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Michael Chabon and vanous

(Dark Horse) 00.


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A natural progression from Michael Chabon's terrific. Pulit/er Prize-- v-rinning work of historical fiction about the American superhero comic book medium (and much more). The Adventures of Kava/ier 8. Clay. this spin off comic book series features the novel's masked Vigilante. the Escapist. This follows the post-iiiodern conceit that the publishers are in fact reprinting long lost Escapist stories dating back as far as comics' Golden Age (19510-‘5/1). It's a nice idea. though not one carried out with a great deal of tenacity. Chabon's first issue introduction detailing the archiVing project is lame. and the self-penned Escapist origin strip that

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follows. ‘The Passing of the Key'. is clunky and lacks the veil of retro authenticity. But each issue is an anthology showcasing some fine comic talent. including Howard Chaykin. Bill Sienkiewic/ and Gene Colon. Colon pen and inks the best story of the first two collections. The Lady or the Tiger. also the best written by Glen DaVid Gould no less. Chabon's fellow novelist whose own book. Carter Beats the Devil. charts similar territory to that of Kava/ier 8i Clay.

If only Dark Horse and the titles 'mouse iiianager' ias Chabon is billed in issue 1). had woven together fact and fiction in as seamless a manner as their Pulitzer winning source.

(Miles Fielderi


Robbie Morrison and

various (Wildstorm) COO

The Authority has a pretty respectable pedigree: Warren Ellis invented this latest superhero team. then Glasgow lad Mark Millar made it his own. Now ex--2()()()AD scribe Robbie Morrison takes up the mantel. At heart it's the Justice League of America With more freedom to address

issues DC w0uld never allow. For example Midnighter (their Batman) is having a gay relationship with Apollo (Superman) and their mystic mind reader. the Doctor, is a doped up drug fiend. Not as sharp as either Ellis or Millar. but still an intelligent satirical swipe at consumerism writ large across multiple universes with added super powers.

(Henry Northmore)



Malcy Duff

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More self produced madness from inside the mind of outre underground comic master Duff. Rrohots // delves deeper into the carnal. mashed up. nihilistic. misanthropic emotions that guide the very best work of his contemt)oraries Peter Bagge. Lorna Miller and Ka/. Duff's invention and paranoid wit comes through in this work much more so than it did in his egually collectable and cherishable The Bart'i/h'MSkin Joke. Part of Ediiil')urgh's (Post)iiian Collective. Duff is a talent on the rise. To order a copy of Rrohots // contact or alternatively you could wait for the imminent release of the Listen anthology (a follow up to the excellent Sentence) of new groundbreaking graphic strips which features much of Duff's best work to date.

(Raul Dale)

The Passing of the Key from The Escapist



Under My Skin (Arista) COO

Being one of those artists who has had an astronomically huge debut means whatever else you do will never gtiite match up. Go from 0 to 60 in two seconds and then stay at (30 forever. never wavering. and ultimately you'll still always be remembered for that initial woosh of acceleration.

For her seventh long player. Alaiiis Morissette has continued with her open-ariiied. if bombastic. blend of lyrical self-help empowerment and slick. sonorous introspection. Slotting in some sitars. tablas and Middle Eastern melodies give us an indication of the stamps on her passport and while momentarily affecting stuff, when she rocks. she comes up short.

Avril Lavinge almost perfectly replicated Morissette's success trajectory with her 14in— selling debut Let Go. For her follow up. she has ditched some of the grating. stomping petulance that peppered her first album to make an almost passable go at ‘maturity'.

Unfortunately, however. she remains unable to write a non-cringeworthy rhyming couplet and for all her soul searching. Lavigne remains too one-dimensional to really engage.

Collaborations with Ben Moody. formerly of goth behemoths Evanescence. signal

some progression regression a liberal dousing of patchouli has resulted in some terrifying and spooky falsettos but it's the pop songs here that might have the edge over time. (Mark Robertson)


Best Kept Secrets 1996-2004 (Mercury) 0000

Two bands of highly different styles both at that crucial point in their career: the best of. The point at which they truly become a thing of the past or stay a force in the future. Both bands have been defined by the musical era from which they emerged: the Britpop and junglist movements of the mid- S)()s respectively.

Neither has dated particularly badly: Lamb's organic. emotive cut ups never followed the drum &

b; ss rule book but tracks like 'Bonfire'. 'Heaven' and the lump- in-the-throat inducing ‘Gorecki' prove they were at their most effective when being quiet and elegiac.

Quite the polar opposite of Supergrass. whose ability to bounce and rattle is beyond compare. Truthfully. there's barely a weak track here and ‘Moving'. “Caught By the Fu//' and 'Lenny' sound as fresh as they did the first time out of the box.

The feeling is both bands might have produced their best work but in the right order you have the perfect soundtrack to a

warm spring evening should yOU find one. (Mark Robertson)


THE GOLDEN VIRGINS Songs of Praise (Rex/XL) .0.


Just what are they putting in the water in Sunderland’? First came top notch new wavers the Futureheads. and now four-piece the Golden Virgins arrive. with a fine debut that's torn between radiant pop melodies and downbeat melancholy. The lyrics are predictable enough l‘Ooh. I've got my eye on you.’ reveals vocalist Lucas Renney at one painful (tincture). but with the kinetic psychedelia of Peel favourite Renaissance Kid'. the spare. thoughtful ‘Never Had a Prayer' and the bounCing synth and guitar riff of 'l'm a Camera' they seem to have everything else covered.

(James Smart)


Stirring Scottish two piece Remedy may have moved from Loch Lomond to Glasgow's tighter surrounds. but their music is emphatically geared towards wide-open spaces. and the likes of ‘Waking Up' and ‘Oueen of the Sunshine' are catchy. affirmative pieces of alt.COuntry. This achingly sincere debut rarely deviates too far from its rootsy template: the drab melancholia of ‘Don't Come Home' is as close as they get to breaking the mould. They may be a little middle of the road for some tastes but. With support slots for Jesse Malin and Eddi Reader under their belt. Remedy could well be going somewhere. (James Smart)