Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Please stop calling me "Archduke Horns", your Majesty. Everybody's started doing it."
"Your real name is 15 V's in a row. I don't consider that acceptable nomenclature."
She does have a point. Also: an expansive vocabulary and a waspish tongue with which to dispense it.
From the creator of GIANT DAYS, BAD MACHINERY and EXPECTING TO FLY, welcome to something equally mysterious but a little less institution-of-education-orientated. Allison has for once abandoned the small towns of Great Britain and dug deep - infernally deep - to come up with Mordawwa, Queen of Hell, resplendent in red-lined cape, pin-stripe troos, twin, twisted horns and a tie that disappears 'neath her bodice.
All is not well as we join the story 666 issues in, for Mordawwa is throwing a party and the only thing she's pleased with is the sound of her own voice. Her greatest friend, ally and guest of honour - the black-winged shadow that's The Sheriff - is running late and a metatronic call comes in from envious info-entity Ba'Al about a blockage in the River Styx. It's causing Lucifer to run dry of souls, both pre-tormented and to-be-tormented, and to-be-continued is what he's counting on.
"Lucifer considers restoration of flow to be mission critical."
"By mission critical, does he mean "important"?"
It's an odd assortment she consorts with. The most intelligent amongst them is a sentient blue horse called Scientist whose assistance is impeded by the unfortunate shortcoming of being slightly unable to speak. Barbed Amanita is far from impressed at Scientist's intricate scuffing of hooves:
"What are you doing, pony? Drawing a map of your favourite places to drop piles of ordure? It must be hard to draw a map that encompasses "everywhere"."
"Oh Scientist. That is a beautiful solution. There is poetry in your use of compound gears."
"I've trod in Scientist's "poetry". Not actually all that great."
Love, love, love Scientist's frowny brow, furious at Amanita's ingratitude and belittling torment.
So what's the problem to which Scientist's solution is so poetic?
"Well," as Vvvvvvvvvvvvvvv observes, "this isn't going to be popular."
Prepare to enter... The Age of Endless Grief!
The subterranean setting gives John an opportunity to have fun with both body forms and architecture uncommon around towns like Tackleford, but you can even see him relishing the full-on curves of his two suited and booted vamps. There's an exquisite panel in which Amanita drop-kicks her yellow pet at demonic rock throwers who are really going to regret it. Her long, thin legs - muscles in all the right places - are like a black beetle's body.
Also amusing: how the shadows thrown totally fail to match those throwing them. Or are there others throwing them, unseen?
I suspect John was the most enormous fan of Marvel's NEW MUTANTS (Mordawwa's Illyana; the Sheriff is Lockheed the dragon), and I'm reasonably sure Archduke Horns' teeth is a Maxx reference. But these are mere fancies, irrelevant to your enjoyment of this underworld absurdity which, like EXPECTING TO FLY, comes with a pastiche of 1980s Marvel Comics' Checklists, Hype Boxes and Pro Files along with a mail order offer cheap enough to make any bricks-and-mortar comic shop weep.
I might subscribe to Marvel's SCOTT WALKER, and read it on Mordawwa's Bone Throne.