Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews AND New Comics & Graphic Novels UNDERNEATH, May 2020

New Comics and Graphic Novels are now flooding back in, and soon it will be time to open the shop properly once more! Meanwhile, Page 45’s Worldwide Mail Order Service Has Never Ceased! Please do check out all the New Releases below our reviews. Thanks!

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir In Pictures h/c (£16-99, Harper Collins) by Noelle Stevenson.

“There are no concave lines on the human body – only overlapping convex lines.”

Yes, yes, yes!

And Noelle recreates an illustrative life-drawing sketch which she made at the time when this moment of satori first hit her!

Until I read this page I hadn’t fathomed this either, but what a vital piece of observation to impart to anyone embarking on a career in art – whether it be comics, picture books, illustration, design or those well serious fully painted things – and to anyone who has suffered from body issues, as Stevenson has under the tyranny of ubiquitous wafer-thin media models. Its scope is much broader still, but one has to begin a review somewhere.



Stevenson is still only in her mid-20s, yet her astonishingly honest, hard-won wisdom moved and impressed itself upon me as fiercely as Tilly Walden’s equally early autobiography SPINNING. And by “hard-won”, you will swiftly realise why this graphic memoir has been included in Page 45’s burgeoning and ever so vital Mental Health Section.

Noelle Stevenson is the creator of our Young Adult best-seller NIMONA, as well as the co-creator of Page 45’s smash-hit LUMBERJANES series, and her early success in both – detailed here in what could very much be regarded as a galvanizing, inspirational “How To” guide for so many young individuals now embarking on their first tentative steps towards honouring us all with their brand-new voices – comes in stark contrast to what you might assume would be a self-satisfied, artistically vindicated “the world is now my oyster”. Instead, even at the height of her triumphs (and with a tentatively discovered and supportive, newfound lover), Stevenson is plagued with the same crippling self-doubt which so many of us secretly harbour too.

“At night, you like awake and shake.
“You feel guilty all the time.
“It feels like a piece has been ripped out and left behind, but you can’t tell which piece and you can’t look back to check or you will surely fall apart.”

The illustrations which accompany these retrospective confessions are so tender and so fragile.



“Your fear of doing wrong is keeping you from doing good.
“This is what you wanted, ain’t you proud?
“You’re not evil, you are a mundane, selfish kind of bad and that is what you’ve always feared, isn’t it?”

There’s a profound humility here which informs the candour and self-awareness.

“You do kind things for praise, or to feel better.
“You fear hurting people, but maybe because you fear being disliked.
“You’re not strong or brave in the way you want to be.”



It’s a very rare kind of courage that can commit this to paper in order to help others who might be suffering the same serious self-assessment in silence, fearing that they are alone while the rest of the world waltzes on in oblivious abandon. Clue: most of the world isn’t, in my experience, waltzing on in oblivious abandon, whatever it looks like from the outside. So much of this certainly resonated with me.

If I were to summarise the overwhelming, prevalent, rare but vital humane quality on display here, it would be compassion: compassion, in retrospect, towards yourself.

Told in annual snapshots from 2011 to 2019, each chapter is divided into immediate impressions as they happen, then a considered annual overview of what that year actually brought about. There are sequential art sections, then integrated, illustrated prose.



The art morphs in rendition from a fragile, febrile even at times angry sort of Hayao Miyazaki (cf NAUSICAA), to bold, emphatically concave Philippa Rice forms (like SISTER BFFS) to a front cover illustration below the dustjacket that struck me very much as akin to Jan Ormerod. But those are just my personal references, not at all necessarily Noelle’s own.

There’s also an enormous, connected tenderness on display, especially when it comes to coupling – to spooning – with her girlfriend now wife, and if you enjoy the occasional photographic portraits interspersed throughout, I promise you will air-punch with unbridled glee at the final, glorious, giggling, and celebratory photograph which rounds off this journey of at times painful self-discovery with a “Yeah, you can do it too!” moment of exquisite, unequivocal and unconditional love.



Artless, exceptional, and recommended to all, this would be perfect as a gift to anyone embarking on a career in art, the arts, or this thing called life.


Buy The Fire Never Goes Out and read the Page 45 review here

Crash Course: If You Want To Get Away With Murder Buy A Car s/c (£14-99, Street Noise) by Woodrow Phoenix.

Do you drive a car? Please read this book.

A heart-felt, eloquent and surprisingly gripping indictment of our current obsession with cars, our behaviour on the roads and the vulnerability of the pedestrian, this is as Paul Gravett observes, “an extraordinarily human book… without showing a single human being.”

I’d hazard a guess that this very exclusion forms part of Woodrow’s argument that pedestrians have been relegated to anonymous and dehumanised second-class citizens whose rights are as nothing compared to those of us enclosed in thousands of pounds worth of hard, heavy metal. We’re what counts: we need to get where we going far more urgently than you lot on foot, so don’t you dare cross the road until you’re told to, where you’re told to, and I don’t give a shit if it’s raining outside because it’s not raining in here. Where’s that CD I burned last night?

Yes, that’s how old this review is, resurrected with tweaks for a timely brand-new edition with an infinitely more apposite title, CRASH COURSE: IF YOU WANT TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, BUY A CAR.



I originally read this an hour before my own car was due in for its annual MOT and service, plus as a precautionary measure they changed what I believe is called the cambelt. If they hadn’t, they would definitely be changing it now. I’ve never understood a mate who was so concerned for his children on board that he turned on his headlights in broad daylight, yet happily answered his mobile phone whilst driving along, one-handed, distracted. For my own guilty part I’ve lit so many cigarettes over the years while driving. Yup, the first one to put his hand up is me. I’ll never do it again, and nor will you once you’ve read this. I feel wretched.




As Woodrow navigates motorways, turns at junctions and admires the view through his windscreen he muses on our self-delusion when it comes to safety, our attitude to death by driving (you kill someone any other way, and you’re in deep trouble; in a car, not necessarily so much), the horrors of the pedestrian underpass, the weirdness of an empty retail car park, and the absurd SUV 4×4 family arms race. It’s moving, compelling and even poetic in places, pared down to level-headed wake-up calls like this:

“There is a dreamlike quality built into the experience of driving. A car windshield is a big window. And also a screen. A windscreen. A long rectangular picture frame. Locations unwind on the other side of this rectangular glass almost as they do on a movie screen. The constant, smoothly unrolling scenery. The continuously changing vistas. It’s like the ultimate cinematic presentation. With you, the driver, as both the director and the star.”

It can be mesmerising too.



“It’s an intoxicating feeling to have the power to govern every aspect of your private world. You sit cocooned in your cabin. You control the temperature of the interior and you listen only to the soundtrack you have chosen. Everything outside your windows is contained, the rest of the world an arm’s length away.”

But no more than that for BMW drivers who tailgate.

That’s from about the least affecting couple of pages of this book (and they ring so true, don’t they?) as Phoenix assesses what your car says about you, why some arrogant arseholes refuse to budge out of the middle or even outside lane regardless of what speed they’re doing (my own biggest irritation with others, along with their failure to indicate – the consequences of which you’ll discover towards the end), and quietly relates some very real incidents of fatal failures to give a damn about cyclists and those on foot.

As to road rage:

“How did it happen that ridiculous, inappropriate eruptions of impulsive brutish aggression should have been thought to be adequately described by the handy appellation, ‘road rage’? It’s a phrase that hides more than it reveals. Designed to neuter and tidy away the truth. A sheet thrown over a misshapen lumpy ogre of violence. Almost legitimising the strange shapes that poke around underneath. Road rage is an indulgent, doting term, dignifying and excusing behaviour that has no dignity and no excuse.”



And so we come to the art. Roads. Roads and roads of roads. And rorries.

Is it even necessary? Would your experience reading this be any different if you’d just paid £1-50 for this week’s Guardian, and this was reduced to a single prose feature in the Weekend Supplement rather than 150 pages of chevrons? Yes. Yes it would, because the chevrons here are as hypnotic as they are in real life, and therein lies a point.

Anyway it’s not all roads: there is, for example, a small procession of human beings reduced from individuals to the faceless figurative forms that symbolise human beings on pedestrian crossings; and you’ll never take those for granted again, either. Best not think of all those actual lives now snuffed out: people who woke up and went for a walk but will never come home again.



The ideas I’ve expressed here are all Woodrow’s – ideas, not views: his views if not awful experience match my own seamlessly. I could never have done so without his prompting, and it worries me terribly that I may ever be careless enough to hit someone in my car. The chances of that after reading this, however, are at least a lot slimmer because I’ve been given a wake-up call, and we could all use a little reminding, surely?

Originally released as RUMBLE STRIP in 2008 (still in stock), this comes with a new essay by Woodrow Phoenix of PANTS ANT infamy, who co-curated the British triumph NELSON with its instigator, Rob Davis. Please note: some of the interior art comes from the original UK publication from Myriad and may have since been amended – for example to reflect other countries driving on the right – other images come from this new edition.


Buy Crash Course: If You Want To Get Away With Murder Buy A Car and read the Page 45 review here

American Jesus vol 1: Chosen s/c, American Jesus vol 2: The New Messiah s/c (£8-99 each, Image) by Mark Millar & Peter Gross.



The first collection is from over a decade ago!

“Can I ask you something, Father?”
“Of course you can. That’s what I’m here for, right?”
“Nah, you’ll just think I’m an idiot. I shouldn’t even be here. My mom and dad aren’t even Catholics.”
“Well, neither’s Muhammad Ali, but I’d still given him five minutes of my precious time. Just tell me what you want to know.”
“Do you think it’s possible I’m the returned Jesus Christ?”

Jodie’s a normal kid who’s been living the normal life a normal kid does: comics, salvaged porn and average grades at school. Then one day a truck careers off a bridge and lands right on top of his noggin, but Jodie walks away without a scratch – just a fresh fluency in any known language, an intuitive understanding of all forms of science and a complete encyclopaedia of history on tap in his head.



When his mother tells him she’s never had sex, he begins to entertain the idea that he’s the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, as do many of those around him with the emphatic exception of the local priest. As the priest explains, it’s common for people of Jodie’s age to think they’re a little different, especially after they’ve survived some sort of accident. It’s tempting to give in to grandiose presumptions of being special. Tempting, and dangerous.



Gross keeps suburban life real, whilst Millar keeps the suspense simmering, exploring what a young boy like Jodie might make of the situation. I loved the extended comparison Jodie comes up with between the Bible Testaments and the Star Wars Trilogy. Not only does it work, it’s just what a kid might do if they were suddenly that bright. As for what’s really at work, well, Jodie’s thirty-three as he looks back at these difficult days, so he’s evidently come to terms with how things have turned out.

One way, or the other…

As to the second volume from last year’s series (there will be three), we switch to a young girl at school with a kind, thoughtful boyfriend so respectful of her that he’s not even sure he should ask for a kiss. She falls pregnant but swears she’s never had sex. Against all imaginable odds, her boyfriend believes her unquestioningly. At which point, he became my favourite young man in the whole of comicbook fiction.



She’s telling the truth.

Then we fastforward, and I do believe that you will recognise some of these… institutions.



Buy American Jesus vol 1: Chosen s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Buy American Jesus vol 2: The New Messiah s/c and read the Page 45 review here

House of X / Powers Of X (£22-99 UK s/c; £49-99 US h/c) by Jonathan Hickman & Pepe Larraz, R.B. Silva.

Exceptionally eloquent and comprehensively thought-through elevation of the mutant legacy.

For the very first time the X-Men have a geopolitical power base and a global economy of their own. The latter derives firmly from the former, thereby securing its stature, and indeed future.

Didn’t you ever wonder how ridiculous it was that Charles Xavier could somehow sustain a Westchester mansion housing, feeding, clothing and presumably funding several dozen Playstations for nearly one hundred mutants…? For decades…? Let alone defend it!

All of this – all of it – is secured by their new base of operations and its “produce”. As if that weren’t clever enough, Hickman hasn’t even had to invent their home – it’s an established part of mutant lore – but he has extrapolated infinitely more potential from its nature than any writer has been imagined before.




Plus, mutants now have a language of their own for, without language, how can they hope to have a culture?

With all this now laid as bedrock, Professor Charles Xavier approaches the global stage with a positive, pro-active, worldwide agenda. He has economically enticing gifts – many revolutionarily beneficial for human health – to offer countries which would revoke their former genocidal hostility towards mutantkind, and engage openly, honestly and commercially instead with his new nation state.

Professor Xavier also has sanctions.



This is the most astute and entertaining X-MEN run ever, easily equalling Claremont & Byrne’s tenure on UNCANNY X-MEN, Morrison’s NEW X-MEN, then Whedon and Cassady’s ASTONISHING X-MEN.

Artist Pepe Larraz was a revelation, too. Svelte! His gesticulations are graceful, arms acting expressively when a face is concealed.

From the writer and designer of BLACK MONDAY MURDERS, THE NIGHT NEWS, THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, EAST OF WEST, SECRET,as well as his fabulous new series, DECORUM #1.



It’s also from the writer and designer of the definitive FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 1 and FANTASTIC FOUR VOL 2, equally recommended and reviewed at greater length, this whopping edition collects HOUSE OF X #1-6 and POWERS OF X #1-6, and leads straight into X-MEN #1 which launches the new slyly composed and attitude-ridden series by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu. At the time of typing, we’ve a complete run in stock.

This is twelve chapters long, I would remind you, and only the beginning…


Buy House of X / Powers Of X s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Buy House of X / Powers Of X h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Brand-New Arrivals: Comics & Graphic Novels

Before we get to the new graphic novel / collected editions, a quick word about all the comics on our shelves! Page 45 Has Been Mail Order Only for two whole months and, although we’re looking to open ASAP in June, because the comics on our website aren’t quantity-specific like the graphic novels (which, unless they say “Out Of Stock” are most definitely in stock) they’ve been kind of languishing on our shelves in the darkness. If you would prefer to check if we’ve specific comics in stock before ordering, please email and we’ll let you know, but FYI over the past few months These Current Comics have all come in through our doors, and we’ve plenty of older issues in those series too if you want to email and ask.



I can certainly confirm that we have a complete run so far of the new, exceptional Hickman and Yu X-MEN series which follows directly on from Hickman’s HOUSE OF X / POWERS OF X reviewed above, and a complete run of the NEW MUTANTS series which also spins out of it, one storyline of which is by Hickman & Reis and is very, very funny indeed. To save you the trouble of searching, I’ve linked to each below:

X-MEN #1, X-MEN #2, X-MEN #3, X-MEN #4, X-MEN #5, X-MEN #6, X-MEN #7, X-MEN #8, X-MEN #9

GIANT-SIZED X-MEN: JEAN GREY & EMMS and GIANT-SIZED X-MEN: NIGHTCRAWLER were also written by Hickman. The former and contains a major plot point; the latter is in stock regardless of the pre-order blurb.



X-MEN / FF #1, X-MEN / FF #2, X-MEN / FF #3 by Chip Zdarsky & Terry Dodson are also all in stock; you can also pre-order the final X-MEN FF #4. Thanks! Not read, ‘em, sorry, but isn’t it extraordinary how little help Sue and Reed Richards have ever offered our beleaguered mutants given that their son Franklin is a mutant too? That is the bone of contention.

By Hickman & Reis (one uninterrupted story; and, as I say, I laughed a lot!) NEW MUTANTS #1, NEW MUTANTS #2, NEW MUTANTS #5, NEW MUTANTS #7.



You might think you’ve missed something when you start reading that last one. You haven’t: it’s Hickman mischievously messing with the very notion of recaps!

By Brisson & Flaviano (in all honesty: not my cup of tea, but very few superheroes outside of MISTER MIRACLE, reviewed in depth, are these days) NEW MUTANTS #3, NEW MUTANTS #4, NEW MUTANTS #6, NEW MUTANTS #8, NEW MUTANTS #9

New Graphic Novels

Please click on images or the link to buy to, you know, buy, or learn more from the publishers. Cheers!

Akissi: Even More Tales Of Mischief s/c (£12-99, Flying Eye / Nobrow) by Marguerite Abouet & Mathieu Sapin

Buy Akissi: Even More Tales Of Mischief s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Amulet vol 1: The Stone Keeper s/c (£8-99, Scholastic UK) by Kazu Kibuishi

Buy Amulet vol 1: The Stone Keeper s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Bog Bodies s/c (£11-99, Image) by Declan Shalvey & Gavin Fullerton

Buy Bog Bodies s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Family Tree vol 1 s/c (£8-99, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Phil Hester

Buy Family Tree vol 1 s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Flake h/c (£18-99, Jonathan Cape) by Matthew Dooley

Buy Flake h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Kairos h/c (£15-99, First Second) by Ulysse Malassagne

Buy Kairos h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

The Phantom Twin s/c (£13-99, First Second) by Lisa Brown

Buy The Phantom Twin s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Snotgirl vol 3: Is This Real Life? (£14-50, Image) by Bryan Lee O’Malley & Leslie Hung

Buy Snotgirl vol 3: Is This Real Life? from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Stranger Things: Six s/c (£15-99, Dark Horse) by Joudie Houser & Edgar Salazar

Buy Stranger Things: Six s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Summer Spirit s/c (£12-99, Nobrow) by Elizabeth Holleville

Buy Summer Spirit s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Tinderella s/c (£10-99, Uncivilised Books) by M. S. Harkness

Buy Tinderella s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Transmetropolitan Book 3 s/c (£24-99, DC) by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson

Buy Transmetropolitan Book 3 s/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Batman: Last Knight On Earth h/c  (£24-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Buy Batman: Last Knight On Earth h/c  from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

The Girl From The Other Side vol 8 (£10-99, Seven Seas) by Nagabe

Buy The Girl From The Other Side vol 8 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

 Levius est vol 3 (£8-99, Viz) by Haruhisa Nakata

Buy Levius est vol 3 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Demon Slayer vol 12 (£7-99, Viz) by Koyoharu Gotouge

Buy Demon Slayer vol 12 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Dr. Stone vol 11 (£7-99, Viz) by Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi

Buy Dr. Stone vol 11 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Knights Of Sidonia vol 5 (Master Edition) (£29-99, Vertical Comics) by Tsutomu Nihei

Buy Knights Of Sidonia vol 5 (Master Edition) from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Persona 5 vol 2 (£6-99, Viz) by Hisato Murasaki

Buy Persona 5 vol 2 from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Twisted Visions: The Art Of Junji Ito h/c (£25-00, Viz) by Junji Ito

Buy Twisted Visions: The Art Of Junji Ito h/c from Page 45 and / or read the publisher’s hype here

Lastly, our Jonathan wrote a big blog about the interim delivery of New Comics and Graphic Novels that arrived a fortnight ago after being held up in the Diamond UK warehouse, all linked up so you can buy some of those seriously excellent books!

Lastly, lastly, two Page 45 Young Readers Reviews from silly old me.





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