Comic Review – American Carnage #1 (DC Vertigo)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

“Welcome to the REAL America” Jennifer Morgan

Cover art by Ben Oliver (DC Vertigo)

I did not expect to pick up a comic book like this on the DC app store. We live in a highly partisan era and comic books should never be overlooked as a medium to explore the more uncomfortable tones we have to deal with this political climate. In fact, they have the potential to be a great medium to do so, able to deliver deeply personal stories backed up with art to depict distressing and challenging scenes that will leave you with a page open in front of you, needing to take a moment for it to sink in. Unlike books which lack the visual element or TV which moves at its own pace, the reader is in control of how long they take on each page, confronting each issue.

American Carnage does not shy away from contentious issues, and based on the first instalment, I applaud DC Vertigo for publishing this. I hope this series maintains its critical themes and stance it has set out with. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Story – Bryan Hill
  • Art – Leonardo Fernandez
  • Colour – Dean White
  • Lettering – Pat Brosseau
  • Cover – Ben Oliver

Agent Sheila Curry of the FBI has just witnessed the death of the prime suspect in her ex-partner’s murder, a man part of a far-right hate group who carried out a gruesome killing. The FBI are ordering the investigation to be closed, however Curry suspects links to a populist ‘libertarian’ celebrity/philanthropist who is leading a Trump-esque anti-establishment campaign with suspected ties to these far-right groups. Hill does not pull his punches. This comic sets up the far-right as the bad guys they are, and refers to the likes of Morgan as a potential ‘MAGA true believer’. Curry seeks the help of Richard Wright, an ex-FBI officer who lost his place on the force a few years before. He’s a mess, but he is good at what he does – infiltrate groups, become part of their fabric and report back. Curry wants him in to investigate Morgan.

Art by Fernandez and White (DC Vertigo)

A lot of the language used throughout this issue could have been ripped straight from angry right-wing Twitter nuts, extremist TV personalities or what you would expect to see in the Daily Mail comment section, which does prove uncomfortable reading at times. As Wright is wrapped up more and more into this world his disgust is unmissable in every panel. This is communicated through Fernandez’s art, who demonstrates a talent for expressing emotion through facial expression. There is a subtlety in his work, shown in panel after panel of interview showing the emotional pain on Curry’s face during the opening pages. Fernandez’s work is supported by White’s colours, providing a gritty tone while avoiding the standard brown and grey colour pallet seen in some series.

Final Verdict

This comic treats the issues involved with the gravity they deserve. It feels genuine and has the potential to be something special. It builds incredibly to a hell of a cliff-hanger, and I hope it sticks true to the serious tone it has set. I feel this would be lost if either magic or Mecha-Hitler are secretly behind this all. This is a story about modern right-wing extremists and their presentation within the media that feels way too real at this point in time.

This series is bound to receive some negative press by the worst parts of the internet, but that is a good thing. After all, if you’re challenging extreme right ideology, and pissing off Nazis, you’re doing something right.

Comic Review – The Green Lantern #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

“So I’m back in the saddle?” Hal Jordan

Cover by Sharp and Oliff (DC Comics)

This week DC started a new run on The Green Lantern. While his series have never been ones I’ve closely followed, I’m familiar enough with the Lantern lore to know how impressive they can be and how good the stories are by reputation (I can’t say I know him from the movies as I did my best to steer clear of the Green Lantern one…). This new series is written by Grant Morrison of all people, so there is a huge name in comic book history leading on this. With both of these in mind I felt I had to give it a look this week. The cover is very eye catching as well. Hal Jordan plastered in his trademark green is stood front and centre, proudly drawing the eye and setting a powerful tone for this new series. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Grant Morrison
  • Artist – Liam Sharp
  • Colorist – Steve Oliff
  • Letterer – Tom Orzechowski

The opening of the story brings us to the Green Lanterns, in their wonderful multiform and colourful variety battling it out with bunch of alien pirates. This forms the backstory and set up to the series and brings to any totally new readers an understanding of who the Lantern Corp are and the scale of the problems they deal with. We then get to see Hal Jordan, and in a scene very reminiscent of the very first time he picked up a power ring, how he gets back in the game. We get to know the type of person Hal is, how he very much knows how to handle himself around hostile aliens, and his status within the Corp. Naturally, towards the end of the issue we get the set up for the on-going plot this series will cover and the real challenge Hal will face, with the entire Corp under threat from a foreboding prophecy of betrayal.

Art by Sharp, Oliff and Orzechowski (DC Comics)

Sharp covers the art throughout this issue. His resume within the comic industry is hugely impressive and he is more than up to the task to deliver to the standard required by one of DC’s top tier characters and working beside the likes of Morrison. Sharp’s line work is incredibly detailed and adds a sense of gravity to the issue, with Oliff adding a colour pallet true to the Green Lantern’s classic shade of green. There is also a very interesting page where Hal while being heroic within the context has a noticeably sinister design to him. I have a sense reading this that Hal may have a dark streak that could come into play in this series. The creative alien designs also bring a sense of weird and wonder to the issue.

Final Verdict

This is a very interesting start. Morrison and Sharpe make an excellent team and I’ll be reading further issues as they come out. I certainly hadn’t realised though quite how many different Corps there now seems to be! Seems there a lot more than the visible rainbow spectrum now!

Comic Review – Shuri #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Even then I learned best by observation. And I moved like a panther” Shuri

Cover by Spratt (Marvel Comics)

While I was at a friend’s over the weekend we re-watched Black Panther, because it’s fantastic of course. There’s a pretty strong consensus between us that Shuri is one of the best characters in the film as well. This meant that when I saw Marvel were releasing a Shuri comic series this week I had to check it out, especially with the wonderfully realistic front cover drawn by Sam Spratt which caught both my attention and a likeness to Shuri in the movies that makes the comic very recognisable for new readers who will know her from the movie. I’ve really enjoyed Marvel’s Black Panther runs previously, so looked forward to seeing Wakanda and the stories it holds from somebody else’s perspective.

This coming was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Nnedi Okorafor
  • Artist – Leonardo Romero
  • Colour Artist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Cover Artist – Sam Spratt

The story begins with a brief overview of Shuri’s history in the Marvel Universe. Explaining some of her previous adventures and the powers she’s obtained. With T’Challa currently busy elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, Shuri has time on her hands to focus on her inventions and some of the significant issues in Wakanda. We get to see her relationship with her ancestor’s and the dichotomy between her modern attitude towards those issues and those of her family and ancestors. We’re also treated to a flashback which defines her relationship with her brother and how the movers and shakers within Wakanda view her. To avoid any particular spoilers, the set up presented at the end of this issue could easily have been shunted in right at the beginning, which would have been a shame as we’d have been deprived of the chance to get to know this incarnation of Shuri that Okorafor is able to bring out.

Art by Romero, Bellaire & Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Bellaire’s light pallet provides a sense of reality to the issue. The less bold tones providing some gravity as opposed to intense wackiness seen in some comic books. The flash back is presented in very contrasting red and white giving an other worldly sense to the spectacle. Finally, the shift to warmer tones in the setting sun during the final scene gives the sense of change that the issue delivers to the state of affairs in Wakanda as well as Shuri and her story. Romero’s art compliments Spratt’s eye-catching cover art well, keeping the characters recognisable to those who only know the films to date. I’m very familiar with Sabino’s work now which as usual is well worked into the issue in both spoken and online chat format.

Final Verdict

My only issue with the set off for the series is I’m worried Shuri will simply fill in shoes that are not her own as opposed to really fitting into hers. We’ll see however. Okorafor clearly has a talent for Shuri, who is definitely in a safe pair of hands.

 

Indie Comic Preview – Candles

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

“Hopefully next time we can grab a meal and go unnoticed for once” – Idris

This week I’d like to highlight an exciting new comic due to come out later this month. Candles is a self-contained fantasy graphic novel both written and drawn by Lyndon White. For any of you who picked up a copy of the Little Heroes Comics Anthology #2 you’ll immediately recognise Lyndon’s unique colourful style where each panel is it’s own miniature work of art.

Lyndon’s previous work has covered a full spectrum of genres, available at www.lyndonwhite.com. Lyndon’s art is well suited to both the fantastical such as Candles, horror which he’s worked on extensively before, and bringing out an emotional intensity as seem on Little Heroes. Candles itself promises a fun fantastical adventure, with a simple premise of an overly enthusiastic child learning magic in a sceptical and fearful society which promises characters and their personalities to shine and drive the story.

Generation after generation people are taught one thing, never use magic. The evil Witch has cast a plague known as Dark-bark over the land and one by one, infected villagers are lured into the enchanted forest never to be seen again. As a last resort to save her family, Grace embarks on a quest to steal the Witch’s magic and use it to save her dying village.

Meanwhile, Idris, a flamboyant sorcerer and his talented apprentice Ava, are outcasted from their town and begin to track the source of the Dark-bark. Wolves howl at the night sky and candles begin to glow. The Witch must be stopped at all costs, however, everything is not as it seems. Candles is a full colour fantasy graphic novel, written and illustrated by Lyndon White.

The book is being crowdfunded through Unbound, launching during the Lakes Comic Art Festival and aiming to launch the campaign by the 11th October 2018.

Lyndon has recently finished work on the fantasy, horror mini-series Mandy the Monster Hunter: Legend of the Spindly Man with Hellbound Media, after launching a highly successful Kickstarter in March 2018, for his Call of Cthulhu concertina book.

Candles will be his third graphic novel after Sparks and the Fallen Star, 2016 and The Mind of James Svengal, 2018 (written by Jordan Sam Adams), both of which were published by Blue Fox Comics.

 

Got an indie comic for us to review? Email us at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com

Comic Review – Thor #5 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“And the road of the mighty necroworld shakes the heavens. But not loud enough to drown out the laughter of one little worm” Narrator

This week I wasn’t sure what I’d review, until I enjoyed Thor #5 so much I couldn’t help but take the chance to write about it. I’ve really enjoyed the return of the Odinson to the mantle of Thor (as I did the fantastic Jane Foster Thor run before) and the cosmic level adventure to date has provided an incredibly fun change of pace and has bought some of the most powerful Marvel entities such as the Great Galactus, Ego the Living Planet and a mysterious cosmic worm into the picture.

Cover by Ribic (Marvel Comics)

This coming was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Jason Aaron
  • Guest Artist – Christian Ward
  • Logo – Jay Bowen
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Cover Artist – Esad Ribic

Thor #5 takes place in the distant future, in a dying universe where the All-Father Old Man Thor and his grand daughters protect New Midgard. The issue picks up with Thor coming face to face with an old friend – (very!) Old Man Wolverine, the current incarnation of the Phoenix Force. We’re treated to a flash back to show the dynamic between the two in the modern era, with them both enjoying a few drinks in ‘the best bar in Midgard’. We see that although there is still a friendship between the two in the future there are far greater forces at play here they are both bound by. In the meantime, the majority of the universe has deteriorated and passed away, leaving only the most powerful forces standing. New Midgard has caught their attention and the grand daughters of Thor must protect it.

Art by Ward and Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Ward excels in an art style well suited to such a fantastical issue and cosmic scale events. His characters and actions scenes almost appear to be painted brushwork, with intense colours communicating motion, action and awesome imagery that captures the imagination. Sabino’s lettering adds to the grand atmosphere. His choice of speech bubble, font and text colour for various characters suits them perfectly and brings out their personality – the passion of Thor or the malevolence of Ego the Living Planet. Sabino does a solid job with the lettering tucking them into tight panels weaving the reader’s eye through the pages and allowing the reader to appreciate the art.

Final Verdict

I really enjoyed this issue. This is a hell of a good way to write Thor, cosmic battles for the fate of the Marvel universe against cosmic level entities. It’s fun to see Aaron’s interpretation of a few familiar faces come the end of time, to see who from the current era is still kicking around and what has happened to certain characters and powers that make a cameo appearance and set up a cliff hanger for the next issue.

I’ve been enjoying Thor for a while, and that won’t be stopping any time soon!

Final Score: 9.5 weird goat stories out of 10

Comic Review – Batgirl #26 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Did I mention I am only able to walk again because of a chip in my spine that connects directly to my brain?” Batgirl

Batgirl was one of the first series that got me into the DC ‘New 52’, back when Gail Simone was writing it and had her outstanding run on the character. This week it felt right to revisit Babs to see how she’ll be fairing under Mairghread Scott’s storytelling. I’ve always found Batgirl’s relationship to the Bat family interesting, sort of sitting within it but also outside of the key Batman and Robin(s) relationships. Set up fighting crime in Burnside we pick up with Barbara in a new arc against one of her recurring villains – Grotesque.

Cover art by Murphy & Hollingsworth (DC Comics)

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Mairghread Scott
  • Penciller – Paul Pelletier
  • Inker – Norm Rapmund
  • Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – Deron Bennett
  • Cover Artist – Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth

We pick up Batgirl chasing down Grotesque through the streets of Burnside. The villain Grotesque has been living up to his name with a series of horrific murders imitating modern art. It’s a simple yet effective opening which gives some of us who have been a little out of the loop to get to know Batgirl again via her internal monologue as well as Grotesque by his, well, horrific murder spree. It’s a little refreshing in a way to pick up a vigilante superhero being an actual vigilante and dealing with more day-to-day crimes as opposed to something that appears to be a world-ending threat. The story follows Batgirl’s pursuit of Grotesque and plays on some defining traits of her as a character, reaching back to her time as Oracle to revive some of her unique challenges that can be put to one side (such as her dependence on technology to walk). Additionally we get to see Barbara Gordon as Barbara Gordon, building on one of her defining relationships, with her father.

Art by Pelletier, Rapmund, Bellaire & Bennett (DC Comics)

The last time I read a Batgirl comic it was after Simone’s run and Larson took over, with Albuquerque leading on art. At this time a younger, more cartoon-like aesthetic took over from the grittier more Batman-like imagery of the Simone era. To me, Pelletier’s work felt like a well woven blend of the two styles. Batgirl in her more modern outfit, fighting crime in a realistic context with what feels like less of a gritty pallet from the series I was most familiar with. Pelletier’s pencilling combines well with Bellaire’s colouring and Rapmund’s inking to achieve this affect. I also like how the civilian scenes look, with Barbara out of costume she appears friendly and warm as a person whilst coming off as well in control of herself and the situations she is in.

Final Verdict

There’s something I enjoyed about this issue I didn’t spot until my second read. Batgirl is determined and focused on fighting crime. Finding a hero these days who isn’t racked by thoughts of a relationship, villain messing with their mind or existential crisis is quite refreshing.

Final Score – 8.5 Cute Avatars out of 10

Comic Review – eXtermination #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“You’re relieved of your duty” – Mysterious masked assassin

Cover by Mark Brooks

So I’m back to pick up another comic review, having been brought up on a diet of X-Men as so many other kids were in the 90s I felt I had to check out this new short series, especially as it picks up with the young, classic X-Men who have more in common with the cartoons I watched as a kid (X-Men: The Animated Series and X-Men Evolution). With a title like eXtermination Marvel again appear to be hinting at some kind of mutant-wide wipe out or at least a few big names being bumped off. Naturally I’m a little sceptical as to if any will stick, though you never know! This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Ed Brisson
  • Artist – Pepe Larraz
  • Colourist – Marte Gracia
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Cover Artist – Mark Brooks

The story begins in a post-apocalyptic city setting, mutant bodies lying about and a hooded figure swearing to clean up this mess who travels back in time to do so. The young X-Men pick up a couple of mutant children who are fleeing a mob of anti-mutant protestors. The X-Men comics have often been used as a metaphor for minority groups within the Marvel universe, this latest incarnation is a fairly clear one on immigration with cries of ‘they don’t even speak English’ when the mob realised they speak French. We are then bought into the current dynamics between the young X-Men team and have a little crash course on where the team is (some surprises to me, Storm seems a little more bitey than when I last saw her!) before all hell breaks loose. The hooded figure from the future appears to be chasing down X-Men and is set up to be the primary antagonist for at least the early part of the series.

Art by Larraz, Gracia & Sabino

The art is full of deep colours with a vibrant feel, even during scenes of destruction. Gracia does an impressive job of adding colour in dark scenes which is often avoided. Larraz provides excellent detail in the characters themselves and their features, especially in smaller panels during conversation where expression is communicated very efficiently. Sabino does a solid job with the lettering, tucking them into tight panels weaving the reader’s eye through the pages and allowing the reader to appreciate the art.

Final Verdict

These are character I had a strong connection with while I grew up and it’s been too long since I’ve checked in on them and seen what they’re up to. I want to see where this story goes. I think my main concern as with so many of these dramatic sounding titles is nothing really changing. Characters may die, but they get better, a relationship may end though it’s either fixed or the characters bounce back immediately/carry on in a separate series.

It’s well worth a look to X-Men fans though, especially if you’re more into the Evolution style X-Men and not their grown up, comic book counter parts.

Final Score: 8 psychic screams thousands of feet beneath the ocean out of 10