Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Comics For Wednesday 22nd of November


Can't stop. Won't stop! We had an amazing week last week, with writer of Fence, C.S Pacat joining us instore for an amazing signing and Q and A, followed by yet another great Local Comic Shop Day and Back Issue and Toy Fair. Now we are going to try to top that with three events in the one day!

Next Saturday the 25th, 12-3pm meet the creators for the launch of the hugely successful crowd funded, After The Snow by Dale Maccanti and Trevor Wood. Then meet the wonderful New Zealand writer/artist of the beautiful Tea Dragon Society, Katie O'Neill. And the cherry on the event day cake is the November All Star Women's Comic Book Club that evening that Katie will be attending!




And that's just one day this week. Maybe take a moment before you get to the new books below.

When Jason Blood gets a vision, he heads off to happy Death Valley with his best frenemy Etrigan. Only when he/they arrive a supernatural weapon is set off unleashing hell. Writing by Australian, Andrew Constant, DEMON HELL IS EARTH #1 (OF 6).

What's up with the mysterious bloody smiley badge and a naked blue guy zapping people wherever he wishes with possibly sinister motives. Read DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 (OF 12) to be slightly less, but still pretty confused as DC goes full Watchmen!

Right, so prepare your noggins for this weird one. A 10 year old kills her friend because a spider girl told her to. Time passes and it gets real weird and confusing. Maybe just pick up IMAGINARY FIENDS #1 (OF 6) 'cause that will make so much more sense.

Ana and Gabe are the last humans left alive in the galaxy. Join them on their road trip to the hippy-paradise super-planet Euphoria in the new mini that is Fifth Element meets Fear and Loathing, VOID TRIP #1 (OF 5).

Collected in hardcover for the first time, BATMAN YEAR TWO 30TH ANNIVERSARY DLX ED HC follows a story of Bruce in looooooooooove and vigilantes galore. Get some more Batman in your face.

Nick Fury is the master secret spyman. When S.H.I.E.L.D needs someone to sneak in and remain hidden and anonymous, there's no one better than him. Follow Nick Fury on his sneaky adventures with six stand alone tales in NICK FURY TP DEEP COVER CAPERS VOL 01.

If you liked the Vader scene at the end of Rogue One, strap yourself in for a series that is exactly that Vader but only MORE filled with rage and anger. Set moment after Episode Three, STAR WARS DARTH VADER DARK LORD SITH TP VOL 01 IMPERIAL MACH shows us the Vader we've always wanted to see.

Screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) takes a crack at the Super man, chronicling his rise into the American Ultra man, the archetypal hero he is. SUPERMAN AMERICAN ALIEN TP features lovely stories ranging from heartwarming and simple to gritty and violent with a amazing line up of artistic talent.

The streets of Riverdale will never be the same. Betty and Veronica are now motorbike riding badass gals and leaders of a gang. BETTY AND VERONICA VIXENS #1.

Two of Britain's most beloved supernatural comics join together to bring you all new stories of mystery, gore and intrigue with SCREAM MISTY SPECIAL #1.

Back in the land of Thar, Jen and Kira rule as King and Queen but have been distracted by power their position brings. It is now up to young fireling Thurma to steal a shard of the dark crystal and restore balance to the land. JIM HENSON POWER OF DARK CRYSTAL HC VOL 01 (OF 4).

A fluffy white polar bear has fallen in love with a seal, But trouble brews when the seal thinks the polar bear just wants to eat him. PERFECT! POLAR BEAR IN LOVE GN VOL 01.

After a year of heartbreak, a young woman named Tara sets off to Ireland to search for love in the world of Twitter. ROOTS TP.

Finally this week sees the fan favourite comic Sunstone vol 2 collected in a fancy hardcover edition in SUNSTONE HC BOOK 02.

For fans of action figures this photography book by Johnny Wu depicts all his favorite toys on epic adventures. TEN FRAMES PER SECOND ARTICULATED ADVENTURE HC.

HADOUKEN!!!!!!! Relive the art and innovation of one of the all-time greatest fighting classics in

Get your flame throwers ready and don't trust anyone when you play this game. They could be an alien or maybe it's you? THE THING INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31 BOARD GAME.

Winners are grinners and this week definitely has us smiling!
If there is something here you spot that you'd like us to stash, just be sure to let us know before close on Tuesday night and we'll get it sorted for you. Until next time we see you, stay rad!


MARVEL
ALL NEW WOLVERINE #27 LEG
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #13 LEG
BLACK PANTHER #167 LEG
CABLE #151 LEG
CAPTAIN MARVEL #126 LEG
GENERATION X #9
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY TELLTALE SERIES #5 (OF 5)
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #594 LEG
LUKE CAGE #167 LEG
MONSTERS UNLEASHED #8 LEG
MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #25 LEG
PUNISHER PLATOON #3 (OF 6)
ROYALS #11 LEG
SILVER SABLE WILD PACK #36 LEG
SPIDER-MAN DEADPOOL #24 LEG
STAR WARS #39
THANOS #13 LEG
X-MEN GOLD #16 LEG
ZOMBIES ASSEMBLE 2 #4 (OF 4)

DC COMICS
ACTION COMICS #992
BATGIRL #17
BATMAN BEYOND #14
BLUE BEETLE #15
DEMON HELL IS EARTH #1 (OF 6)
DETECTIVE COMICS #969
DOOM PATROL #9
DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 (OF 12)
FLASH #35
GOTHAM CITY GARAGE #4
HARLEY QUINN #32
HELLBLAZER #16
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #19
KAMANDI CHALLENGE #11 (OF 12)
LOONEY TUNES #240
NIGHTWING THE NEW ORDER #4 (OF 6)
RUFF & REDDY SHOW #2 (OF 6)
SCOOBY DOO TEAM UP #32
SUICIDE SQUAD #30
TEEN TITANS #14
WONDER WOMAN #35

VERTIGO
ASTRO CITY #49
IMAGINARY FIENDS #1 (OF 6)

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME COMICS #17
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA OLD MAN JACK #3
GIANT DAYS 2017 SPECIAL
LUMBERJANES #44
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS #21
RUGRATS #2
UNSOUND #6 (OF 6)
WWE #11

DARK HORSE
ANGEL SEASON 11 #11
BANKSHOT #4
DEPT H #20
SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN & LEGION OF EVIL #2 (OF 4)
TOMB RAIDER SURVIVORS CRUSADE #1 (OF 4)

DYNAMITE
GAME OF THRONES CLASH OF KINGS #6
JAMES BOND SOLSTICE ONE SHOT
LIBRARIANS #2
SHADOW #4
SWORDQUEST #5 (OF 5)
TUROK #4

IDW
CLUE #6
OPTIMUS PRIME #13
SAUCER STATE #5 (OF 6)
TMNT GHOSTBUSTERS II #4
TMNT UNIVERSE #16
WORMWOOD GOES TO WASHINGTON #3 (OF 3)

IMAGE
ANGELIC #3
COPPERHEAD #16
GASOLINA #3
GENIUS CARTEL #4 (OF 5)
GHOST STATION ZERO #4 (OF 4)
GLITTERBOMB FAME GAME #3
GOD COMPLEX #2
HARD PLACE #4 (OF 5)
RAT QUEENS #6
REDNECK #7
SNOTGIRL #8
UNDERWINTER FIELD OF FEATHERS #2
VOID TRIP #1 (OF 5)
WARFRAME #2
WAYWARD #25

ONI
MADE MEN #3
RICK & MORTY POCKET LIKE YOU STOLE IT #5 (OF 5)

VALIANT
X-O MANOWAR (2017) #9

MISC
ALL NEW CLASSIC ARCHIE YOUR PAL ARCHIE #4
ANIMOSITY EVOLUTION #2
BETTY & VERONICA COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #258
BETTY AND VERONICA VIXENS #1
DIE KITTY DIE HOLLYWOOD OR BUST #4
DR RADAR (STATIX) #1
ELEANOR & THE EGRET #5
JIMMYS BASTARDS #5
LARKS KILLER #4 (OF 7)
LONG LOST #1
MAXWELLS DEMONS #1 (OF 5)
MIRACULOUS #16 SIMON SAYS
MOTOR GIRL #10 (OF 10)
RIVERDALE (ONGOING) #8
SCREAM MISTY SPECIAL #1
THE BEAUTIFUL DEATH (STATIX) #3 (OF 5)
WARHAMMER 40000 DAWN OF WAR #4 (OF 4)

TRADES
ADVENTURE TIME COMICS TP VOL 03
ALL NEW GUARDIANS OF GALAXY TP VOL 01 COMMUNICATIO
BATMAN THE SHADOW THE MURDER GENIUSES HC
BATMAN YEAR TWO 30TH ANNIVERSARY DLX ED HC
BOBS BURGERS BURGER BOOK HC
CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN BY JACK KIRBY TP
CLOVER HONEY 20TH ANNIVERSARY ED GN
DEADPOOL KILLS MARVEL UNIVERSE AGAIN TP
DEEP TP
DOCTOR STRANGE AND SORCERERS SUPREME TP VOL 02 TIM
DOCTOR WHO 10TH TP VOL 07 WAR OF GODS
DOCTOR WHO 3RD VOL 01 HERALDS OF DESTRUCTION
DOOMSTERS MONOLOTHIC POCKET ALPHABET HC
ETERNAL EMPIRE TP VOL 01
GENERATIONS HC
GETTING OUT OF HOPE GN
GREGORY SUICIDE HC
I AM GROOT TP
INFAMOUS IRON MAN TP VOL 02 ABSOLUTION OF DOOM
JIM HENSON POWER OF DARK CRYSTAL HC VOL 01 (OF 4)
LCSD 2017 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK HC
MIRACULOUS TALES OF LADY BUG AND CAT NOIR TP CATAC
NICK FURY TP DEEP COVER CAPERS VOL 01
POLAR BEAR IN LOVE GN VOL 01
PRINCELESS TP VOL 06 MAKE YOURSELF PART 2
ROOTS TP
STAR WARS DARTH VADER DARK LORD SITH TP VOL 01 IMP
SUNSTONE HC BOOK 02
SUPERMAN AMERICAN ALIEN TP
TEN FRAMES PER SECOND ARTICULATED ADVENTURE HC
ULTIMATES 2 TP VOL 02 ETERNITY WAR
UNDISPUTED STREET FIGHTER HC
VENOM CARNAGE UNLEASHED TP NEW PTG
WINNEBAGO GRAVEYARD TP
X-MEN BLUE TP VOL 02
YESTERDAYS TOMORROW DISNEYS MAGICAL MID CENTURY HC

MERCH
DC ICONS DOOMSDAY SUPERMAN DEATH SUPERMAN DLX AF 2
THE THING INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31 BOARD GAME

BACK IN STOCK

BATMAN LOST #1 (METAL)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

New Comics For Wednesday 15th of November


This is the week! It's not even Christmas yet but have we got all the presents just for you!
Thursday is our signing/Q+A with writer of the new BOOM Studios series, Fence, C.S Pacat.


Then on Saturday it'our next Local Comic Shop Day/Back Issue and Toy Fair. Featuring a dozen tables of independent Comic and Toy sellers with treasures galore, not to forget our selection of release back issues starting at only $2. And of course the line up of exclusive comic and trade releases we'll have especially for Local Comic Shop Day!



We still have more things to announce for the day, so it's definitely going to be one not to miss!

But first, how about so comic books?

Award winning novelist C.S Pacat and artist Johanna the mad team up to bring you a sport romance comic. Nicolas Cox is a passionate fencer but lacks the proper technique. All of a sudden Nicolas finds himself up against a fencing prodigy in BOOM Studio's FENCE #1.

For years it's been one man against a few criminals. But when someone offers Frank Castle the chance to fight in the War Machine armor he jumps at the chance. PUNISHER #218.

Mike Mignola and Troy Nixey team up with 9 time Eisner winner Dave Stewart on colouring, to bring you a new printing of the acclaimed series following ghastly killings at London's dockside and a young girl who is followed with whispers of doom. JENNY FINN #1 (OF 4).

Everyone's favourite sorcerer and madman Rasputin is pairing with Hitler doing some very bad magic. Will a dashing young professor Bruttenholm be able to stop him? RASPUTIN VOICE OF DRAGON #1 (OF 5).

Valla was once a fisherwoman but now she finds herself as a blood thirsty vampire. As a mysterious dark plague threatens her aquatic paradise, she must head to the surface for answers in Image's new, DARK FANG #1.

Around the world things are beginning to change and adapt and yet only 3 of the world's inhabitants seem to notice in another Image Comics first, EVOLUTION #1.

Batwoman returns to a dark place in her history to track down the syndicate selling bioweapon Monster Venom. BATWOMAN TP VOL 01 THE MANY ARMS OF DEATH (REBIRTH)

Will you be reconditioned to love the First Order? Follow the adventures of Captain Phasma following the events of Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and find out.  JOURNEY STAR WARS LAST JEDI CAPT PHASMA TP.

Learn where it all started for Diana of Themyscira as she comes of age in LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN ORIGINS TP.

When a girl's soul is ripped from her body, Wonder Woman must travel through to Themyscira and free Ares in  WONDER WOMAN TP VOL 04 GODWATCH (REBIRTH).

A super powered teenage girl wipes Jerusalem off the face of the earth. Is this what we can expect when everyday people are given the power of gods? A new superhuman epic from writer Tim Seeley. BRILLIANT TRASH #1.

Rin searches for the murderous Itto-Ryo leader and Manji prepares to battle Shira. BLADE OF IMMORTAL OMNIBUS TP VOL 04.

Sybil thinks there is something weird about their next door neighbour, It looks a little like a dinosaur, but why won't anyone believe them? An all ages tale of life in New York and dinosaurs.

An incredible collection of over 200 pieces of raw and original art from the first 50 issues of Love & Rockets. FANTAGRAPHICS STUDIO ED HC JAIME HERNANDEZ.

Adrian is plagued by nightmares so he reluctantly agrees to past life regression therapy. This results is Adrian descending into a world of the occult, mystery and reincarnation.

The most epic Ramona Flowers action figure of all time. 7 points of articulation and lots of interchangeable accessories.

Yes, yes, we know. It's another great week for comics. Just let us know if there is anything else you need us to stash for you from this list before close on Tuesday and we'll get it sorted for you.
Until we see you next (hopefully by Saturday at the latest) stay rad!


MARVEL
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #791 LEG
BEN REILLY SCARLET SPIDER #10 LEG
BLACK PANTHER PRELUDE #2 (OF 2)
CHAMPIONS #14 LEG
DEADPOOL VS OLD MAN LOGAN #2 (OF 5)
DEFENDERS #7 LEG
DOCTOR STRANGE #381 LEG
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #147 LEG
HAWKEYE #12
INCREDIBLE HULK #710 LEG
MIGHTY THOR #701 LEG
NOT BRAND ECHH #14 LEG
PETER PARKER SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #297 LEG
PUNISHER #218 LEG
SECRET WARRIORS #8 LEG
SPIDER-MEN II #4 (OF 5)
STAR WARS DARTH VADER #8
STAR WARS DOCTOR APHRA #14
WEAPON X #11
X-MEN BLUE #15 LEG

DC COMICS
AQUAMAN #30
BATMAN #35
BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1 (METAL)
BATWOMAN #9
BOMBSHELLS UNITED #6
BUG THE ADVENTURES OF FORAGER #5 (OF 6)
FUTURE QUEST PRESENTS #4
GREEN LANTERNS #35
INJUSTICE 2 #14
JUSTICE LEAGUE #33 METAL
NIGHTWING #33
SUPER SONS #10
SUPERMAN #35
TRINITY #15
WILD STORM #9
WONDER WOMAN CONAN #3 (OF 6)

VERTIGO
AMERICAN WAY THOSE ABOVE AND BELOW #4 (OF 6) (MR)

BOOM
FENCE #1
MECH CADET YU #4
MISFIT CITY #7
WWE SURVIVORS SERIES 2017 SPECIAL #1

DARK HORSE
BRIGGS LAND LONE WOLVES #6 (OF 6)
JENNY FINN #1 (OF 4)
NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS SHADOWS #9
RASPUTIN VOICE OF DRAGON #1 (OF 5)

DYNAMITE
ASH VS AOD #5 (OF 5)
FRUIT NINJA #3 (OF 3)
GREATEST ADVENTURE #7
JAMES BOND KILL CHAIN #5 (OF 6)
JIM BUTCHER DRESDEN FILES DOG MEN #6 (OF 6)
KILLER INSTINCT #2
SHEENA #3
SKIN & EARTH #5 (OF 6)

IDW
MY LITTLE PONY LEGENDS OF MAGIC #8
TMNT GHOSTBUSTERS II #3
TMNT ONGOING #76
WYNONNA EARP SEASON ZERO #5 (OF 5)

IMAGE
BLACK SCIENCE #33
CURSE WORDS #10
DARK FANG #1
DESCENDER #26
EAST OF WEST #35
EVOLUTION #1
FAMILY TRADE #2
GENERATION GONE #5
HORIZON #16
INVINCIBLE #142
KILL THE MINOTAUR #6
MAESTROS #2
MAGE HERO DENIED #4 (OF 15)
REALM #3
RETCON #3
RINGSIDE #13
STRAY BULLETS SUNSHINE & ROSES #29
WICKED & DIVINE #33

ONI
DEAD OF WINTER #4

VALIANT
BLOODSHOT SALVATION #3
NINJA-K #1

MISC
BABYTEETH #6
BRILLIANT TRASH #1
GRIMM FAIRY TALES #10
MINKY WOODCOCK GIRL WHO HANDCUFFED HOUDINI #1
PENNY DREADFUL #7
SIMPSONS COMICS #241
THE WILLOWS #1
UNHOLY GRAIL #4
VOLTRON LEGENDARY DEFENDER VOL 2 #4
WARHAMMER 40000 FALLEN #2 (OF 4)
WRAPPED UP #2

TRADES
AB IRATO TP VOL 01
ADRIFT GN
ALEX RIDER SCORPIA GN
AMORY WARS GOOD APOLLO TP VOL 01
ANGRY BIRDS FLIGHT SCHOOL HC
AVENGERS UNLEASHED TP VOL 02 SECRET EMPIRE
BAD MACHINERY POCKET ED GN VOL 03 CASE SIMPLE SOUL
BATWOMAN TP VOL 01 THE MANY ARMS OF DEATH (REBIRTH
BLADE OF IMMORTAL OMNIBUS TP VOL 04
BOLIVAR ORIGINAL HC
BUTCHER BAKER RIGHTEOUS MAKER TP
CABLE HELLFIRE HUNT TP
CLOUDIA AND REX TP
DC SUPER HERO GIRLS FINDERS KEEPERS
DC SUPER HERO GIRLS POWER PLAY
DC SUPER HERO GIRLS SHOWDOWN IN SPACE
DRACULA MARRIES FRANKENSTEIN GN
DREADFUL BEAUTY ART OF PROVIDENCE TP
FANTAGRAPHICS STUDIO ED HC JAIME HERNANDEZ
FINDING MOLLY AN ADV IN CATSITTING GN
FLASH TP VOL 04 RUNNING SCARED (REBIRTH)
FRESH ROMANCE GN VOL 02
GOLDIE VANCE TP VOL 03
GRAVEYARD SHAKES GN
HERO CATS TP VOL 06 NEW REALM
HUNTING ACCIDENT HC GN
JAMES BOND FELIX LEITER HC
JAMES BOND TP VOL 01 VARGR
JOURNEY STAR WARS LAST JEDI CAPT PHASMA TP
LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN ORIGINS TP
LETTER 44 TP VOL 05 BLUESHIFT
LITTLE RED WOLF HC
MARVEL SUPERHERO ADV DECK THE MALLS SC
MIRACULOUS TALES OF LADYBUG AND CAT NOIR LUCKY CHA
MY LITTLE PONY LEGENDS OF MAGIC TP VOL 01
NANCY DREW HARDY BOYS TP THE BIG LIE
REGRESSION TP VOL 01 WAY DOWN DEEP
ROUGH RIDERS TP VOL 02 RIDERS ON THE STORM
SISTERS HC VOL 04 SELFIE AWARENESS
SKINNED HC GN
STAR WARS POE DAMERON TP VOL 03 LEGENDS LOST
TRANSFORMERS COMP ALL HAIL MEGATRON TP
UNDISPUTED STREET FIGHTER HC
VALERIAN GN VOL 19 AT EDGE OF GREAT VOID
WONDER WOMAN TP VOL 04 GODWATCH (REBIRTH)
WORLD READER TP VOL 01
X-FILES COMP SEASON 11 TP
X-MEN GOLD TP VOL 02 EVIL EMPIRES

MERCH
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS VIXEN STATUE
MARVEL NOW VENOM ARTFX+ STATUE
PLANET OF THE APES GAME
RAYGUNS & ROCKETSHIPS BOARD GAME
SCOTT PILGRIM RAMONA FLOWERS 9IN PX COLLECTIBLE VI

TMNT SHOWDOWN BEBOP & ROCKSTEADY BOARD GAME

Monday, November 6, 2017

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL DOUBLE PASS GIVEAWAY!


Masterful director Takashi Miike’s 100th feature, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL is the story of fearsome samurai Manji (Takuya Kimura), who becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by his sister’s brutal murder, only by slaying 1000 evil men will Manji free himself from the curse and regain his soul. Manji also promises to help young girl Rin (Hana Sugisaki) avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu (Sôta Fukushi). This mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine.

Based on the Japanese manga, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL features awe inspiring swordfights, brilliant choreography, and the wry humour that Takashi Miike is renowned for.

Thanks to those honourable folks from Icon Films and BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, In cinemas November 16th, we're giving you the chance to win 1 of 2 Double In-Season Passes to see the film!

To go into the draw for your chance to win all you need to do is tell us,
"If I had to be cursed with immortality I hope _______ would be too, so we could spend a cursed eternity together." filling the blank with the tag of the person who you could see yourself getting really, REALLY old and you will be entered in the draw.

Terms and Conditions:
-Only entries made via the comments on the Facebook post will be included in the draw.
-All entries will go into the All Star Barrel and winners will be drawn at random.
-Entries close 5pm Sunday the 12th of November and winners will be announced Monday the 13th and notified soon after as to how to collect their tickets.

A huge thanks again to Icon Films and BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, In cinemas November 16th.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

New Comics For Wednesday 8th of November


Events, events, events! You want them, we got them!
We've got our signing/Q+A with writer of the new BOOM Studios series, Fence, C.S Pacat coming up. Followed closely by our Local Comic Shop Day/Back Issue and Toy Fair.  Then only a week later it's another launch event, this time it's a double header with the release of After the Snow #1 from local's Dale Maccanti and Trev Wood followed by international star Katie O'Neill signing her wonderful new graphic novel, the Tea Dragon Society.
It's a full dance card we have planned for you but in the meantime here is this week's new releases!

The greatest martial arts puncher/kicker, Shang-Chi, is back and kicking it in his own new series following the life of the MASTER OF KUNG FU #126.

Moon Knight is known for taking criminals down from moonlight's shadows but a new villain is looking to extinguish those shadows. Get ready for the introduction of his greatest nemesis to date in MOON KNIGHT #188.

As Batman is trapped in the Dark Multiverse he must face his greatest fears. Hopefully Batman will be found before it's too late in BATMAN LOST #1 (METAL).

A new mini series from the writer of Saints tell the story of Red, a young girl withholding a secret and carrying a very sharp sword. She is ready to wage war when local women start to disappear in Image's new COYOTES #1.

What if aliens came to earth not to be in movies like Men in black and Independence Day but instead wanted to open a refueling station and barely inaction with us at all?  Then what happens when they start to over stay their welcome? In another Image first, PORT OF EARTH #1.

Celebrate the 15th anniversary of Batman Hush with a brand new pretty hardcover with an all new cover done by Jim Lee and plenty more Batman-y goodness. 

Eons ago when the planet was being formed there were Orishas. A pantheon of gods and goddesses from which life was manifested. But as Wakanda struggles people have begun to ask where the gods have their Gods gone. BLACK PANTHER TP BOOK 04 AVENGERS  OF NEW WORLD.

Maul is angry after being chopped in half. So he has to decided to wage war against the galaxy with the help of the Mandalorians. STAR WARS DARTH MAUL SON DATHOMIR TP NEW PTG.

Wally West has returned and Deathstroke will stop at nothing to find out how, so he can bring his son back from the dead in the latest DC crossover collection, 

This is going to be one ape of a cross over. King Kong is on the Planet of the Apes as Dr Zaius leads a group of soldiers right towards him. KONG ON PLANET OF APES #1.

It's alternate reality 1985 and the space race is continuing. With a little luck, tape and unstable rocket fuel anyone can try to rocket into space. But what happens to the ships when things don't go well. Local punks Max, Roach, Doc and Bear are in charge of repossessing ships that don't make their payments. 1985 BLACK HOLE REPO #1.

A man's life is changed when he discovers an app that treats love like a tradeable commodity. 

Dark forces are conspiring to wreck the fabric of reality. A man must travel across time and space to find the shards of his soul with these icons of Heavy Metal,
This darkly comedic story features four underaged criminals and their elaborate plans. In 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK TP,
young Paige is forced to rob a bank to stop a bumbling group of criminals from roping her dad into robbing the same bank. What's not to love?

In 1982 the first chapter of Akira was published. To celebrate that timeless booko you should pick up AKIRA 35TH ANNIVERSARY HC BOX SET with all those fancy books in fancy hardcovers in a fancy box for you fancy people.

Riverdale is back on our screens and now it's time to get some stunning Adam Hughes art into your eyeballs with BETTY & VERONICA BY ADAM HUGHES TP VOL 01.

Chakuro lives in a magical world on the isolated Mud Whale living a peaceful life as the archivist. That is, until, a mysterious girl is discovered who knows more about the Mud Whale than they do. What's gonna happen in CHILDREN OF WHALES GN VOL 01?

The writer of Fight Club releases his next novella but with a comic book twist...LEGACY OFF COLOR NOVELLA FOR YOU TO COLOR HC

You better be ready to pick up a brand new hardcover to follow your four favourite paper girls on a crazy adventure. PAPER GIRLS DLX ED HC VOL 01 collects the first ten issues in pretty hardcover glory with extra features.

One of our most anticipated books of the year is nearly here. A young man finds his only true friend is his loyal dog but that might be due to the fact he is somewhat self absorbed. It's a wonderful tale of self discovery in POS HC.

Look at this Morty. *burp* You can make your own little mini Rick and Morty universe, Morty! It's amazing. *Burp*

Well, well, that's a fine looking list of books. Spot something special you need us to stash for you? Just make sure to let us know before close on Tuesday for us to get it sorted for you.
Until next we see you, may all you comic reading be good comic reading!



MARVEL
DAREDEVIL #595 LEG
DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #289 LEG
FALCON #2 LEG
GENERATION X #8
GWENPOOL #22 LEG
JESSICA JONES #14 LEG
MASTER OF KUNG FU #126 LEG
MOON KNIGHT #188 LEG
MS MARVEL #24
ROYALS #10 LEG
RUNAWAYS #3
SHE-HULK #159 LEG
SPIDER-MAN DEADPOOL #23 LEG
SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #2 (OF 5) LEG
STAR WARS #38
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #26
UNCANNY AVENGERS #29 LEG
VENOM #157 LEG
VISION DIRECTORS CUT #6 (OF 6)
X-MEN GOLD #15 LEG
ZOMBIES ASSEMBLE 2 #4 (OF 4)

DC COMICS
ACTION COMICS #991 LENTICULAR ED (OZ EFFECT)
BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #16
BATMAN LOST #1 (METAL)
DETECTIVE COMICS #968
FLASH #34
GOTHAM CITY GARAGE #3
HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #32 METAL
HARLEY QUINN #31
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #18
MISTER MIRACLE #4 (OF 12) (MR)
NEW SUPER MAN #17
RAGMAN #2 (OF 6)
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #16
SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #19
SCOOBY DOO WHERE ARE YOU #87
SUICIDE SQUAD #29
SUPERGIRL #15
SUPERWOMAN #16
TITANS #17
WILDSTORM MICHAEL CRAY #2
WONDER WOMAN #34

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME #70
EUGENIC #2 (OF 3)
GRASS KINGS #9
KONG ON PLANET OF APES #1
SLAM NEXT JAM #3

DARK HORSE
HARROW COUNTY #27
HELLBOY & BPRD 1955 OCCULT INTELLIGENCE #3 (OF 3)

DYNAMITE
CENTIPEDE #4
GREEN HORNET 66 MEETS SPIRIT #5 (OF 5)
HACK SLASH VS VAMPIRELLA #2 (OF 5)

IDW
HALF PAST DANGER II DEAD TO REICHS #3 (OF 5)
JUDGE DREDD BLESSED EARTH #7
KID LOBOTOMY #2
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #60
SKYLANDERS QUARTERLY SPYRO & FRIENDS GOLDSLINGER
TMNT GHOSTBUSTERS II #2
TRANSFORMERS FIRST STRIKE #1

IMAGE
3 FLOYDS ALPHA KING #5 (OF 5)
BIRTHRIGHT #28
COYOTES #1
DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA #6
INJECTION #15
KINGSMAN RED DIAMOND #3 (OF 6)
PORT OF EARTH #1
REDLANDS #4
ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN #5
ROYAL CITY #7
SCALES & SCOUNDRELS #3
SLOTS #2

VALIANT
HARBINGER RENEGADE #0

MISC
1985 BLACK HOLE REPO #1 CVR A BIVENS
ARCHIES #2
CATALYST PRIME ASTONISHER #2
DAN DARE #2
DEUCE OF HEARTS #1 (OF 5)
DIE KITTY DIE HOLLYWOOD OR BUST #3
FIGHTING AMERICAN #2
GHOST MONEY #4
IRON MAIDEN LEGACY OF THE BEAST #1 (OF 5)
NORMALS #6
PESTILENCE #5
SHERLOCK GREAT GAME #4 (OF 6)
SPONGEBOB COMICS #74
THERES NOTHING THERE #5
WONDERFUL WORLD OF TANK GIRL #1

MAGAZINES
HEAVY METAL #288

TRADES
101 MOVIES TO WATCH BEFORE YOU DIE GN
4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK TP
ABE SAPIEN DARK & TERRIBLE HC VOL 01
AKIRA 35TH ANNIVERSARY HC BOX SET
AND THEN THE WORLD BLEW UP SC ESSAYS DRAWINGS
ART OF HARLEY QUINN HC
BACK TO THE FUTURE BIFF TO THE FUTURE TP
BATGIRL TP VOL 02 SON OF PENGUIN (REBIRTH)
BATMAN & ROBIN BY TOMASI & GLEASON OMNIBUS HC
BATMAN HUSH 15TH ANNIVERSARY DLX ED HC
BETTY & VERONICA BY ADAM HUGHES TP VOL 01
BLACK PANTHER TP BOOK 04 AVENGERS  OF NEW WORLD
CASE OF THE MISSING MEN GN
CATALYST PRIME ACCELL TP VOL 01
CHILDREN OF WHALES GN VOL 01
CURSED PIRATE GIRL COLORING BOOK SC
DEVILMAN GRIMOIRE GN VOL 01
DEVILS ARMCHAIR GN
EDGE OF VENOMVERSE TP
ELENORA MANDRAGORA DAUGHTER OF MERLIN HC
GIRL FROM OTHER SIDE SIUIL RUN GN VOL 03
GREEN LANTERN THE SILVER AGE TP VOL 02
HASBRO AW YEAH HC
HIGHLANDER AMERICAN DREAM TP
IAN LIVINGSTONES FREEWAY FIGHTER TP
IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD GN
JASON SHIGA DEMON SC GN VOL 04
JUSTICE LEAGUE MAGAZINE OFFICIAL COLL ED HC
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA TP VOL 02 KINGBUTCHER
KITARO GN VOL 04 KITAROS STRANGE ADVENTURES
LAND OF THE LUSTROUS GN VOL 03
LEGACY OFF COLOR NOVELLA FOR YOU TO COLOR HC
LITTLE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE HC HEAVY METAL
MANARA LIBRARY TP VOL 03 TRIP TO TULUM AND OTHER S
MORTAL INSTRUMENTS GN VOL 01
NORTHLANDERS TP BOOK 03 THE EUROPEAN SAGA
PAPER GIRLS DLX ED HC VOL 01
PLANET OF APES GREEN LANTERN TP
POS HC
PRISON SCHOOL GN VOL 08
ROSE TP VOL 01
RUNAWAYS VOL 7 LIVE FAST NEW PTG
SPIDER-MAN MILES MORALES TP VOL 03
STAR TREK WAYPOINT TP
STAR WARS DARTH MAUL SON DATHOMIR TP NEW PTG
STAR WARS FORCE AWAKENS ADAPATATION TP
SUGAR TOWN GN
THE SCHIZ GN
TITANS THE LAZARUS CONTRACT HC
TRILLIUM THE DELUXE ED HC
TROMA CHILLERS GN NEW ED
ZOMBIES ASSEMBLE MANGA TP VOL 01

MERCH
RICK & MORTY SMALL CONSTRUCTION SET ASST
RICK & MORTY SPACESHIP CONSTRUCTION SET CS

THE THING INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31 BOARD GAME

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR OCTOBER 31ST


ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR OCTOBER 31ST
Monsters Within, Monsters Without: 10,000 Pages of Kazuo Umezu
By Cameron Ashley

Happy Halloween!

Life has wedged itself firmly in the way of the production and scheduling of this column, but here we are back on this most spooky of days. Me being busy and all, I totally botched the fact that I wouldn't back for Halloween and so a ready-to-go column was shelved and the little number below that I wrote several years back for somewhere else was dusted off and hastily reanimated for the occasion. Hardly a triumphant return to the virtual pages of All Star Recommends, but an appropriate one as it's a lengthy look at the work of an undisputed master of horror comics, the profoundly influential Kazuo Umezu.

Have a super scary day and regular service will resume shortly.

COMICS OF THE WEEK: SELECTED WORKS BY KAZUO UMEZU




It was in 2003, during a three-year stint teaching English in Japan, that I first encountered the work of Kazuo Umezu. A student of mine named Hiroko grew up worshipping Umezu’s manga and she told me, if you’ll allow me to paraphrase, of the creepiness of his stories, their suspense, the ability of their author to tap into something quite deep rooted and quintessentially Japanese. She promised to find something for me; a story titled “Snake Girl”, a personal favourite of hers, and translate it.
Several weeks later, Hiroko had tracked down a chunky, second-hand copy of something apparently called Bizareness!  that contained within its yellowing pages the multi-generational tale of a family battling a snake monster, ‘Snake Girl.’ She had translated every single caption, every word balloon, every thought bubble in pencil in the margins of the page and gutters of the panels, and did a pretty good job, lacking only in some grammar and natural expression that a professional translator would give the work. To this day it’s one of my favourite possessions.

I opened it up to find a title page featuring a little doe-eyed girl in a polka dot dress running for her life from some kimono-clad, slithering, one-eyed reptile woman.  My initial impressions were that although the image was striking, well composed, dramatically lit, it far too was stupid and cutesy to work effectively as horror. Like the work of Astro Boy creator and Manga-God Osamu Tezuka (a huge influence on Umezu) only with thicker lines and a much more dominant use of blacks and trippy, pattered backdrops. I flipped through it – more doe-eyed, schoolgirl sailor outfitted girls, eyes glimmering like a picture of the cosmos, adorably clutching their undoubtedly weighty schoolbags in front of them.

This was the Godfather of Japanese Horror comics?
Well, actually, yes.

There is no doubt Umezu’s story structures have dated. His narratives are frequently derailed by ludicrous coincidental plot twists, often in place to wrap up a short work with an “EC-style” shock, and massive amounts of exposition. However, what I discovered upon reading ‘Snake Girl,’ was that smuggled into all this cutesiness was a genuine sense of the weird and a remarkable skill for composing dramatic and seriously unsettling sequences. There is a structural theory that, in genre comics anyway, it’s not just your chapter cliff-hangers you need to worry about when creating a serialised comic book – each page should contain its own cliff-hanger, propelling both narrative and reader onward, deeper into the plot and the two-dimensional universe created on the page.  I’d put Umezu’s ability to do this up against pretty much anybody, particularly through his set up of monster reveals, impending violence/shocks or utterly outlandish plot twists.

 In the Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods documentary, Richard Metzger describes the Scottish writer’s comics as a “candy-coated bullet.” There is no analogy more fitting for Umezu’s work than this, except that it’s perhaps actually more like a candy-coated Howitzer round.  It’s Umezu’s early background in Shojo manga (essentially cute manga for girls) that I suspect is the source of the oddness. True, Osamu Tezuka drew many “mature” works as well, but never with the same surrealist flourishes or visceral gruesomeness.  In an interview with The Comics Journal, Umezu said, “I drew girls very cute, very lovely looking. Maybe people liked the stories because they liked the looks of the girls who were astonishing. I had a technique where, when you turned the page, a horrible scene would hit you. After that, I received many letters from readers saying they were afraid to go to the toilet.” (1)

 It’s not just about the “horrible scene” though, anyone can do that. It’s about the set-up to the horror and it is here that Umezu is a master. His “cute” Shojo-esque characters are seemingly designed to throw the reader off the scent. When dropped into dark, disturbing and frequently nonsensical situations, rendered with a pen that somehow inks from the collective unconscious of the ten year-old, readers may find themselves slightly ill at ease without knowing exactly why.  The best analogy I can think of is this: imagine Child-You picked up an issue of old Dan DeCarlo Archie to find its open-faced happy-go-lucky, “oh gee, which girl do I go for” characters being crucified, stabbed, stalked by hideous shadow twins from the other side of the mirror, eyed off through window-slits by cyclopean creatures with a generational grudge, stranded in far futures where adult supervision turns homicidal and witness to Jughead’s maiming and subsequent suicide attempts.  A litany of twisted psychological horrors waits beneath the pretty pictures. Umezu’s frequent use of checked and psychedelic swirling Zip-a-tone backgrounds (a technique this comics grandpa dearly misses in this age of lurid colours and computer effect motion blurs) not only heightens the oddness but provides some truly retro deliciousness. At his best, his work reads like the demented collaboration of David Cronenberg, JG Ballard in early environmental disaster mode, David Lynch and Jack Kirby. At its worst, it’s the wall-scrawling of a homicidal ten-year old, which is a pretty fascinating worst case scenario when you think about it.

A true celebrity at home, “Kazz” (as Umezu is known) was born September 3, 1936 and, from all accounts, did pretty much nothing but draw from the moment he was first able to hold a pencil. He barely eats, fronts a rock band, has a festival named after him, and it is apparently good luck to see him wandering around his western Tokyo neighbourhood (2).  He lives in a candy-striped home, matching his outfits, and has the wide, open grin of one of his young protagonists.  Clearly stricken with a Peter Pan complex, Umezu seems to revere childhood the way Michael Jackson did only without the creepiness – which is strange considering the nature of much of his work. Whilst it is true that Umezu has done much more than pure horror (notably with a stint adapting the adventures of Japanese superhero Ultraman and his gag strip featuring the “scatalogically-obsessed wild child” (3) Makoto-Chan which became a merchandising sensation), there’s no denying that horror is where he is most effective. Upon soaking up his huge body of work, the reader will find more than just snake monsters and genetically mutated, sentient chicken meat, they will find some pretty ubiquitous childhood fears splashed across the black and white pages – ugliness, deformation, alienation, rejection, vanity, sibling rivalry, generational chasms, authority figures gone mad.

Never fear though, kids, for the playful Umezu, now eighty-one years old, constantly smiling and clad in candy stripes, is still totally on your side. He loves scaring you, feels “close” to you when he does so. It’s pretty rare you can trust anyone over ten in Umezu’s world and even then our teen heroes and heroines better watch their backs.


“Snake Girl” was collected with two other tales of the terrifying reptile woman, “Scared of Mama” and its direct sequel “The Spotted Girl”, in 2000 (from stories created in the late ‘60s) and subsequently in English in 2007 by American publisher IDW. Australian-born artist Ashley Wood was chosen by IDW to provide a cover to the English edition of Reptilia and Wood’s dark and striking painting is effective, if stylistically opposed to the contents within. IDW's Reptilia is a treat, with the opening two stories being classic Umezu and trying directly into the events of “Snake Girl” (or “Reptilia” as it is known in this edition). In “Scared of Mama”, the snake woman is locked away in a hidden ward of a hospital where young Yumiko’s mother is recovering from an accident. The Snake Woman escapes from her cell and, noticing the striking resemblance to Yumiko’s mother, switches places with her and begins to assume her life. This is a frequent story trick Umezu uses – the parent as literally other from the child and as we shall see as we work our way through Umezu’s catalogue, one that never fails to be effective: what imaginative child has never once wondered if his or her parents were really their own?

Of course, Yumiko knows what’s going on here and, of course, she is the only member of her family who sees the snake woman show signs of her true self – scales appearing on a shoulder blade, mouth creeping upwards in a snake-like “smile”. Nobody believes her, naturally, and it’s up to Yumiko to expose this monster on her own. From there, Yumiko is sent to stay with her cousin Kyoko in “The Spotted Girl,” only there’s a stowaway in her suitcase – the snake woman, escaped once more from what appears to be the Tokyo equivalent of Arkham Asylum’s revolving door system. Midoro Village, Kyoko’s home, is also the home of the snake woman (who lived in a now-dilapidated shack called The Snake House), and poor Yumiko is up against it big-time here as the snake woman’s venom turns out to be a virus which turns the infected reptilian. With an entire village scared of snakes, this time the adults not only disbelieve Yumiko, they blame her for bringing the curse of the snake woman back down upon them, hunting the little girl and threatening to “capture and kill” her. Umezu’s in fine form here, ramping up the paranoia and the threats as her whole extended family is infected and out to get her.


Probably Umezu’s best-known work, the award-winning The Drifting Classroom was serialised in the manga title Weekly Shonen Sunday from 1972-1974. Despite being forty years old, the work still packs some serious impact. A Tokyo elementary school suffers a huge explosion and literally disappears without a trace, leaving nothing but a giant crater where it once stood.  While parents and authorities grieve and try to ascertain what happened, the school is somehow transported to a post-apocalyptic future Japan, where all is wasteland, pollution, natural disaster and monster.  Everything in this future is tainted – the landscape an ominous, inky mass of tumorous-looking dunes.
Umezu said of the work, “I didn’t want to express it, but behind my work I wanted to deal with pollution – exhaust gases, school boys and girls suffering from itchy eyes, etc. According to some radio shows, the cause of the itchy eyes was not because of the environment but because of the young people’s psychological problems.”  (4) Following the Fukushima disaster, the premise of the series is perhaps now even more potent than it was in the ‘70s and it will most likely be difficult for any modern reader to not consider the disaster when reading.

Spanning eleven collected volumes from publishers Viz, Umezu throws everything at his cast (led by sixth grade troublemaker Sho Takamura).  The adults, lacking the imaginative capacity to grasp this impossible circumstance, are the first to lose it – trusted teachers quickly turn homicidal and cafeteria worker, Sekiya, barricades himself in the school food storeroom, hording the food and fending off all assaults to remove him, killing adult and child alike with kitchen knives and cooking oil fires.


The kids, of course, start off the series as unified. They are imaginative and creative and, despite the panic, are able to process their bizarre circumstances far more rationally than their adult supervisors, tied to their textbook notions of time and space and the limited boundaries of the possible.
The story moves at a lightning fast pace and the kids are soon left to fend for themselves, with all the adults either dead or, in the case of Sekiya, imprisoned. Takamura quickly takes charge, the little rebel demonstrating an immediate gift of leadership, and with a democracy in place, the kids begin to both work out where they are and how they will survive. It’s of course not easy – plague, drought, flood, mutants, monsters and civil unrest all come their way. One threat appears just as the last is (barely) handled. Mistrust and misinformation spreads and the kids begin to turn on each other – paranoia leads to some terrible decision-making and mob mentality leading to, amongst other things, the crucifixion and immolation of a boy who is believed to be responsible for their circumstances.
Heavy shit for 1973.


Even though the pace is relentless, the series truly hits its stride with volume seven, where Umezu shifts the book into true body horror territory.  An odd, pimply-looking fungus sprouts everywhere the kids turn, overtaking the plants they’ve tried so hard to cultivate. To eat or not to eat, is the question, and of course several students (numbers whittled down by this point), decide to eat. The mushrooms quickly deform and mutate those who’ve partaken, leading to a showdown with weird looking posthuman mutants, the only truly intelligent life left on the planet.

The oddness continues – the kids worship a bust of Takamura’s mother (with whom he can communicate – his voice somehow echoing through time) as some sort of surrogate God-parent. Takamura’s mum has an odd arc of her own as, back in the ‘70s, she begins by  dealing with her grief, and ends up being able to communicate with her time-displaced boy and running all manner of crazy errands for him, planting packages everywhere for Sho to eventually find in the future. She even stashes a medical kit in the cadaver of a famous baseball player that the kids discover during their bizarre explorations of the terrain.

Spiralling into something like Lord of the Flies with monsters, from here the series gleefully nosedives into a parade of child-on-child horrors. Split into two camps, one for Takamura and one for his rival Otomo, a grisly battle for turf erupts and kids kill kids in a bloody war for food and shelter. Umezu never flinches away from the nastiness here – homemade axes slam into the heads of six year olds, vicious running spear-battles take place and, desperate for food, Otomo’s camp even descends into cannibalism. The sight of these once-cute, now haggard and psychotic little characters cooking each other is honestly a little hard to process. One Western reader even posted a review on Amazon saying he or she was going to quit the series at volume nine as the cruelty with which Umezu treats his characters was too much to bear. Viz should seriously use that as a blurb.

Perhaps traumatising a select group of readers further is the fact that The Drifting Classroom does not provide us with a happy ending – only a terse, resolutely Japanese decision to make the best of a bad situation and a future quite literally in the hands of our children.


The perils of vanity and the repugnance of physical deformation are another of Umezu’s obsessions.  In “The Mirror”, beautiful young Emi’s life is turned upside down when her reflection bursts free from her mirror and begins to usurp her life. In “Fear”, beautiful Momoko is terribly disfigured after an accident, and her younger sister Aiko, once ignored (Umezu loves his “Cinderellas”), now has to bring pretty classmates home whose faces Momoko intends to use as replacements for her own. Aiko, however, has her own secrets, and Umezu expertly twists the knife in this story of youth confronted by the sudden and life-altering nature of once beautiful flesh turned monstrous. The manger master says, “Fear is created when certain conditions are met. One of these is physical appearances. The more bizarre and ugly the imagery, the greater the fear.” (5)

Harbingers of doom and omens of peril also populate much of Umezu’s work, from the black butterfly beautiful young Megumi sees in the evil step-mother epic, “Butterfly Grave” (probably my personal favourite Umezu story) to Mutsumi’s paranormal ability to see a blue flame hovering above the head of those soon to die in “Blue Fire,” to Umezu’s enduring Cat-Eyed Boy, who has the misfortune to make “something frightening” happen wherever he appears.


 “Butterfly Grave” (reprinted in English by Dark Horse in Scary Book Vol.2: Insects) begins with the death of Megumi’s mother shortly after her daughter’s birth. As Megumi grows, she develops a crippling fear of butterflies that soon begin to appear to her right before death or accidents befall people around her. It’s a little like Poe mixed with Japanese schoolgirls and Kirby Krackle-like special effects with evil emanating from negative spaces. Umezu’s art is refined and surreal here, with black dappled butterflies displaying an affection for pointillism and inky smears and Megumi herself quivering in fear, ironically bug-eyed at times, her tremulousness indicated by fine twitching motion lines amid heavy black backdrops.

Of his atmospheric use of blacks, Umezu has said, “White indicates a lack of matter, while black shows an abundance. It makes you think that something is lurking just beyond, hidden in the blackness. We all know that there aren't any monsters or snake women lurking in the shadows. But the darkness creates the possibility that they might be!” (6)

Megumi senses that her new step-mother, an old flame of her father’s, is evil. This being Umezu of course, no adult believes her weird rants about “mother” being a butterfly, and she’s not – she just happens to have a hidden birthmark across her chest, exposed in the story’s climax, shaped like a blotchy butterfly that imprinted itself, in a fateful murderous moment, upon the infant Megumi’s psyche.


Then there’s poor Cat Eyed Boy. Cursed with the truly bad luck of either bringing misfortune or arriving somewhere just in time for misfortune, this little boy with the cat eyes and strange little black jumpsuit, cut off mid-thigh, is in a weird way Umezu’s Hulk – fated to wander Japan, ever looking for a home, he’s hated and feared by everybody who’s paths he crosses and blamed for every weird and horrific happenstance he’s in the slipstream of, just like poor Yukiko in the first two Reptilia stories.

Produced between 1967-1968, the near one thousand page series begins with Cat Eyed Boy in almost an EC-style narrator role as, like a cute Cryptkeeper, he emerges laughing from the shadows of an attic, seeming malevolent, but really just there to bear witness to the unfortunate story of a weird, regenerating zombie creature trying to take over a man’s family and fortune. Cat Eyed Boy ultimately solves this problem by burning down the family home. Now deprived of a place to sleep, he packs his bindle and hits the road.

Although he starts off as seemingly malevolent, or at the very least a trickster with a nasty streak, his origin reveals that he’s a forest-born cat goblin cursed with  too-human looks, leading to his expulsion from the monster community. Yep, not just humans view our protagonist with suspicion – his own kind has it in for him too. Taken in by a kindly spinster, baby Cat Eyed Boy is treated with cruelty from the start, beaten and tortured by humans, even brutally speared once paranoia over his appearance spreads.


Even though he flickers between hero and mischief-maker, Cat Eyed Boy almost inexplicably remains on humanity’s side. Throughout his travels, armed only with spit that turns poisonous when he’s angered (a trick he could use far more often, if you ask me.  I’m pretty sure Umezu, in the rush of churning out pages simply forgot about it). Cat Eyed Boy encounters, amongst others, a monster who grows as Cat Eyed Boy eats, Doctor Monster – a Moreau-esque figure fond of transplanting animal brains into human bodies, Meatball Monster – a cancer monster manifested by a family dealing with the disease, and The Band of One Hundred Monsters – deformed humans who want to recruit Cat Eyed Boy and intend to make pretty humans as ugly as their hearts.

And it’s here that we actually hit both the true heart of the series and a theme which defines much of Umezu’s work – the true ugliness of humanity, its greed, vanity and casual cruelty. Cat Eyed Boy serves as a warning to us all, like an urban legend “be good or else” story. After all, he’s constantly breaking the fourth wall, talking to the reader and suggesting that he might one day come to sleep in your attic, of course just in time to see whatever horrors you’ve brought on yourself. Cat Eyed Boy makes his way through a world filled with depressingly awful people. Why should your place show him anything different?


The character of Orochi functions in a similar fashion as Cat Eyed Boy except that she’s an attractive girl with vague supernatural powers, not a weirdly pixie-ish cat goblin boy. Of the series, only the fifth and final book, Orochi: Blood (from 1970) is available in English and, to the newcomer, the titular character’s appearance may well upset what is, up to that point, arguably Umezu’s most expertly- crafted story opening.  With Zip-a-tone psychedelic backdrops in full effect, Umezu brings us the tale of two sisters from an affluent family, one favoured by their parents, the other not and the love they have for each other despite the favouritism. It’s a mesmerising beginning, rendered in splashes and pages with only one or two panels and Orochi’s sudden appearance is, from her very first panel, a total monkey wrench in the narrative. She watches on as the sisters grow and, even as the story builds to a satisfying and twisted conclusion, I can’t help but resent the character for shoehorning herself in and derailing such a beguiling prologue. It is a visually beautiful book throughout however, with Umezu’s lines thickening in moments of horror, and a satisfyingly twisted conclusion rescues the narrative.


Between 1986-1989, Umezu worked on Right Hand of God, Left Hand of the Devil, the frequently gruesome adventures of elementary school students Sou and his elder sister Izumi. Sou, like Cat Eyed Boy, seems unable to stay away from horrific and paranormal events and his first “adventure,” “The Rusted Scissors”, is easily the most bloody and visceral thing Umezu ever created. Featuring a series of old, unsolved child murders, a pair of old rusted scissors connected to the murders and a very suspicious substitute teacher, Umezu pulls absolutely no punches here, with Sou’s visions of scissors bursting through his sister’s eyeballs, slicing through his own nose and, in flashback, the murderess snipping through her victim’s cheeks, the ink pools on the page.  “The Rusted Scissors” is also one of Umezu’s more bizarre stories (and that’s saying something by this point), with Izumi vomiting up torrents of mud, human skeletons, and children’s toys, all from the underground basement where these long-ago murders took place. From there, Sou takes on spider-women, the demonic return of a teacher he actually had a hand in killing, the murderous father of a crippled girl who details his killings in homemade picture books, and more, aided by strange powers he is able to manifest through dream.

Labelled “Fantastic Neo-Horror” on the covers with zero hyperbole, Umezu remains in good form throughout this later work, even if his art has simplified – his Zip-a-tone basically abandoned in favour of spurts of black-blood and thick motion lines. Filled with snapped, mangled limbs, decapitated heads and other such extreme physical violence, Right Hand of God, Left Hand of the Devil is packed with Umezu’s trademark violence-shock page turners, this time with the vileness turned all the way up. The sight of a father about to fillet and deep fry his naked, crippled daughter, for instance, truly does take some working through. Yet, as weird as the series gets, it is no match for Umezu’s next long form work, the mind-bendingly abnormal Fourteen.


Pound-for pound the most demented thing I’ve ever read, Umezu’s Fourteen, created between 2002-2006, is an epic of ultimate comic book weirdness. Starring Chicken George, a genetically-engineered chicken breast that grows into a genius monster chicken-man tied into a cryptic prophecy of looming disaster only fourteen years away, the series is a must for fans of truly oddball horror comics. Chicken George sees himself as a representative of the animal kingdom, dwindling after some man-made pollutant-based catastrophe, and after initially vowing to decimate the remaining human population, decides instead to gather up all the animals and, like some cosmic Noah, take them to the other end of the galaxy leaving us wretched, stupid humans behind. Nut wait, that’s not all.  American President Young co-stars, resplendent early on in a black and white checked suit, desperate to crack the secret of a rash of green-haired, plant-infected babies that are suddenly being born, of which his newborn son, named “America” is one…Oh and Chicken George, genius chicken monster, is somehow a graduate of Cambridge University…and he has a talking chicken named Chicken Lucy for a companion.

I swear I’m not making this up….

Then there’s Grand Master Rose, Master of The Economic World, obsessed with immortality, kept young only by the “Youthanizing” cream made from “live hormones” of three year old children. She lives in a giant building surrounded by the wasteland of this future Arizona, broken up only by the huge jungle, the family garden, hidden under the desert.  Chicken George needs to get off the planet, Rose, increasingly haggard, wants immortality, through his experiments, George has learned this secret. All he wants in exchange is the equivalent of two years of the global budget to build his rocket ship. When all the world plant life suddenly begins to die, the decision is made by the Government to manipulate the media on a grand scale, creating a second, fake, disaster to keep the eyes of the world glued to their screens whilst artificial greenery is created. A full Hollywood production is planned to create this drama, which is something like Stallone’s Daylight with added magma. The impossibility of creating such a production dawns on Vice President Martha, who then goes ahead and creates the disaster for real, capturing it documentary-style, in the process creating a reality TV star with whom Chicken George falls in love.


Over 260 chapters, Fourteen recreates the world and the nature of the universe, with earth’s literal heart, humans descended from dinosaurs, children rocketed into the infinite like a host of cutesy Kal-El’s from Krypton, Umezu throws everything at his readers here: mutated animals, desolate landscapes, looming apocalypses, fearsome insects, disease and genetic experimentation. Yet despite being a truly mind-warping cocktail, spiked with gloriously childish nonsense science, the story is just way too long and somehow becomes ponderous, despite its relentless pace, thanks to page after page of weeping and wailing politicians and scientists, bemoaning the selfish nature of humanity that has brought our species to the brink of extinction.
Boo-hoo indeed.

Despite my misgivings, the fact is that Fourteen is hands-down the single craziest comic book ever created and we should all be thankful that such an insane and deformed genre mash-up actually exists. I actually dare you to sit down and read the first 800 pages of the book in a single sitting – you will come out of it feeling like you’ve just been drugged. Umezu’s art lacks its former crispness and attention to detail, looking something like a lazy Rick Veitch inked by a tired David Lapham, but somehow it only serves to further heighten the childlike And then what happens? And then what happens? insanity of the piece.

An obvious extension of The Drifting Classroom, Fourteen, like all of Umezu’s horror work refuses to give its readers a happy ending. What it does offer, and this is a constant throughout the 10,000 pages of comics discussed here, is a belief that no matter the horror, the struggle or the difficulty, children can be tougher, more capable, more flexible, and better able to lead than any adult.

Ultimately, Umezu believes that there is nothing wrong with a good scare, despite the frequent depravity on display in his work. Horror is a communal experience, shared from creator to reader or viewer. All Umezu wants is to get close to you, by scaring and “astonishing” (7) you, so turn the page and let him in. He’s not only one of the most unique voices in comics, but everything he creates, he creates with unstoppable drive and utter joy. You might not ever be lucky enough to have him literally cross your path, but the Godfather of Japanese horror comics has scattered his imagination across thousands and thousands of pages (and I have just scratched the surface here), leaving a trail of highly crafted horrors for you to connect your mind with his.  And there is as much hope in these pages as there is blood and weirdness. There are the warnings of any good fable – greed and vanity chief among them – but there is strength through perseverance and the knowledge that something better is out there for all of us if we treat each other, and the planet we live on, with kindness and respect.  

NOTES:
1. The Comics Journal, #254, 2003, Fantagraphics Books, page 138
2. The Drifting Classroom vol.1, 2006, Viz Media, page 189
3. Ibid, page 189
4. The Comics Journal, op. cit, page 140
7. The Comics Journal, op. cit, page 139

Love your comics.