Sunday, December 18, 2005


On Friday I managed to find Comics R Us in Melbourne. This was no mean feat. Armed only with an address (Level 1, 220 Bourke St) and a cursory knowledge of the CBD's grid system, I went hunting.

I'd attempted this a couple of times before, with no success. The address was gleaned from the Yellow Pages, which furnished me with a map that got me into the right block. Every other time I'd sensibly been on the right side of the road for the even numbers, expecting 220 to be one of those large malls with lots of little shops inside. Every other time, I'd walked right past it.

This time, I was on the wrong side of the road. To aid visibility, Comics R Us has their windows plastered with superhero pictures. You can only see this window if you're on the wrong side of the road. The door to 220 Bourke St is very small, and I wouldn't have seen it at all if I hadn't spotted a man dressed in black and looking a bit greasy going in. It also looks as though the door will take you downstairs (not to level 1), but you have to trust in the yellow pages to guide you.

Upstairs was great - comics everywhere, like a mylar forest in autumn. Action figures looked down upon me from their plastic boxes, and men dressed in black discussed weighty matters of sequential art and kebabs.

After a bit of wandering around in a daze, getting lost in the X-Men Spin-offs aisle (a comic for each mutation imaginable, "Look! It's Extra-Toe-Man and Anti-Grav-Boobs-Woman! Hurrah! We're saved! No, wait. They're too filled with angst to do anything. Balls."), I found the non-lycra section.

Warren Ellis' evil marketing scheme of forcing me to sign up to his entertaining email newsletter, Bad Signal, began to work its magic. The subliminal messages he encodes into the emails started prodding my mind with little sharp sticks, and I ended up buying Ministry of Space and Fell #2.

Ministry of Space is a great little alternative history, covering Britain's space programme and what might have happened if the V2 scientists had joined the UK instead of the USA. If you're familiar with Dan Dare, which I was mainly through the re-launch of the Eagle comic in the UK in the 1980s, then MoS will ring some bells. It has jetpacks and the Union Jack being raised on the Moon, what more could you ask for?

Fell is a short, self-contained, detective story set in a city where things are falling apart. The Fell of the title is a policeman, investigating some gruesome murders. That nice Mr. Ellis rants on about how this is a new format for comics, something to do with the number of pages and the price, but I don't really give a monkeys. It's a good story, very nicely drawn with a rather sinister nun in a Richard Nixon mask.

I'm rubbish at comic reviews.

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