Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Look what you did to me."
This a book about love in its myriad guises and even disguises so whatever you think that means, you'll be thinking again when you get to it.
From the creator of ONE SOUL which stunned us so much we made it a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month - and indeed MERCY which I don't believe anyone else has for sale in the UK - this sets out to achieve something similarly inclusive but not the same, in a format that's similarly ingenious
but not the same.
For most unsettling results, read when my age or older.
For most effective results I suggest reading it as soon as possible after your teens.
Of course we don't necessarily know whether we're in love or in lust, merely infatuated or completely insane. I've been in relationships under all four of those spells and sometimes it's only in retrospect that you can tell one from the other. What this will make starkly clear, however, is that there is no time to lose in settling for lies or second best when aware that you are doing so.
It begins with six square panels on one page and six square panels on the other, each containing couples in a "Here we are" on-the-threshold moment: the current status, ostensibly, of their relationships. These and subsequent snapshots are either married to or contradicted by the private thoughts - brief mental impressions - of the panels' occupants and, obviously, the couples aren't always in synch with each other.
Cracks quickly appear in some relationships as things start to go wrong, sometimes in quite shocking ways. And when those cracks cause a split, they do so in the panels themselves which divide into two as the former lovers go their separate ways. Then some very interesting things start to happen
Like ONE SOUL, the individuals' stories continue until they don't and the panels black out one by one as they die either alone or leaving their partners bereft. Or not. As you can probably tell I'm trying to avoid any form of spoiler whatsoever, but I can assure you that Fawkes has thought of almost every possible permutation, confrontation and complication in a relationship.
Some of this is unbelievably harsh, some of it very affecting.
Some pages move on by mere moments, between others there is an autumnal interlude which may last more than a single season or year. Trajectories aren't always linear. Relationships need to be worked at, constantly and some can be repaired just as others can be sabotaged. Beware the distraction.
To say "the art does its job" would be to understate the accomplishment, for whilst Fawkes isn't a very accomplished draughtsman he is a superb visual storyteller, as clear as clear can be, and there are new innovations here on top of the massive leap that ONE SOUL represented which kick off so cleverly after the first twenty-five pages.
Fawkes is also a fine designer and I love the matching covers between the two books which are very much companion pieces.
don't leave this until your dotage.