45 is not a traditional graphic novel, though it does offer an interesting take on superheroes and is a beautiful piece of world-building to boot. 45 reads like a compilation of magazine interviews set in a universe where superheroes (here called Super-S, because Marvel and DC have trademarked "superhero," no lie) are real. Protagonist James Stanley is a journalist who is expecting a baby but won't test him to see if he has the super-gene. Instead, he embarks on a mission to interview 45 people and superpeople to get a handle on what living the super-life is like.
The interviews are presented in age order, so the first interview is with parents who know their baby will have superpowers. The interviews that follow show a great range of lives, from children with overbearing parents to young people finding their place in the world. The interviews then move on to vigilante heroes, heroes-turned-villains (called Vaders), government and corporate agents, and retired Super-S. Each interview covers a page and faces a picture/comic done by individual artists to suit the text. Instead of reading as a set of unconnected interviews, the flow of the book across the lifespan makes it seem more of a narrative. A common thread of the shadowy XoDOS corporation, which plays a potentially sinister roles in raising, creating, and managing Super-S, also provides a narrative consistency.
Andi Ewington is more known as a graphic designer than a graphic novelist, so perhaps his design choices should come as no surprise. He keeps a blog about this book and his more recent activities here. Ewington has conducted a number of interviews about his work on 45 and creating a new superhero universe, including this one on the Forbidden Planet International blog, this one from the Graphic Novel Reporter, this one with Comic Book Resources, and one more at Techland.
Reviews about this book have been overwhelmingly positive. Elisabeth at ComicList wrote about how the range of artists and interviews provide a rich view of a diverse, complex cast of characters. Edward Kaye gushed that this book "is by far one of the most original and innovative graphic novels ever created." Richmond Clements noted that while not all of the interviews are great, especially when compared to some of the exceptional ones, he found this a great piece of compressed storytelling. He also heaped the following praise on the book: "Ewington has created something remarkable here. And not only remarkable, if there is any justice this will also become an important book in the superhero genre."
45 was published by the independent British comics company Com.X. A preview interview can be found at Bleeding Cool. A preview of the artwork can be found at Hypergeek.