Page 45 Review by Stephen
Diana Dane, meet Darius Dax. You'll find him in equal parts lucrative and infuriating.
"You seem to know a lot of people, who want others to know they know you, but who don't want anyone to know about you. So I was curious enough to take the meeting."
"That is as it should be. I imagine it was quite frustrating for you, though, important investigative reporter and all."
"I don't know if I'd agree with "important"."
"I was being polite. I meant "unemployed"."
Diana Dane is indeed unemployed. She won an award then was laid off the week after.
"That's the universe telling you something."
Now it's Darius Dax who's telling her something: that it wasn't a plane that came down on Littlehaven a few months ago. It was something altogether more unusual and included the vast arch of gold now suspended above Dax's desk declaring wherever it came from "Supreme".
This is of interest to Dax for Dax too is an acquirer of knowledge which few will ever have access to. He specialises in Blue Rose cases - "Blue roses do not occur in nature" - "rare truths" he sells on to very wealthy entities, and he will pay Diana Dane $300,000 to start gathering information on whoever might have connections to the artefact and $700,000 if she succeeds in bringing him something concrete.
Elsewhere and elsewhen, outside of time and space, someone else was telling her many things - about reality and revision; about how the universe occasionally reboots itself. But above she was told this:
"Don't trust Darius Dax."
Warren Ellis seemed back on top linguistic form to begin with, and certainly found an artist to match the daydream, elusive, other-dimensional aspect of the book. There is a quiet and soft vulnerability to Lotay's forms and colours over which pale blue lines swirl like a chilly wind, giving them a sense of the ethereal; as if who and what you're looking at might not even be there. Or you might not even be there. As if you're looking at it all remotely, through a window, a viewscreen or a tank of liquid, especially in Darius Dax's National Praxinoscope Company where there are additional, geometrical overlays.
There are sonic cathedrals and ghostly gazelles radiating light and colour like noboby's business and when they cross the bridge which "is, of course, a quarter of a million miles long" they pass under monumental, neoclassical, triumphal arches of white stone held aloft by twin Supreme statues after gliding by what appears to be a curved, seaside scene of boarding houses basking in a Northern-Lights green.
As a colourist alone, Tula Lotay excels: she is inspired, dazzling, delirious. I promise you these pages are like nothing you've ever seen, though there's something of the Michael Allred in the faces.
The art is something new for something both borrowed and blue, for this yet another remix of a funny old brand called SUPREME. And I'm afraid to say it, but this is akin one of those noodling 12-inch '80s vinyls which is so full of filler and goes nowhere. Like Darius Dax, it is deliberately obtuse and infuriating, full of long, clever words where much simpler ones would do. It really is this simple:
Twenty years ago a former Marvel artist called Rob Liefeld created a superhero called Supreme for what was then an illiterate brand relying solely on what was perceived to be the strength of its Image. Supreme was a dumb rip-off of the most obvious aspects of Superman. Then along came Alan Moore who rebooted the character and, with a winking glint in his eye, used the very nature of its rip-off to have enormously clever fun with all the more interesting and really very silly but endearing aspects of Superman in its own multiple, multiversal incarnations.
So now here we have Warren Ellis doing a new reboot in which the reboot's gone wrong and former aspects of its previous versions have filtered through into the new. It's all very meta but not rocket science, yet it's been cloaked in terminology which makes it seem so. What am I missing?
Very, very, very beautiful. Ironically.
Try Ellis' INJECTION. It's deliciously British, taking in legend and lore, reminiscent of Jamie Delano's early HELLBLAZER and has the most swoonaway sweeps of leaves by Declan Shalvey.