then the punching starts, obviously! At the end, when the disintegrated clone dust has settled, it’s who’s left standing, in what condition, in whose body… that’s as fascinating as anything and will hopefully set up a few more decent storylines over the next couple of years.

JR

Buy Amazing Spider-Man: Worldwide: The Clone Conspiracy (UK Edition) s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews.

Crickets #6 (£6-99, American Comics) by Sammy Harkham

Elves vol 1 (£10-99, Insight Editions) by Jean-Luc Istin & Kyko Duarte

Honor Girl (£7-99, Candlewick) by Maggie Thrash

The Last American (£15-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner, Alan Grant & Mick McMahon

The Little Mermaid (£12-99, Papercut) by Metaphrog

Magical Twins Deluxe h/c (£14-99, Humanoids) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess

Rise Of Black The Flame (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson & Christopher Mitten, Laurence Campbell

The Shape Of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration Of Creativity (£11-99, Abrams) by Grant Snider

Slaine: The Brutania Chronicles Book Three: Psychopomp h/c (£15-99, Rebellion) by Pat Mills & Simon Davis

Strange Fruit h/c (£22-99, Boom!) by Mark Waid & J. G. Jones

Summer Magic: The Complete Journal Of Luke Kirby (£19-99, Rebellion) by Alan McKenzie & John Ridgway, Steve Parkhouse

Valerian: The Complete Collection vol 1 h/c (£24-99, Cinebook) by Pierre Christian & Jean-Claude Mezieres

Wonder Woman vol 2: Year One s/c (Rebirth) (£14-99, DC) by Greg Rucka & Nicola Scott

Champions vol 1: Change The World s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos

New Avengers by Bendis Complete Collection vol 4 s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Billy Tan, Michael Gaydos, Jim Cheung, David Mack, Chris Bachalo

My Brother’s Husband vol 1 h/c (£22-99, Pantheon) by Gengoroh Tagame

News!

ITEM! PAGE 45’s 50% SALE!

PAGE  45 KICKED OFF A 50% SALE OF 2,500 GRAPHIC NOVELS LAST FRIDAY NIGHT.

It’s probably going to be closer to 1,500 by the time you see this, but what a lot of grinning faces we’ve seen!

What I love so much about it is that the books you are buying are brilliant. They’re not rubbish, or else why would we have reviewed so many of them?

No, we’re simply doing this because it’s only Phase One of Page 45’s Evolution this year – a means to a most emphatic, architectural end – and because it has been proven that having too much to choose from destroys sales.

There have been surveys on this sort of stuff about jam! Jam!

ALL of these were in the sale as of Friday night!

But please don’t think this mean we believe we’re selling jam or we’re going to cut back on diversity. Oooooh no!

Just bulk.

Comics is a visual medium, particularly for kids who don’t browse by spine, and this will allow us to present more of the very best quality comics face-on.

You can always order in whatever you want by asking at the counter, regardless of whether we stock it on our shelves.

It’s basically the same thing as Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month, which we were begged for when a customer called Simon Ghent simply could not handle so many reviews of great graphic novels every month, and wanted to buy what we told him to!

Hello, by the way: we love giving shop-floor recommendations tailored to your tastes. Just ask at the counter!

THANK you! xxx

ITEM! The Inking Woman Exhbition at The Cartoon Museum until 23rd July 2017

Wish I’d been there on opening night!

ITEM! Did you enjoy Gareth Brookes’ A THOUSAND COLOURED CASTLES?

Ink #8 is out with an article by Gareth Brookes on “Expressing perceived reality through the language of comics”

You can follow INK on Twitter @Ink_Mag_UK

 – Stephen

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