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Reviews February 2014 week two

Thus, over time, the train has evolved to become a tarnished mirror of the pre-existing society where the rich have it all and the poor are left entirely to fend for themselves.

- Jonathan on Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape. Vol 2 in stock now!

Alone Forever (£7-50, Top Shelf) by Liz Prince.

Brief bursts of autobiographical self-denigration as Liz Prince plays the dating game, pitching woo at boys with beards, and loses 13-nil.

Comedic gold, she mines both her disasters and non-starters for all their considerable worth, whether it’s online with OK Cupid or hanging out in bars with male mate Farhad, effectively cock-blocking each other. Of course people think they’re a couple. It seems she can’t win, even when approached by one of her readers – one of her bearded readers! – in an art store while obsessing over sketchbooks and pens with one of her female friends who has a flash-thought:

“Oh no! Do you think I’m dyking this up?”
“Hmm.”

That’s a beautiful piece of cartooning, Liz frowning, fingers on chin, giving the matter the most careful consideration. So is this, with poor Liz left lank at the bar, shouting after a woman who’s already made her mind up.

“You remind me of my gay friend Jess: she’s short, has glasses, dresses like you… She only falls for straight girls, though.”
“Oh, then she’d probably love me.”
“No, I said she likes straight girls.
“I… but I am… HEY! CAN’T YOU AT LEAST HAVE THE DECENCY TO STAND HERE WHILE I WEAKLY DEFEND MY SEXUALITY?!”

Men, of course, prove utterly useless, either full of their own self-importance or utterly unable to make decisions, conversation or even the first move. Actually that first move thing seems more like a power-play.

Here, however, is the shocking truth: Liz Prince actually gets some! She gets quite a lot! She gets, dates, snogs and shags! And they make take six minutes of hilarious, hair-tearing wait, but she also gets knock-out replies to flirty texts. Every second of that sequence is emotionally infectious for Prince’s lines are as expressive as anyone’s in the business, her body language adorable whether she’s feeling foolish, deflated or glowing with girly glee.

She doesn’t give up, either. There’s an absolute champion of a strip in which she appropriates Charles Schultz’s famous American football routine whose humour grows cumulatively on each reprise. In it Lucy cajoles a reluctant Charlie Brown into kicking the ball she’s holding up for him. He’s reluctant because he remembers that each time he gives in to her temptation and has a go against his better judgement, Lucy whips the ball away like someone pulling the rug from under you. Here the roles are reversed, for it is Liz being goaded by Charlie Brown as Cupid.

“Don’t you want a chance at love?”
“Every time I take a kick at love you pull it out from under me!”
“Eventually you’ll make contact. Everyone does. Odds are this next kick will be the one. I’ll do my part and hold it down.”
“He’s right. This has to be the time I kick that old ball. Lucky at love! SO HERE I GO!”

Hahahaha! Yup.

What makes this book is that there is, of course, a great deal of truth behind all this mirth – the recognition factor. But also it’s the wit in its deployment as above, and so below.

After yet another unsatisfactory and this time quite protracted courtship crushed by unanswered emails and texts, Liz Prince is reading The Book of Love while considering her options.

“It is hard to say Bye when someone asks you to give them a second chance. But part of growing up is learning to remove yourself from undesirable situations.”

At the same time her bleating heart is far from still, fighting the wastrel’s corner by reminding Liz of how good it once was. She snaps the book shut on it, silencing it, then opens it up to reveal her heart, dead as a doornail.

“When you’re not on the same page, it’s best to just tear that page out and move on.”

As she tears that page out there is a sound effect that doubles as a death knell: “RIP”

And that’s why I love Liz Prince.

SLH

Buy Alone Forever and read the Page 45 review here

Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape h/c (£14-99, Random House / Vertical) by Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette…

‘Across the white immensity of an eternal winter, from one end of the frozen planet to the other, there travels a train that never stops. This is the Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long. This is the last bastion of civilisation…’

“You lousy tail-fucker. I’m gonna break you!! You’re gonna regret leaving your shitty carriage.”

Yes, sadly the Snowpiercer does reflect our civilisation in microcosm all too well. A global catastrophe has occurred, probably man-made though that isn’t made entirely clear, resulting in a huge drop in global temperatures and ushering in a new ice age. A luxury train, fitted out with all the mod cons imaginable, powered by a revolutionary, near-perpetual motion device, stood ready to receive the good and the great, plus the obscenely wealthy, obviously, to ensure those worthy fellows at least survived this apocalypse. At the last moment, in an apparent act of conscience, several hundred rather more basic carriages were added at the back for the working class, or the Third Class, in true locomotive convention.

Thus, over time, the train has evolved to become a tarnished mirror of the pre-existing society where the rich have it all and the poor are left entirely to fend for themselves. Very much representative of the current First World and Third World. An attempted revolt by the masses was quickly and violently suppressed and then all contact with the rear carriages was completely cut off, the doors welded shut and barricaded. Interesting immigration policy! Nothing was heard from the rear until now, when someone has managed the unthinkable, and breached Second Class by going outside of the train in the truly ferocious conditions to enter by breaking a toilet window with a hammer. The top brass, including the President, at the front of the train, are intrigued to know what conditions are now like in the tail and demand the man is brought to the very front of the train for them to interrogate. Maybe though, that’s exactly what he wants…?

What follows during the man’s journey through the endless compartments is an examination of the darker side of human morality, and I don’t doubt much of what we see is probably exactly what would happen in that sort of situation.

It’s truly Orwellian in nature, touching upon how politics, religion and all of societies’ structures and niceties would probably start to fail and break down in such a situation, and indeed be used against the masses, as the selfish nature of mankind completely takes over. You’d like to think altruism would come into play, and indeed there are those on the train who do care about the conditions people must be enduring back in the tail, but they’re not in charge. Unsurprisingly those that are in power consider these do-gooders just as potentially seditious and dangerous as the Third Class, and they have a rather unpleasant plan for dealing with them…

The black and white art put me in mind of both Jacques Tardi and Joe Colquhon, with the heavy and chunky use of black ink. It’s bleakly drawn stuff which is entirely appropriate in capturing both the decimated world at large and the claustrophobic nature of life on the train. Some of you may be aware this has been made into a film starring, amongst others, John Hurt. Not entirely sure if it’s been released yet or if they are still negotiating distribution, but have a look at this trailer if you are interested. There is some talk of a director’s cut for DVD too.

Meanwhile, given the ending, and I am giving nothing away, I am perplexed / intrigued / delighted to report there is already a second volume entitled Snowpiecer: The Explorers.

JR

Buy Snowpiercer vol 1: The Escape h/c and read the Page 45 review here

I Want My Hat Back s/c (£6-99, Walker Books) by Jon Klassen.

A bear hath not his hat on.

He misses his hat and wants to know where it’s at. To that end he wanders through the forest and enquires of his fellow creatures as to its location. Alas, no one has seen it, but he always thanks them anyway.

“Have you seen my hat?”
“What is a hat?”
“Thank you anyway.”

“Have you seen my hat?”
“No. Why are you asking me.
I haven’t seen it.
I haven’t seen any hats anywhere.
I would not steal a hat.
Don’t ask me any more questions.”
“OK. Thank you anyway.”

Hmmm. Something slightly suspicious about that rabbit.

It’s only when one animal asks for a description of the hat that alarm bells of recollection ring.

With dead-pan delivery, utilising the very same, obliviously straight-faced image of the bear right up until the wake-up call, this is an exceptional children’s storybook which is, most emphatically, a comic. It’s a comic because without the pictures it simply couldn’t work: the key moment halfway through is visual.

But the genius of the punchline lies in the dialogue and, like the rest, in repetition. Specifically it lies in reprising the lie which, given that you’ll be buying this for your young ‘uns rather than yourself (possibly – I bought it for myself!), I for once feel free to partially give away. Here the shoe is on the other foot and the hat now on another head as a squirrel approaches a much mollified bear.

“Excuse me, have you seen a rabbit wearing a hat?”
“No, Why are you asking me.
I haven’t seen him.
I haven’t seen any rabbits anywhere.
I would not eat a rabbit.
Don’t ask me any more questions.”
“OK. Thank you anyway.”

For more Jon Klassen head-wear hilarity, please see THIS IS NOT MY HAT. It really isn’t.

Do not steal other people’s hats! There will be repercussions.

SLH

Buy I Want My Hat Back s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Locke & Key vol 6 Alpha & Omega h/c (£22-50, IDW) by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez…

Impressively cataclysmic conclusion to Joe and Gabriel’s sotto voce horror masterpiece. The school year is winding to an end, graduation looms for many of our cast, and the kids of Lovecraft are preparing for their after prom party, a rave in a cave, yes that particular cave, which you might think by now everyone would be trying really hard to avoid… though I suppose everyone thinks the villain has already been vanquished at the end of volume five. OH NO HE HASN’T! As we well know…

The dastardly miscreant in question has been secretly going about his business in the possessed body of [SPOILER] and now has almost everything he needs to execute his apocalyptic plan and bring the rest of his kind through the portal into our world. There’s just one more of the Keyhouse’s keys he needs to get his hands on, and he’s knows Kinsey Locke will be bringing that particular item to the party, which just so happens to be taking place where he needs it most… in that cave! Fortunately for the Locke family, the residents of Lovecraft and indeed the entire world, Tyler Locke has finally realised precisely what his lucky charm gifted by deceased father actually is, and more importantly, how it can be weaponised. He also has a sneaking suspicion everything isn’t over just yet. Clever boy.

Tyler won’t be the ultimate hero of the piece, though. No, that prize is reserved for someone else: someone, who after all he has been put through already in a very, very difficult life, truly deserves it, bless his cotton socks. It’s time for the pure of heart and simple of mind to take centre stage at last as Rufus and his toys undertake their final mission for the highest of stakes.

Joe Hill has created a brilliant set of characters within this work, but Rufus has easily been my favourite. He now knows exactly who the villain is and exactly what needs to be done to stop him, but when you’ve the mental capabilities of barely more than a toddler, and you’re locked up in a secure hospital several miles from where the action is going to go down, what can you do? The answer? Whatever it takes soldier! Go, Rufus!

When you’ve put so much time and effort into following a series, you obviously want it to conclude in a befitting and satisfactory manner. Happily Joe Hill achieves that with aplomb and I believe this will be a series that continues to sell for a good number of years to come. It has everything you could possibly want in a good horror yearn: creepy locations, a fabulous cast of fully realised primary and secondary characters, plus an evil menace beyond measure. Also Gabriel Rodriguez has provided stellar art throughout. My initial impression was the art style was going to be incongruous with horror writing, but it just works perfectly in conveying the more fantastical elements of the story whilst dissembling the occasional burst of shocking violence. So, when all is settled are there happy endings for everyone? Certainly not, but suffice to say, some people get the endings they certainly deserve…

JR

Buy Locke & Key vol 6 Alpha & Omega h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Sherlock Holmes And The Vampires Of London h/c (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Sylvain Cordurie & Laci, Axel Gonzalbo, Jean-Sebastien Rossbach…

Always a tricky one, writing a new story around an established and extremely well known literary character. Succeed and you’ve a receptive audience eager for such material. Fail, and well, ignominy and opprobrium await. Happily, this falls into the former category, albeit liberties are obviously taken with the introduction of vampires into the Holmes universe. For vampires they really are, this is no simple case of fraud or misdirection, make no mistake.

This certainly has the typical feel of a Holmes case, and setting it after his supposed death at the Reichenbach Falls, freeing it further from the constraints of typical Holmes continuity, probably allows the supernatural conceit more freedom to play out with complete believability. I suspect Sherlock fans will find little to complain about in terms of the writing though there is certainly more action than deduction. Watson fans may find themselves disappointed that he doesn’t feature more heavily; in fact he is entirely unaware his good friend is still alive, which does deprive us of any of their usual back-and-forth repartee and banter which is always a highlight of a Holmes work for me.

The art, though, is a wonderful bonus. My first thought upon viewing the cover was how much Sherlock Holmes looked like Michael Caine, but the interior art is completely different: ligne claire and European in nature, reminiscent of much of the Humanoids output. The architecture of Paris in particular, which provides the backdrop for much of the case, is spectacular. Humanoids fans should definitely give this a look therefore, as of course should aficionados of the world’s premier consulting detective.

JR

Buy Sherlock Holmes And The Vampires Of London h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Awkward Silence Vol 2 (£8-99, Sublime) by Hinako Takanaga.

“What is this difficult obstacle that stands between you two?”
“It’s an obstacle called a “fence”, Mom. I lost to a fence.”

And this is where the comedy kicks in. If you think Satoru is backwards in coming forwards, you should try to read his mother’s stone-faced expressions. Whether hereditary or learned behaviour, the inability to communicate certainly runs in the family.

As I declared of AWKWARD SILENCE VOL 1 this has a heart of gold – a marked departure from the decidedly less healthy one-sided yaoi of pervasive power-play, however funny I find some.

Poor Satoru! Keigo’s been called away on a baseball practice weekend. He’s the school team’s captain and his reign has stopped play. Their play. Satoru isn’t jealous that his boyf’s into baseball: he’d filled an entire sketchbook of Keigo on the pitch long before they’d exchanged a word. It’s just that their relationship is young and every second spent apart is spent desperately yearning for the next spent together. Plus Satoru’s not very good at expressing himself at the best of times, let alone on the phone, and he’s anxious lest Keigo didn’t think him enthusiastic enough. See, he didn’t have time to say anything himself because Keigo’s mates had caught him on the mobile and were making a grab for it presuming that Keigo was calling a girlfriend. Yeah, however ideal their relationship seems, they’re not exactly out – this is school, after all!

Now although there is no real wall between them, alas there is a fence. It is physical, it is tall and Satoru failed to scale it the first time round, coming home in bruises. Still, if at first you don’t succeed…

Satoru’s parents aren’t aware of the strength of the boys’ bond, either. They think Satoru really is showing Keigo his sketches. But they both admire Satoru’s resolve to set things right tonight. I’m not convinced that they’d be quite so enthusiastic if they knew what will ensue once he gets there, bless.

“That’s my boy. So dependable… You made the choice and decided to take action quickly. How wonderful.”
“Ah!” beams his Dad. “Her smiling face has returned!”

Not so you’d notice.

SLH

Buy Awkward Silence Vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Ms. Marvel #1 (£2-25, Marvel) by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona.

“Abu?”
“Hmm?”
“Can I go a party tonight?”
“Where?”
“On the waterfront.”
“With boys?”
“Yeah…”
“Very funny.”

Oh, how I love this comic, and particularly its family. Unlike most superhero comics, this is genuinely mainstream with mass appeal. “Abu”, the father, is dead-pan and dry but unlike Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennet (Pride And Prejudice) he is so full of love – as is this comic and author G. Willow Wilson herself.

Starring sixteen-year-old Kamala, an American-born Pakistani, it confounds stereotypes and is instead packed full of genuine individuals like Kamala’s stylish friend Nakia (don’t call her Kiki!), thoroughly modern and savvy yet still proud of her Turkish heritage. For although Kamala can’t go to the party because there will be alcohol, Nakia won’t go to the party because there is alcohol. She knows her own mind, is what I’m saying.

That’s not to say that some of the other cast members don’t fail to see beyond those stereotypes, like over-privileged social butterfly and “concern troll” Zoe.

“Your headscarf is so pretty, Kiki. I love that colour.”
Nakia.”
“But I mean… nobody pressured you to start wearing it, right? Your father or somebody? Nobody’s going to, like, honour kill you? I’m just concerned.”
“Actually, my dad wants me to take it off. He thinks it’s a phase.”
“Really? Wow, cultures are so interesting.”

Kamala thinks Zoe “nice”, “happy” and even “adorable” but she’ll be disabused of that naïve notion before too long. Unlike Nakia, Kamala doesn’t yet know her own mind or other people; and when she sneaks out at night to go to the waterfront the drink which she insists must be alcohol-free is spiked then she’s laughed at. As she stomps off a mist descends and Kamala passes out. She has a vision. And did I mention that she’s ever so slightly obsessed with Avengers? She writes online fan fic and everything!

So from On High through billowing clouds, winged sloths and bobble-hatted doves descend her Holy Trinity of Iron Man, Captain America and Captain Marvel, the blonde goddess Kamala adores. Is she having a religious experience?!

Adrian Alphona’s art is adorable throughout. It’s soft and sweet and full of comedic expressions, but it is on this particular page that he shows his real wit, transposing Iron Man and the couple of Captains gesturing beatifically into a traditional religious tableau complete with scrolling ribbons and… is that a hedgehog giving the victory salute?

“You thought that if you disobeyed your parents – your culture, your religion – your classmates would accept you. What happened instead?”
“They – they laughed at me. Zoe thought that because I snuck out, it was okay for her to make fun of my family. Like, Kamala’s finally seen the light and kicked the dumb inferior brown people and their rules to the curb. But that’s not why I snuck out! It’s not that I think Ammi and Abu are dumb, it’s just – I grew up here! I’m from Jersey not Karachi! I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be.”

It’s then that the vision of Captain Marvel – Carol Danvers – asks a key question:

“Who do you want to be?”
“Right now? I want to be beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated.
“I want to be you.
“Except I would wear the classic, politically incorrect costume and kick butt in giant wedge heels.”

The punchline is hilarious, and if they’re aren’t already shrieks of outraged horror deafening the internet from those who cannot wait, read, or comprehend a comic correctly, I would be very much surprised. Kamala has a lot of growing up to do, and I’m going to love watching her do so.

Like YOUNG AVENGERS and HAWKEYE, this is another fresh face for superhero comics, broadening their appeal through diversity. And I don’t even mean racial, sexual or gender diversity – though that is important too – I mean Willow G. Wilson has brought with her a different voice which is far from “worthily” earnest, but genuine, sympathetic and understanding of young hearts instead.

“Delicious, delicious, infidel meat…”

Mmm… You can’t have everything you want. And you should be careful what you wish for.

SLH

Buy Ms Marvel #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Loki, Agent Of Asgard #1 (£2-25, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Lee Garbett.

“Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

If Loki is the Norse God of Mischief, then Al Ewing is his British counterpart.

Yay for gratuitous shower scenes! Lee Garbett’s teenage Loki is hot! Also wet. And steamy.

Yay for a pair of Seven League Boots enabling Loki to dash up waterfalls, over rainbows and scale Avengers Tower! Yay for stolen Shadow Thread and Cheshire Cat grins!

And yay for trouble-magnet Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye with his perpetually plastered nose, who can get himself into the unlikeliest of muddles even when playing console games.

“Clint.”
“I know – “
“You have the army after you and no health and you’re falling out of a crashing plane.”
I know, Nat – “
“It’s a bass fishing simulator, Clint.”
I know! It just – it just happens!”

Oh, this is a most worthy successor to Gillen and McKelvie’s YOUNG AVENGERS towards the end of which Loki enjoyed a sudden growth spurt and now wears black nail varnish. Teenagers! Also, like Fraction and Aja’s HAWKEYE, it kicks off right in the middle when it’s already gone horribly wrong with Loki stabbing Thor in the back with a very big energy sword. I thought they were getting along so much better these days?

But if Loki is the God of Lies, Mischief and Deceit, it probably stands to reason that all is not as it seems. For a start, there is the little question of this series’ sub-title, but who precisely is he working for?

This is fast, fresh and funny as hell with plenty of action to boot. Gone is the old, predictable God of Evil with his crooked nose, his goblin eyes and nasty row of teeth. Gone, I say, gone!

Would Al Ewing lie to you?

SLH

Buy Loki, Agent Of Asgard #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Infinity h/c and Infinity vol 1 s/c, vol 2 s/c (£55-99 or £15-99 each, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman with Nick Spencer, Jason Latour & Leinil Frances Yu, Mike Deodato, Jimmy Cheung, more.

“Is it a distress signal? A tracking beacon? A reconnaissance transmission? We need strategy maps for every possibility. And that’s the softer side. Our real concern, big picture – it may not matter what these things are saying… so much as who they’re saying it to.”

“Go back and tell the Avengers – they have not done enough. The machine is not complete. To protect a world you must possess the power to destroy a world. Go now – use words they will understand… They have to get bigger.”

“Hope for the best, Tony. Plan for the worst.”

“If this fleet reaches this system, the next step in human evolution is extinction.”

Holy hell, this is enormous! In scale, in scope and in actuality: I calculate 600 pages at least.

It is also beautiful to behold: Jimmy Cheung has a sheen and shine of his own, there are few artists whose neo-classicism is as dark, brooding and foreboding as Mike Deodato; and as for the core visual creator, Leinil Francis Yu, he has exceeded himself. Enhanced by both inkers and colourists, the lighting on the Skrull portraits and the chiselled cheeks and jaw of Ex Nihilo are glorious. So much work has gone into even those brief moments which are so shown to be far from incidental, but wait until you behold what beckons in space.

Scientifically sophisticated and philosophically exceptional for any genre in comics, this blistering, outer-space confrontation and Earth-bound conflagration is an exceptional climax to Hickman’s run, with the promise of much more to come.

He’s been building towards this in AVENGERS VOL 1: AVENGERS WORLD, AVENGERS VOL 2: THE LAST WHITE EVENT AVENGERS VOL 3: INFINITY PRELUDE and NEW AVENGERS VOL 1: EVERYTHING DIES and those titles’ fourth and second volumes, respectively, are incorporated here in the right reading order. It is seamlessly choreographed, even though it is a battle on multiple fronts with inextricably linked subplots.

It’s also incredibly clever once you puzzle out all the pieces. It’s incredibly clever once each strike and counter-strike is thrown in your face. There are some ingenious minds at work here: the fictional tacticians because of the creative minds behind them i.e. writers Hickman with Spencer. And so, here we go:

The biggest permanent assembly of Avengers has been gathered for they know that something is coming.

Meanwhile a covert offshoot, the Illuminati – consisting of the Black Panther, Reed Richards, Iron Man, the Beast, Namor of Atlantis, Black Bolt of the Inhumans and Dr. Stephen Strange – have taken desperate measures to fend off an escalating series of incursions: the intrusion of planet Earth from one parallel universe to another. From up in the sky they descend on a collision course, and there can only be two outcomes: one of those Earths is sacrificed in order to save those universes… or everything dies in both.

The Illuminati are working on it, but this is their dilemma: they want to preserve this Earth that they live on with those they hold dear but, in order to do so, they must destroy another Earth equally as valid as theirs. They must commit global genocide – the obliteration of billions of individual human beings with loved ones of their own – and I’m afraid they have built the weapons to do so. They have already destroyed all but one of the Infinity Gems in the process. And you know who has a history of coveting those Infinity Gems, right?

Meanwhile Black Bolt harbours secrets of his own – a plan he has hatched out with his mad brother Maximus – driving a wedge between him and his wife Medusa. An alien Outrider has been dispatched to steal a secret from Black Bolt’s mind, but that one isn’t it. Nor is it the existence of the Illuminati. Or, really, the destruction of the Infinity Gems. So what secret will cause Thanos to demand, as Tribute of subservience and surrender, the heads of every Inhuman between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two?

What does that death-obsessed demi-god want?

Now: just as the Avengers uncover a cadre of alien, shape-shifting Skrulls on Earth without a single warrior-class member which makes no sense, they receive verified data that a distant Kree moon has been destroyed. It came via an unprecedented Kree distress signal. The Kree don’t do distress or distressed: they do battle. But a force of destruction so massive it blocked out its sun is on the move and every space empire is scrambling. Enemies unite but everything folds in the armada’s inexorable wake.

Extrapolating the trajectory of this universal Armageddon, its target is indisputably Earth.

Captain America rallies the Avengers, newly enhanced with beings so meta that one is the universe herself, and, leaving only Iron Man behind, declares that the only hope mankind has is to take the battle to the stars. To join forces with the Shi’Ar Empire, Skrull Empire, the Kree, the Brood, Annihilus and even that creep of a king from Bendis’ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in order to ensure that the armada doesn’t even come close to planet Earth. To head it off before more damage is done. I’m afraid that they lose and lose badly.

And, on the dark, stark starlit moon of Titan, Thanos smiles.

His strategy has worked for the bait has been taken, and the Avengers have just made the most gigantic and appalling tactical error:

“Brothers. sisters. Sharpen your teeth, prepare to consume a great meal. Earth you see… she has no Avengers.”

Collects INFINITY #1-6, current NEW AVENGERS #7-12, current AVENGERS #12-23, and INFINITY INFINITE COMIC #1-2 which were never previously printed at all.

SLH

Buy Infinity h/c and read the Page 45 review here
Buy Infinity s/c vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here
Buy Infinity s/c vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Captain America: Living Legend s/c (£9-99, Marvel) by Andy Diggle, Eddie Robson & Adi Granov, Agustin Alessio.

From the writer of the exceptional SNAPSHOT and HELLBLAZER: JOYRIDE, and begun by and the artist on Warren Ellis’ IRON MAN: EXTREMIS, I can assure you that Agustin Alessio doesn’t let the side down. His Siberia, which is where the majority of the story plays itself out, is freezing – you’ve never seen such a pale superhero comic. Or do I mean a war comic? I mean a horror comic.

My favourite page was the exterior shot of the present-day space station as it undergoes a terrifying transmogrification – Adi Granov excels at technology – but it kicks off in April 1945 on the Bavarian Alps with Russian soldiers closing in on a Nazi bunker housing a prize which they seek. America’s after the very same thing and it is a matter of historical fact that they acquired it, if not here: Nazi rocket science via the scientists behind it.

Sergeant Volkov is the most zealous of all, disobeying his critically wounded Captain behind his back in ordering the final, suicidal assault against tanks when they have nothing in their arsenal to penetrate them. Which is where our good Captain comes in: there is a veritable team-up. What happens within the bunker, however, is far from predictable, nor the ramifications in Siberia, Soviet Union 1968. And I don’t just mean scientific ramifications, I mean personal ramifications. Basically, I mean ramifications, a word that now looks weird to me. In 1968 Comrade Volkov is successfully launched into space, but what happens next is classified.

Immediately thereafter for we jump to the present on board a space station experimenting in Dark Energy as a source of free and indeed pollution-free energy for Earth. Which is where the transmogriphication comes in. Whoops.

Cut to Captain America and Sharon Carter aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Odyssey. The lab has lost orbit, telemetry disappearing somewhere over Siberia. It should have burned up on re-entry but didn’t. Plus there’s no sign of ballistics: the space station was pulled down. Russian troops are mobilising fast and heading in its direction.

Then there’s the emergency signal and a single word transmitted from the space station, a word Captain America has not heard since the Bavarian Alps during WWII: “VOLKOV”.

You can almost feel the hairs on the back of the Captain’s neck stand on end.

SLH

Buy Captain America: Living Legend s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Star Wars Origami s/c (£13-00, Workman) by Chris Alexander…

Ever fancied wowing the Ewoks who live at the bottom of your garden next time you have a barbeque? Or if you need a handy distraction when you get into a confrontation with a bounty hunter at your local cantina? Then this could be the book for you, truly! Learn how to fold paper into Yoda, the Millennium Falcon, Darth Vader, R2-D2 and 32 other galactically astonishing shapes using only the power of the Force… and your hands.

The shapes are ranged into five levels of difficulty from Padawan right up to Jedi Master. A mixture of all your favourite Star Wars characters, weapons such as lightsabers, and pretty much every ship ever flown throughout the entire Empire provide a test for all abilities. Plus there are two fully coloured versions of each shape provided, allowing for at least one Chewbecca style ripped up in rage practice attempt at each. All that remains is for me to say, good luck and May The Folds Be With You…

JR

Buy Star Wars Origami s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

Reviews already online if they’re new formats of previous books. Otherwise the most interesting will come under the microscope next week, while the rest will remain with their Diamond previews acting in lieu of reviews.

Just So Happens h/c (£16-99, Jonathan Cape) by Fumio Obata

Fatale vol 4: Pray For Rain (£10-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Line Of Fire: Diary Of An Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914) (£10-99, Phoenix Yard Books) by Barroux

Beautiful Darkness h/c (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Jason Vehlmann & Kerascoet

Snowpiercer vol 2: The Explorers h/c (£19-99, Titan) by Benjamin Legrand & Jean-Marc Rochette

In A Flat Land (£5-00, Moon Underground) by Richard Swan

Jane, The Fox & Me h/c (UK Edition) (£15-00, Walker Books) by Britt Fanny & Isabelle Arsenault

Lobster Johnson vol 3: Satan Smells A Rat (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Kevin Nowlan, various

Prophet vol 3: Empire (£10-99, Image) by Brandon Graham & Simon Roy, Giannis Milogiannis, various

Bravest Warriors vol 2 s/c (£10-99, kaboom!) by Joey Comeau & Mike Holmes

Spaceman s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso

Batman: Dark Victory s/c (£18-99, DC) by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Constantine vol 1: The Spark And The Flame s/c (£10-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes & Renato Guedes, Fabiano Neves

Flash vol 3: Gorilla Warfare h/c (£18-99, DC) by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato & various

ITEM! Preview of Liz Prince’s FOREVER ALONE (reviewed above) is available on the Top Shelf website!

ITEM! Check out this short comic by NIMONA’s Noelle about the least helfpful comic shops in the world. What a rubbish way to behave! Helping customers sells comics AND IS MUCH MORE FUN! Please ask questions whenever you’re in – that’s what we’re here for!

ITEM! Check out the grey and butter cats by Dan Berry (bottom left). Beautiful use of negative space. Butter, mmm…

ITEM! Preview of Ben Katke’s ZITA THE SPACEGIRL vol 3! Interview too! This series is huge with Younger Readers here – and their parents! Read the reviews for ZITA THE SPACEGIRL and LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL, always in stock! Please ask me for a show-and-tell next time you’re in.

ITEM! Warren Ellis’ MOON KNIGHT coming to your standing order files any day now because you pre-ordered it. Very wise. You didn’t? Very foolish. Good luck on the shelves.

ITEM! Comic exposing Serco’s practices in Australian Detention Centres. Pretty nasty stuff. Cheers to Neal Curtis for the find.

ITEM! Jodie Paterson’s gorgeous display of intricately handcut images – geckoes, birds, beetles, flowers. I popped down to Nottingham’s Malt Cross on Saturday to see for myself and I beg you to do the same. Astounding work. Go up the stairs, turn left and walk through the door in the wall. “WHERE ELSE WOULD IT BE?!” Err, quite.

ITEM! A bookshelf crammed full of zine heaven!

ITEM! From the creators of one of favourite graphic novels, SKIM, a preview of Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s new book THIS ONE SUMMER!

ITEM! This thrillingly violent landscape by Claudia Massie took my breath away!

ITEM! Sally-Anne Hickman’s as-ever entertaining comicbook account of Angoulême

ITEM! Lastly, this! Latest instalment of Paul Duffield’s THE FIRELIGHT ISLE whose design is gorgeous, utilising the scroll-down format to all maximum advantage. It’s my favourite web comic!

*swoon*

- Stephen

The post Reviews February 2014 week two appeared first on Page 45 | Comics & Graphic Novels | Independent Bookshop | Nottingham.

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