Page 45 Review by Stephen
"I don't understand any of this shit."
Possibly inspired by the extraordinary 1995 south-east Turkey Göebekli Tepe archaeological find of elaborately carved monuments erected around 9,500 BC which dwarf Stonehenge's and predate them by some 7,000 years (and were built by hunter-gatherers - the stats are quite stunning), this visually impressive but unhinged graphic novel begins high up in the Himalayas in 2006 with Professor Jack Stanton of Miskatonic University and Professor Alexander Kandel discovering something they shouldn't.
The Sanctuary is 2,600 high, carved from granite over 16,000 feet above sea level, "at an altitude where you can barely breathe without an oxygen mask". Vast, demonic statues surround a sphere.
Professor Kandel's desperate, dying words are a fervent wish the world never know!
Four months later and the surviving Professor Stanton has not only gone and written an entire book on it (typing with astonishing alacrity - even Methedrine has its limits) provocatively titled 'Ante Genesem', but is publicising it along with his exhibition on national television, claiming that this discovery could change life as we know it. Not our historical perspective, but the entire world.
And it does, in a way which I won't give away, but everything quickly goes tits-up after an ocean liner crashes into Manhattan, mounting its shores to thrust its way through several sky scrapers. Fleeing by car, Jack goes splat through a bridge and into a primeval world of gigantic trees sporting skulls the size of two-storey buildings whose hollow eye sockets have been poked through with spears.
Some of this world's denizens are deeply unpleasant. Also, Jack finds himself with a bleeding tattoo.
That's not some sort of low-key British swear, it's a glowing tattoo what bleeds.
A lot of Biblical splish-splosh (and one year) later and I think he's back in Manhattan which has risen thousands of feet from the sea, only to find himself further pursued by a blood-red bat-demon and a floating airship filled with crusaders who consider him a prophet. Which, as I like to say (possibly overly often), is where we came in.
Now, there is a key element in the plot that allows for all kinds of fantastical doings, but what I don't understand is how Jack - who is a professor - seeks to rationalise any of this palaver more than a couple of panels after the initial GTA Insane Jump from the Manhattan bridge into florageddon. Nor can I comprehend how he appears to have an unlimited supply of unbent cigarettes at his command and an unblemished A5 photo in his smaller-than-A5 back pocket.
Not only that, but this from a Professor: "The Sanctuary far surpassed, in both horror and scale, our most deeply-buried fears. It has been there for thousands of years. Perhaps millions, even." Thousands or millions - do make your mind up - that's quite a leap in scale.
It's a very long journey. It's a very long book. I didn't come close to finishing it.