Forty-Five isn’t really a graphic novel at all. It’s the transcription of a series of fictional interviews with superheroes, written by a fictional journalist. He’s researching the lives of superheroes because his pregnant wife might be about to give birth to one and he hopes to find an insight into their lives.
Set in an alternate universe where superheroes are relatively commonplace, and most major cities in the world have a superhero protector or two, the book features a diverse melting-pot of heroes spanning all ages and cultures.
However, the format soon becomes tedious, contrived and overloaded with genre cliché. Andi Ewington knowingly tips his hat to comics but fails to bring anything new to the genre. Instead we see a series of boring superhero stereotypes, trotted out under the pretence that the interview format is enough to add some form of intellectual gravitas to the formula. It doesn’t. All it does is remove the reader from the bread and butter of superhero comics – the action.
Each interview takes up one page of each double-page spread of the book. The other page features an illustration of the hero in question, each illustrated by a different artist. These are terrific quality and clearly the artists involved are going places. It’s all the more sad then, that they’re lumped next to these tedious set-piece interviews.
In short, reading this book has been a slog – I struggle to recommend it on any level. It’s pretty enough, if you want to look at a series of pictures of familiar but different superheroes. But it adds nothing else of value to the genre – don’t let the pretty pictures fool you.