Archive for August, 2019

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2019 week four

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Featuring Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve, Luke Pearson, Chino Moya, Tal Brosh, Darryl Cunningham, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Hilda And The Mountain King (vol 6) h/c (£12-95, Flying Eye / Nobrow) by Luke Pearson.

Never threaten a mother’s child; or a child’s mother, for that matter.

It’s a bond that should never be broken.

Welcome back to the wild, rock-strewn countryside of HILDA outside the tall city walls of Trolberg, defended against its indigenous inhabitants with enormous bells, the clanging of which repels those Trolls almost as forcefully as sunlight deters them. Sunlight quite literally petrifies them.

But those same Trolls have been appearing outside their dank, cavernous mountain home in larger numbers of late – in their hundreds, perhaps thousands – and roaming farther afield. Specifically they seem to be drawn, by some compelling inner instinct which they do not understand, to that very city whose human inhabitants, already nervous, are growing increasingly alarmed.




HILDA AND THE STONE FOREST certainly culminated in quite the unexpected climax, didn’t it?

We’ve never known HILDA end on a cliffhanger before! As a result, insatiably inquisitive explorer Hilda and her more cautious Mum have found themselves in much altered circumstances, utterly bewildered and terribly separated with very little hope – it seems – of reversing their plight.

I’m going to be as elusive as possible about the exact nature of this strange transformation in their lives, but what I can tell you is that Hilda herself is enjoying an enforced holiday in that subterranean stone forest, while Mum and furry-faced family friend Tontu have a rampaging new house guest on their hands.



Neither party knows for sure what’s become of the other, but both are going to go to the greatest lengths possible to find each other and be reunited using natural curiosity, making what they hope are new friends and learning whatever they can about the Trolls’ history and customs. The Trolls, for example, collect stuff. It’s a recycling of sorts – certainly a more positive pastime than fly-tipping.

“What are all these piles of junk?”
“We gather it from the city outskirts. Things the humans have dumped or don’t seem to need any more.”
“You know vegetables aren’t buried in the ground because people don’t need them, right?”
“Well it’s a funny place to leave them.”

With the mystery and emergency already established at the end of the last volume (and recapped in a handy-dandy, two-page “Previously…”), Pearson makes maximum use of the increased page count this affords to weave in additional dangers and suspicions – on both sides and from multiple directions – and build on what we’ve already established as the Trolls’ nature while subtly but repeatedly emphasising the acute anxiety of separation: the separation of parent and child.



Everyone I know has an embedded memory or three of being separated from their parents, be it lost briefly in a crowd or a far more protracted affair, and far too many parents I know have experienced the same terror from their own perspective. The vividness of the childhood memories after perhaps decades is a testament to the extent of the trauma. It’s going to resonate with readers, is what I’m saying, and create quite the incentive for families to fly through these pages – they’re gripping!

Hilda and her mother can, if not hear, then at least sense each other calling throughout, but the distance between them is emphasised by the marked contrast in colours. The warm glow of earthy, autumnal colours both within the sanctuary of home and on the pages following the mother’s daylight efforts on the hillside to establish Hilda’s whereabouts are matched once Hilda manages to venture outside the mountain, albeit temporarily at night, for the starlit skies glow a golden brown; but while trapped underground inside the Trolls’ mountain, the colours are cold and empty in greys, green and pale aquamarine, stark white or echoing black.



Having successfully avoided the biggest spoilers for HILDA AND THE STONE FOREST, then, I leave you with a last illustration, Hilda’s dream-like vision in threatening scarlet, catalysed by the glowing orb which forms her third and final quest to reverse her predicament…



Whatever can it mean? And will any of them figure it out before the humans scramble up the mountain to attack with their new secret weapon, or the Trolls descend en masse to Trolberg and wreak havoc on the city’s rush-hour traffic and much cherished civic floral displays?


Buy Hilda And The Mountain King (vol 6) h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Reminder: Luke Pearson Signing & Sketching in Hilda at Page 45 Saturday September 7th 2019, 12-2pm

Kevin’s Great Escape: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure h/c (£8-99, Oxford Press) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre.

Break out the biscuits! Kevin the roly-poly flying pony is back!

“There was a big silver door knocker in the shape of a snake eating its tail. “Stupid snake!” said Kevin. You’d never catch a flying pony doing something as stupid as eating his own tail, he thought. Then he wondered what his tail tasted like and turned round to have a nibble.”

And he’s as peckish as ever.

““Biscuits?” said Kevin, who had just realized that it was the end of Chapter Two already and he hadn’t had any custard creams yet.”

As those who’ve previously perused Page 45’s Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre Section and enjoyed its literary spoils (like Kevin’s last loop-the-loop), both these collaborative creators fire on full thrusters to entertain your young ones by employing everything at their disposal: mystery, mythology, a great many biscuits and cakes, illustrations fully integrated into the text, popular culture, pugs, cumulatively funny linguistic reprises and irreverent attention to chapter breaks.

“…And this is Nobbly Nora, a friendly tortoise. (She doesn’t have anything to do with this story at all, she just wanted to be in a book.)”



Here both mythology and popular culture are brought to the fore as we encounter more legendary beings from Kevin’s natural home on the wild wet hills of the Outermost West and a spectacularly successful goth popstress called Misty Twiglet whose music videos like ‘Trapped (In A Haunted Wardrobe)’ prominently feature her being trapped. (In a haunted wardrobe.)

Kevin’s comfy straw nest currently sits far from the wild wet hills of the Outermost West atop the flat-roof floor of Max and Daisy’s top-floor flat.

(You try saying that with your fat face stuffed full of Bourbons!)

That top-floor flat has just been flooded with a scream, because Maisy is Misty’s biggest fan, and Misty – it’s just been announced on the TV – is about to move to the home town of Bumbleford! Or rather, just outside it, in the vast gated mansion called Gloomsbury Grange. Will she be seen shopping (spookily) in Bumbleford or getting her hair cut (gelled and sprayed) in Maz and Maisy’s Mum’s hair salon? (Unlikely – it’s also flooded but with water; mermaids are her chief customers.)



The family’s frenzied debate about whether pop goddesses get their minions to do their shopping or send servants to get their hair cut for them is suddenly, startlingly interrupted downstairs by the arrival in his shiny sports car of Misty Twiglet’s chief minion, Mr Baz Gumption, Superstar Talent Management, with his “shiny jacket and shiny dark glasses, and once he had got over the shock of having a roly-pony flying pony land beside him, he smiled a shiny smile…”

He only wants to buy Kevin for Gloomsbury Grange!



“How much do you want for him?”
““Nothing!” said Max. “I mean…”
““Kevin’s not for sale!” said Mum.
““He’s our friend,” said Daisy.
“Oh, sure,” said Baz Gumption. “But your friend would be way better off living in Misty Twiglet’s garden than up on your roof.””

Baz Gumption does his best to persuade them with all the amenities on offer, but the family are resolute, defiant, and Baz isn’t accustomed to defiance.

“Baz Gumption scowled while trying to keep smiling, which was an interesting look.”

I love the lightness of Reeve’s quiet critiques, but you won’t like the heaviness of Baz’s response when refused. All it’ll take is a little luring of Max’s star-struck sister then a typically roguish, nay ruthless sleight-of-hand when Maisy and Misty [totally redacted] and Kevin may find his flight quite encumbered!



La McIntyre’s art is as thrilling and inventive as ever, with lots of sneaky background jokes I’m not going to sign-post for you for fear of spoiling your fun (hint, however: you’re not the only one reading here!), and, as usual, there will be a few familiar faces of former friends, even if one is carefully hidden amongst Misty’s household ornaments.

Poor Kevin’s new straw nest isn’t going to be situated in anything like the idyllic surroundings Baz Gumption promised and McIntyre’s decidedly dismal holding pen looks more like a ramshackle early-to-mid 20th Century zoo enclosure, as inappropriate and inhospitable as the cramped concrete monstrosity I once witnessed polar bears gloomily mourning in. Notice how his water trough is actually a human domestic bath complete with tap appliances!



I did promise you more mythology too, didn’t I? Reeve and McIntyre have assembled quite the collection of fellow captives, like the Gorgon called Zola who wisely wears sunglasses (more for your protection than hers), a Centaur who I later spotted wearing Cyclops-style shades (nice!) and a cardigan-loving faun called Cardigan Faun. There Reeve excels himself:

“His eyes were the colour of sunlight in autumn woods.”

It’s an evocative enough description for anyone’s irises – but for a sylvan Satyr’s, it’s perfect!



The title of course is KEVIN’S GREAT ESCAPE, but how can this possibly be facilitated when the mansion is walled, gated and guarded by more than Baz Gumption, and Max and Daisy’s only flying ally finds himself knotted up in netting?! It won’t be easy!!

Especially since Kevin’s priorities are as spot-on as ever:

“I can’t go without my friends.”

Transportation for one will prove problematic (I haven’t mentioned them yet, but you’ll see!).

Some of my favourite art also contains story spoilers, so I’ve reluctantly withheld it, but you wait until you see our roly-poly flying pony soaring above Bumbleford’s country churchyard complete with lychgate from an aerial point of view! Spectacular!

I leave you instead with one of Sarah’s awesome blogs which always come with extra activities ( – there have been will be many more related to Kevin) and this book’s introductory endpapers which are absolutely typical of Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre.



I’m surprised any decent home ever let’s them through its front door.

Maybe they get in another way?


Buy Kevin’s Great Escape: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure s/c (£6-99, Oxford Press) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre.

Also still available as THE LEGEND OF KEVIN h/c!

Welcome to Stephen’s New All-Ages Taste Test in which I declare that if you can imagine a book being read aloud by Alan Bennett, with his dry yet full-mouthed, fruit-jam-flavoured, deadpan delivery, then you are onto a winner!

So it is here, with the most perfect preamble that I can recall, setting you in very good stead for all that will follow.

“Kevin lives in the wild, wet hills of the Outermost West, where he has built a large, untidy nest for himself in the branches of an old oak tree.”

Kevin – if you hadn’t gathered from the so-spangly cover – is a Roly-Poly Flying Pony. As David Attenborough once noted, their nests can be famously dishevelled.



Kevin comes from the “wild, wet hills of the Outermost West”. Not Plymouth, nor Basingstoke, nor even the Dartmoor plains; but somewhere wilder, wetter and even more westerly. This is Important, as you shall see.

“His favourite things to eat are:
“1. Grass
“2. Apples
“3. Biscuits
“… only not in that order.”

Why, Philip, why?



“Grass is quite easy to come by, because it grows all over the wild, wet hills of the Outermost West. Apples are grown on the trees in the orchards, and Kevin often flies down to eat them. (You can imagine how delighted the farmers are when they see him coming.) Biscuits are a bit harder to get hold of, but sometimes Kevin makes friends with a hiker, and if he’s lucky they share their biscuits with him. So if you ever visit the wild, wet hills of the Outermost West, be sure to take plenty of biscuits. Kevin’s favourites are:

“1. Pink wafers
“2. Bourbons
“3. Custard creams
“… only not in that order.”

Reeve is a master of playful repetition and the cumulatively funny joke, and that won’t be the last of his winking, tongue-in-cheek, parenthetical asides, either.

You are now fully prepped for the latest deliciously mischievous all-ages, illustrated and fully integrated prose from the award-winning creators of PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH, OLIVER AND THE SEAWIGS, CAKES IN SPACE, JINKS AND O’HARE FUNFAIR REPAIR and the creation inspiration that is the PUG-A-DOODLE-DOO BUMPER BOOK OF FUN. Never have I read a funnier kids’ activity book in my astonishingly long life.

It was there that I first acquired the sneaking suspicion that Philip and Sarah were building a subtly shared universe in which – at any unexpected moment! – you might meet much beloved, long-lost friends from previous adventures as guest stars in brand-new ones. Oh, my lovelies, that moment is now! Perhaps Kevin is not alone in living around the nebulous “wild, wet hills of the Outermost West” with its Outermost Coast and Outermost Sea. Who do you think you might become reacquainted with here?!

Clue: please bring shampoo! They’re all stinky and eww!



The blustery, rain-soaked action begins immediately as a preternaturally turbulent storm blows in from the Outermost Sea, scooping poor corpulent Kevin up out of his messy nest, and sweeping him far, far away to the towns and cities where ordinary people live until he bumps into the side of a very tall building. “Doof”! It’s a good job there’s a balcony.

Inside that building, in its topmost flat, live Max, his dad, his mum and his older sister Daisy who would prefer you call her Elivira, please, because she’s going through her gothic period (don’t we all).

Now, Max had always wanted a pet – a dog or a cat, or a bird-eating spider (guess who suggested that one) – but the flat was always deemed too cramped and tiny, without so much as a garden for even a small dog to do its ‘doings’ in. It’s the perfect size of a roly-poly flying pony, though, right?!

Of course, to begin with Max doesn’t know that it’s a roly-poly flying pony that’s landed like a hefty haggis outside his bedroom window. For a moment he’s fearful that it might be a fearsome polar bear.

“Don’t be silly, he told himself, how could a fearsome polar bear have got all the way up here?”

Or a pony, to be fair.



McIntyre’s startled, bright white, limp-winged, shivering and sopping-wet Kevin – eyes wide and clueless while caught in the flashlight – is a dripping masterpiece of lost and lonely forlorn fauna and I defy any of you with your melted hearts not to invite the poor creature indoors immediately, towel him down then wrap him in your duvet.

You might want to find him some biscuits.

“Quiet as a mouse, he opened the cupboard, opened the biscuit tin, and took out a custard cream. Then he took another one, because he thought a flying pony as far as Kevin might be able to manage two biscuits. Then he took a third, because he thought maybe he should have one himself to keep Kevin company. (Max was very thoughtful like that.)”

Of course Max’s torch battery is “going” – as in, dying – that’s what torch batteries do. Reeve nails this sort of everyday family life, like the biscuit tin (I’d forgotten we had one of those), Max’s “Swimming Things bag”, and that fact that parents have been saying “Yes dear” while paying no attention whatsoever to what you’ve been saying ever since Gerald Durrell’s mum. I love the animism in Reeve’s weather as well: the way the wind “leaned” against a window, or, later the sunlight coming down in “silvery fingers through the wave tops and tickled the shop signs” (italics, mine).

Ah, yes, the wave tops. I did mention, didn’t I, that this was a preternaturally turbulent storm?



Well, it was, for it blew in from the wild, wet Outermost Ocean flooding the city from its sewers to its shops, its bike lanes and its bus stops, almost to the rooftops, and sweeping in all sorts of strange sea creatures.

From very first page McIntyre effortlessly integrates her illustrations with the type-set prose so that it is not just a balanced, harmonious whole but a narrative fusion, seamlessly incorporating both into a single fluid stream. Here, however, she instinctively and strategically leaves areas of space in her illuminations, so that the words artfully framed by the sides of the skyscraper, forming what actually looks like substructure to the building!



Elsewhere she uses colour to consolidate an image so that it has no need for a line-drawn frame, but melds the individual components into a single, unified coherent whole, as if the Sea Monkeys were caught in a mousse mould then plonked out on the page, set in a gelatinous or at least aqueous blue mass.



Haha yes! The bickering Sea Monkeys are back! Those chittering, chattering, smelly little mentalists from OLIVER AND THE SEAWIGS have returned to pull faces, blow underwater raspberries and throw whiteboard rubbers at Mr. Mould, Max’s headmaster, now stranded on the school roof. Personally I’d leave him to it, but Max isn’t that sort of a lad, so it’s action stations, rescue elevations once the winged wonder’s got his old strength back. Because, honestly, if Mr. Mould thought that the little human monkeys he was used to teaching were loud and ill-disciplined, then this lot are totally bananas.

“The monkeys threw a few pencil sharpeners and things after him, just to make themselves feel better. Then they went back underwater and started writing rude words on the school walls, and they didn’t even spell them properly or bother to use capital letters and full stops; it was an absolute disgrace.”



Quite a lot of this takes place underwater as Max attempts to rescue some resuscitating custard creams from the supermarket biscuit aisle, encountering a granny down there in an aqualung, I kid you not. It’s underwater that I first spied our old mate Colin the Crab, who is renowned for getting around, admiring himself in a circular compact’s mirror. Page 67 – perhaps you can spot him earlier?

This is a carnival of cooped up, flood-fleeing neighbours, a romp and a riot, and a minor misadventure for Beyoncé and Neville, two guinea pigs caught in a tide of their own. It’s also a book about newly found friendship – about looking after each other and pulling together whatever the weather, for that’s what Max and Kevin do!

And it’s a little bit about belonging too.



Kevin, you see, comes from “wild, wet hills of the Outermost West”. Not Plymouth, nor Basingstoke, nor even the Dartmoor plains.

But somewhere wilder, wetter and even more westerly. Somewhere that’s way, way beyond.

He doesn’t belong in a city. Not really.

It’s here that Reeve and McIntyre’s early decision to set limits on Kevin’s anthropomorphic qualities pays true dividends. To begin with, it’s comical hearing Kevin do little more than repeat “Biscuits!” or “Custard Creams!” oh so covetously. Oh what a funny fella! But that’s just about the extent of his ability to communicate verbally, and I’m afraid that when you first find the poor pony pining near the flat-roof railing – staring out at the sunset, tail still, ears drooping, without the first clue as to where he actually came from, a full fifteen pages from the end – you’ll know instinctively where his silent animal instincts are taking him, and you might remember that Reeve and McIntyre did this to you once before, in PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH.

The teary, heart-break stuff, I mean.



For many more reviews, pleases see Page 45’s Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre section, especially THE NEW NEIGHBOURS hardcover and THE NEW NEIGHBOURS softcover for which we still have a few signed editions of a completely different bookplate also drawn by Sarah.


Buy The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Flat Filters (£6-00, self-published) by Chino Moya & Tal Brosh.

One of the best evocations of limbo I’ve ever read.

Not a void, certainly not an apocalypse, but a monotony, an inertia instead.  Yes, if there’s one word which distils the world this young man wakes up to, and the lines and colour with which it’s described, it’s supremely, superbly “inert”.

Here’s how we begin:

“It was too bright already.
“He used to wake up naturally when it was still dark.
“He’d overslept.”

So far, so familiar – too familiar, perhaps! But the young man isn’t panicking.  He doesn’t appear to have a job. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have a future – he doesn’t reference it once – just a past.

I’m a little creeped out by that already.



“There was nothing out there.”

There really isn’t. Just one flat tone for sky, and a pale yellow ochre for not-sky.

“The buildings were gone. And the streets.
“The world wasn’t there anymore. Just a vast and empty plain.
“A big flat thing.”

The two colours could not have been better picked, and the wording below is perfect:

“It was made out of artificial sand or soil or something like it.
“The sky looked different too. It was like one specific blue pantone, no shades, one colour that probably had a name made out of letters and numbers.
“Only one colour.”



His flat – as he left it, falling asleep the night before – is the only thing left. The other apartments are all empty of objects and people and, as I say, there’s no future. Sure, he can squeeze out the single orange that’s left in his fridge, but when he turns on the taps, there’s nothing forthcoming.

Finally, there’s the sound. And, after reading this, it will come as no surprise that Spanish-born Chino Moya is a film-maker.

“And the silence. His flat wasn’t noisy anymore.
“No cars. No trains running right below the window.
“There was no sound at all.
“When there was silence in a film, there was still some sound. A room tone. That was what he’d learnt in film school. Now there was no tone.”

Once more, limbo and inertia.



Slowly, the young man begins to explore what’s left of his surroundings, assess his situation and reflect on his past.

Past and present, his expression barely changes.


Buy Flat Filters and read the Page 45 review here

Science Tales s/c (£16-99, Myriad) by Darryl Cunningham

New revised edition including an extended chapter on fracking, which for those not familiar with the term is slang for a relatively new gas and oil extraction technique, which has revitalised the fossil fuel industry in recent years. It’s clear this is a topic Darryl is especially passionate about exploring as he goes into great detail eloquently explaining the technique for the lay person, weighing up the technical pros and cons, before getting into his real concerns on the matter. The fact that, despite the genuine possibilities of us now being able to extract vast natural resources which were previously unviable in financial terms, there are some very serious safety concerns, with the potential for causing huge irreparable damage to the heath of a huge section of the population. That these concerns are being blithely swept under the carpet and ignored, indeed actively suppressed.



And precisely who is doing this, both in the UK and US, which are of course leading the way in fracking? Well, the titans of the gas and oil industry whose very deep pockets have, through campaign donations, other lobbying mechanisms and general old-school-tie chumminess, managed to ensure their chosen politicians of every stripe are steering the debate and more importantly legislation, in their desired direction.

For example, did you know that Lord Howell, an energy adviser at the Foreign Office is also president of the British Institute of Energy Economics, which is sponsored by Shell and BP? He’s also George Osborne’s father-in-law, a man who in 2012 cut wind energy subsidies by 10% whilst giving a 500 million pound a year tax break to offshore drilling. Perhaps more shocking is the case of Lord John Browne, 30% owner of the UK fracking company Cuadrilla, who is an unelected member of the Cabinet Office, with powers to appoint non-executive directors to government departments, including the Treasury and the Departments of Energy and Climate Change plus the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as he sees fit. Conflict of interest, or just business as usual, you decide.

It’s an exposé which, whilst not remotely surprising to me, does sicken me even further that despite the appearance of us living in a democracy where we have control over the executive who make decisions on our behalf, supposedly for our benefit, it is a sham that ensures the same old snouts stay in the trough and damn the consequences. And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking there are any political alternatives available to us under the current voting system which would make a difference, because there are not. The mainstream political parties are all in bed with big business to a degree which is beyond disturbing, but until we start seriously dealing with the culture of corruption that pervades Westminster, that will never change.

So, are we all going to have to deal with the possible consequences to our health and the environment that Darryl outlines, which the fat cats keep lining their pockets? Probably, but as Darryl points out, the truth does eventually out, as the tobacco industry, another group that was extremely adept at manipulating the political landscape, eventually found out to their cost. Hopefully it’ll be somewhat quicker this time. And on a personal note, equally hopefully, Nuclear Fusion projects like the ITER test reactor, scheduled to be complete sometime around 2020, which will produce around 500 megawatts of output power for 50 megawatts of input power, i.e. ten times the amount of energy, will finally ensure the true clean energy boom begins in earnest, and fossil fuels can at last be consigned to history. Here’s hoping.

What follows below is my review of the previous edition without the fracking chapter.

This time around we find Darryl in full-on debunking mode, as he takes on the scientific lies, hoaxes and scams that annoy him the most, those being: electroconvulsive therapy, homeopathy…



… the moon landing, climate change, evolution…



… chiropractic…



… the MMR jab debacle and the general denial of irrefutable scientific evidence. I personally would have included shampoo adverts with their pseudo-science, made up chemical names and definitive surveys based on massive sample groups of errr…100 people, but that’s my own personal bugbear!

It’s well researched by Darryl as in each case he goes to great length to not only show how preposterous the various claims are, but also how just unreliable the particular people making those assertions are themselves, and in the case of climate change the infinitely more sinister aspect of just who it is that’s funding the idiots. But this is no diatribe, instead it’s a meticulous picking apart of the ridiculous web of half-baked facts and fiction that’s often woven around one or two grains of truth, usually completely taken and distorted totally out of context, to prove his case. Anyone who enjoyed Darryl’s previous work, PSYCHIATRIC TALES, which was a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, will definitely enjoy this. Darryl also employs the same understated clinical yet also slightly comical art style this time around, once again inserting himself as a talking head from time to time for additional narrational emphasis.

Please pop Darryl Cunningham into our search engine for subsequent works, reviewed.


Buy Science Tales s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Fantastic Four: Epic Collection vol 4 – The Mystery Of The Black Panther (£35-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

A gloriously structured cover heralds the first-ever appearance of the BLACK PANTHER.

Other classic tales include Dr. Victor Von Doom Esq. relieving the Silver Surfer of his Power Cosmic.

“I’ll just borrow this, if you don’t mind.
“I swear to God, I’ll bring it back on Sunday after church.”

The thing is, Dr. Victor Von Doom Esq. doesn’t even go to church on Sundays. He has a lazy old lie-in, eating crumpets and jam.

For somewhat more in-depth analysis of early Marvel adventures and a sizzle of saucy satire, please see the previous three FANTASTIC FOUR EPIC COLLECTIONS, AVENGERS EPIC COLLECTIONS and the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN EPIC COLLECTIONS. If only they’d keep them in print.

Collects FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #52-67 and ANNUAL #4-5, and material from NOT BRAND ECHH #1 and #5


Buy Fantastic Four: Epic Collection vol 4 – The Mystery Of The Black Panther 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’.

Grass (£22-50, Drawn & Quarterly) by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim

Heathen vol 2 (£13-99, Vault Comics) by Natasha Alterici

The Collected Toppi vol 2: North America h/c (£22-99, Magnetic Press) by Sergio Toppi

Americana (£16-99, Nobrow) by Luke Healy

Judge Dredd: Small House s/c (£9-99, Rebellion) by Rob Williams & Henry Flint

Bloodborne vol 3: Song Of Crows s/c (£13-99, Titan) by Alex Kot & Piotr Kowalski

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor s/c (£13-99, Titan) by Jody Houser & Rachael Stott, various

Jim Henson’s Beneath The Dark Crystal vol 2 h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Adam Smith & Alexandria Huntington

Batman: Batman Who Laughs h/c (£24-99, DC) by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV &  Jock

Captain Marvel vol 1: Re-Entry s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Kelly Thompson & Carmen Nunez Carnero, Annapaola Martello

Fantastic Four By Hickman Complete Collection vol 2 s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Neil Edwards, various

Star Wars: Vader – Dark Visions s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Dennis Hallum & Paolo Villanelli

War Of Realms: Journey Into Mystery s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Clint McElroy & Andre Araujo

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2019 week three

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Featuring Monster, Master, Omnibus & Colour Collections from Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, Tsutomu Nihei, Bryan Lee O’ Malley.

Marvels (Monster-Sized) h/c (£67-99, Marvel) by Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross.



To coincide with the release of the all-new MARVELS EPILOGUE (£4-25) which honestly is the most delightful reprise, revisiting the events in UNCANNY X-MEN #98 (see X-MEN EPIC COLLECTION: SECOND GENESIS) surrounding a snow-blown Rockerfeller Plaza just before Christmas from a bystander’s point of view, comes this staggering new edition of the original MARVELS 4-parter plus prologue measuring a full 21 x 14 inches to showcase the gloriously lambent painted art by Alex Ross.

I suspect editorial chose this particular cover to draw the eye upwards, so emphasising its height. I took a photo of it against the regular American-comic-sized MARVELS EPILOGUE so you can see the scale for yourselves.



A thoughtful and poignant history of the innocent age of the Marvel Universe which would be any newcomer’s perfect introduction to that company’s catalogue, this tells the tale of America at large and a photojournalist in particular witnessing the arrival in their midst of gods, aliens, metahumans, Inhumans, mutants, hybrids and a brave young man in a black-ribbed, red and blue suit who was destined to see the love of his life die after being thrown from a bridge by a sociopathic multimillionaire, her neck snapped by the poor, unfortunate suitor’s very own web line.

At which point the innocence is over.



Long before Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s exceptionally touching and eloquent INHUMANS, this was one of the very first comics which Marvel released with an impressive degree of literacy, other than projects published on its Epic label, Jim Starlin’s WARLOCK and THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL.

In addition, it saw painter Alex Ross’s rise to critical acclaim, and justly so. Unlike many painters who’ve brought their brush to this medium, Alex Ross has a deft, luminous touch which allows your eye to drift across even his most intricate pages as sequential art is supposed to.



Do please check out Ross’s work in KINGDOM COME and JUSTICE (that one over Dougie Braithwaite’s pencils) – cracking stories, both – and the JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERHEROES collection of short stories about whose content I’m a bit more ambivalent.

Along with ASTRO CITY and SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY this has also been Kurt Busiek’s finest hour to date, as he observed the plight of individuals from ground-level, looking upwards into the sky, a perspective Ross was at great pains to duplicate, as the extensive interviews in the back of MARVELS EPILOGUE makes abundantly clear.

It’s a beautiful book which manages, extraordinarily, to recapture the absolute, slack-jawed awe one felt as a four-year-old on first beholding a superhero splashed across a comicbook cover, wondering what on earth these colourful creatures were, and where they came from.



Which is precisely what an equally gobsmacked and understandably tremulous public does throughout this surprisingly pensive series…

Meanwhile, yeah, this particular edition is absolutely massive.


Buy Marvels (Monster-Sized) h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Boys Omnibus vol 1 (£26-99, Dynamite) by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson.

Back in print in time for the prime-time TV series…

“Unadulterated carnage”

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up, cheers.

From the writer of PREACHER, PUNISHER MAX and WAR STORIES and the artist on Warren Ellis’s TRANSMETROPOLITAN comes THE BOYS, a darkly satirical series of adults-only books from the POV of a Machiavellian British bruiser who is exceedingly angry at everything regarding the nature of above-the-law superheroes, their suffocating male hegemony, and their history of publication along with the genre’s real-life, attendant, corporate propaganda.

Writer and comedian Simon Pegg provides the introduction in which he offers the experience that, as an actor, you rarely switch on the TV to find yourself starring in a series you hadn’t performed for. Errrmmm… will he, now that this has been commissioned for that very medium? He could probably name his price.

I mention all this because Simon Pegg – or rather a character with his exact likeness – is the star of this particular sequential-art show in which his love-life (or the love of his life) is quite literally torn apart by a couple of squabbling super-freaks in the first few pages.

Great timing, that panel, but I’ll leave you to see its exceptional execution for yourselves.




This makes him easy pickings for Billy Butcher, a man with a mission to bring down the high-and-mighty but secretly down-and-dirty super-thugs and super-sluts who enjoy the adulation of millions along with the support of the authorities, yet whose team leaders like The Homelander emotionally and sexually abuse their fresher female and indeed male cohorts.

Together with The Frenchman, Mother’s Milk, The Female and Wee Hughie (the naive Pegg-alike), Billy Butcher embarks on his first new mission to covertly film a team of teens in the all-together, doing the unmentionable.

Billy Butcher’s not going to expose them, though. Not in the way that they expose themselves. He’s going to blackmail them into self-destructing in mass-media public. It’s about making these nasty, hypocritical, conceited celebrities with their polished media profiles squirm and turn on each other.

So it’s still rather topical, I would have thought.




Little is left to the imagination as both Garth and Ennis trawl through an A-to-Z of what Wertham worried about, and which Marvel and DC have never allowed to be shown in superhero comics. It’s little surprise, therefore, that DC – originally slated to publish THE BOYS – dropped this title. The only astonishing thing is that it took them so long.

It’s crude, it’s lewd, but the lascivious relish is infectious, and you wait to see what happens when The Boys start climbing the ladder to take on the equivalent of the Justice League of America.

Now they won’t go down so easily – except on each other.

Collects #1-#15.


Buy The Boys Omnibus vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Knights Of Sidonia vol 1 (Master Edition) (£29-99, Vertical) by Tsutomu Nihei…

“A cluster ship has appeared in threat range.

“The Gaunas once again threaten us.

“There is no chance for dialogue.

“There is no chance they will let us by, either.

“The one means of mankind’s survival is the stern use of force.”

Fans of the frenzied, over-drive, sci-fi-meets-zombies experience, replete with big motorcycles, even bigger guns (and a talking bear) that was BIOMEGA, fall to your knees and rejoice, because here comes another sci-fi / horror mash-up from creator Tsutomu ABARA / APOSIMZ / BLAME! Nihei that’s pretty much guaranteed to please you.

Firstly, I have no idea why there is the titular and phonetically inaccurate reference to the 2006 Muse track Knights Of Cydonia, given the Muse reference was to the area on Mars where the so-called face of Mars was observed, but still, perhaps Nihei is a modern prog rock fan? And perhaps the translator was unaware of the reference?!

Sidonia is, though, the name of the lone seed ship carrying the future of humanity, floating through the space between galaxies since the destruction of our solar system by weird alien life forms called Gaunas, who bear more than a passing resemblance to the amorphous evil guys from BIOMEGA just in space.



Enter our hero Nagate, who has spent his entire childhood in the depths of the huge vessel, never seeing another living soul except for his now-deceased relative.



Forced to the upper levels whilst desperately scavenging for food, he encounters an entire civilisation he was previously completely unaware of. A civilisation fighting for its very existence against the vast alien gooey blob things.

Fortunately for everyone all Nagate had to mis-spend his youth on was a simulator of one of the Sidonia’s transformer-like fighters. Obviously having logged a fair few hours in there, it’s fair to say his giant fighty robot technique is pretty slick. Time for the real thing…

Just great fun, written at a (slightly) slower pace than BIOMEGA, which allows for some character development and intriguing side-plot building.



The art is pretty much identical to BIOMEGA and there are definitely some amusing little nods to that work, including amongst other things, a talking bear.



Collects the first two and a half smaller volumes because why not?!


Buy Knights Of Sidonia vol 1 (Master Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

Scott Pilgrim Colour Collection vol 3 s/c (£26-99, Oni) by Bryan Lee O’ Malley.

Contains the final two SCOTT PILGRIM colour hardcovers

Scott Pilgrim vol 5 h/c:

“Hey Ramona… have you ever dated anyone that wasn’t evil?”

“Once, this guy Doug. He was kind of a dick, though.”

Yes, he’s back! World class slacker and most oblivious hero of all time, Scott Pilgrim is in for some double trouble!

This volume kicks off with Scott’s birthday and him solemnly vowing to be the best 24-year-old ever, before going straight into evil overdrive with the entrance of Ramona’s — [redacted – ed.]

But will his martial skills be enough to save his relationship with Ramona? Are they even destined to be together after she confesses to an aghast Scott she doesn’t even like his band Sex Bob-omb?



Is she really the clean-cut heroine she seems to be? Why does her head sometimes start glowing?!! Will Scott ever realise Kim Pine, his oldest and dearest friend, is still in love with him!?!?! Dare they tell Ramona about Scott’s innocent sleep-over as he forgets his key for Ramona’s apartment yet again?!!!



Will Steven ‘The Talent’ Stills finally finish mixing the Sex Bob-omb album? Just who is Wallace’s mysterious new boyfriend? Can Knives Chau ever get over Scott and stop being so goddamn annoying and clingy? And will Young Neil ever find someone who’ll actually just go out with him?



Ahhhh, so many different plot strands tangling, weaving and inter-twining this time around as Bryan Lee O’Malley skilfully mixes things up yet again to mangle Scott’s heart-strings as well as our own and leave us wondering exactly what happy ending it is we all want to see.


Scott Pilgrim vol 6 h/c:

From the creator of SECONDS, LOST AT SEA comes the blistering finale!

Flashbacks can come in the form of (highly unreliable!) Memory Cam stills and I think O’Malley invented the lobbed-in labels, the character summary or status boxes which so many other writers have emulated since:

“Julie P (the original and best)”

“Sandra (not the original)”

“Monique (not the best)”

Scott is in love with Ramona and he’s defeated six of her seven evil exes in combat – thereby turning them into a shower of shiny gold coins – with only Gideon to go.



But for the moment Ramona’s gone missing and it’s left him in a zombie fugue state, dribbling away on a handheld video game.



Now it’s time for Scott’s own exes to sort the silly boy out in time for Scott, Gideon Graves, Envy Adams and Romona Flowers to have a final showdown while gay ex-flatmate Wallace sits boozed up and rolling his eyes sardonically on the sidelines. There may be casualties: Wallace’s tongue is very sharp.

As for the audience, where would they be without their mobile phones?

“Is that chick a dude?”

“I’m googling her as we speak.”


“Is that chick dead?”

“I’m updating her Wikipedia page as we speak.”

Will Scott win through?

He’s almost learned how to tie his own shoelaces…

Plus, he’s finally levelled up, earning the Power Of Love which comes with a flaming sword: +5 for slashiness.

That may help.


Buy Scott Pilgrim Colour Collection vol 3 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’.

Ophiuchus s/c (£14-99, Image) by Alexis Leriger De La Plante, Natasha Tara Petrovic

The Cleaner: Man Of Destiny #1 (£2-99) by Fraser Geesin

The Cleaner: Man Of Destiny #2 (£2-99) by Fraser Geesin

The Cleaner: Man Of Destiny #3 (£2-99) by Fraser Geesin

The Cleaner: Man Of Destiny #4 (£2-99) by Fraser Geesin

Debian Perl Digital Detective Book 1: Memory Thief (£11-99, Lion Forge) by Melanie Hillario, Lauren Davis & Kathryn Longua

Flat Filters (£6-00) by Chino Moya & Tal Brosh

Grimoire Noir s/c (£13-99, FirstSecond) by Vera Greentea & Yana Bogatch

Kevin’s Great Escape: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure h/c (£8-99, Oxford Press) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure s/c (£6-99, Oxford Press) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

The Night h/c (£21-99, Titan) by Philippe Druillet

No Ivy League s/c (£13-99, Lion Forge) by Hazel Reed Newlevant

Rust Belt s/c (£16-99, Secret Acres) by Sean Knickerbocker

Science Tales s/c (£16-99, Myriad) by Darryl Cunningham

Snow, Glass, Apples h/c (£14-99, Headline) by Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran

Star Wars vol 11: Scourging Of Shu-Torun (£15-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Andrea Broccardo, Angel Unzueta

Stay h/c (£17-99, Lion Forge) by Lewis Trondheim & Hubert Chevillard

Vivisectionary: A Convocation Of Biological Art h/c (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Kate Lacour

Fantastic Four: Epic Collection vol 4 – The Mystery Of The Black Panther (£35-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

My Hero Academia Smash!! vol 1 (£6-99, Viz) by Hirofumi Neda

My Hero Academia vol 20 (£6-99, Viz) by Kohei Horikoshi

One Piece vol 91 (£6-99, Viz) by Eiichiro Oda

One-Punch Man vol 17 (£6-99, Viz) by One & Yusuke Murata


Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2019 week two

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Featuring Jiro Taniguchi, Ana Galvan, Tommi Musturi, Bryan Lee O’ Malley.

Sky Hawk s/c (£18-99, Fanfare Ponent Mon) by Jiro Taniguchi…

“When I was thirteen… I heard the call of Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit.
“For three days and three nights, with no sleep or food, I prayed on Paha Sapa, the sacred Black Hills.
“Through deep meditation I communed with a holy power… and was able to have a divine vision.
“It was a message which showed me the path which was to lead my life.
“A vision of the future.
“In my dream I saw a figure which was half man, half horse.
“The creature approached and spoke to me.
“Listen well. You must not paint your face when you enter into battle.
“And, at the end of the battle, you must not take any war trophies from the defeated.
“When you follow this path… enemy arrows and bullets… will only graze you.
“When you lead Oglala warriors into battle, no storm will defeat you.
“And then, in the distant sky where the spirit departed… I saw a pair of shooting stars.
“I could never understand… what that meant for all these years.
“But now, at long last… I am able to understand them.
“Hiko. Manzo. They were you two.”

Jiro SUMMIT OF THE GODS / A DISTANT NEIGHBOURHOOD / A ZOO IN WINTER / FURARI / GUARDIANS OF THE LOUVRE Taniguichi had wanted to draw a Western for over twenty years, but seemingly it was felt by publishers that there would be little interest from his domestic audience. Until he hit on the idea of incorporating Japanese central characters. Having discovered the first Japanese migrants to the US included some of the formerly powerful Aizu clan he excitedly began to formulate his story. Here’s the Edict from the publisher to educate us further…

“Defeated samurai Hikosaburo and Manzo are exiled from Japan during the Boshin War in 1868 as the new Meiji government took hold of power in the country. They travel to North America and settle in the mountains of Crow territory.

One day Hikosaburo encounters a young native woman who has just given birth hidden in the scrub. Called Running Deer, she tells of how she escaped from two white traders who had ‘bought’ her, and they soon come looking for their possession.

Taniguchi’s well-researched detail and meticulous artwork reveal an accurate portrayal of the ‘Indian Wars’ of the period, including the infamous Little Big Horn encounter, and present a fascinating view of the daily lives and relationships of the Oglalas, and how the code of honour compares to that of the Samurai.”



It makes such perfect sense, I’m slightly surprised no one had thought of this particular idea before. Though you could argue it is a riff on the 1988 novella Dances With Wolves which spawned the hit film about an American soldier who goes full Native.

As you might expect, Taniguichi executes this story, both in terms of plot and artistically, with the precision of a swooshing katana cleanly removing an opponent’s head from atop their shoulders. Our two rōnin find themselves adrift both culturally and spiritually in this strange new land until their deeply held Bushidō moral code changes the course of their lives forever during a chance encounter. Taken in by the Oglala tribe and finding much in common with their new hosts, Hiko and Manzo are eventually reborn as the warriors Winds Wolf and Sky Hawk.

Unfortunately for them, the American army forces led by one cocky George Armstrong Custer, ostensibly protecting the ever-advancing railroad workforce teams, are about to completely shatter their new found sense of peace.



Before too long, it begins to dawn on our displaced duo that perhaps they have ended up in another fight which they can’t possibly win…



“Many warriors are dead. But… we still can’t drive the whites out of the Black Hills.
“From time to time… I no longer understand just what it is I’m fighting against.
“Actually… I think their numbers are increasing.
“It might be that it’s us that are being driven into a corner.
“I can no longer clearly see the shape of the enemy we’re meant to constantly be striking at.
“Maybe because it’s just too massive?
“I can’t help but feel like we’re going to be swept up in a maelstrom of black clouds.
“Right now… it’s like it was back in the past.
“It feels like the battle of Aizu in the Boshin Civil War…
“When we were forced into a siege… and brought to bay.”

“Are you saying this will be a losing battle too?”

“That… I don’t know. But… no more running away.”
“Of course. I’m resolved to that. My bones will be buried here as an Oglala warrior.”

Near note perfect writing as always from Taniguichi, your heart will bleed for the repeated injustices dispensed to the indigenous population in the name of ‘progress’. Still, despite the inevitable conclusion, he demonstrates their stoic resolute heroism and that of Hiko and Manzo as their comrades-in-arms, in the face of the increasingly insurmountable odds. As a way of life at one with nature and practised for generations was summarily destroyed by the hegemonising newcomers with barely an afterthought.

Still, Custer eventually got what he deserved and the Battle of The Little Bighorn as depicted here will have you practically swinging every tomahawk and katana alongside the real good guys as it gradually begins to dawn upon Custer that his enormous ego might just have got the better of him.



Indeed, his deep-seated arrogance in underestimating the brave warriors deliciously turned out to be the very cause of his not-so-sad demise. It was of course to no avail in the long run, but I’m pretty sure it felt rather good to those involved massacring him and every last man in his command at the time of his fabled last stand. I enjoyed reading this obviously fictionalised take on it immensely too!


Buy Sky Hawk and read the Page 45 review here

Press Enter To Continue h/c (£17-99, Fantagraphics) by Ana Galvan…

“I think it’s an organisation devoted to planting images in human minds.
“They create distinct masters and project into individuals the image that best fits their memories and obsessions.
“Through a visually transmitted computer virus, based on brain-sensitive algorithms, they continue to insert these made-up memories into the minds of certain people.”
“Well, why are they doing this? Why me?”
“Their viruses only manage to alter the minds of people with deterioration in the left hippocampus, which is where memory and delusion meet. This deterioration is usually caused by an injury or a traumatic experience.
“With this they want to make them go crazy and commit suicide.”
“My theory is that they want us to disappear a third of the planet’s population without us noticing. No traces or suspicions.
“For the overpopulation problem, you know…?
“And the most incredible part? The government might be behind everything…”
“But that’s madness.”



Is it though really…? I mean, if the planet was in serious danger of being overpopulated, I am pretty sure certain governments *might* have some crackpot scheme for dealing with it… On that note, here is the publisher to present their theory as to why it is perfectly plausible to believe Ana Galvan’s theory that the powers that be are out to off a third of us. Though as long that third doesn’t include any discerning comics readers we should be okay…

“Like a candy-coloured Black Mirror episode, Spanish cartoonist Ana Galvan’s English language debut utilizes florescent colours to create a series of short stories that intertwine and explore the dehumanizing effects of contemporary society.



Galvan’s characters navigate a world where government departments brutalize the people, information is mined like gold and suicide is a tool to manage overpopulation. Galvan’s future is a logical extension of the present, where the malice of large corporations manifests itself in everyday ways.”



I think the Black Mirror analogy is spot on actually as Galvan just gently stretches the bounds of believability with a kaleidoscopic finger probe to the brain of the reader. And I do mean gently. For this is subtle psychic sinkhole suck-you-in surreal which lures you down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole before you realise what’s happening.



Artistically this is like a fine blend of Roman VANISHING ACT Muradov, Oliver PARALLEL LIVES Schrauwen and George GHOSTS, ETC. Wylesol. The strict geometry, absence of character facial features and the glorious glowing colours and textures make a very strong impression upon the synapses. Almost as though Galvan is trying to brainwash us readers with her imagery… 


Buy Press Enter To Continue h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Anthology Of Mind (£22-99, Fantagraphics) by Tommi Musturi…

“The blood of Christ is dripping through my ears.”
“Sit on my face and tell me that you love me.”

“Chess players’ expanded brains are working at top speed.”

Haha, the two pages of ‘Italo Sports’ two panel gag strips had me spluttering my coffee out. Before we go any further, here’s the publisher’s explanation for this bulging bag of mad from one of the most mental minds working in comics today…

“This anthology of short stories looks like the work of many cartoonists but is actually that of Finnish cartoonist Tommi Musturi. The Anthology of Mind is a tour de force of stylistic exploration and a window into the brain of one of the most creatively fearless cartoonists working today.

‘Style is a form of fear – fear of change, fear of loss, and fear of being different,’ according to the author.

In The Anthology of Mind, Musturi confronts this fear head-on with one of the most vital and visually stunning collections of short comics in recent memory.”

I first came across Tommi Musturi thanks to John Porcellino, who was stocking one of the component parts of what would go on to be collected as the superb THE BOOK OF HOPE. I loved his dry wit, absurdist humour, and indeed his artistic style. So much so, then when he subsequently released SIMPLY SAMUEL, I was a little nonplussed by how different it was, both in art and storytelling terms. I guess I had wanted, and expected, more of the same.

So this collection of material spectacularly highlights I genuinely didn’t have a clue just how diverse Tommi’s output is. His quote above clearly demonstrates the reasoning behind why in 38 stories over nearly 120 pages there is barely a single concrete repetition of artistic style. Yes, there are some variations on a theme artistically, but aside from Bryan Talbot, I am hard pushed to think of such a comprehensively chameleonic creator.



In terms of storytelling, Tommi clearly has a penchant for the surreal and the absurd and definitely excels in combining the two. I wouldn’t necessarily clarify a lot of this material as an easy read but if you are a fan of the experimental, with heavy emphasis on the mental, I think you will find this anthology highly amusing and wryly entertaining.


Buy The Anthology Of Mind and read the Page 45 review here

Scott Pilgrim Colour Collection vol 2 s/c (£26-99, Oni) by Bryan Lee O’ Malley.

Scott Pilgrim lives with his gay housemate, Wallace, for whom dry, sly mockery is a default setting.

Also: taking his pants off.

“Why are your pants off?! Stop taking your pants off all the time!!”
“It’s hot! Also? I’m hot, so enjoy it while you can.”
“Mumble, mumble… scarred for life…”

British readers: ‘pants’ means something different in North America.

SCOTT PILGRIM was the coolest comic on Earth since its very first venture, and if you’ve never tried it, then you need Scott Pilgrim in your life.

There are no exceptions. This means that you’re not one of them.

They don’t exist; you do!

So that’ll be £26-99, please.

Scott is clueless, unemployed and potentially unemployable. For one, his girlfriend’s evil exes are constantly threatening to do Nintendo-style battle with him which can be pretty disruptive to most work schedules.



Although he’s dated Ramona for three books already, he’s yet to use the “L” word on her.



Here’s his trouser-less room-mate Wallace again, asking if he’s used it:

“The L-word? You mean… lesbian?”
“Uh… no. The other L-word.”
“Okay, uh, it’s “love”. I wasn’t trying to trick you or anything.”
“What? Have I said it? To her? Sort of. Almost. No. Is it important?”
“I don’t know, guy, but your Mom says it to me all the time.”

Wallace takes a big, long slurp from his drink.



These books have a logic all of their own, for when I say Scott has to battle Ramona’s evil exes in between band practices, he does: using drinks for Level-Ups, gaining Experience Points from work and – if Scott manages to get it together in time – even a flaming sword when he learns The Power Of Love. He’s going to need it as well, as the ominous Gideon sub-plot grows thicker…

O’Malley hasn’t even begun to run out of ideas: Scott’s head poking out from the zip of a small, subspace handbag? Genius! The best book yet, with a joyous and inventive cartooning that gets slicker and slicker.



Even if Scott doesn’t.

“Where’s Julie tonight?”
“I dunno. She hates me. Where’s Ramona?”
“She’s at home tonight and she likes me very much.”
“Have you said the L-word yet?”
“Why is everyone obsessed with lesbians?!”

Contains SCOTT PILGRIM colour hardcovers 3 & 4.


Buy Scott Pilgrim Colour Collection vol 2 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’.

Fence vol 3 (£10-99, Boom!) by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hound And Other Stories (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Gou Tanabe

Lightstep s/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Mirko Topalski & Milos Slavkovic

The Boys Omnibus vol 1 (£26-99, Dynamite) by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson

The Boys Omnibus vol 2 (£26-99, Dynamite) by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson, John Higgins

The Boys Omnibus vol 3 (£26-99, Dynamite) by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson

Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II s/c (£14-99, DC) by James Tynion IV, Ryan Ferrier & Freddie Williams II

Amazing Spider-Man vol 4: Hunted s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Ryan Ottley, various

Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 1: The Final Gauntlet s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Donny Cates & Geoff Shaw

The War Of The Realms s/c (£26-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman

Attack On Titan vol 28 (£6-99, Viz) by Hajime Isayama

Knights Of Sidonia vol 1 (Master Edition) (£29-99, Vertical) by Tsutomu Nihei

Vampire Knight: Memories vol 3 (£6-99, Viz) by Matsuri Hino

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2019 week one

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Featuring Kate Charlesworth, John Allison, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Mark Millar, Rafael Albuquerque, Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno, Butch Guice

Sensible Footwear, A Girl’s Guide (£17-99, Myriad) by Kate Charlesworth.


What a superbly structured, brilliant but biting history and vital entertainment this is!

Shoes! Shoes! Sensible shoes!

You are hereby ever so warmly invited to walk a mile or twenty-six in somebody else’s – Kate Charlesworth’s and the growing LGBT+ community’s – in a personal insight, education and entertainment spanning 70 years from the 1950s onwards!

All education should be an entertainment and this one comes vibrant in colour, comedy and variety without a po face in sight:

Yes, Cinders!” it proudly proclaims on its title page, “You shall go to the Rugmunchers’ Ball!”

It is laugh! It’s a riot! It is a genuine milestone.



It is a declaration of unequivocal and inalienable pride and ownership, as well as an acknowledgement of childhood innocence and naivety which is overwhelmingly inclusive because, hey, weren’t we all – gay or straight – utterly baffled and confused aged 5, 7, 9 or 11 either by what others have got going on down there or by increasingly wild, schoolyard hearsay when it came to matters of love and sexual congress? Of course we were!



You’ll be privy to Kate’s own mystification then awkward, uh-oh education; the disinformation then elucidation; timidity, discovery, further confusion and gradually figuring it out. It’s never a straight learning curve, is it? Now imagine all that… before the age of internet information! Before the love that dared not speak its name spoke its name! Before you might know where to go, or whom you could confide in, ever so carefully even those closest to you!

Because ostracism is a bitch, and its prospect’s pretty daunting; potentially even more so when they’re your friends.



But this is mischievous, it’s irreverent and I did promise you “variety”. I meant it in both senses for as well as a personal reflection – shared between four fast friends in the present day – of growing up gay in sequences artfully differentiated in both line-style and colour, this is a pageant of past performers who paved our way in one way or another (Divine, Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Josephine Baker, Tom Robinson, Gay Sweatshop, Rhona Cameron, April Ashley, Dana International, The Pet Shop Boys, Sandi Toksvig, Nancy Spain and so many more) and if you’re a Gilbert & Sullivan fan then Charlesworth pays tribute with her own Three-Act gala performance of several “lost” compositions based on extant tunes which could not be more witty in their word-play, delivery, or in the way that they repurpose each musical play for their larger-than-life stroll down the local dykes’ bar of yore with all its behavioural idiosyncrasies and points or order, characters, customs and politics.

They could take some finding back in the bad old days – and they could be rough!



Let us be clear, however: there is so much that’s sobering to be learned or recalled about the shit which we’ve been subjected to over these specific decades plus the courageous and enterprising inroads against social adversity and legal persecution / prosecution which pioneering souls far braver than I have turned from vindictiveness, ingratitude or invisibility into official recognition in terms of equality, individuality and outright acclaim.

Take shy Alan Turing, the mathematician who historians now estimate was “personally responsible for shortening the Second World War by two years” with his breaking of the Germans’ Enigma Machine messages. How many millions of lives did he save? Arrested then trawled through the courts simply because he was gay – for being caught having a consensual affair with a 19-year-old man who then robbed him – Turing was sentenced to chemical castration “which made him fat, impotent and, worse, affected his ability to think and concentrate”.

His inability to think and concentrate…

He committed suicide.

“Prime Minister Gordon Brown officially apologised for Turing’s treatment in 2009, and in 2013 he was granted a Royal Pardon. In 2017 this posthumous pardon was extended to thousands of gay men.”

Trenchantly, one of the Charlesworth’s best friends there interjects: “’Forgiving’ us? We did nothing wrong!”

And I adore all this solidarity: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied, plus, plus, plus we are all in this together.

Alan Turing is about to appear on the next generation of £50 notes.

But if the last 50 years has taught me anything, it’s that progress towards that which is even bog-standard enlightenment can never be taken for granted – just look at today’s news – so we still need to stand up and be counted and embrace diversity in all the joy which it grants us otherwise the bullies on the high street, down the back streets, in the media and in legislature win, and we are all reduced to a powerless, unquestioning, homogenous hole.



Badges! Don’t you love badges?

I do love badges, and Kate Charlesworth reminds us of so many I’d forgotten by scattering them across the nuggets of history interspersed between the autobiographical narrative (where chronologically or thematically appropriate) in single or double-page info-burst collages, mostly line-drawn from photos so as to maintain the mood.

One of my all-time favourites is “FEMINISM IS THE RADICAL IDEA THAT WOMEN ARE PEOPLE”. It’s not a big ask, is it?

My best friend Anita wore a badge proposing that “9 out of 10 men are bisexual”, knowing full well that so many post-punk lads wouldn’t be able to resist declaring they weren’t. “Ah,” she’d smile quietly, delightedly, “Then you must be one of the ONE in 10”.

Also books, plays and films: you’ll have quite the reading list when you finish this, should you want seminal works to watch out for!



And so to the story of Kate Charlesworth herself, co-creator with Mary and Bryan Talbot of SALLY HEATHCOTE SUFFRAGETTE and full creator of Aunty Studs, jacket-studded star of the strips which she sold to City Limits then later The Pink Paper, and from which she derives her Twitter handle.

She was born in Barnsley, Easter Sunday 1950, when the nurse was said to say:

“’The child that is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe, good and gay!’”

Sometime in the 1980s, and her Mum’s leafing somewhat unhappy through the family photo album:

“Oh, well. At least you were good.”

They probably need to have that conversation. Or perhaps it’ll be best if they didn’t.



Kate’s early years are narrated in soft, grey, pencil-and-wash focus with delicate colours picking out details as she brandishes wooden swords, rakes saws across lawns, admires military parades or bangs nails into planks to fashion a carpentry reproduction of the HMS Birmingham. Mum (Joan) isn’t impressed but Dad (Harold) is much more relaxed.

“Nay, she’ll be reyt!” is his cheerful refrain.

Then there’s the secret stuff you do with in the shed, tent or some other sort of den. You didn’t?! I did! Kate makes Colin scream. “I was always hands-on.”

School years with their inevitable, attendant humiliations are rendered as a girls’ comic complete with their telling Ben-Day dots, her teen wardrobe playfully parodied as a paper-doll page. Gradually, as Charlesworth grows older, the pencils become sharper then delineated in ink, the memories perhaps more permanent, clearer and less fragmented.



Subtly, this helps differentiate between the time periods as an intriguing, wider, substantial, troubled and at times troubling family history unfurls, going all the way back to Kate’s maternal Grandma, thence forward once more to her Mum. Memories of Dianna Rigg in ‘The Avengers’ catalyse another, much later on, during a visit to see her perform in a musical:

“Love, loss, vaudeville. Pain, angst, tears.”
“Why d’you always have to say something miserable, Kathryn?”
“It’s Stephen Sondheim, Ma! It’s the law! Besides, I’ve already seen it three times.”

During these many mother-and-daughter outings in all kinds of environments, mother Joan can flip swiftly from disapproval to animated enjoyment, depending on what’s distracting her. Of Diana Rigg, strutting her high-heeled, split-dress stuff, she cannot help but declare,  “Well! She’s certainly managed to keep her legs!”

And it seems a puzzle because Joan’s reactions are unpredictable, all over the place, basking in company you’d suspect she’d flinch from, yet at other times growing distant, walling herself off….

Anyway, eventually it’s off to art college in Manchester during the late ‘60s and it’s time for family to take a temporary back seat while fresh friends are made, digs are dug or not dug (and so swiftly swapped), and all the metropolis has to offer is explored along with Kate’s tentatively emerging thoughts and feelings.



That we begin the graphic novel in Teneriffe, 2016, with Kate hooked up not with Ness but Dianne (and, along with friend Wren, all basking joyfully in the brightest of rainbow-coloured combos) cleverly adds a level of eager anticipation on our parts, as well as the certain knowledge that there is a whole lot yet for Kate to enjoy and endure. Most of life comes with mixed feelings. And yeah, it’s pretty eventful!



There’s a whole career to come involving design, animation, comic strips… romances and relationships to be cautiously explored in all their up-and-down diversity… movements to emerge including CND, anti-apartheid and gay liberation in all its multiple facets from Stonewall and Sappho magazine (run by the ever-inventive Jackie Forster) to the first times that the love which dare not speak its name nor certainly appear on national television without being cushioned in camp finally did so in the form of soap-opera kisses and Gaytime TV, “a queer take on daytime programming”… and inevitably, unfortunately, the most horrific adversity to be challenged.

Although I’m not at all sure that “adversity” is adequate to describe the detonation of the then-fatal ‘80s AIDS epidemic which ripped through our individual lives and the gay community, robbing so many individuals of dozens of friends. It ignited and renewed an even more vicious, physically violent homophobia whose flames were fanned by opportunist politicians and Christian clergy in collusion with the media, were institutionalised by the likes of Manchester Police Chief James Anderton, and were then legislatively endorsed and enforced by the Tory government of the day in the form of Clause 28 which became Section 28, with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declaring:

“Children who need to be taught traditional moral values are being taught that they have the inalienable right to be gay!”

Which I do, thanks very much.

It’s all documented here, with real headline quotes – so many duplicitous – that will make your skin crawl.



But you know what? We did stand up and were counted, including the comics community: Alan Moore, Debbie Delano and Phyllis Moore invited all their top-tier comicbook-creator pals to contribute to their Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia anthology. More vitally, the Terrence Higgins Trust was born to educate the public, confidentially test and treat those diagnosed as HIV-positive, the Red Ribbon Project gave everyone the opportunity to show public solidarity against a prejudice so severe that many lost their jobs and – no small act, this – Chief Anderton’s daughter was so ashamed of her father that she outed herself in the News Of The World.

Its headline was not censorious but relieved, even celebratory, iconoclastically co-opting the language of organised religion’s venomous hatred to declare:

“HALLELUJAH! Anderton’s daughter is a dyke” 

That’s surprisingly supportive, isn’t it?

There’s so much more besides inside to surprise!

Most especially this, oh so much this: SENSIBLE FOOTWEAR carries one heck of a personal punchline which – unexpectedly, startlingly – resolves so much of what’s said before. Families can we well-funny things, can’t they?

Posy Simmonds MBE, creator of graphic novels TAMARA DREWE, CASSANDRA DARKE et al declares:

“A stunning achievement – as a graphic study of LGBT history, and as a memoir of growing up gay from the 1950s onwards. Kate’s fluid and tellingly detailed drawing reveals not only the frustrations of and traumas of lesbian life, but also the laughter and camaraderie… and a glorious cavalcade of gay icons.”

For further reading, please see Page 45’s LGBT+ non-fiction and Page 45’s LGBT+ fiction


Buy Sensible Footwear, A Girl’s Guide and read the Page 45 review here

Bad Machinery vol 8: The Case Of The Modern Men (Pocket Edition) (£11-99, Oni Press) by John Allison…



“Heh! What a mess! They’re great, these Chinese bikes, until you finally decide to ride them.”
“Can you fix it?”
“Mods, coming around again! Takes me back to my days working at the Kaufman in ’61.
“I’d been a teddy boy, most teds hated mods. But I didn’t care.
“The girls! Pointy bras, hair lacquered just right, paradise for a lad.
“The lads were the purists and snobs, but at least they had manners.
“We’d have all the villains in there too.
“The Wessex Brothers. Bonnie Prince Gordon. Tony Crow and his mother!
“Never any trouble, or if there was, it took place out the back.
“They all loved jazz, see?”
“But can you fix it?

“Grandpa’s in his anecdotage. Stories only stop for toilet breaks.”

Haha! I feel that is how John Allison must work sometimes to put out the amount of material he does. Right around the clock only stopping for the call of nature… And I bet even then he’s plotting whilst plopping… Still, this particularly webbery material is from 2014 I think, and I make it there are still three more collected case volumes to come, I think, so we needn’t panic just yet. Huzzah!

Anyway, the kids are back and so is mod. Yes, all crazes come around again eventually and our gang of sleuths just carry on aging disgracefully, now firmly in the grip of adolescent hormones. Well, all the boys at least, who are now finally starting to display some fashion sense and even a sharp haircut or two in a feeble attempt to attract the attention of the ladies. Just in time for the sophisticated female French exchange students to arrive and turn everyone’s world upside down…



There’s not so much of the supernatural testing Tackleford in this case, aside from the haunted scooter responsible for decapitating multiple King Mods from the sixties onwards, that is…



No, causing most of the consternation this time around is sassy Camille Duplass, staying with little Claire of the lisp…



… who harbours a possibly spurious long time grudge against Mimi…



… residing with Charlotte Grote, who is of course, more than happy to help, errr insist… that Mimi tries to settle the score with the wannabe upstart Queen who also wants to reine (sic) over the English Mods. Which of course only succeeds in enraging Camille even further…



As ever, I find myself marvelling at the near continuous stream of wittiness that flows from John’s mind. Every page, nay panel, well in fact pretty much every single speech bubble in BAD MACHINERY is packed with the trademark gently surreal humour that makes this series just such a merrily mirthful delight to read.



We know the main cast so well by now John is able to get fully freewheelin’ with the dialogue, the in-jokes, frequently going on the most delightful round the back of the bike shed diversions before always bringing it back to a chuckle inducing climax with the pithy punchlines that punctuate practically the end of every page.

He is a comedy genius. Perhaps the very finest in comics. I would happily argue his case there. I will be so, so sad when all this material is finally collected and the series complete. The same as with GIANT DAYS… sob… which is rapidly heading to a conclusion.

But fret ye not, fans of John’s brilliant brand of surreal British farce, because there is a new series entitled STEEPLE about to begin! It is only slated to be a five issue mini-series, mind, but we will take what we can get!


Buy Bad Machinery vol 8: The Case Of The Modern Men (Pocket Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

Prodigy s/c (£17-99, Image) by Mark Millar & Rafael Albuquerque…

“Would you be offended if I said this is the most ridiculous stunt you’ve pulled in all the time I’ve worked here, sir?”
“Too late, Candice. I’m afraid the words have already left your lips.”
“Should I run through today’s main requests?”
“Please do.”
“First is from the Australian government, and they want you to investigate a series of weird materialisations they’ve been having.
“Second is from La Folle Journee in Nantes, asking if could compose a new classical overture for their festival in July.
“Third is a brand-new stunt challenge where you drive a car off the roof of our Berlin office, and land on a specific floor on the building opposite. Blindfolded, if you’re feeling brave enough.”
“Is this from that same kid again?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Well, tell him it’s a yes and the others too. I haven’t slept in over a month, and I need something to exercise my brain cells a little.
“I’ve written three plays, designed a new telecommunications system and invented a polymer that keeps food fresh for a century. I also grew the company thirty percent last night, but I’ll slit my wrists if I have to look at another spreadsheet.
“These materialisations sounds interesting. Tell Australia we’re firing up the jet.”

The only thing more annoying than a cocky know-it-all, is a really, really cocky know-it-all. And yet, despite being an immense show-off of the very highest order Edison Crane is actually quite the likeable character. He might even be capable of running a comic shop…

Fortunately for Edison, his primary concern is merely an imminent extra-dimensional invasion aided and abetted by a secret cabal who have been preparing for this very moment for thousands of years. Well, there is also that extinction level asteroid which is going to plough into the Earth that he’s promised to devise a solution for, but that’s seventeen years away so he can just let his subconscious mind keep working on that minor problemette in the meanwhile…

Well, following on from the exceptional MAGIC ORDER, that most relentless of comics writers Mark Millar is back yet again, and once more he has penned a self-contained piece of action comedy gold. You will find Edison Crane as annoying as he is enchanting certainly, he’s like Stephen Hawking crossed with James Bond, as he flits around the globe from glamorous but deadly location to location in search of clues as to how to save the day.



With panache obviously! Just saving the day in a humdrum run-of-the-mill fashion wouldn’t do at all now would it?!



Along the way there’ll be idiots who think they can outwit him, of course, for the cabal is well aware that Edison Crane is the only person who could possibly stand any hope of stopping them. He might even let them think they have outwitted him in true cocky know-it-all fashion…

Much like James Bond, certainly circa Roger Moore era, the plot is delightfully preposterous, the stunts truly over-the-top ridiculous, and the one-liners wincingly hilarious. If you enjoyed THE SECRET SERVICE: KINGSMAN you’ll definitely get a spinning, twirling flying head kick out of this.

Rafael AMERICAN VAMPIRE Albuquerque, who has worked with Millar before on the Forrest Gump-esque superhero parody HUCK, provides equally non-stop kinetic, action-packed art.



I’ve always thought he does a great snidey bad guy face too and here is no exception as Edison Crane’s private school bête noire turns out to be the loony tune in question.



Albuquerque also does a great snidey bad guy who’s just realised his plans of world domination have been totally thwarted by a cocky know it all face too. With panache…


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

Scott Pilgrim Colour Collection vol 1 s/c (£26-99, Oni) by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Scott is a clot. He really is. He’s a total dumpling, and in terms of a Chinese take-away, dim doesn’t even begin to sum the lad up.

He is kinda cute, though, and as the series kicks off, Scott is living with gay housemate Wallace for whom sly, dry mockery is a default setting. They’re so poor that they even share the same bed. But Scott sleeps soundly until this girl called Ramona comes skating through his dreams. She’s a delivery girl and as you well know the quickest way from A to B is to skate through someone else’s dreams, right…? Then Scott meets Ramona in his waking life, falls head over heels in whatever the hell that thing is (he may figure it out eventually) but is casually informed that if he wants her as a girlfriend he’ll have to defeat her seven evil exes in combat!



Truly a unique series with a heart of gold, and a wit and a Nintendo logic all of its own, there is not a single comicbook reader who could fail to fall in love with Scott, Wallace, Ramona or Bryan himself. O’Malley’s visual gags, unique to the medium, keep tumbling onto the page.

Unlike the six SCOTT PILGRIM colour hardcovers, these three 2-in-1 editions boast no behind–the-scenes extras, just ALL the comics, their comedy genius, plus an innovative, thick-book spine mechanic which we’ve never encountered before.

Of Scott Pilgrim vol 2 h/c I wrote:

Seminal series about the most sensitive, caring, sharing boy in Christendom.

“Um, listen… I think we should break up or whatever.”

WHAT?! No level-up points you, young Scott!

Nathan Fairbairn has done the impossible: taken Page 45’s all-time favourite black and white series and enhanced it with colour. Oh, the blasphemy of it all! But it looks so good and it feels so right. Witness that rain-soaked night with the puddles on the pavement: you can almost hear the downpour and smell its wet-dog fur! And then there’s the subtle reflection of Ramona’s fuscia leggings!



Anyway: Kim Pine. She was beautifully portrayed in the film – I don’t think you could have cast a better Miss Mardy glowering over the drum kit – but woefully cut in terms of screen time. Well, it wouldn’t all have gotten too complicated…




Kim Pine, you see, was always a major player in the comicbook series and now you’ll be privy to her full story.

Previously in SCOTT PILGRIM:

To continue dating Ramona, Scott must defeat her seven evil exes in combat, leveling-up Nintendo-stylee as he does so. BUT: Ramona isn’t the only one who’s had a complicated love life, and – Knives Chau aside – they all seem to end up in bands! Plus: is Scott finally going to ditch Knives Chau? And if he does so, did he actually pay attention to her name?



In fact does Scott pay attention to anyone or anything ever?!


Oh, good grief. Too busy fussing about his hair, I expect.


Buy Scott Pilgrim Colour Collection vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Elektra: Assassin s/c (£17-99, Marvel) by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz –

Deadly but beautiful ninja action from 1987. Bill’s art begins to approach the wild invention of STRAY TOASTERS with lashings to photocopies, splayed paint, collage, stickers and time-saving short cuts.  Frank’s splintered storyline uses multiple voices to give a sense of confusion in both the narrative and their own minds.

We begin with Elektra escaping from the asylum, controlling her memories and trying to keep the ninja training at the forefront. Throughout the book, this discipline is responsible for many great plot twists – mind-swapping, lightning-quick reflexes, mind-control, everyday objects used as weapons. There is a great beast looking to bring the destruction of the world by controlling the mind of the next president of the United States and Elektra must stop him. Although this was published by Epic, it references Miller’s earlier DAREDEVIL storyline but the only Marvel bleed-through we get to see is a big-gun-obsessed Nick Fury along with several disposable S.H.I.E.L.D operatives.


Buy Elektra: Assassin s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Invaders vol 1: War Ghosts s/c (£17-99, Marvel) by Chip Zdarsky & Carlos Magno, Butch Guice…

“But my power is even greater than that. My reach, farther.
“Don’t believe me? Well, listen closely…
“… Because the sea has secrets.
“I’ve lived a long time, Karris.
“I’ve experienced great losses… great victories…
“But I’ve learned from them.
“And now, finally, I have a plan.
“Nobody needs die in battle ever again.
“For why would there be battles if we no longer have enemies?
“Yes, the sea has secrets. And I am the sea…”

Hmm… well, there is a certain way you could take Namor’s monologue. I did, and I was wrong!

Chip Zdarsky, currently one volume in to a so far excellent and pleasingly thoughtful run on Daredevil (DAREDEVIL VOL 1: KNOW FEAR S/C) turns his pen to the heroes that battled and battered the original goosesteppers back in the day.



With a story told in two time periods, both in the midst of their World War Two comradeship-in-arms and now firmly set against each other in modern day, well, stroppy pants Namor versus everyone else, it is all about the ghosts of the past haunting the present. And Namor losing the plot, again…



However, like he says, he’s not just throwing his toys out of the pram and blaming it on a bad migraine as per usual, he does have a plan, and surprisingly dastardly it is too. Actually, I say two time periods, it is in fact three, because what does a young Professor X, cropping up before he’d even assembled any X-Men at all, have to do with Namor’s mental maladies…? Lovely bit of Marvel Universe retconning going on there.

Nice, easily distinguishable appropriate art from Butch Guice handling the period material and Carlos Magno handling the modern day matter.



The latter is decent enough, but Butch Guice as ever is superb. He did some of Ed Brubaker’s DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA run, along with Steve Epting, and it was actually Brubaker and Epting’s very enjoyable MARVELS PROJECT that Guice’s work here made me think of, for reasons of period and tone.



I’m sure it wouldn’t sell, but on the basis of this I’d love to see Zdarsky and Guice tackle an entirely period Invaders run, or at least a mini-series.



Or better yet, have a go at something a bit more inventive and imaginative like the MARVELS PROJECT. On that point, the shortly to be offered as a collection SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY telling the story of a Peter Parker who actually ages through the decades penned by Zdarsky is really rather good.


Buy The Invaders vol 1: War Ghosts 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’.

Me, Mikko And Annikki (£22-99, North Atlantic Books) by Tiitu Takalo

Press Enter To Continue h/c (£17-99, Fantagraphics) by Ana Galvan

The Anthology Of Mind (£22-99, Fantagraphics) by Tommi Musturi

Thief Of Thieves vol 7: Closure (£14-99, Image) by Brett Lewis & Shawn Martinbrough

Walking Dead vol 32: Rest In Peace (£14-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

Aliens Resistance s/c (£15-99, Dark Horse) by Brian Wood & Robert Carey, Dan Jackson, Roberto De La Torre

The Complete Future Shocks vol 2 (£19-99, Rebellion) by Alan Moore, Alan Grant, John Wagner, more & Dave Gibbons, John Higgins, more

Aquaman vol 1: Unspoken Water h/c (£22-99, DC) by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Robson Rocha

Wonder Woman By Greg Rucka vol 2 s/c (£24-99, DC) by Greg Rucka & Cliff Richards, various

Marvels (Monster-Sized) h/c (£67-99, Marvel) by Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross

Old Man Quill vol1: Nobody’s Fault But Mine s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Ethan Sacks &Robert Gill, Ibraim Roberson

Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction vol 6 (£9-99, Viz) by Inio Asano

Legend Of Zelda vol 15: Twilight Princess vol 5 (£6-99, Viz) by Akira Himekawa

Luke Pearson signing HILDA at Page 45 on Saturday September 7th 2019, 12 to 2pm!

Monday, August 5th, 2019

September 1st 2019 sees the publication of HILDA AND THE MOUNTAIN KING, the sixth all-ages HILDA graphic novel from Nobrow Press.

We Are Excited!

To celebrate, the creator Luke Pearson has kindly and enthusiastically agreed to entertain families (and pensionable devotees like myself) by joining Page 45 for a two-hour weekend signing and sketching session for FREE!

You’ll have to pay for the books, though, obviously.

The time: 12 to 2pm
The date: Saturday September 7th
The place: Page 45, 9 Market Street, Nottingham NG1 6HY
Admission: Free!

No tickets, no fee, just turn up, all agog, and be charmed.

Thanks to Flying Eye / Nobrow Press we also have new HILDA postcards and bookmarks to give away on the day, along with the publisher’s poster-brochures and much more besides!

“Can We Reserve Copies, Stephen?”

Yes, you can and you probably should!



Demand may exceed supply, but you can guarantee your copies of HILDA AND THE MOUNTAIN KING on the day by clicking on that link, ordering in advance and selecting “Collect In Store” with no postage fee then find it ready and waiting for you on the day!

Equally, you can reserve copies of all five of the previous HILDA graphic novels by clicking on THAT link, selecting the relevant books (each of which we’ve reviewed!) and pre-ordering in exactly the same way so they’re there on the day! Hooray!

“I so want stuff signed but I live in the Sudan!”

Hot, hot, hot!

The good news is that We Ship Worldwide!

Order any of those books at the links above before September 3rd 2019 (so we can order more in if necessary) and add “PLEASE GET THIS SIGNED BEFORE SHIPPING” in the comments box and it shall be done! Similarly if you select “collect in store” with “THIS IS FOR THE LUKE PEARSON SIGNING” then we will add that to the signing stash too.

No sketches, I’m afraid: for sketches you need to turn up to the signing itself!


Luke Pearson (with Philippa Rice). Photo by Stephen circa 2011


For all queries please phone Page 45 on (0115) 9508045.



You are so welcome!