Archive for June, 2019

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews June 2019 week three

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Featuring Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki, Marguerite Abouet, Mathieu Sapin J.M. DeMatteis, Jon J. Muth, Kent Williams, George Pratt, M. K. Reed, Greg Means, Matt Wiegle, Marcos Prior, David Rubin, Evan Dahm, Jessica Martin, Anders Nilsen

Skim s/c (£11-99, Groundwood Books) by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki.

An all-time Page 45 classic about first love during those oh so troubling teenage years – when so much was a mystery to us, especially ourselves – this astutely observed piece of poignancy by the Tamaki cousins was originally reviewed by our Tom in 2010 who finished with the following flourish:

“Keep an eye on these two as they are going to go far.”

He wasn’t wrong.

Together or separately, sometimes with other artists, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki have since been responsible for LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME, my personal favourite graphic novel of 2019 and Page 45’s Current Comicbook Of The Month, former Page 45 Comicbook Of The Months THIS ONE SUMMER and BOUNDLESS, plus the equally thought-provoking LUISA: NOW AND THEN, the Governor General’s Award-winning all-ages picture book THEY SAY BLUE, and the frankly bonkers collection of comedy shorts SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY

In light of all that exceptional elegance and eloquence, it’s time for a brand-new review of this diary-driven confessional about secrecy, sexuality, suicide, the rumours which subsequently run rampant and what happens to those left behind.

 

 

“Do you think this is a club for people who are going to commit suicide or people who know people who might commit suicide?”
“Why, are you thinking of joining?”
“Ha! I’d rather hang myself!”

Oh yeah, Skim’s cynical best friend Lisa is soooooooooooo very funny. She always has a disdainfully droll line or wry, witty rejoinder, but let’s put this into context:

Teenage John Reddear has just committed suicide. Lisa said he shot himself (he didn’t); others are saying he did it because he was gay and in love with a lad on his volleyball team (possible but unsubstantiated). So yes, John was on St. George’s volleyball team, and I don’t know if that qualifies him as a jock, but success in school sports certainly comes with cachet and he was pretty up-tempo and popular. But obviously he was, privately, profoundly distressed underneath. He was also going out with a blonde beauty called Katie Matthews whom he dumped but a few days earlier.

Katie was devastated. Katie drew broken hearts on her hands. And that was before the suicide.

You may consider drawing broken hearts a little on the look-at-me side, but she’s a teenager, and there’s a full-page portrait of Katie, genuinely distraught, being comforted in a crowd by her best friend, Julie Peters. It’s a high school crowd cluttering up the walkway between lockers, and Lisa is looking back at Julie’s compassion towards Katie’s distress (evidenced by her wilted, imploded form) with judgemental and distanced scepticism.

 

 

To Skim, Lisa pronounces:

“It’s like, please, so you break up with some tenth-grade loser and you get to act like it’s the end of the world or something.”
“Lame.”
“Super lame. I mean, just because you’re in the drama club doesn’t mean you have to ACT all the time.”

But remember that Skim echoed “lame”.

It’s sad, but I get that: it’s easy when young to be influenced by those who are confident, forthright and seemingly worldly-wise yet corrosive. Plus Skim, with troubles at home, is otherwise reclusive, retreating into her diaries and continually doubting herself, while Lisa is her inseparable, very best friend and ally in a sea of so much hormonal competitiveness.

 

 

So John Reddear has committed suicide leaving Katie Matthews wretched, inconsolable (loss, shock… guilt?) and…

“On Monday Mrs Hornet announced in prayers that Katie Matthews “accidentally” fell off her roof and broke both her arms. How do you accidentally fall off a roof?”

Compassionate counselling goes into overdrive but neither that nor the formation of the Girls Celebrate Life club with its own school notice board has the desired effect, especially on Katie Matthews whose arms are in plaster and so is forced to have her books carried around by others wherever she goes. If you think she was looking miserable before…

 

 

The other main thread on top of Skim’s toxic friendship and Katie’s increased isolation, is sparked when Skim skips gym for a secretive smoke behind the proverbial bike shed, and she’s caught red-handed by her English teacher, Ms. Archer.

“I was just leaving.”
“Only if you don’t have a light on you.”

Writes Skim, “It’s a rule that if an adult ask to smoke with you, you have to smoke. So we ended up talking and smoking.”

What they end up talking about is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ which Skim thinks is stupid, a love story not worth studying.

“Maybe it’s more than that. Maybe it’s the story of rebellion. Maybe it’s a story about two people who fall in love, when falling in love, with your enemy, is the one thing you’re not supposed to do. I’m sorry you don’t like it.”
“Oh no, I mean, it’s fine. I mean, I’m looking forward to talking about it in class.”
“You should try that. That talking-in-class-thing.”

Perhaps partly catalysed by that unexpected act of encouragement, the equally kind interest in Skim’s real name (Kimberly Keiko Cameron – “I’ll assume you prefer Kim”), the shared intimacy of a clandestine cigarette and a moment of physical contact albeit through plaster when Ms Archer draws something specific on Kim’s own cast, Skim tumbles blindly in love for the very first time. And, yes, to complicate matters in an already turbulent heart in a confusing world, it’s with her English teacher, Ms. Archer.

A first love drowns out everything else from lessons to casual conversations with the incessant, thunderous tom-toms pounding in your heart reverberating constantly through your head. Or is that an over-share? Sorry. Plus, this is her English teacher we’re talking about, with all the responsibilities that entails. Oh, the potential repercussions!

I mean, if it’s even reciprocated. What can Skim possibly hope to happen? She becomes a bit of an out-of-school stalker.

 

 

Jillian’s visual storytelling came fully formed even back then. The expressions, whether musing, amused, accusing or cross-patch, convey so much emotion with so very few lines. The body forms are as diverse as they should be for a group of teenagers growing at vastly different rates, and you don’t always see that acknowledged in comics.

Quite a lot of it is surprisingly sedentary (perhaps not so surprising, now that I think back on those years), but there’s also a full panel-less page of serpentine sequential art similar to the dance scene in THIS ONE SUMMER and just as accomplished in its swirling movement when “this herd of ballerinas swooped into the room and chased Hien and me out of the house.”

“Everybody out!” the teenage late-night, party-goers cry, but they only meant Hiem and Skim.
“We waited and waited for them to let us back in.
“After a little while Hien left.
“Hien’s parents adopted her from Vietnam two years earlier and she never got invited to parties. Maybe she thought that’s how people left parties in Canada. Asians first.”

 

 

 

It’s such a sad book with tender, haunting, overwhelmingly solitary art, even when in a crowd. There’s little that’s more lonely than being stuck in a crowd you want out of: glance back and forth at Katie throughout.

 

 

The environments are stunning, whether woodland, snowscapes or Ms. Archer’s eerily lit, three-storey house at night, watched then approached from across the suburban road by Skim.

This exceptionally understanding and grounded graphic novel doesn’t go where you’d expect it to, which is one of the reasons why I’ve always respected it so highly and winced for poor Skim when trying so tentatively – clumsily, oh so clumsily – to imply her affection.

It’s full of the gauche things we do when young, and the diary entries – it is all diary entry, first-person narration – could not be more perfectly written. If one of the key elements of noir is that you must relish spending time in the narrator’s head, so it is here in Skim’s diary.

 

 

It strikes me that so much of this is about the contrasting nature of the public and the private – the things experienced alone in one’s head – none more so than in the Katie’s experience when her ex-boyfriend’s private suicide becomes public property.

SLH

Buy Skim s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Moonshadow Definitive Edition h/c (£26-99, Dark Horse) by J. M. DeMatteis & Jon J. Muth with Kent Williams, George Pratt.

“I blamed myself for Mother’s death, for Ira’s unhappiness, for my poor cat’s misfortune.

“I blamed myself for war, famine, pestilence and disease.
“I blamed myself for blaming myself – then blamed myself again.”

Good old guilt.

I remain immensely fond of this fully painted, coming-of-age fantasy – very much reminiscent of prime Douglas Adams – not least because when young Moonshadow originally grew up on these pages, he turned into David Sylvian, erstwhile singer-songwriter of pop group Japan turned experimental orchestrator of all manner of sonic noodling.

We’ll return to that in a second.

Moonshadow is a strange boy, but then he had strange parentage: his mother was a pacifistic revolutionary hippy who called herself Sunflower, his father a G’l-Dose. The G’l-Doses are large, glowing, spherical objects for whom the only motive is caprice. Makes them somewhat difficult to reason with, let alone learn life lessons from. There’s not much there by way of paternal instincts.

 

 

And so it is that David – sorry, Moonshadow – is thrown out of his home by his father (his father was his captor; the home a galactic zoo) and voyages into life among the stars with his faithless companion Ira, a sex-obsessed big bundle of matted brown fur in a bowler hat with a cigar clenched permanently between his teeth. Also, with his mother and black cat called Frodo.

As the inquisitive dreamer and innocently optimistic Moonshadow gradually learns first-hand about love, sex, war and death, the contrastingly self-centred and cynical Ira insists upon occasionally imparting his own life’s journey, stopping and restarting several times after confessing, “I lied”.

The saga is recollected in a whimsical, iconoclastic fashion by Moonshadow himself as an old artist.

 

 

If you want a taste for its tone, there’s a potentially poignant scene towards the end when a character questions: “Ridiculous, isn’t it? To love someone like that?” To which Moonshadow replies:

“Ridiculous and illogical. I love him, too.”

They exit the stage… to the sound of Ira, asleep, oblivious, farting.

If Ira remains resolutely unimpressed by Moonshadow, the latter ill-advisedly sees the former as the father-figure he never had.

“He was a surly, cynical, lecherous grouch; a horny sensualist who cared for nothing save filling his belly and fondling his genitals. He farted with malice, belched without shame, and offended everyone.
“No wonder he stole my heart.”

Originally billing itself “A Fairy Tale for Adults”  and published in 1985 by Marvel’s aptly titled Epic imprint (it’s a long, improbable story but God bless editor Archie Goodwin), it ran to a full twelve monthly instalments during which punishing schedule Jon J. Muth (SANDMAN: THE WAKE, M etc), found himself floundering. Equally accomplished stablemates Kent Williams and George Pratt were therefore reigned in for a couple of issues. As a youngster I could barely see the join but I can, admittedly, now. They’re still beautiful, every single page.

 

 

It was the very first series I read that had not a cape in sight and its revelatory effect upon me – as to what else I might relish – was almost as transformative as working alongside our beardly beloved Mark. So if you’re a superhero reader teetering on the edge of trying something new, this comes highly recommended with the proven prospect of thirty-five years of branching out further and enjoying this medium in all its diverse glory. You might even open a comic shop some day.

This is also recommended to those who simply enjoy lambent watercolours or a daft old quest full of mischief.

 

 

Muth’s wet-brush washes over his tight, neo-classical pencils evidence the sort of looseness I fervently envy but have never been able to reproduce. It’s aesthetically pleasing enough in fine art, but in sequential art this proves vital, for it encourages the eye to move along at the same jaunty, clipped pace of the narrator. You must surely have stumbled upon some comics rendered in stodgy gouache whose cover may have held promise, but whose interior panels clog up the proceedings with their overwrought detail and density. Not so here, not remotely. I reckon readers of DESCENDER and MIRROR (MIRROR volume 2 out now) will adore this.

 

 

Returning to the book’s visual references to David Sylvian, although for the first collected edition Muth repainted certain pages after he found his heart worn a little too vulnerably upon his sleeve and so pulled his cuffs down a notch (by lessening the likeness to the singer-songwriter repeated voted most swoonaway man in pop by the readers of Smash Hits) when he rejoined J. M. DeMatteis for an additional one-shot of MOONSHADOW illustrated prose (reprinted here with additional back-matter sketches), he reversed his sartorial thrusters and resumed direct portraits.

 

 

If you harbour any further doubts just Google David Sylvian’s ‘Red Guitar’ single from his first solo album and watch Anton Corbijn’s video. Oh, here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tTX49CjAgo

Yes, that’s Moonshadow as an old man. There are even balloons if you wait long enough.

 

 

I leave you with an extract from the boy’s earliest contact from outside his spaceship, a distress signal which immediate ignites the “rose-tinted Romantic” in him. Ira’s to the left of him, his mother to the right. He’s stuck in the middle, boo-hoo.

“Someone was in trouble, in the heart of the Kickapoo Cluster. A true Lancelot-in-training, visions of endangered damsels filling my head, I reached for the controls.

“Are you stupider that you look? This whole sector’s infested with plague! We can’t go in there!”

“Sunflower”, rising from a languorous rest below deck, dissented:

“If someone wants our help, Moon, then they should have it. “Show kindness to thy brothers and free them from suffering, right?”

I was utterly confused: To turn my back on a being in need contradicted every belief I held dear. But entering the Cluster was flirting with suicide, and I had no desire to indulge in cosmic wrist-slashing.

I agonized; I theorized; I scrutinized my conscience.

I decided:

“We’re going in!”

… then wet my pants.”

SLH

Buy Moonshadow Definitive Edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Penny Nichols s/c (£17-99, Top Shelf) by M. K. Reed, Greg Means & Matt Wiegle…

“I never wanted to be a teacher or lawyer. I never wanted to be anything, really.”

I think there might be a fair few people out there who can admit to that.

Still at that point, with the true horrors of the reality of what awaits one post-education just beginning to kick in, you just have to get your finger out of your proverbial behind or you’ll end up stuck in a crap job living with a flatmate who totally hates you.

Well, maybe not that last bit, but Penny Nicholls has managed to ‘achieve’ that feat as well! Here is the plot summary from the publisher as to how she’s going to try and clapperboard the second act of her life into action…

“Somehow, cynical Penny Nichols has gotten roped into helping make a ridiculously over-the-top slasher film. With a crew of flakes and oddballs, she’s probably the only one who can save this stupid movie… but maybe it can save her, too. Now can somebody please stop that dog from licking the fake blood?

Stuck working mind-numbing temp jobs, Penny Nichols yearns to break free from the rut she’s found herself in. When, by chance, she falls in with a group of misfits making a no-budget horror movie called Blood Wedding, everything goes sideways.

Soon her days are overrun with gory props, failed Shakespearean actors, a horny cameraman, and a disappearing director. Somehow Penny must hold it all together and keep the production from coming apart at the seams.

This hilarious graphic novel is a loving tribute to the chaos and camaraderie of D.I.Y. filmmaking, and the ways we find our future and our family in the unlikeliest of places.”

Come on; admit this too, we’ve all seen certain films and thought, “I could do that.” In fact it never ceases to amaze me just how many bad films of all budgetary levels get made. I’ll freely admit I’ve thought the same regarding many a comic too, and yet I’ve made neither a film nor a comic, and probably never will. Why? Well, it does seemingly takes a special sort of lunatic to make films and indeed also to make comics*. Which is why a comic about absolute rank amateurs making a low-budget horror film has got high farcical potential written all over it. And so it proves!

* You just have to be a complete lunatic to sell them…

 

 

Fortunately for the hapless duo of directors in question it seems they’ve lucked out by begging and pleading with Penny to come on board to help out as she promptly warms to her task with gusto, taking all the myriad problems – mostly caused by the incompetence and slackassery of her new colleagues – in her stride, as the gang attempt to complete their flick in record time to submit it to Slashercon, where they are convinced the inevitable fortune and glory await. Well, the more deluded of them. And so it…

Ah, ah, no spoilers now! Nowhere worse than a comic shop for someone spouting out a film spoiler without the proprietor managing it too…

M.K. PALEFIRE / AMERICUS Reed returns (in conjunction with co-writer Greg Means) with yet another completely different project having covered crime as well as kids’ works previously. This comedy offering is one of the most wittily entertaining ensemble tales I’ve read in a while, really getting into the characters foibles and fixations, particularly Penny’s, in excruciatingly entertaining depth.

While the cast start to practically bounce off each other as the impending deadline looms ever larger and thus the pressure continues to mount ever further on Penny, can she handle it without cracking, particularly with her snarky snobby sister continually chipping in from the sidelines? Artist Matt Wiegle captures the bonkers nature of the story perfectly with a style that minded me greatly of a slightly toned-down (if that’s even possible!) Evan ELTINGVILLE CLUB Dorkin.

That’s a wrap. Just buy it. And why not?  Trust me, I’m like the Barry Norman of comics reviewing. Or something.

JR

Buy Penny Nichols s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Grand Abyss Hotel h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Marcos Prior & David Rubin…

 

 

“…According to his own statements, health care cuts are inevitable… they’re painful measures for which there is no workable alternative…”
“…Have announced a tax cut to encourage the flow of capital, which is key to economic recovery…”
“…The Minister of Education has reiterated that the cuts to the public school budget will not have a negative impact on teaching quality…”
“…We’ve got to be creative: we’ve got to learn to do more with less…”
“…Starting next month, electricity costs will go up 9.99%…”
“…Businessmen worried about the image and impact abroad of the street cleaners’ strike…”
“…The adoption of Bittercoin will lead to the disappearance of tax havens, there won’t be any need for them…”
“…The government has announced a new reformulation of the right to strike…”
“…Experts warn that the public pension system is unsustainable…”

Sigh. There are another three pages of the first protagonist, the masked activist who adorns the cover of this work, listening to depressingly real incoming snippets of news on various channels as he pumps iron in preparation for his big moment.

 

 

Here is the PR blitz from the publisher to tell us all why it is time to check out…

“Marcos Prior and David BEOWULF Rubín weave a politically satirical look at democracy today through the lens of hyper-violence and explosive action.

Imagine a world overrun by big business and ‘fake news’ via the social media machine…

In The Grand Abyss Hotel neoliberalism has become a state religion, while the citizens quietly and then not-so-quietly rebel, giving way to violence on the streets and sowing chaos. A masked vigilante takes on the role of hero to battle politicians, the erosion of democracy, and social media. After the fires burn low and the dust settles, social order returns. Or does it?”

It really isn’t that hard to imagine is it? “…a world overrun by big business and ‘fake news’ via the social media machine…” and “…neoliberalism has become a state religion…”

For we’re all too sadly living it, it seems to me. I should probably clarify at this point that the Grand Abyss Hotel is the (presumably colloquial) name of the home of the government in this city, which is shortly about to come under direct assault.

 

 

Which raises an interest question, actually. At what point would a full-blown national insurrection be socially acceptable? You would think it could never happen here even in these troubling times. Fast forward another fifty years though and who honestly knows.

Anyway, I digress. Split into four chapters, this work is very much about what is going on in the background, both story-wise and artistically, as it is in the (fist-)in-your-face foreground action. It is relentless brutal, both in the pace of the plot and also the punch it packs. The world Prior and Rubin have created here is rich in satirical depth and sardonic detail.

Prior certainly hasn’t skimped on loading up this power-keg of potential carnage and, of course, Rubin is more than capable of spectacularly lighting the fuse. As with BEOWULF, his portrayal of movement and bursts of intense activity is something to behold for the dramatic flare he manages to embed so gracefully into the action. He’s right up there with Paul HEAVY LIQUID / ESCAPO / BATTLING BOY Pope as one of my personal favourite artists.

It’s nigh-on impossible not to feel at least a tad of visceral excitement at the attacks upon the ‘institution’ of government and also one particular individual who is singled out for some very special fiscally punitive treatment. In fact, that chapter made me smile a lot, and given some of the nonsense some of our politicians have got up on television in recent years to try and portray themselves as sensitive and understanding of the working class, I think it would be a bloody good idea for a reality TV show…

I found the ending, well epilogue, a trifle bemusing, initially at least, though the more I reflected upon it, and I have elucidated in that direction already, it was probably the only ending there could actually be to this particular work. As a piece of distressingly accurate and possibly prescient dystopian speculative fiction, this firmly obliterates the mark to smithereens, let alone hits it.

JR

Buy Grand Abyss Hotel h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Akissi: More Tales Of Mischief (£12-99, Flying Eye Books) by Marguerite Abouet & Mathieu Sapin…

“I don’t wanna go! He’s too mean and ugly and stinky and he spits when talks to us!!”
“Akissi, enough! It’s the same old song every day!”
“Only because no one believes me! He will kill me one day and you will all finally GET IT!!”

That major maker of mischief herself is back for more merriment and much chaos. For a more extensive review of the madness and mayhem AKISSI brings everywhere she goes please read my review of the first volume HERE.

This time around she’s battling three new foes. I’ll let the first, responsible for Akissi’s outburst above introduce himself…

“My name is Mr. Adama, your new teacher. I won’t beat about the bush… I hate children!”

He really does, and whilst he might not beat around the proverbial shrubbery he certainly likes thwacking the behinds of errant children with a large ruler! Repeatedly… Now, do you think that is going to make Akissi and her friends behave? No, of course not, quite the opposite! In fact, I think Mr. Adama had better watch out…

Further providing a little local cultural context (and hopefully perhaps make us appreciate the NHS even more as well as our education system…) is Akissi’s second source of strife, the local Witch Doctor, who I reckon is even more terrifying than her teacher. But then given he’s decided Akissi is a devil who is stopping her mum conceiving another baby and his means of dealing with it are equally unconventional, well…

Finally we have Akissi’s ultimate nemesis, the new girl Sido, who despite missing a leg, allegedly due to having it eaten by a lion, has all the boys swooning over her due to her prettiness. Akissi, appalled at her rough and tumble chums fawning over this upstart sets about trying to hate her. But, of course, Akissi has got far, far too big a heart for that and promptly ends up best chums with Sido in a way that only Akissi could possibly manage, by thwarting an armed robbery.

Haha, once again Marguerite Abouet & Mathieu Sapin bring Africa to vivid, vibrant life in a way that both appals the sensibilities (seriously Akissi, stop borrowing people’s babies without their permission to play with!) and amuses uproariously in equal amounts.

JR

Buy Akissi: More Tales Of Mischief and read the Page 45 review here

Island Book s/c (£17-99, First Second) by Evan Dahm…

“I should never have left…
“I shouldn’t have…
“What was I thinking?
“How… how did I ever think I could find it out here?”
“Find what?”
“The monster.”
“Th… the monster…
“Some creatures are of the land.
“Some are of the sea.
“The Monster is both.
“The Monster is neither.”

Sounds like it should be a straightforward quest for brave little inquisitive Sola then!

 

 

Here are the prodigious parameters of pursuit being set by the publisher to explain just how sizeable a task she’s about to undertake…

“Sola is cursed. At least, that’s what everyone tells her. It all started the day the Monster came to the island. While others fled, Sola stood before the creature, alone and unafraid. Since then she’s been treated like an outcast.

Shamed and feared for an event she doesn’t understand, Sola sets out to sea looking for answers. In an endless ocean far from home, she discovers that her island isn’t alone and the Monster isn’t the only life to be found in these uncharted waters.

Boundless adventure awaits in Island Book, an epic tale of friendship, teamwork, and the wisdom we gain when we face the unknown with bravery and an open heart.”

I enjoyed this rather askance adventure. I say askance because it is far more a meditation on personal qualities and interpersonal skills than an all-out all-ages romp. This is far more reflective in its nature, much like its main characters themselves. Albeit eventually in some of their cases…

It that sense, of a curious turtle-like creature going on an oceanic odyssey, combined with Sola’s large soulful eyes, it reminded me rather of Craig Thompson’s classic GOODBYE CHUNKY RICE.

 

 

Artistically it also very strongly reminded me of a smoother, softer version of Doug NNEWTS / BAD ISLAND / GHOSTOPOLIS / CARDBOARD TenNapel.

 

 

As Sola starts assembling her motley ragtag crew comprised of outcasts from the islands that she encounters during her search, when taken in conjunction with the ending, I also found myself slightly surprised to be also minded of The Wizard Of Oz.

 

 

Sometimes you find what you are searching for, discover it is completely different to what you expected, but realise you have learnt something much more important about yourself and life along the way. There’s no musical numbers, though, thank goodness…

JR

Buy Island Book s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Life Drawing: A Life Under Lights h/c (£16-99, Unbound) by Jessica Martin…

“Dad and I had a residency at the exclusive St. James’s club in Mayfair.
“Sir John Mills was a patron. I met with him at a West End theatre. Where he endorsed my Equity application.
“As did fellow club patron Michael Caine.
“Not a lot of people know that!”

If you’ve ever wonder just how much hard work it takes to make it in showbiz, and how many names you’ll be able to drop in your biography when you do, then this could be the book for you! Here is the programme as presented by the publisher to inform us of the running order.

“The lure of the spotlight can be intoxicating, and Jessica Martin was captured by it early on. The daughter of a bandleader, she came of age in the jazz clubs of London’s Soho before going on to forge a career as a West End regular, Spitting Image impressionist and Doctor Who actor.

 

 

Now entering a new phase of her performing life, Jessica Martin looks back on the parts and people that contributed to her success in this honest and revealing autobiography, which shows the true grit beneath the greasepaint.

Featuring a cast of diverse characters and guest appearances from some very recognisable personalities, Life Drawing is the story of a woman living a fully creative life.”

It is indeed. Firstly, top hats off and high kicks aplenty to Jessica for being brave enough to write and draw her own story. She’s clearly a multi-talented lady over and above her on-screen and stage accomplishments.

For people of a certain age, like myself, who fondly remember the likes of Spitting Image, Bobby Davro, Gary Wilmot and indeed Sylvester McCoy doing his turn as Doctor Who, there was a great deal of fascination and amusement as to which A- through to Z-lister was going to crop up next, as Jessica seemingly knows, and has worked, with most of them.

 

 

Whether that be a private command performance for Prince Charles at his Highgrove estate or in panto with the likes of Michael Barrymore attempting to chew up the scenery and steal the show.

But first we start with a fairly in-depth exploration of Jessica’s formative and unconventional early years…

 

 

… with her mum holding the family together and being responsible for her subsequent lifelong love of musicals…

 

 

… whilst her errant father was off playing jazz and only really taking an interest when he realised he could use her as singer. There’s even a mystery half-brother who briefly pops up from Iceland before disappearing again just as quickly!

If you’re remotely interested in reading about someone who has led a truly fascinating life, in the very delightfully peculiar cultural corner that is the British world of showbusiness, then this will definitely appeal. Her art style has a certain rawness which one would expect of a non-professional but she certainly has talent and her passion for telling her story – and indeed indulging in a bit of luvvie namedropping whilst knocking out some very amusing anecdotes – shines through like the star she is.

JR

Buy Life Drawing: A Life Under Lights h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Tongues #2 (£10-99, self-published) by Anders Nilsen.

Prometheus and the eagle are playing a long game of chess.

But is it against each other, or another entity?

“History is full of repeating patterns.”
“The world’s chaos can look remarkably like pattern to even the most careful observer. It’s one of the hazards of that mind our Acquaintance has given you. But even real pattern is often punctuated by surprise…. Ah… I can’t believe you got me to take that knight. You are trying to distract me, aren’t you?”

Is there a pattern to be found within the circle panels inset on that double-page spread of the eagle gazing down from the mosque’s minaret, surveying the war-torn city below?

Also, was TONGUES #1 my favourite self-published comic of 2018? My memory’s shot, I don’t know.

Album-sized with French flaps, inserted extra geometrical work, crisp white matt stock under a silky card cover, it certainly had the most lavish production values and the colour reproduction was to die for!

This second instalment is every bit as beautiful, but with a radically different light-set and palette. It’s going to grow dark, on every level. I have taken some photos, for sure.

 

 

From the creator of the mighty BIG QUESTIONS, POETRY IS USELESS  DON’T GO WHERE I CAN’T FOLLOW, THE END and indeed DOGS & WATER which was surprising reprised in the first issue. That’s the answer to a cryptic clue I gave you last time.

This is but a brief reminder which will make little sense without first referring to my review of TONGUES #1 which ran to a full dozen paragraphs. There’s really no point in repeating myself, is there?

Still resting on green moss and lichen, mountain-bound prisoner Prometheus and his appointed eagle remain on most excellent terms (daily liver extraction, aside). Indeed, their conversation may take a more conspiratorial turn here, however reluctantly on the eagle’s part. It’s possible that their Acquaintance’s power is waning, and a note of hope is sounded. Hope is a wonderful thing, but it can also prove terrible if clutched at then dashed.

I love that they won’t use their Acquaintance’s real name for fear that he’ll hear and take action.

 

 

Elsewhere, in the city, there will be strange transformations as a fountain takes on sinister new forms and a young girl is assessed as to her identity, her potential:

“Are you my sister, little mouse? Are you a diamond or just one more shard of broken glass? When the lion swallows you, will you take hold of his tongue and choke him on your way down?”

The girl remains silent. Very wise.

 

 

But most impressive for me is Nilsen’s ability to worry, to chill, within the camp of the renegade soldiers we met last issue. He’s created one motherfucker of a militia man in their self-assured, ostensive leader who loves the sound of his own manipulative voice. But it’s the resolutely silent Niko who you really need to watch out for. Upping the ante – that’s craft.

Terrifying.

SLH

Buy Tongues #2 and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

 New reviews to follow, but if they’re new formats of previous books, reviews may already be up; others will retain their Diamond previews information we receive displayed as ‘Publisher Blurb’.

Desolation Wilderness (£7-99, Avery Hill) by Claire Sully

Giant Days vol 10 (£10-99, Boom!) by John Allison & Max Sarin

Heavy Liquid s/c (£22-99, Image) by Paul Pope

I Am A Hero Omnibus vol 10 (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Kengo Hanazawa

John Carpenter’s Tales Of Science Fiction – The Standoff s/c (£17-99, Storm King Comics) by David Schow & Andres Esparza

Milo’s World: The Land Under The Lake h/c (£11-99, Magnetic Press) by Richard Marazano & Christophe Ferreira

Over The Garden Wall: Distillatoria (£13-99, Kaboom) by Jonathan Case & Jim Campbell

The Follies Of Richard Wandsworth (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Nick Mandaag

The October Faction s/c (£17-99, IDW) by Steve Niles & Damien Worm

Batman / The Flash: The Button (International Edition) s/c (£13-99, DC) by Joshua Williamson, Tom King & Jason Fabok, Howard Porter

Lucifer vol 1: The Infernal Comedy s/c (£14-99, DC) by Dan Watters & Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara

Titans vol 6: Into The Bleed s/c (£16-99, DC) by Dan Abnett & Bruno Redondo

Amazing Spider-Man: Epic Collection vol 4: The Goblin Lives s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee, various & John Romita Sr., various

Dead Man Logan vol 1 s/c (£17-99, Marvel) by Ed Brisson & Mike Henderson

Thor by Jason Aaron: The Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£33-50, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic, Ron Garney, others

Thor vol 2: Road To War Of The Realms s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Tony Moore, Michael Del Mundo

Uncanny X-Men vol 2: Cyclops And Wolverine vol 1 s/c (£17-99, Marvel) by Matthew Rosenberg & Salvador Larroca

Winter Soldier: Second Chances s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Kyle Higgins & Rod Reis

Dragonball Super vol 5 (£6-99, Viz) by Akira Toriyama & Toyotarou

Happiness vol 9 (£10-99, Kodansha) by Shuzo Oshimi

 

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews June 2019 week two

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

“If the terror of DIE is the annexation of reality by fantasy in the form of five friends trapped there, the genius of its execution lies in the indissoluble bonding between fantasy and reality so that ordinarily consequence-free fantasy – played so as to give one a break from reality – has very real repercussions for both.”

  – Stephen on Die volume 1

Die vol 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker s/c (£8-99, Image) by Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans.

 “die, noun:
    singular form of dice”

“die, verb:
    stop living, become extinct, be forgotten”

“We can survive anything but our past.”

This is blinding in its multi-layered brilliance, and our highest selling periodical comic by some substantial score.

Co-creator Kieron Gillen (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, MERCURY HEAT, UBER, PHONOGRAM etc) describes Stephanie Hans’s visual prowess as “mixing epic romance with operatic intensity”. I’ve stolen that because it is perfect. Hers is a playlist of songs rich in colour, carefully composed around those colours with varying, artfully controlled tempos, all arranged so as to hit you in the heart.

 

 

As with its cast, this will seduce you, startle you, suck you in until you’re helpless, have you sweating emotionally, vicariously, for their sanity as much as safety, and then break your hearts, repeatedly. It will also give you much food for thought, not least about reality, fantasy, actions, consequences, rules and restrictions, friendship, loyalty, the power of persuasion, collaborative creation (as well as cooperative action), what it’s like to be left behind, and the weight of adulthood and its responsibilities plus their potential toll which can resonate with all that we did during earlier years which were more complex in their interactions than we’d originally thought.

On that very subject the new contrasting chapter breaks in less complicated pencil of innocents at idle, carefree play are very clever indeed.

Britain 1991, and five teenage friends are invited over to Solomon’s to celebrate the shared 16th birthdays of Solomon and Dominic, for whom Solomon has created a brand-new role playing game.
He’ll be their Dungeon Master; but he’ll be participating too.

“Yeah, it’s an unusual game. We’re all in this together.”

 

 

Each receives a sheet to develop their imaginary characters. “Guided freedom, selecting abilities and personalising them,” recalls Dominic. “Anything was permissible, if not always advisable.”

Each then in turn describes their character to Sol who accordingly assigns them both a role and a unique die, from the 20-sided die (D20) reserved by Sol for himself down to the 4-sided die (D4) for Dominic, who chooses to play as female Ash. She is the Dictator (spokesperson, negotiator… dictator…)

 

 

And they start to play.

Two hours later, Sol’s mum discovers her son’s bedroom empty.

Two years later five of the six reappear on a roadside near Nottingham, one of them minus an arm, all of them minus Sol.

Obvious questions were asked by the police, by the press, by their friends and relatives. Where had they been? What did they do? And whatever happened to Solomon?

But they couldn’t say. They truly couldn’t say. They physically couldn’t say.

Brilliantly (and all still within what is the prologue), after but two more pages we flash-forward another 25 years to the point where the former 18-year-old survivors are now in their forties. Some have married, some have had kids, some have married and divorced, but one at least has found commercial success as a writer of fantasy which has since gone multi-media massive, netting him a small fortune. That would be Chuck, the individual amongst them who never took any of it seriously. He’s been successful, all right.

Dominic and his younger sister Angela, not so much: she’s the one missing an arm and now a husband whom she left for a woman who almost immediately ditched her, plus she’s fighting a custody battle for her kids which she’s unlikely to win even if she keeps her feet on solid ground. Please remember that after we leave the prologue. The siblings are both exhausted and Hans excels at depicting their depletion, then the varying degrees of trepidation when the remaining five are reluctantly forced to meet up.

They’re forced to meet up because – while drinking down a London pub whose pavement outside is being lashed with rain – Dominic and Angela are presented with a package which the barman found on the doorstep. In it is a box, and within that box, on top of crushed velvet, lies Solomon’s prized D20, gleaming away but covered in blood.

 

 

The subsequent page outside the bar is one of Hans’s most accomplished. The light at night emanating from the street lamps and closed retail outlets still blasting out come-look-at-me-luminosity cascades through the deluge onto the rain-soaked stone, and there is so much red carried over from the previous page’s blood-bathed, twenty-sided die. In spite of all the horrific, war-torn, fantastical spectacle that is delivered so devastatingly later on, it is the most violent page in the comic as Dominic – knowing full well its potential properties – attempts to smash it to pieces.

Both impressionistic and expressionistic, that is a scene which will linger with you forever.

 

 

Likewise, I believe, a panel which will be hitting us ever so shortly once we’re not in Kansas anymore.

That bears all the neo-classical grandeur and majesty of a scene from the PS4’s ‘God Of War’. It’s worth scanning the rich, lambent background for details, because in any other context like animation this glorious landscape would not be just a single-panel scene-setter, but the backdrop to so much more super-imposed art to follow. Again, a reminder that red features prominently.

Teasing aside, we’re nearly done with the expository hand-holding, I promise. It’s lovely to have a lot more leeway than when I wrote the first issue’s review.

Dominic decides that he has no option responsibly but to consult his fellow survivors about the D20’s reappearance. They reconvene at Chuck’s lavish estate and compare notes, not just on what to do with the die, but on where their lives have taken them in the 25 years since they were last… embroiled. It’s a lot like a school reunion. *shudders*

But the D20 was a lure, a trap, and they have gathered together right into it.

And suddenly, as I say, they’re not in Kansas anymore.

 

 

They’re back on Die, the mist-shrouded, 20-faceted world which they barely escaped 25 years ago, and they are all very much altered. They’ve resumed their former identities / roles which they dangerously played out for two whole years: Dominic is Ash the Dictator, Matt is the Grief Knight, Angela is Neo once more with two arms (albeit one cybernetic), and Isabelle’s back in her Godbinder armour. She has gods in her thrall; she may be in thrall to her gods. It all depends upon how they use each other. A god’s the same thing as a demon: discuss.

Chuck is the only one of them who seems remotely happy to be back, but then Chuck is the Fool.

 

 

So that’s where they went. But what did they do that took such a terrible toll on their lives, rendering the rest of them terrified to be back, fractious and full of mutual recriminations? And whatever happened to Solomon?

That’s it, prologue over. No more mere plot points for you!

As you’ve probably gathered, this is a Dungeons & Dragons interactive role playing game made manifest. By which I mean, instead of sitting down together with tea, biscuits or a fridge full of bevies to collaboratively create your own adventure through conversational narrative (isn’t the human mind amazing?), our six participants have – and will yet again – be living it. But this is the key: the rules still apply. It’s still a negotiation in both its physical and bartering sense, for there are prices to be paid and costs to be extracted for every move made or ability utilised.

If the terror of DIE is the annexation of reality by fantasy in the form of five friends trapped there, the genius of its execution lies in the indissoluble bonding between fantasy and reality so that ordinarily consequence-free fantasy – played so as to give one a break from reality – has very real repercussions for both.

 

 

I mean, just for starters in the real world, there’s the not inconsiderable matter of Angela’s arm. Then there’s what’s happened to their heads, to their hearts. But on Die there are, have been (while they were away) and will be more consequences to come. I’ll let Isabelle, the Godbinder, explain their dilemma, in words which will echo for you in your own private reading much later on:

“Before we decide the next move, we need to talk. We play by the old house rules, right?”

I love the use of “play” there. This is no longer a game; and the “house rules” are now more of a moral imperative.

“We have no idea how real Die is. So we have to treat it like it is real.
“If it’s fantasy and we treat it like reality, there’s no loss.
“If it’s reality and we treat it like fantasy, we become monsters.”

I’ll give you an example, spoiler-free on account of where I will leave it. Almost as soon as Isabelle has spoken, the truth of her words is exemplified in the form a formerly cheery knight called Sir Lane who hails Lady Ash with “I am here to fulfil my duty unto thee.”

Ash:

“The past walks up and says hello. I barely remember him…
“He was an Angrian knight of kisses. Joy into power.
“He was an adventurer.
“He was an adventure.
“As he rode off, he said he would not rest until he had gazed upon my perfection once more.”

Ash blows a flattered kiss his way as her knight departs on his white steed.

“He dared me to use my power to make his words binding. I laughed and did so.”

I promised you no spoilers so you’ll have to discover for yourselves how profoundly Dominic / Ash’s innocent teenage overconfidence will prove to have been so fatefully ill thought out. The premise is all there in the words I’ve typed, but where it is taken is a testament to Gillen’s lateral thinking because, remember: Rules and Repercussions. This is, in so many instances, a horror comic. Also: a war comic.

 

 

No more so on both counts than when Gillen wittily, grittily combines WWI with Tolkien in the trenches: Eternal Prussia with its industrial-strength dragons versus Little Englanders caught in a mud-bogged, smoke- and sulphur-stenched conflagration that has ordered them almost as far from home as our five, never to return to their loved ones. The dove-tail is surprisingly seamless. One panel in particular by Hans is pure Elijah Wood.

Again, then again, in the second, third, fourth and fifth chapters, Gillen opens then opens up further the horizons of that which he wants to explore: for example, the history and nature of fantasy writing, and the history and potential of creative game-playing, prising apart his own past experiences of role playing to pare off the rigid crusts of customary codes and well worn modes to reinvigorate its potential for others.

Oh yeah, he’s even recreated and so procreated DIE as an actual RPG: www.diecomic.com/rpg

[Editor’s note: while you’re here, another graphic novel hugely recommended on the subject of creative, collaborative gameplay is USER by Devin Grayson and Sean Phillips, John Bolton. Remember when games were nought but words on the screen? That.]

There’s plenty about all of this (his research, his cogitations and extrapolations) in this DIE collection’s back-matter – along with a new essay by Stephanie Hans on her approach to design and sequential-art storytelling – which I absorbed when originally printed in the periodicals before re-reading each issue. I cannot commend to you strongly enough to do the same for they proved an engrossing, enlightening revelation. By all means read the whole first (rather than individual chapters) before giving yourselves the added gift of extra insight.

Matt as the Grief Knight in the comic is a perfect example of recalibrating an old favourite. The important element is “grief”.

 

 

Chuck the Fool may be as care-free (and, to begin with, as callous) in the present as he was in the past, but Matt endured such substantial trauma as a teenager that it’s a minor miracle that he is now pretty much sanguine to it all and created for himself a loving and stable family unit, from which he has now been torn. But he was and so remains a Grief Knight, his substantial powers on Die activated only upon misery. Evidently, he must have kicked ass 25 years ago. But if he’s to be more use than ornament now, his hard-won optimism or at least equanimity must be stripped bare, destroyed, by not just reminding him of a past during which he was laid so very low, but manipulating his mind so that he feels that same sorrow and suffering.

That would be a vicious thing for any enemy to do. It would be worse if it came from one of your friends.

“We can survive anything but our past.”

DIE is a comic which will threaten to pull both you and its cast apart.

What is your tensile strength?

SLH

Buy Die vol 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Cover vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Jinxworld) by Brian Michael Bendis & David Mack, Bill Sienkiewicz, Michael Avon Oeming…

“…Hi.”
“Hi, Julia? HI?! I haven’t heard from you for ages and you come at me with Hi?”
“You’re mad at me?”
“You’re surprised? We’ve been busy. You’re doing so great.”
“Is Julia even your name?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What are you doing here?”
“It’s Angoulême!”
“Okay, what am I doing here?”
“Being the fanciest of fancy comic book persons.”
“This is nuts.”
“Really? You’re mad?”
“Of course I’m mad.”
“You’re mad you’re not hunched over your space paintings in that tinderbox of a house you live in?”
You arranged this.”
“Of course. You wanted it, didn’t you?”
“I wanted them to invite me. I wanted them to want me. Am I a baby for being disappointed that you manipulated all of this instead of me earning it?”
“You are here because of you. Life is who you know and you know me. I’m just here to take advantage of it. Sweetie, the rules remain the same. You are desperately needed. Your cover is needed. That’s why I am here.”
“So…? Am I here because they invited me, or because you got them to invite me?”
“It’s Angoulême. Who gives a shit?”
“I think I do.”

 

 

Haha, Max Field, comics creator and more recently secret undercover agent for an American intelligence agency still so, so very desperately craves the approbation of his industry! Well, perhaps he ought to feel a tad puffed up and important that ‘Julia’ wants to entrust him with a highly important secret mission to try and turn another secret agent working for an unknown foreign power, who just also happens to be, yes, you’ve guessed it, a comics creator. “A really famous comics book artist” in Max’s own words. How hard could that be, right? Go to a swanky dinner with a group of comics colleagues, let the drink start flowing and just have a casual chat.

It’s going to go badly…

 

 

I am now going to make a bold statement, so brace yourselves. This may well be the best thing that Bendis has ever written. It is certainly the best thing he has written since the original JESSICA JONES: ALIAS material (in my humble opinion), and he has written a lot of good material in the meanwhile as I am sure you will know.

From the preposterous, yet upon reflection perfectly plausible premise (I’m sure I saw Bryan Talbot using a dead letter box at the last LICAF outside the Kendal Clock Tower…), the insanely brilliant back-and-forth dialogue which bounces intensely like a demented dodgem car driver between joyfully crackpot to crunchingly hardboiled, through the most genius plot pivot point around which the entire story oh so exquisitely, and actually quite movingly for true old school comic fans, tips, before concluding in one of the most satisfying endings I think I have ever read… well, this simply has it ALL in writing terms.

 

 

You want more…?

It also has David Mack putting in a shift of virtuoso proportions on art duties, movingly seamlessly from style to style like Sherlock Holmes switching disguises on the hoof, all in service to the story.

 

 

Such as showing pages from Max Field’s own work, including the title that made his name, a watercolour on parchment feel epic entitled Ninja Sword Odyssey.

 

 

Our Stephen commented that this work feels like one long comics love letter between Bendis and Mack – long-term friends that are – and I can certainly concur that they seem to have brought hitherto unparalleled levels of comics perfection out of each other here. Do read each of their respective forewords for just how long they have been planning this collaboration.

Here is a quote from Bendis from a recent interview regarding some of what he asked Mack to do:

“I’m trying to give David all of the opportunities to do all of the things that he can do. It works great because with David, we can show the comic book that Max is making. The one you see in the first issue is a beautiful indie comic that you can tell was a hit comic. Later, we’ll see another comic he’s made that’s a soulless piece of shit that he thought was going to be a big hit, but it wasn’t. So, I had to tell David, ‘Now, I want you to make a purposefully bad cash-grab comic.’

There’s a point to that. There’s a point when an artist gets lost and they do something they shouldn’t. We’re having an inordinate amount of fun exorcising demons, revealing truths…”

I’m sure we can all think of a few examples of bad cash-grab comics, albeit perhaps not purposely so… Naming no names whatsoever…

Meanwhile, let’s return to the Mack. There is some exceptional work going on here, both with pen and brush. There are many pages and part-pages composed of composite panels which are assembled so cleverly as to overtly or subtly convey the story, or just astonish artistically in their own right, that I frequently had to simply stop and admire the construction.

 

 

Also if you know where to look, there’s even a cheeky Bendis and Mack cameo… of a fashion…

In terms of colours, I presume the sections with brush are done by Mack himself, but special mention must be also given to the digital colouring done by Zu Orzu. Between them they’ve done a stupendous job here. The primary palette of pale blues is punctuated with intense, firework-like bursts of rich colours. There’s an astonishing sequence involving Julia and Max driving through the countryside which is simply magnificent in its seasonal colouring, capturing perfectly the joy of such a scenic journey. If you’re not busy being debriefed by your slightly sarcastic handler, that is…

 

 

There is also a page heady with the shimmering shades of a hot Brazilian evening later in the book which is so expressive of the delights of a close of day gathering in warmer climes. Plus there’s even two black and white single-page spreads which seem to serve no other function than to perhaps allow Bendis to cleverly muse – not least, because, that cameo – upon how comics fans of the future will perhaps view his work, as well as paying homage to one of the true giants of early twentieth century comics…

 

 

“Like, if I show this to a college kid today would they appreciate this as much as we did in college. Or do they look at it like the way I look at, I don’t know, Winsor McCay?”

“Wins… What? Winsor McCay is genius!”
“It is! DUH!
“But I look at it like I look at a movie from the ‘30s.
“It’s amazing, I appreciate it, but it isn’t really in a language I relate to.
“I see that it’s good, I just don’t… it wasn’t actually made for me.
“I wonder if this is as relatable as I think it is.
“And what I mean is I wonder if my work is going to be relatable?
“I wonder if our work will age well.
“And then I remember how excited I was just to be published, and, maybe, I shouldn’t be worrying about anything but that.”

Hah, what a beautifully self-deprecating finale to that mini-monologue. I wonder if we will ever get to the point where the entire population can’t relate to comics at all anymore. I fervently hope that particular dystopian future never comes to pass…

Anyway, if that were not enough artistically, we also get two quintessential cameos, one portraying the comics work of Max’s chum from Michael UNITED STATES OF MURDER INC Avon Oeming…

 

 

… and the ‘baddie’ secret agent’s rather more… intense material… from Bill DAREDEVIL ULTIMATE COLLECTION BY BENDIS VOL 3 Sienkiewicz…

 

 

…that just act as two perfect pieces of staccato visual plot punctuation.

It’s hard to put into words the sheer amount of joy reading this comic brought to me. Firstly, because after beginning to wonder if Bendis was perhaps starting to lose his mojo a tad with his final frankly run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers Marvel output and, I have to say, seemingly a little lacklustre initial DC supes output – on that point, for capes ‘n’ tights Bendis true believers I am happy to report that the SUPERMAN LEVIATHAN RISING SPECIAL ONE-SHOT which leads into the summer EVENT LEVIATHAN errr… event (penned by Bendis with Alex Maleev) on art is superb! – I am delighted that between this and also the mesmerising crime caper PEARL with Michael Gaydos, well, he’s right back to the very top of my reading list. That pivotal plot point! That ending!

Brian, I’ll never doubt you again! I’ve no idea whether there will be a second volume of COVER. In one sense, they don’t need to do it because this is absolutely flawless, so neither should they perhaps attempt it, but I do so want them to!

I therefore excitedly noted in David Mack’s foreword that they had asked Tom MISTER MIRACLE King, a former CIA spy bod, to write an introduction, but he wasn’t able to due to the rather prosaic non-espionagey reason of a scheduling conflict. Why is that exciting? Because David Mack then states Tom will have to write the introduction for the next volume! That’s practically a verbal contract!

JR

Buy Cover vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Pope Hats #6 Shapeshifter (£5-99, Adhouse Books) by Hartley Lin.

Self-contained selection of autobiographical musings, highly recommended to fans of Adrian Tomine, Kevin Huizenga, Andi Watson, Joe,Decie etc. There may be a little that’s made up here too!

‘Island’

“I want Top 40 pop song money. I want to be absurdly, confusingly rich so I can buy an island.”

The remote island floats in the middle of an idyllically calm ocean, its dense, tropical foliage barely spoiled but for the single, enormous mansion complex rising up the hill above a jetty.

“And throw a phenomenal party there, bringing together the most courageous thinkers and artists of our time.”

It’s already celebration time as the guests approach the island by boat at night.

“There will be heart-pounding music and relentless, blissed out dancing. And by sunrise, everyone will have surrendered themselves to an all new understanding of L-O-V-E.”

They sure are getting their joyous groove on beneath the bright, roving spotlights!

“I would not go to my party.”

Hartely Lin is out walking his dog, which has stopped to pee in a park.

 

 

That’s your opening single-page salvo, setting the tone perfectly for the short stories to follow, most especially the last one – the third in an interspersed trilogy – which had me chuckling heartily at its deadpan calamity.

All of which is a complete departure for Hartley Lin and his sporadic periodical POPE HATS, some of which were collected in YOUNG FRANCES, the comedic tale of two female friends heading in divergent directions: one to stardom in a ludicrous TV show about a vigilante District Attorney called ‘Bad Prosecutor’, the other climbing ever higher up the ladder in an equally absurd legal corporation whose behavioural quirks smacked satirically of early Evelyn Waugh novels like ‘Scoop’ and ‘Black Mischief’. Highly recommended, all three!

I relished this just as much, but I’m hoping it’ll bring Lin more readers by dint of its difference, except that the comedy’s still here.

We’ve already established that Hartley really isn’t a party guy, but he is now a husband and father. Both of these developments have sparked in him relevant contemplations of the present, recent past, and early childhood, for example, when he was prone to worry. About worms. It was bad enough when his mate Dane would surgically divide their segments in his driveway, declaring with glee “It’s still alive!” Hartley: “Ha. ‘Fun’.” To himself: “God, make it stop.”

The patter of rain drives worms to the surface, so on desultory days it wasn’t just cracks in the paving which the boy had to studiously avoid. (Side-note: a mass movement of stilettos on grass have the same effect. True fact.) This didn’t go unnoticed. “Vulnerability is different between children. It is basically appropriate to exploit any hint of fear.” I think you can imagine…

One English Lit class required the school kids write down a major fear, but “I’m prone to category error” so whilst his peers declared bears, tarantulas and snakes to be terrifying, serious-minded young Lin wrote down – no, not worms, but – “Becoming my parents”. That’s a neatly dodged all-too-obvious repetition of worms. Still, as a father trying to avoid instilling the same fears in his son, he imagines in two years time being gleefully given and handful of slimy, wriggling worms.

“Dada, look!!”
“Ha, that’s right, worms.”
To himself: “God, make it stop.”

There’s plenty more discussion between friends about changes made to your life when you become a parent, plus attendant worries with self-deprecating humour, an adorable memory about his wedding day, recollections of past friends’ unexpected trajectories given their early inclinations, a meditation upon meditation, and one exceptional piece of lateral thinking called ‘Settlers Imagined’ in which a husband lies sleepless at night in bed with his wife, fretting that she might not love him. He asks her point-blank in modern mode, while she replies at length, in pen-and-ink handwriting, archaic language and purely practical concerns specific to the patriarchy of those times. The husband’s unconvinced, the more emotional final line is hilarious.

 

 

The visual delivery is crystal clear, warm and quiet, leaving the thoughts to speak for themselves. But there are also some exquisite scenes in the ‘Driving Through Vermont’ trilogy which I touched on earlier, during which Lin drives either alone at night or with his family by day, along a vast highway through the countryside, and I have never before seen so perfectly represented the effect of snowflake flurries as seen from a first-person perspective when driving through them in the dark, picked out by your car’s headlights. Whoosh!

 

 

SLH

Buy Pope Hats #6 Shapeshifter and read the Page 45 review here

The Dreaming vol 1: Pathways And Emanations s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman, Simon Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters & Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Dominike Stanton, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara…

“You know the feeling… right? Sure you do.
“Happens every morning, right after you wake.
“The moment you forget your dreams.”

Dream has vanished. Left the Dreaming and gone… well… no one seems sure quite where. All that remains within the disintegrating imaginary edifice at the centre of the Dreaming are a collection of familiar assistants and acolytes such as Lucien the librarian, Matthew the raven, the demi-deranged double act Cain and Abel and the… well, just plain old argumentative arsehole in the case of Mervyn, the cigar-smoking pumpkinhead. It’s good to have them all back!

 

 

It’d be lovely to have Morpheus as well, or Daniel at least, as the reincarnate youthful Lord of Dreams was named. But he’s vanished with nary a trace and now seems unable or perhaps unwilling to answer the call of his sigil in the Gallery of the Endless located within his castle.

 

 

Fortunately, Lucien, if he can remember it – for this mysterious decay is beginning to affect the inhabitants too – has a plan… As a former raven himself – something Matthew, as well as myself had forgotten – he is aware of the psychic tether between the Lord Of Dreams and his atramentous avians. And so Lucien sends Matthew soaring off to roam the realms looking for their master before all of his creation crumbles away completely.

 

 

It’s a stratagem that twangs, sorry hangs, by the proverbial rubber band of a tenuous thread, to say the least, but it certainly forms an excellent conceit for allowing Matthew to pass mostly unawares by the characters who will form the cast of the four cornerstones of this new DC Vertigo Sandman Universe.

Said sound foundations being formed of…

The Dreaming vol 1: Pathways And Emanations s/c  (£14-99) by Si Spurrier & Bliquis Evely

Lucifer vol 1: The Infernal Comedy s/c (£14-99) by Dan Waters & Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara out June 25th

The Books Of Magic vol 1: Moveable Type s/c (£14-99) by Kat Howard & Tom Fowler out 16th July

The House Of Whispers vol 1: The Powers Divided s/c (£14-99) by Nalo Hopkinson & Dominike Domo Stanton out 30th July

So, yes, we will see several old favourites return, albeit many filled with the same egotistic notions of grandeur and / or crippling neuroses as before, for example in the form of the likes of the ever <ahem> trustworthy Lucifer Morningstar, still getting worked up about his absent daddy issues, and Timothy Hunter, still grappling with school life whilst wondering which end of his wand is which, plus new characters aplenty, particularly in The House Of Whispers, which looks to open a hitherto unknown corner of the Vertigo mythos by taking us to a bayou where the houseboat of Erzulie Fréda floats, a voodoo goddess who attracts the souls of her followers looking for agony aunt-esque advice on both supernatural and worldly issues.

Matthew does eventually manage to locate Daniel, if not find him, just in case you are wondering. So we catch at least a glimpse of the albino teenage sulkpot at large in the big city and perhaps get half an answer to the question.

 

 

It seems he is there of his own volition, rather than caged against his will, which is where, if you recall, SANDMAN itself began all those years ago, in SANDMAN VOL 1: PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES.

All of which above formed most of my review of the lead-in Sandman Universe one-shot, which DC has wisely decided to include in each of the first collected volumes of the four individual titles, indeed it opens this volume as I presume it will the others. I’m not normally one for publishers recycling material unnecessarily, but here I think it is most definitely a worthwhile exercise. We certainly found people were willing to try the different titles before settling on which they wanted to read (all of them in most cases) after reading the one-shot.

I do however promise not to recycle the above review when each of the subsequent three volumes are released!

Now, whilst Neil himself was involved with the writing of the one-shot, being credited with the story idea, he is not, involved directly as such with the writing of the four ongoing titles. Instead he’s hand-picked the writers, including comics veteran Si Spurrier to helm The Dreaming, who with the likes of GODSHAPER and THE SPIRE has certainly proven he can craft an atypical tale or two.

So… what happens in the first volume of The Dreaming proper then…?

“Naturally the Judge anticipates their hesitation. He observes, after all. He assesses.
“He recognizes instantly that this youthful crop of nightmares takes forms beyond his fathom.
“It follows that to them, he must seem a relic. An anachronism, unfit to be feared.
“That can be changed.
“It has been remarked that the gaze of Judge Gallows is alone sufficient to constrict a dreamer’s throat. This is of course hyperbole.
“It is not rage nor terror that glimmers there… but calculation.
“The simple certainty that within moments the judge has ascertained, by his own cold metric, the precise value of life he observes.
“And that none is worth more to him that two pennies for the reaper.”

“Bring me the Black Chest, Mervyn.”

Yes, it doesn’t take long for Judge Gallows, Nightmare of the Major Arcana, brought to life by the previous Morpheus himself to decide he needs to take charge whilst Daniel is off… galavanting around.

 

 

Of course, His Honour starts off by telling Lucien he’s only turned up to “…advise by consent…” and just to “regard me as an observer… no more..” before he promptly decides some serious gavel bashing and restoration of order is precisely what’s required.

Well, establishing his new world order… I’ll not spoil precisely what is inside the Black Chest for you…

What a great new villain Si Spurrier has created (well recreated if you know your DC history down to the minutiae), straight into the league of the tooth-eyed Corinthian for pure malevolent menace! We get the full back story of his creation and it’s abundantly clear he’s not the type of beak to let a miscreant off with a slap on the wrist and six months community service…

 

 

We do also find out a little more about the nature of the trouble which Daniel is involved in, well, undoubtedly got himself embroiled in, very probably unnecessarily. Oh, did I not mention it was trouble that was responsible for the unexpected jaunt which has induced extreme trepidation and vexation in all of his creations?

Aside from old hang ‘em high himself, who is now having the time of his life. Well, you probably didn’t expect Daniel simply to have sloped off to Skegness for a fortnight, but suffice to say, the Lord of the Dreaming seems not to have lost his penchant for peril, regardless of his incarnation…

Delightfully delicate yet dangerously dirty art from the gloriously named Bilquis Evely, I believe she may be Brazilian and I know she has done various work for DC previously.

 

 

Her fine linework ensures the panels are packed with detail without it ever feeling overcrowded. I loved her facial expressions too, she’s particularly adept at a furrowed brow, and there’s a lot of that going on here let me tell you.

 

 

Combined with the colour palette, I was minded in places of Peter HIGHEST HOUSE Gross, who of course has a fine Vertigo pedigree himself, having combined so successfully with Mike Carey on the original Sandman spin-off LUCIFER material.

Readers new to the SANDMAN mythos will have no problems getting utterly engrossed in this intriguing opener, indeed it will, I suspect, undoubtedly engage them sufficiently as to tantalize them to investigate the original material. Fans from the first time around will, I feel, believe that Si Spurrier has done more than adequate justice to Neil’s creations, the wider Sandman canon and already begun to append some brilliant elements of his own to it. I look forward to seeing the wider story arcs unfold grittily yet gracefully with genuine excitement.

JR

Buy The Dreaming vol 1: Pathways And Emanations s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Plus there’s still time to pre-order the following at the links below…

Lucifer vol 1: The Infernal Comedy s/c (£14-99) by Dan Waters & Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara

The Books Of Magic vol 1: Moveable Type s/c (£14-99) by Kat Howard & Tom Fowler

The House Of Whispers vol 1: The Powers Divided s/c (£14-99) by Nalo Hopkinson & Dominike Domo Stanton

Dungeon Fun vol 1: The Adventures Of Fun Mudlifter (£14-99, BHP Comics) by Colin Bell & Neil Slorance…

“What did you do? At least the ghosts weren’t eating us!”
“Get out of the way! He won’t harm me… he only eats the cursed!”
“Are you kidding me? You hold the sword! You’re cursed! I explained this!”
“Riiiiiiiiight.”

It’s just another ordinary day for a most unordinary girl when Stephanie, a human raised by trolls in the muddy moat of a castle, is nearly sliced in two by a sword falling from the sky. In fact, there are a lot of things spontaneously falling into the village of Deepmoat, almost as if people (and bridge trolls) keep deliberately throwing them in there…

So when a knight promptly, and unfortunately for him fatally, drops in as well, immediately rising as a ghost cursed to follow whoever has his sword, generally doing their heads in with smart-arsed running commentary, Stephanie has had enough!

It’s time to look for some answers, seek out adventure, and generally get out of the godforsaken dump that is Deepmoat. Along the way there’ll be monsters aplenty, more than a few dungeons, but most certainly fun. Who’d have thought that risking life and limb swinging steel could be so invigorating?!

 

 

This neatly straddles the divide between ADVENTURE TIME-esque material aimed at teens and adults, and Phoenix-type material like BUNNY VS. MONKEY, FISH HEAD STEVE, STAR CAT BOOK 1 etc. aimed at younger kids. It’s heavy on the laughs and light on the peril without skimping on the danger. Fans of daft fantasy generally will approve. The art style is nice and simple, adding to the cartoony feel.

 

 

JR

Buy Dungeon Fun vol 1: The Adventures Of Fun Mudlifter and read the Page 45 review here

Spider-Man Noir Complete Collection s/c (£22-99, Marvel) by David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky & Carmine Di Giandomenico, Richard Isanove, Bob McLeod, Paco Diaz.

Long-awaited repacking of all previous series about which we wrote something like a decade ago…

Spider-Man Noir.

Free from the constraints of continuity, Hines and Sapolsky have brought something both fresh and festering – which is a neat trick to pull off – and I think if you enjoyed SPIDER-MAN: REIGN, you’ll very much go for this.

America 1933 is in thrall to the most massive recession and the underworld gangster who sits ruthlessly at the top with the politicians, police and industrialists all in his pocket. The gangster is known as The Goblin and his henchmen I will leave you to discover for yourself, but Hine has done something truly hideous (but clever) with The Vulture. Meanwhile, activists May and Peter Parker are causing a political stir in the shantytown of destitute squatters in spite of the threats to their lives – the same threats that saw Ben Parker savagely mutilated. And where is J. Jonah Jameson in all this?

 

 

Get beyond the first page for some strikingly fresh art from Carmine Di Giandomenico whose Vulture now looks like a ravenous Nosferatu. Hine’s done a fine job of building up the unassailable walls the Parkers and press have to climb / fight against, using Ben Urich as the guide, and I like this new Peter, unembarrassed by his socialist aspirations.

What you have to bear in mind is that in America a “socialist” is akin to being a commie, and we all know how America felt and still feels about commies. In 2008’s Presidential election the word “socialist” was used to undermine Obama whereas over here we liberal-lefties – the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and their voters – consider it a badge of honour, because putting the needs of the many ahead of one’s own is actually kinda selfless.

 

 

This is a much bigger collection than the first, so as well as the original SPIDER-MAN NOIR #1-4, it also includes SPIDER-MAN NOIR: EYES WITHOUT A FACE #1-4, EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #1, SPIDER-GEDDON: SPIDER-MAN NOIR VIDEO COMIC and material from SPIDER-VERSE TEAM-UP #1.

Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without A Face…

“He’s also been looking into the disappearance of dozens of negroes from the streets of Harlem over the past few months.”
“But if that were true, we would have heard about it.”
“If they were white you’d have heard about it. Cops don’t take the disappearance of coloureds too seriously.”
“But what about all the missing people? They couldn’t just disappear. “

So it’s round two for the noir-era Peter Parker and his fight against the criminal elements of New York City circa 1933. And after taking down The Goblin last time around, now he’s pitched into conflict with the mysterious Crime Master who has stepped in to fill the inevitable power vacuum Peter created.

 

 

Again, the completely different use of various well known characters – including this time around Robbie Robertson, the Sandman and Doctor Otto Octavius – is what makes this Marvel Noir book work. There’s unpleasantness of many different types going on, not least Octavius’ disturbing experiments in his U.S. government lab on Ellis Island, which somehow seem connected to a certain political party on the rise in Germany. But how is that linked to the Crime Master and his crime empire of speak easies and cat houses, and the strange disappearance of members of the African American community? Maybe the world-wise and semi-reformed Felicia Hardy knows something that might help, if Peter can get close enough to win her confidence, but at what cost to herself?

Nice writing from Hine, who hasn’t lost sight of the fact that this is supposed to be first and foremost a crime story. He spins a good yarn, throws in some suitably unpleasant twists and turns, and once again, a lot of bad things do happen to a lot of nice people.

SLH & JR

Buy Spider-Man Noir Complete Collection s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

New reviews to follow, but if they’re new formats of previous books, reviews may already be up; others will retain their Diamond previews information we receive displayed as ‘Publisher Blurb’.

Build Your Own Theme Park s/c (£16-99, Andrews McMeel) by Lizz Lunney

Moonshadow Definitive Edition h/c (£26-99, Dark Horse) by J. M. DeMatteis & Jon J. Muth with Kent Williams, George Pratt

O Josephine h/c (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Jason

Island Book s/c (£17-99, First Second) by Evan Dahm

This Was Our Pact s/c (£13-99, First Second) by Ryan Andrews

Lunch Quest s/c (£13-99, Koyama Press) by Chris Kuzma

Kim Reaper vol 2: Vampire Island s/c (£13-99, Oni Press) by Sarah Graley

Penny Nichols s/c (£17-99, Top Shelf) by M. K. Reed, Greg Means & Matt Wiegle

Life Drawing: A Life Under Lights h/c (£16-99, Unbound) by Jessica Martin

Detective Comics #1000 Deluxe Ed h/c (£16-99, DC) by various

Hulkverines s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Greg Pak & Ario Anindito, Guiu Vilanova

Inside Mari vol 4 (£11-99, Denpa) by Shuzo Oshimi

Edens Zero vol 3 (£9-99, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime vol 10 (£11-99, Kodansha) by Fuse & Taiki Kawakami

Blank Canvas So Called Artists Journey vol 1 (£10-99, Seven Seas) by Akiko Higashimura

Our Dreams At Dusk Shimanami Tasogare vol 1 (£9-99, Seven Seas) by Yuhki Kamatani

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen vol 1 Heed My Call Pt1 (£9-99, Seven Seas) by Yoshinobu Akita & Muraji

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews June 2019 week one

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Featuring Sean Michael Wilson, Robert Brown, Brendan McCarthy, David Baillie, Al Ewing, T.C. Eglington, Rob Williams

The Many Not The Few: An Illustrated History Of Britain Shaped By The People (£9-99, Workable) by Sean Michael Wilson & Robert Brown.

“Are you a fan of Karl Marx, then?”
“Sure. Though I think Groucho was funnier.”
“Who?”
“Oh callow youth! Let me tell you about the Marx Brothers another time, or I might lose track again.”

I just threw in that opener so right from the get go you will understand that this is not your typical dry approach to educating people about the important inflection points in the working class history of Great Britain….

Quite the opposite, for whilst you will undoubtedly come away from this far, far better informed than you were before on the salient details, even if you consider yourself remotely politically and historically educated, you will also have been engrossed by the entertainingly resolute presentation of the facts, as recounted to granddaughter Arushi by retired union rep Joe, and perhaps tickled too by many a delightfully humorous aside…

 

 

“All right, so we’re almost up to date. When were you born? ’94, was it?”
“’95. I was a toddler on the night New Labour got elected. Mum said you and your union pals had a big party on election night!”
“Ha, ha! Yeah, we were drunkenly singing ‘Things Can Only Get Better’… and old Wilkins threw up into your granny’s Royal Worcester flower vase.”
“I bet she was mad.”
“Well, she was caught up in the excitement too, so she let it pass.”

Their endearing relationship, straddling a gap of several decades and indeed political differences too – not least on the subject of Brexit – grounds this in-depth chronology in very real human terms…

“Of course the big thing that’s happened recently is voting to leave the EU. I know you were against it, as were a lot of young folks.”
“Yeah, I still don’t get why you were for leaving.”
“Well, I’m old enough to remember when most Leftwingers were against the EU.”

I think it’s worth taking a paragraph or two just to detail what period of time is covered in the ten chapters, prefaced by a foreword from Jeremy Corbyn, no less. Starting with the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 featuring the original poll tax we move through the battles over the rights to use common land c.1549, then onto the 17th century and the English Civil War and the Levellers. Then the mythical Captain Swing (minus his electrical pirates) makes an appearance fighting against agricultural landlords in the 1830s, followed by the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the Chartists, then the beginnings of trade unionism proper from 1860s onwards.

 

 

Once we enter the 20th century we have the many labour protests between the two world wars, the brief highpoint of the creation of the NHS and free education, before the chaos of the Winter Of Discontent in 1978-79 leading to the rise of Thatcher and “18 years of neoliberal fury” including the miners’ strike before depositing us into our current end times of Brexit madness.

I think Sean Michael Wilson has done a brilliant job assembling his workers’ manifesto here, with the stoic assistance of historical advisor Doug Nicholls. Robert Brown’s simple, straightforward no-nonsense black and white art style is perfect for portraying this epic march through the heroic efforts of many an individual and collective to fight for the rights of the many over the greed of the few.

 

 

I can’t recommend this highly enough for anyone interested in British political history. I fervently hope it will get picked up and used as a teaching aid in schools so the current crop of young minds are (de-)programmed with a message of how positive changes can be effected if they are prepared to resist and perhaps rage a little against the ever hungry all-consuming machine of neoliberal capitalism.

But still buy comics obviously.

JR

Buy The Many Not The Few: An Illustrated History Of Britain Shaped By The People and read the Page 45 review here

Chopper: Wandering Spirit (£9-99, Rebellion) by David Baillie, Al Ewing, T.C. Eglington, Rob Williams & Brendan McCarthy…

“Without the dreamtime as conduit this cloud has become just science… and is looking for a shape in its own chaos.”
“Look! From the formless chaos something emerges.”
“Shapes taken from its own twisted memory!”

I believe I have just felt myself Judda… (sic).

Regular Page 45 review readers may well know that my favourite all-time 2000AD comics character is one Marlon Shakespeare a.k.a. Chopper. How can one not love someone who takes such great delight in deservedly, continually sticking it to ‘the man’, even earning in the process the very, very, very begrudging respect of Judge Dredd himself? If you want to hear me wax lyrical even further about the Midnight Surfer here is my review of CHOPPER: SURF’S UP.

But back to the review at hand, and I suspect most, if not all people, will be interested in this purely because it is illustrated by the Prince of comics psychedelia himself, Mr Brendan McCarthy. You don’t need me to tell you who the King is, right?

Much like his insane SPIDER-MAN: FEVER which was about as far removed from a Spider-Man story as you could possibly be (by about five dimensions of rational thought, I would estimate), this isn’t really a story about a man on a flying plank. I mean it is, clearly, but it’s primarily a nonsensical, riotously garish Aboriginal-art-themed assault on the mind that just so happens to feature a man on a flying plank. As you do. Well, as Brendan McCarthy does.

 

 

It’s a fabulously frenetic fun and frolics story from David Baillie and I love the nod, well, more like a psychic headbutt, to the Supersurf 10 voyage to Oz epic which I make reference to above by way of the guest villain faux appearance. If you don’t have a clue what I am on about by the way, really do not worry about it. Just sit back and absorb it all in. As the colours start swirling around you may find yourself becoming quite intoxicated…

 

 

In addition to the Chopper story this volume also collects some Mega City One-based Judge Dredd bizarreness illustrated by McCarthy including a great Doctor Who spoof penned by Al Ewing featuring a rogue time travelling scientist and a zombie farce scripted by Rob Williams. Plus a final very short short part-scripted by Brendan himself.

 

 

Note: Rob Williams has a Judge Dredd story from the pages of 2000AD being collected in September called JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE (with art by Henry Flint) which is one of the best Dredd stories I’ve ever read and I believe will come to be regarded as an all-time classic. Should be up on the website with the next month of PREVIEWS, I would imagine.

You’ll find a full (and very large, broadsheet-sized) page drawn by Brendan McCarthy in THE SPIRIT NEWSPAPER comics anthology, distributed worldwide and on sale on our shelves exclusively at Page 45.

JR

Buy Chopper: Wandering Spirit and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

New reviews to follow, but if they’re new formats of previous books, reviews may already be up; others will retain their Diamond previews information we receive displayed as ‘Publisher Blurb’.

Akissi: More Tales Of Mischief (£12-99, Flying Eye Books) by Marguerite Abouet & Mathieu Sapin

Cemetery Beach s/c (£15-99, Image) by Warren Ellis & Jason Howard

Die vol 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker s/c (£8-99, Image) by Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans

Dungeon Fun vol 1: The Adventures Of Fun Mudlifter (£14-99, BHP Comics) by Colin Bell & Neil Slorance

Elfin Lied Omnibus vol 1 (£22-99, Dark Horse) by Lynn Okamoto

Good Omens (£8-99, Corgi) by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

Grand Abyss Hotel h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Marcos Prior & David Rubin

Hotel Dare s/c (£7-50, Kaboom) by Terry Blas & Claudia Aguirre

Minecraft vol 1 s/c (£8-99, Dark Horse) by Sfe R. Monster & Sarah Graley

Mirror vol 2: The Nest s/c (£17-99, Image) by Emma Rios & Hwei Lim

Skim (£11-99, Groundwood Books) by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

Tales From The Hidden Valley vol 4: Under The Water (£12-99, Flying Eye) by Carlos Porta

Tongues #2 (£10-99, ) by Anders Nilsen

Wandering Luminations: The Art Of Tara McPherson h/c (£26-99, Dark Horse) by Tara McPherson

You’re Safe With Me h/c (£11-99, Lantana Publishing) by Chitra Soundar & Poonan Mistry

You’re Snug With Me h/c (£11-99, Lantana Publishing) by Chitra Soundar & Poonan Mistry

Mister Miracle h/c (£29-99, DC) by Tom King & Mitch Gerads

Nightwing vol 8: Knight Terrors s/c (Rebirth) (£16-99, DC) by Benjamin Percy & Travis Moore

The Dreaming vol 1: Pathways And Emanations s/c (£14-99, DC) by Si Spurrier, Neil Gaiman & Bilquis Evely

Avengers vol 1: War Of The Vampires s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & David Marquez, Andrea Sorrentino

Marvel Knights Punisher By Ennis Complete Collection s/c vol 3 (£35-99, Marvel) by Garth Ennis & Tom Mandrake, Cam Kennedy, Steve Dillon

Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Spider-Man (£8-99, Marvel) by various

Boruto vol 2 (£6-99, Viz) by Ukyo Kodachi & Mikio Ikemoto

Boruto vol 3 (£6-99, Viz) by Ukyo Kodachi & Mikio Ikemoto

Boruto vol 4 (£6-99, Viz) by Ukyo Kodachi & Mikio Ikemoto

Boruto vol 5 (£6-99, Viz) by Ukyo Kodachi & Mikio Ikemoto