Archive for September, 2019

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2019 week four

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

Featuring Vera Greentea, Yana Bogatch, Matz, Jean-Marc Rochette, Michael DeForge, Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and more…

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

“You said I could trust you.”
“No, I said I would help you.”

Blackwell is a sleepy town that very much keeps itself to itself. So much so, that there is an enchantment surrounding the perimeter keeping women born there from ever leaving. Why? Because every woman born in Blackwell has been kissed with magick, and this is a secret. Nothing in Blackwell is all that it seems, and that is something that our young protagonist, Bucky Orson, is about to discover.

Here is what the publisher has to say about him…

“Bucky Orson is a bit gloomy, but who isn’t at fifteen? His best friend left him to hang out with way cooler friends, his cop dad is always in his business, and he lives in Blackwell, a town where all the girls are witches.

But when his little sister is kidnapped because of her extraordinary power, Bucky has to get out of his own head and go on a strange journey to investigate the small town that gives him so much grief. And in the process he uncovers the town’s painful history and a conspiracy that will change it forever.

Beautiful, spooky, and utterly enchanting, Grimoire Noir is a magical coming-of-age story of overcoming your limits to protect those dear to you”

Vera (NENETL OF THE FORGOTTEN SPIRITS) Greentea is back with her own uniquely personal flavour of gothic fantasy, this time in the form of a mystery which will keep you intrigued from cover to cover. Curiously captivating and with so many twists your head will be spinning like a dervishes’ whirl, this isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill whodunit.

There are so many intricately woven layers in this elaborate fantasy that you’ll be hooked from the very first page, but done with such dexterity that at no point do all these different threads seem overwhelming. A true storyteller, Greentea has crafted a story with real depth, but with a thoroughly entertaining lightness.

Complementing Greentea’s expertly written mystery is Yana Bogatch, who’s elegant and fluid artwork is an absolute dream. The character design is spot on, and often with a familiar nod, such as Bucky’s wide-brimmed fedora and belted overcoat as a pastiche of the noir genre, or Cham’s long black hair and wrap around scarf as if in slight tribute to Adventure Time’s Marceline the Vampire Queen as she floats just a couple feet in the air.



But where I think Bogatch truly shines is with her colour work. In sepia tones, the town is blanketed with a warm, golden autumnal hue, with the distinctive, comforting lighting of about 4pm on a sunny late October evening.



That is, except, for Bucky’s house, where his mother’s understandable distress at her missing child causes it to literally rain, so the pages are drenched with an inky deluge and a somber softness, which slowly envelopes the rest of the town; that golden hue relegated to memories.



Hauntingly melancholic yet passionately driven, GRIMOIRE NOIR is bringing mid-century noir to a new generation. A cleverly woven intrigue, it is a story to be devoured with artwork to be savoured.


Buy Grimoire Noir and read the Page 45 review here

Snowpiercer – The Prequel Part 1: Extinction h/c (£16-99, Titan) by Matz & Jean-Marc Rochette…

“We are at the dawn of accomplishing great things.”
“To save the planet from humankind.”
“To save what deserves to be saved.”
“How to you plan to save those who aren’t directly responsible for the world’s disasters?”

“We don’t. No, we must go further. Much, much further.
“For too long, humankind have behaved as though they have the right to do what they want to Earth.
“Her other occupants, animals and plantlife, are at humanity’s service, or rather at their mercy.
“All humankind are complicit.
“They are guilty.
“And, as such, they must be condemned.”


How indeed?! I should probably explain that is a direct action ecological activists group called Wrath getting a lecture on taking their tactics to the next level from the fairly clearly named Apocalypsters.

Now… I wonder what they could possibly want…?

I nearly didn’t read this first volume of the prequel to the bleakly brilliant three part post-apocalyptic choo-choo carryon that was SNOWPIERCER VOL 1: THE ESCAPE / SNOWPIERCER VOL 2: THE EXPLORERS / SNOWPIERCER VOL 3: MUM, ARE WE THERE YET?, I mean, SNOWPIERCER VOL 3: TERMINUS. I guess I just felt that the story was completed for me, and I really do get frustrated with prequels sometimes, because inevitably, we readers know exactly where the story has to go to get to the starting point.

But I punched my ticket to ride and boy am I glad I did because this is a runaway journey to destination disaster all in its own right.

Yes, we will see the construction of the Noah’s Ark-like Snowpiercer train and its philanthropist multibillionaire creator Mr Zheng who had already foreseen the collapse of civilisation through ecological disaster.



But really, this story is all about how the timetable for departure suddenly gets brought forward thanks to the deluded doomsday-inducing dedication of a few (needing to be) committed zealots.



Series artist Jean-Marc Rochette returns with his fourth different writer, Matz. That’s a deliberate conceit by the way, not Rochette being difficult to work with. Actually, the fact it was penned by Matz (responsible for the utterly mesmerising confessions and adventures of a hitman with a conscience, of sorts, that is THE COMPLETE KILLER) is the reason I opened this up. I then kept reading because Rochette’s use of an altogether less bleak colour palette than the understandably wintery blue and black he deployed for the original trilogy gripped me immediately.

Thus, this is definitely its own story, which whilst it will appeal to fans of the previous permafrost perambulation trilogy, will also have much cachet with fans of the likes of Bryan Wood’s THE MASSIVE and other eco-disaster deterrent diatribes.

Interestingly I note there is a TV show sequel to the film (loosely based on the first book) planned for next year. No idea whether that will incorporate material from books two and three, but hopefully it will pinch some of the ideas from this work and the presumably other one or two volumes to come for back story.

All aboard!


Buy Snowpiercer – The Prequel Part 1: Extinction h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Stunt (£13-99, Koyama Press) by Michael DeForge…

“I worked as a stunt man. I kept fit.
“I’d been on the job for a movie starring Jo Rear.
“I was his stunt double.
“The fantasy was that one day I’d die in an accident. That’d be ideal. No one could blame me.
“I couldn’t set something like that up myself, of course.
“All previous attempts to take matter into my own hands had been abject failures.
“I had simply continued on with my life, remaining “open” to accidents.
“Perhaps I’d lose my footing while scaling a skyscraper for the film’s opening sequence.
“They’d acknowledge my death with a little note in the credits.”

Surprisingly coherent chequebook shaped identity insanity from the mirthful master of the abstract.

Here is the publisher with a script read-through to provide a plot synopsis…

“A stunt double is hired by an actor to serve as his doppelgänger in order to sabotage his career. Seeing your double is often viewed as an ill omen, a portent of bad luck, and a harbinger of death. Hiring a professional double, an actor spurs on his own demise as he and his double explore the depths of degradation and self-destruction.”



The unknown stuntman (cue Lee Majors earworm – you’re welcome!) assumes the role of the star’s life with aplomb, getting into the character of the fabulously named Jo Rear to such a degree that he rapidly become indistinguishable from the man himself, which is merely the first part of Jo’s mysterious master plan…



Soon, Colt, let’s call him Colt, is standing in during talkshow interviews, red carpet appearances and even intimate dinners with girlfriends, all with a view to wrecking Jo’s hitherto carefully curated image.



Once that goal is finally achieved, after an initial pique of further rubber-necking public interest in the car-crash course Jo suddenly appears to be taking with his life, events start to get even stranger…

Which, of course, is all perfectly normal for a Michael DeForge story! With an ever burgeoning body of bizarre material building up fast behind him: A BODY BENEATH / A WESTERN WORLD / ANT COLONY / BIG KIDS / BRAT / DRESSING / FIRST YEAR HEALTHY / LEAVING RICHARD’S VALLEY / LOSE / STICKS ANGELICA, FOLK HERO / VERY CASUAL he shows no signs of letting up on his one-man smorgasbord of surreal.



Buy Stunt and read the Page 45 review here

Transmetropolitan Book 2 s/c (£24-99, Vertigo) by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson

DC has recently been repackaging its slimmer Vertigo volumes into heftier editions, and this combines the third and fourth – YEAR OF THE BASTARD and NEW SCUM – for little more money than those single editions. It also includes the one-shot TRANSMETROPOLITAN: I HATE IT HERE.

Year Of The Bastard

“You want to know about voting. I’m here to tell you about voting.
“Imagine you’re locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you ain’t allowed out until you all vote on what you’re going to do tonight. You’d like to put your feet up and watch “Republican Party Reservation.” They like to have sex with normal people using knives, guns, and brand-new sexual organs that you did not know existed. So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades.
“That’s voting. You’re welcome.”

Very helpful, Spider. Thank you.

Spider Jerusalem has a second unwilling assistant foisted upon him by his editor. She’s called Yelena, but don’t expect him to remember that. Worse still his editor is demanding that Jerusalem sinks himself back into the quagmire of politics for the opposition party’s Presidential nominations. That will require an awful lot of drugs.



First up is Senator Gary Callahan, sitting there with his rictus grin behind both a political director and a political consultant who squabble. It’s Tony Blair, and he’s a fake.



But the alternative is far worse: a racist fear-monger whose rallies sound like Nuremberg. What’s an uncompromising campaigning journalist to do? Manipulate the least awful option into promising hard policy on physical problems because someone has to oust the incumbent President somewhere down the line. Unfortunately for Spider there are more unfortunate truths to be uncovered.

Darick does a remarkable job of keeping what is essentially political debate and swearing visually stimulating, Warren affording him whole pages to go nuts on, surrounding a maniacal Jerusalem with hellfire as he assaults his laptop and thereby the minds of his New Scum followers.

New Scum

“Everything you look at tells you it’s the future. But everything you hear is the same old same old.”

Politics for a start, and a public so self-centredly apathetic it cannot even be arsed to get out from in front of the TV once every four years to drag its sorry collective carcass down to the polling booths and vote.

(If you don’t vote then you have no right to complain about any aspect of life in the UK. Please don’t tell me they’re all the same. If you think the BNP is the same as the Liberal Party then I agree that you should at least have your hand held at the booth, but if you decide not to vote because you don’t think yours will count then you are an outrageously egocentric wanker I don’t even want to take money from.)

Aaaaanyway… As the Presidential Election looms in the wake of last volume’s murder, there is a pause to take stock. Everything’s changed. The President has gone to ground leaving the ruthless, misanthropic opposition candidate Callahan to bask in a new electoral sympathy, whilst Spider Jerusalem stands way, way up on the balcony of his luxurious new apartment, sequestered from the political intrigue that he feels sucked him in but also from the streets below. It’s there that mothers are having to pawn their child’s favourite teddy bear for the sake of an appetite suppressor, where all manner of injustices are taking place because of the people in power: those with no ambition, or worse still, those with the active ambition to screw everyone over.



Then suddenly both candidates want to be interviewed by the man they loathe most. They’re going to wake the giant up…



Meanwhile, as I say, it’s all fun and games down below with a “back to basics” Rechristianity movement stoning people on the street:

“We’re bringing moral order to our communities first, before we take it to the country. And I’m afraid that has to include the death penalty.”
“For what?”
“Well, I can’t proffer you a complete list…”
“I’m recording this for a column. Summarise. Let’s bring your truth to the people.”
“Oh, I like that. You’re a filthy man who should have God’s wrath visited upon his nether regions, but you have a good heart. Well now… homosexuality, heresy, unchastity before marriage, cursing one’s parents, fogletism, women who get abortions, people who advise them to do so…”
“And why stoning?”
“It’s traditional, clean and holy. And cheap, of course. Furthermore, it puts law in the hands of the people. Executions should be community projects.”

Darrick Robertson’s one-panel punchline to Spider Jerusalem’s wicked desecration of some young children’s snowmen is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.


Buy Transmetropolitan Book 2 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Lazarus: The Third Collection h/c (£35-99, Image) by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark with Eric Trautman, Aaron Duran, Neal Bailey & Steve Lieber, Mack Chater, Justin Greenwood, Alitha Martinez, Bilquis Evely, Tristan Jones

“Family Above All.”

LAZARUS is one of my favourite current comic series: gripping intrigue, balletic action and phenomenally intelligent extrapolation from recent scientific developments, as well as a thorough exploration of the socio-political ramifications of a societal reversal. Each of the first four volumes is reviewed, including the two-in-one hardcovers. This third hardcover collects volume five and the Lazarus: X Plus 66 mini-series.

Spoiler-free summary, for it’s important to what follows:

In the far from distance future the world’s economies didn’t just collapse, they imploded, taking all nation states with them.

The entire globe has reverted to a feudal society ruled by 16 Families: the Families with the most money, because money buys people, money buys science and money buys guns.

Underneath them lies a slim stratum of society with key skills vital for the Families’ prosperity and hegemony. These Serfs are richly rewarded, their needs taken care of. Everyone else is Waste.



All Families have a Lazarus, each augmented by differing means according to the individual Family’s scientific resources, to the extent that – although they cannot rise from the dead – their bodies can withstand and recover from the most brutal physical punishments. They are then rigorously trained to become the Families’ bodyguards, military commanders and ultimate assassins.

In the Carlyle Family’s case it is their youngest daughter, Forever. Ever since she can remember she has been told, “Family Above All”. And by ‘told’, I mean ‘indoctrinated’. And by ‘indoctrinated’, I mean lied to.

LAZARUS: X PLUS 66 is a book about loyalty. It’s about loyalty within families, but above all loyalty to The Family in whose domain you are permitted to reside. Those loyalties will all be sorely tested.



X Plus 66 is a year. It’s the year immediately following LAZARUS VOL 5, marking just over six and a half decades since the Families met in Macau to carve up the world and its riches between themselves. To give Michael Lark a well earned breather, the collection’s comprised of six short stories drawn by different artists, each of which picks up on ancillary – but by no means peripheral – characters and their fortunes which there would have been little room to have covered within the central series. In doing so, it provides a wealth of extra flesh on the main body’s bone, so I would urge you not to skip it.



There are some superb neologisms for new scientific research and development, like “sleeving”: the ability to slot an archived personality, complete with its memories, from one Lazarus into its successor. Not yet possible, but they’ve achieved the next best thing with Sir Thomas Huston of the Armitage Family taking advantage of all his predecessor’s  internally recorded and externally archived experiences.

“As experience is the best teacher, each new Sir Thomas benefits from the life of the last.”

I think you’ll especially want to learn the fate that befalls the Morray Family’s Lazarus, Joacquim Morray, given the horrifying swerve in his fate last volume. You’ll also discover exactly what relation he is within the Morray Family Tree. This has no small bearing on his past, present and dubious future. Mack Chater (BRIGGS LAND) draws a halting first-page panel which could not have present Joacquim as more vulnerable, his shaved pubic area making it all the more clinical.



Tristan Jones gives the grizzliest chapter the grizzliest of dirty, detailed texture set in The Dragon’s lair (The Dragon is the least pleasant Lazarus of the lot – I mean, bwwaaaaar). He’s holed away in a remote, claustrophobically dark subterranean bunker with mauled dolls dangling from chains. Unnervingly, there’s also one in a rib cage directly outside the entrance to the snow-swept cave entrance and more with cameras for eyes inside.



Surprising, then, that there’s a fine piece of painted portraiture framed on a wall. All to do with his upbringing, as you shall see…

The media’s plight under feudal control is examined, and the lives of some of those newly elevated from Waste to Serfdom is shown with an extra vantage over a shanty town of those left behind, drawn by Justin Greenwood. You may want to smack one mother.

Lastly, I do know why the elite army training episode comes first, in order to re-introduce and re-emphasise the main theme – loyalty and Family Above All – but it isn’t in all honesty quite as gripping as the rest, so do please soldier on.


Buy Lazarus: The Third Collection h/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’.

ABC Of Typography h/c (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by David Rault, others

Angel vol 1: Being Human s/c (£12-99, Boom!) by Bryan Edward Hill & Gleb Melnikov

The Death Of The Master s/c (£17-99, Koyama Press) by Patrick Kyle

John Carpenter’s Tales Of Science Fiction – Twitch s/c (£17-99, Storm King) by Duane Swierczynski & Richard Clark

Le Faune De Mars h/c (French Language) (£30-00, Moebius Productions) by Moebius

Le Major h/c (French Language) (£30-00, Moebius Productions) by  Moebius

Monstress vol 4: The Chosen s/c (£14-99, Image) by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda

Paper Girls vol 6 s/c (£13-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang

Tales Of Superheroes h/c (£12-99, Penguin) by various

Batman: Nightwalker – The Graphic Novel s/c (£14-99, DC) by Stuart Moore & Chris Wildgoose

Heroes In Crisis h/c (£24-99, DC) by Tom King & Clay Mann

Incredible Hulk: Epic Collection – In The Hands Of Hydra s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Roy Thomas, Stan Lee & Herb Trimpe, Sal Buscema

Marvel Rising: Heroes Of The Round Table s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Nilah Magruder & Roberto Di Salvo, Georges Duarte

Berserk vol 40 (£13-99, Dark Horse) by Kentaro Miura

I Hear The Sunspot vol 4: Limit Part 2 (£11-99, One Peace Books) by Yuki Fumino

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

How The Stars Came To Be h/c (£12-99, Tate) by Poonam Mistry

Kai And The Monkey King h/c (£12-99, Flying Eye) by Joe Todd-Stanton

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September week 2

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Before we begin:

Page 45 Signing & Sketching Schedule at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019!

Includes Mary Talbot & Bryan Talbot launching their new graphic novel Rain. Also signing & sketching: Kate Charlesworth, Julie Rocheleau, Darryl Cunningham, Duncan Fegredo, EdieOP, Anja Uhren and Kate-mia White.

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

“I can tell you, if you’re so inclined.
“If you’d rather listen to my story instead of scratching at the earth in hopes of getting rich.
“If so, then take a seat next to me.
“Don’t let my pipe smoke bother you.
“Now, I won’t deny it, I like gold too.
“I’ve spent my share of time lookin’ for it…
“… I broke my back searchin’ everywhere you could imagine…
“Mountains, valleys, on foot and on horseback… even underground!
“But gold is like a beautiful lady: if you chase her, she’ll just run away.
“I’m not the kind of guy to give up, though, so I chopped wood to earn enough money to buy the proper equipment… and then I set out again.

After buying some sequential art based reading material to pass the time out on the wide open prairies, obviously…

Here’s the publisher to tell you more about the lure of the precious material that has driven people mad with desire trying to get their sweaty hands on it…

I’m talking about comics, obviously.

“Presenting the second in a seven-volume library of works by master illustrator Sergio Toppi. This second volume collects eleven tales of North American folklore, from the Canadian Goldrush to the American West and the Deep South, previously collected as Colt Frontier, Naugatuck 1757, and Blues.”

Wow! As much as I absolutely adored THE COLLECTED TOPPI: THE ENCHANTED WORLD VOL HC, which was the first in this heptalogy, this second volume, full of highfalutin fools, wise Native American Indians and even some of that ever elusive gold is truly fabulous from start to finish. I think it might in part be the more cogent nature of the collected material this time around, actually.

All the primarily cautionary tales regarding the lunacy of rushing after and risking your life for a few ounces of precious metal, balanced with the harmonious, peaceful (soon to be shattered forever) way of life of the true locals, hang together in a collection just perfectly. Even the magic bagpipes aren’t remotely out of place. Yes, magic bagpipes…



Plus the one outlier in plot terms, featuring a mysterious wandering blues musician, an almost apologetically mildly racist redneck, a former cop turned hitman and a particularly irascible Baron Samedi, is perfectly picked to conclude this tome and does so in a most wryly dramatic fashion.



Artistically, Toppi is simply a feast for the eyes. In terms of using linework as shading and texture, indeed structure, he may well be the very best there has ever been.



There’s also a rare foray into colour in this volume with a tale called Katana in which a greedy gold searcher crosses paths and swords, well a sword gets crossed with him, with a Japanese ronin samurai.



(For more ronin samurai in North American see Jiro Taniguchi’s amazing SKY HAWK). Aside from cover illustrations I’m not sure I’ve seen any coloured Toppi before. I’m not entirely sure it’s needed. Which is probably why so little of his work is!


Buy The Collected Toppi vol 2: North America h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Little Mama s/c (£17-99, Magnetic) by Halim Mahmouidi…

“Me and mommy were the same! Even though Grandma didn’t like it…
“… We behaved like children.
“Mommy’s mood changed all the time. I never got used to it.
“She’d hit me on the head, or else pinch me hard.
“Really, really hard…”

I should at this point state that this incredibly powerful, emotionally impactful work is also really, really hard to read. I think you would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by what Brenda is put through. Here’s the publisher to tell you more about this tale of woe…

“Life isn’t easy for little Brenda, whose single, teenage mom is immature, selfish, and prone to violent mood swings. Brenda takes care of herself and her mother as best as she can, missing out on many childhood joys to be her own mother’s Little Mama.”



That is a very accurate diagnosis of this tremendously upsetting tale, which is so well written and full of such excruciating detail I find it difficult to believe it isn’t somehow informed by personal experience in some respect.

I must confess, though, I truly have no idea whether it is or isn’t. If it is, then it’s a tremendously brave fictionalised recounting as seen through the eyes of an adult Brenda, sat in a therapist’s study, still portrayed as a young child. If it is purely fictional then I’m just as impressed by the depth of detail brought to the characters and various scenarios that only seem to get darker and darker as Brenda’s suffering only ever increases, first at the hands of her mother and then also her mother’s boyfriend Vincent, who is the vile father of her younger brother Kevin.



Just to clarify, not that it makes it any less upsetting, but we are talking purely, albeit extensive, emotional and physical abuse, not sexual abuse. It is still very traumatic though.

Seen also occasionally through the eyes of a concerned social worker plus Brenda’s adult therapist, this work is an extremely engrossing, if bleak, look at what unfortunately goes on all too often behind closed doors. But it is also a strident testament to what the human spirit can endure and come though out the other side, if not entirely unscathed.

Art-wise I was strongly minded stylistically in places of Nate MARCH / COME AGAIN / TWO DEAD Powell. Heavy on detail, and the black ink, in conjunction with the subdued gray / very pale blue additional shading, it packs a substantial punch more than enough to match the ones meted out by Vincent’s balled fists.


Buy Little Mama s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Sandman: Dream Hunters (30th Anniversary Prose Ed’n) (£14-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman & Yoshitaka Amano.

A poignant story of doomed love, self-sacrifice and revenge into which Gaiman slides some of his former SANDMAN cast.

The love is between a fox and a monk, and when Gaiman is in fable mode, the prose is a measured and masterful meld of Important Words and Powerful Pauses.

A badger and fox place bets on which of them can make a humble monk leave the small, remote temple he’s been tending so that they can have it for their own, but the smiling monk sees through their guises each time and gently sends them on their way.

Much to the fox’s surprise, she finds herself in love with the monk, and apologises. But when she discovers a plot amongst demons to destroy the monk through three booby-trapped dreams, she sacrifices her most prized possession to seek the counsel of Lord Morpheus, and there discovers The Baku, the eaters of dreams.

Now also available as a graphic novel adaptation by P. Craig Russell, this came about specifically because Gaiman loved the poster Amano painted for  SANDMAN’s 10th Anniversary (me too, it’s on my bedroom wall) and wrote the prose for him to illustrate.





Unlike Gaiman’s SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS his DEATH collection – and most especially his more recent return in SANDMAN: OVERTURE which leads directly into SANDMAN VOL 1 – this is, I concede, merely tangential to the SANDMAN series.

But such is its ability to move that when I recorded it one Christmas for my best friend Anita whose Multiple Sclerosis had by then robbed her of her peripheral vision (and so ability to read lengthy prose), I ended up having to take brief breaks from the microphone in order to retain some form of dignity.

It’s an absolute choker, I promise you.


Buy Sandman: Dream Hunters (30th Anniversary Prose Ed’n) 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’.

Oblivion Song vol 3 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Lorenzo De Felici

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Coronation vol 3 h/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Simon Spurrier, Ryan Ferrier & Daniel Bayliss, Irene Flores

Unnatural vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Mirka Andolfo

Unnatural vol 3 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Mirka Andolfo

Transmetropolitan Book 2 s/c (£24-99, Vertigo) by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson

Black Hammer: Streets Of Spiral s/c (£15-99, Dark Horse) by Jeff Lemire & Dean Ormston, various

Black Hammer: World Of Black Hammer – 45 s/c (£15-99, Dark Horse) by Jeff Lemire & Dean Ormston

Batman vol 10: Knightmares s/c (£15-99, DC) by Tom King & various

Batman: The Killing Joke New Edition h/c (£15-99, DC) by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland & Brian Bolland

Venom vol 5: War Of The Realms s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn, FrankTieri & Iban Coello, various

Black Torch vol 5 (£6-99, Viz) by Tsuyoshi Takaki

Page 45 at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019 Saturday & Sunday October 12-13th

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Includes Mary Talbot & Bryan Talbot launching, signing & sketching in their graphic novel RAIN, about the grim issues of environmental degradation through climate change, land mismanagement and pollution [and] a love story, chronicling the developing relationship between two young women.”



Remember, folks, entry is FREE!



As every year at LICAF, Page 45 will fill the Georgian Room in the Kendal Clock Tower with hundreds of gorgeous new graphic novels – many of which you won’t find elsewhere – for you to browse, buy, then fondle forever.

Plus – brand-new this year, and we couldn’t be more excited! – Andy Oliver and EdieOP from Broken Frontier will be curating two tables of self-published comics in our room, including debut launches from Edie, and will host extra creator guests Anja Uhren on Saturday and Kate-mia White all weekend.

Entry is FREE all weekend long. We accept both cash and credit cards.

Where: Upstairs, Kendal Clock Tower (access by lift)
When: Saturday & Sunday October 12-13th

Guests Signing & Sketching For Free In Our Room

Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot: Saturday 12th, 2pm-4pm
Exclusive LICAF Worldwide Book Launch of Rain immediately following Mary & Bryan Talbot’s talk on the making of RAIN.
Sally Heathcote Suffragette Dotter Of The Father’s Eyes, The Red Virgin, Alice In Sunderland, Grandville, The Tale Of One Bad Rat



Kate Charlesworth: Saturday 12th, 4pm-5pm
Sally Heathcote Suffragette, Sensible Footwear

Get your Sally Heathcote signed and sketched in by Bryan & Mary then Kate immediately afterwards!



Julie Rocheleau: Sunday 13th, 11am-midday
About Betty’s Boob, The Wrath Of Fantomas



Darryl Cunningham: Sunday 13th, 12.30-1.30pm
Billionaires, Supercrash, Graphic Science, Science Tales, Psychiatric Tales



Duncan Fegredo: Sunday 13th, 1.30pm-3.30pm
Hellboy Omnibus vol 3, Hellboy Complete Short Stories vol 1, MPH, Enigma, Spirit



Please click on their books’ links for reviews or pop any creators into our search engine at


Guests In Our Room At The Broken Frontier Tables

Anja Uhren: Saturday



Kate-mia White: Saturday & Sunday



EdieOP: Saturday & Sunday



Lakes Festival Merchandise on sale in our Georgian Room.

This includes comics, cards, prints, 2017’s SPIRIT NEWSPAPER and 2018’s TRACES OF THE GREAT WAR anthology (both reviewed at that link and available for worldwide shipping.

All proceeds over the weekend go to the LICAF Creator Development Programme etc.

As to our own graphic novels, we’ll be on hand to provide personal recommendations tailored to your tastes, or take you through any comics which attract your attention. Please do ask! Or, if you’ve a mobile phone handy, you can pop titles or creators into our search engine for our written reviews at

We’ll be accepting cash and credit cards all weekend long

Buy From Page 45’s Website, Collect In Kendal Postage-Free!

Any graphic novels on our website can be brought by us to the festival, postage-free if you buy online at then “Collect In Kendal 2019” at the checkout. Offer closes Monday 7th October 2017 when we’ll be all packed up to go!

More Lakes Festival Info

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival website
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019 Programme
Page 45’s Dedicated LICAF Blog featuring links to photo-filled blogs of every year we’ve attended.

LICAF Twitter: @comicartfest
Page 45 Twitter: @pagefortyfive

Our Twitter’s very handy for when other creators pop into our room for impromptu sketching!

Page 45 is a proud Patron of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival









Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2019 week one

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Featuring Lewis Trondheim, Hubert Chevillard, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, Alexis Leriger De La Plante, Natasha Tara Petrovic, Rob Williams, Henry Flint, Jonathan Hickman, Neil Edwards, Barry Kitson, Steve Epting, Nick Dragotta, Mark Brooks

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

“May I sit? Not with you, at the table besides you.
“I’m not trying to flirt with you.
“I was in a car accident as a child. I have no more penis.

“But I can pee in a bottle!”

Which is the point I personally would start running and not look back, but not Fabienne as antique shop owner Paco introduces himself in somewhat madcap fashion. No, instead she decides to stay and have her second croissant. I’d be keeping a hand over the top of my drink at all times though…

I should at this point probably explain that this particular decision to stay put is not the reason for the title of this work. No, but it is very typical of the redoubtable, unflappable Fabien’s new-found approach to life. I will let the publisher elucidate matters for you further whilst Fabio in no way continues to flirt with the charmingly bemused Fabienne…

“Roland has planned the perfect vacation for Fabienne to discuss their future. But when unimaginable tragedy strikes, Fabienne is left alone to process this immediate and unexpected change in her life. While most people would abandon the trip out of grief, she decides to stay…”

It probably isn’t that much of a spoiler given it happens on the fourth page, to explain that Roland gets decapitated by a flying metal sign due to a particularly strong coastal breeze.



From that point on, whilst most would crumble faster than a dehydrated sandcastle in face of such an impromptu grotesque guillotining of their beloved, Fabienne instead decides to stick to the itinerary that Roland had meticulously planned for their seaside mini-break. Though that didn’t, of course, include meeting wildcard Paco.



So, for the second time in recent months (following on from the brilliant MAGGY GARRISSON involving a wannabe private investigator illustrated by Stephane Oiry) Lewis Trondheim produces a masterclass in gently comedic writing. Here this story of what could have been a crippling emotional hammer blow instead becomes a curiously cheering tale of unexpected, liberating freedom from what would have been a very carefully mapped out life.

Appropriately enough, it all really doesn’t go or end up quite where you would expect, despite Fabienne’s close attention to the detail of Roland’s precisely plotted schedule. Warmly illustrated by Hubert Chevillard in gloriously Mediterranean tones this is one to réchauffe les coques de ton coeur or whatever the appropriate French idiom might be…

Buy Stay h/c and read the Page 45 review here


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

“Mama, can I go to school, too?”
“You’re whining about school when we’ve got nothing to eat?”
“But big brother gets to go.”
“Don’t give me that hogwash! You think you two are the same?”

The year is 1934 and we’re in Busan, South Korea. Lee Ok-sun is a young girl with one simple dream: to go to school like her mischievous brothers. Instead, with younger sibling tied to her back, she helps her mother at the market in hopes of scraping together enough to be able to feed the family that evening.

Lee Ok-sun learned from an early age that this wasn’t a woman’s world. But never in her worst nightmares did she imagine the horrors that her life would hold…

For an idea of the contents of this important yet harrowing biography, here’s what the publisher has to say…

“Grass is a powerful anti-war graphic novel, offering up firsthand the life story of a Korean girl named Lee Ok-sun who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, a disputed chapter in 20th century Asian history.



Keum Suk Gendry-Kim emphasizes Lee’s strength in overcoming the many forms of adversity she experienced. Grass is a landmark graphic novel that makes personal the desperate cost of war and the importance of peace.”

As heartbreaking and heavy a topic as this is, Gendry-Kim has delivered Granny Ok-sun’s story with the sensitivity and tenderness that this valiant, elderly lady deserves. Simplified imagery and softened characters focus on the humanity, not the brutality of the situation.



But that doesn’t mean this book is any less powerful. Much like Granny Ok-sun herself, it has a quiet strength, one that gets under your skin and then completely takes hold of you.

“We will keep fighting until the end.”

Buy Grass and read the Page 45 review here


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

“Let me ask you something, serpent-bearer.
“You’ve come all this way, and why?
“A defunct guard, protecting nothing and her hapless servant, who breaks when they should build?”
“They’ve told you so little. What about my side of it?
“I only ever offered these machines salvation.”

“I know you’re a liar.”

Do you like the Steven Universe cartoon? If you do (you must also check out STEVEN UNIVERSE: THE ANSWER by the way if you haven’t already…) then this collection of the highly regarded and exquisitely pink, purple and pastel blue webcomic is most definitely for you.

Aside from the fact it is beautifully illustrated with characters comprised of curvaceously cornered yet pleasingly angular polygons the story is bursting with as much action as it is heart. A most fabulous fusion…

Here is the publisher to tell you a little more just in case you aren’t convinced already, before I bombard you with lots of intensely sensual interior art almost exclusively warping into your optic nerves on wibbly-wobbly wavelengths between 380 and 500 nanometers…



“Ophiuchus is the story of the lone sentry of an ancient, inactive gate. One day, a strange being breaks through and infects her with a virus. And shortly after, she is approached by two machines, who implore her to follow them to the centre of the universe to put an end to that virus – a malevolent being which rots all worlds.”

Just some fabulous science-fiction that makes a half-hearted attempt to be semi-serious but is too busy having fun!



Buy Ophiuchus and read the Page 45 review here


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

“Don’t do small talk, do you? Drive with me.”

Haha, that alone cracked me up, Dredd telling someone else they’re not the chatty type!! Right, as we were…

“Witness said he was sure he saw Judges. Just for an instant. Two reaching for Benn. Then there was nothing. ‘Ghost Judges.’”
“Do you believe that?”
“I’ve seen the supernatural. I’ve put my fist through the supernatural.
“That’s not what this is. There are other cases, though nothing proven.
“A stealth group, operating outside the remit of the Chief Judge. Operating for someone else.”

Indeed… and there is nothing like someone thinking they are above the Law to get right up Joe Dredd’s nose…

Here’s the bullet laden bulletin from the publisher to give pretty much everything away…

“The critically-acclaimed and fan-lauded latest Judge Dredd tale which sent shockwaves through the universe and Mark Millar called ‘one of the best runs ever!’ Everything is at stake and no-one is safe, as Judge Dredd and his team of hand-picked allies finally takes on the nefarious Judge Smiley, Mega-City One’s behind-the-scenes manipulator!



But who will be left standing at the end?”

Errr… well, I know who I would guess!

I would have to heartily concur, though, with the plaudits for this series. I was absolutely riveted as it came out week by week in 2000AD. Featuring some of my favourite characters like the Wally Squad’s Dirty Frank, who featured prominently in the fabulous JUDGE DREDD: TRIFECTA and former SJS Judge Gerhart, it builds on recent stories such as Williams and Flint’s own excellent JUDGE DREDD: TITAN, but also shines a new, disturbingly revealing light on events as far back as Block Mania and the Apocalypse War as it builds and builds to a crunching crescendo.



Dredd’s going to win obviously. It’s what he does. But at what cost? How many colleagues will be acceptable collateral damage along the way this time? And just how high up does this conspiracy go? I mean, is it really conceivable that Chief Judge Hersey is completely unaware of the secret cabal armed with cloaking technology performing covert assassinations made to look like accidents, both locally and globally, that all serve to benefit Mega-City One politically…?



I sincerely hope Rob Williams is going to be involved with the writing of the forthcoming Dredd TV show which is being produced by Rebellion themselves, as he’s been responsible for much of the best Dredd material of recent years and this tale is just pure thrill power. Even Tharg needed a lie down after reading it…



Ooops, wrong alien!

So for those lovers of a bit of casual future fascism who might have been wondering whether old Stoney Face has still got it, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact that’s five years for even doubting him creep. Head directly to the cubes and do not pass the counter without collecting this book.

Buy Judge Dredd: Small House and read the Page 45 review here


Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman The Complete Collection vol 2 s/c (£35-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Neil Edwards, Barry Kitson, Steve Epting with Nick Dragotta, Mark Brooks.

Second bumper book of brilliance from one of the best runs ever on this sporadically functional family containing volumes 3 and 4 plus the first volume of companion title FF (Future Foundation). I’ve hardly had to change a word since my original reviews at the start of the decade, just find you the appropriate pretty pictures. Strap yourselves in and slap on the cosmic sunscreen…

Fantastic Four vol 3 by Jonathan Hickman & Neil Edwards.

“It’s not the scientific method that got us here… it’s apostasy.”
“Take this, Mr. Whitman.”
“What’s this?”

God, but this is some damn fine writing and you will need your dictionary which is a very fine thing indeed. So yes, providence provided by Reed Richards to his former rival, the Wizard, now being cared for in a metahuman psychiatric facility. He’s singularly interested in the creation of life, specifically through mitosis. There’s a lot of that this volume from some unexpected sources:

“And now for knowledge. The coming days are going to be dark… Dark and full of loss. It will feel like everything is going to break apart… that it will shatter and everything will end. Only you can hold us together. Can you be strong, mother? Stronger than you’ve ever been before? There will be a moment when you’re going to want to give up. You’re going to want to let go….
“When you reach that point, look into the sky. Look up… and remember the price that was paid.”

Looks like I was on the money and all of the previous volumes’ little chapters are converging – the past and the future – in an ominous way as evidenced by the super-evolved Molemen now in residence at the Baxter Building. They’ve just taught themselves to read, and swiftly moved onto the computer system:

“Did you know that a curved axis runs from the Forever City, through a place called Old Atlantis, to an Inhuman city-ship on the moon? The radius of that axis happens to mirror the frequency at which a portal to the Negative Zone opens.”

Oh dear.

Reed Richards has seen the light as well as the possible darkness ahead, and it’s expanded his ambition considerably.



He’s here to educate, to provide the planet with a limitlessly positive future, and he won’t accept apathy, resignation or second-best. Quite right too. Class is now in session – but what’s the previously primitive Dragon Man doing at the back?! He’s been rewired by Reed’s daughter Valeria and together Reed’s new students have already thought well outside the box:

“So can I assume you have a new way of attacking a problem that I’ve personally failed to solve over the years?”
“Uh-huh. It deals with rejecting a binary endgame. The on/off nature of the problem that’s tripped you up in the past… I think we can win and lose at the same time, sir.”

The problem they’ve solved is Ben Grimm.

In addition Neil Edwards has now flowered into a worthy substitute for Bryan Hitch, particularly when it comes to the children’s faces, there’s a delightful trip out to a decidedly different toy store and Franklin’s learning judo!

Hickman’s work in this is completely accessible to newcomers yet conversely it’s also steeped in Marvel history and will reward any long-term fan with a modicum of intelligence by moving that history on substantially: by embracing it, extrapolating from it, and upgrading it in such a fashion that you’d think that Hickman was actually Warren Ellis. He might be, actually, only there’s no filthy swearing just a great deal of fun.



Fantastic Four vol 4 by Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting with Nick Dragotta, Mark Brooks.

“Since the birth of everything, all life writhes in anguish… The suffering of billions of years of prolonged decay – the scars sit deep within us. You know this is true, because the pain resonates… We all share that core dread… that small, still voice coming from the older, primal place in our minds… We are all dying.”

Well, he’s a glass-half-full kinda guy!

This final book in the first phase of Jonathan Hickman’s FANTASTIC FOUR ends in catastrophe for the family with the loss of one of their members. Knowing that as you read this makes for quite the poignant experience.

So many threads set up not just by Hickman but by Mark Millar in his own excellent run (WORLD’S GREATEST and THE MASTER OF DOOM) come back to haunt them whilst one remains far from resolved and is only now becoming clear in the start of the second phase under the title FF (Future Foundation). Steve Epting has long been one of my favourite Marvel pencillers and his kids in particular are a just-so joy, though perhaps the finest panel is Sue Storm’s eyes rolling to the heavens under Namor’s admiration only after she shouts him down in public. He’s thrilling, subtle and his expressions carry weight. Quite why the final silent issue, the denouement, is given to someone else, I cannot comprehend.

Without giving too much away, Sue’s role as emissary between the old and new Atlantean factions takes a substantial turn for the unexpected, Galactus’ dead body which Reed Richards decided to bury is finally discovered, Ben swallows the serum Valeria and co. concocted to give him one week a year in his old human body… and that bloody Negative Zone portal never did anyone any good, did it?



Hickman, however, is master of the unexpected… like young prodigy Valeria casually teleporting into the throne room of Victor Von Doom who sits brooding about what he has lost.

“What’s up?”
“Young lady… Showing up unannounced is rash, unsuitable behaviour… even for a child. Does your father know where you are, Valeria?”
“Actually, he’s why I’m here.”
“And what has he done now?”
“Daddy went and built a very bad machine and forgot to tell anyone… Guess who just found it.”

Includes the script to silent issue #588.



FF vol 1 by Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting, Barry Kitson.

“And then I began to wonder why exactly all those villains are in my house. What would scare them as much as it would scare us…? What have you been hiding from me?”
“Oh Susan…”
“What’s happened, Reed?”
“I’ve done something terrible.”

So many secrets. So much left half-said!

The curtain rises for a fresh start, but in so many ways it’s merely the second act of a carefully orchestrated piece of theatre whose first four books were bursting with dramatic irony which now plays itself out as each family member finally comes clean, but only when they’re finally found out! By that time, of course, it’s a little too late to mend as four familiar forces have been unleashed upon this world and set about acquiring the resources they need to leave it – not in one piece, either.

The Fantastic Four are no more. The family is one man down, and some of them are coping better than others. Wracked with guilt, Ben Grimm has shut himself inside his room, cradling Johnny Storm’s nephew and niece against his orange-rocked hide. But as the famous ‘4’ emblem is taken solemnly from their wall, Reed Richards takes Johnny’s holographic Last Will & Testament to heart and asks Spider-Man to join their endless quest to build a better world.



It’s Johnny’s sister Sue who beckons Peter inside and shows him around. Things have changed. For a start they’re now called The Future Foundation with an extended family of waifs and strays, some more clever than others, studying under Reed Richards and brainstorming to solve problems with their fresh new perspectives. For that Peter’s perfect, and Reed’s child-prodigy daughter Valeria has a knack of not only finding solutions but identifying the problems in the first place. And then she just causes some more. She’s discovered what her bad Dad’s been up to and promptly exacerbated his mistake and so made a deal with the devil, Victor von D himself. Doom can’t resist either her singular challenge (once more, the irony!) nor her offer of assistance for he has lost a part of his mind. Fortunately his brain is at least structurally sound, so what they need is a backup.

I can’t tell you how cleverly that’s played – Valeria and ‘Uncle’ Doom are an exquisite double-act; she fearless, he constantly surprised – because it requires Steve Epting’s superb, deadpan comedic timing. His art is a considered joy. The enormous gargoyle Dragon Man cross-legged on a comfy sofa and studying a book, spectacles perched on his purple beak looking like Sage The Owl, is an absolute hoot.

Also, the costumes have changed and change further still, third-generation unstable molecules creating variations on a black and white theme of three honeycomb hexagons or, in Peter’s case, a spider. He’s very much a guest. He’s not the only guest, either. Richards’ father has resurfaced from the timestream thereby altering the family dynamic further still, and then there are those invited by Reed to Doctor Doom’s unprecedented symposium in the Baxter building. Each attendee has been psychologically enhanced by Hickman, one for example with a born-again fervour and another, the Mad Thinker, finally living up to his name. Here he is doing Spider-Man’s nut in:

“An invitation. An invitation! It’s the opening move of the greatest of games – Ask yourself, who’s the opponent, what does he want? Is this his first move, or simply an orchestration to reveal who his opponents are… Oh, so very tricky. An invitation… what could it possibly mean?”
“I think it means you’re invited.”
“Mmmmmaahhhh! No. No. No. No! Foolish pawn. Foolish pawn that doesn’t even know that he’s a piece… Oh, oh… Or maybe you’re something more. Maybe so. Yes, maybe I can use this. You’re probably not even aware of how much he’s given away by sending you… So, reveal all. Tell me – and don’t try and think it over, as I need an untainted, primary response – tell me, what should I do?”
“Oh… I would prefer that you stay at home. Maybe take a bath… Maybe brush your teeth.”
“That’s it! That’s it – I accept the invitation!!”
“… Of course you do.”

Now it’s your turn.

Buy Fantastic Four by Hickman Complete 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’.

Hellboy And The BPRD – 1956 (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson & Mike Norton, Yishan Li, Michael Avon Oeming, Paul Grist

Infinite Dark vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Image) by Ryan Cady & Andrea Mutti

Little Mama s/c (£17-99, Magnetic) by Halim Mahmouidi

Outcast vol 7: The Darkness Comes s/c (£14-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Paul Azaceta

Sandman: Dream Hunters (30th Anniversary Prose Ed’n) (£14-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman & Yoshitaka Amano

Batman: Damned h/c (£24-99, DC) by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo

Joker: His Greatest Jokes s/c (£16-99, DC) by various

Immortal Hulk vol 4: Abomination s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Joe Bennett

Venom Unleashed vol 1 s/c (£15-99, Marvel) by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Cullen Bunn & Juanan Ramirez, various

Tokyo Ghoul re: vol 12 (£8-99, Viz) by Sui Ishida

Final Fantasy Lost Stranger vol 2 (£9-99, Yen Press) by Hazuki Minase & Itsuki Kameya

Final Fantasy Lost Stranger vol 3