The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 83 – Mario Mario

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, our fortnightly pop culture news and reviews podcast!

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Big News

This week we chatted about Nightwing’s butt and the fact that he is getting a movie, the Oscars, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Xbox Game Pass and the Alien Covenant prologue.

 

Screentime – John Wick Chapter 2

This week we talk about the action sequel John Wick Chapter 2, starring Keanu Reeves. Listen to us ramble on about how good the action was, who we thought was a bit rubbish in it, and fumble through some of your comments. We do go into spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it, skip from 38:11-52:04!

 

Now Playing – Reading/Watching/Playing

Adam – Y The Last Man Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra/Futurama on DVD/No Man’s Sky (sort of) on PS4
Ian – IQ84 by Haruki Murakami/Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Netflix/Dishonored 2 on PS4

Check out any of those through those Amazon links and we get a kick back! Or you can go through here.

 

You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!

Comic Review – Paper Girls #5 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. He missed reviewing them while he tries to write up his PhD thesis, so every other week he’ll be reviewing of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week the first arc of Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Paper Girls came to a close with issue #5. The series started back in October last year, written by Vaughan and drawn  by Chiang, with colours from Matt Wilson (who apparently colours all the books I read) and letters and design by Jared K. Fletcher.

Paper Girls started fairly innocuously. In the early morning after Halloween 1988, 12-year-old Erin meets three fellow paper girls. What began as a reasonably normal night quickly spins out of control into an other-worldly sci-fi adventure involving gleaming futuristic knights mounted on pteranodons, time travel and accidental gun violence. Erin, Mac, KJ and Tiffany find themselves in an emptied suburban landscape where they dash between different supernatural occurrences, trying to figure out where everyone is and what is going on.

When Paper Girls was first announced, I immediately added it to my pull list entirely due to the creative team. Everything I’ve read by Brian K. Vaughan has been at least excellent. At least. And following his superb run on Wonder Woman with Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang has become one of my favourite artists too. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the series, but the off-the-wall sci-fi leanings that arose at the end of the first issue came as a welcome surprise. From that point on there has been no hand-holding for the reader, leaving us as bewildered and rushed off our feet as the four friends who find themselves dealing with the tech-augmented travelers spouting strange alien speech (I tried using a translation app on the language. Shockingly it did not work).

Paper girlsWhile this approach is initially confusing (and I certainly won’t pretend to know fully what is going even now), it ultimately comes across as strong, non-patronising storytelling from Vaughan. Erin and her friends are all compelling and brave, and their mysterious sci-fi antagonists are intriguing. The conclusion to this first arc adds a fun new wrinkle to the already disorientating situation the girls find themselves in, with the series actually improving with each issue (the time travel considerations with regards to position in space in the opening pages were great) and I can’t want to see what’s coming for the next part in a few months.

The art in Paper Girls is superb, and this new issue is absolutely no exception. Chiang deploys his thick, and minimalist line work to great effect, with grotesque body horror, huge sci-fi panels and rare quiet moments that show off very real emotion between the characters, despite their situation. Throughout the arc one of the most impactful visuals has been the eerie night sky above the suburb, forked with lightning and slowly filling up with more pteranodons, but the two pages of explosion and displacement that lead our heroines to the end of the arc are just gorgeous. Wilson’s colours provide a really strong solidity to the book, with the washed out palette he’s using working to create an aged aesthetic that lends credence to the late-80s setting of the comic.

Paper Girls wraps up it’s first arc well, despite the mysteries of the book largely being no clearer than they were from the start. I have no idea where the story is going with the second arc, and that genuinely excites me. The first five issues are being collected as a trade paperback from Image, due to come out on April 13th. If you can’t track down the single issues, either check out the trade or grab the issues through your digital comics app!

Score: 9 iNsecs out of 10

Comic Review – We Stand On Guard #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I picked up We Stand On Guard #1, the first issue of a new series that I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced at Image Expo a while back. It was written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Steve Skroce, with colours by Matt Hollingsworth and letters from Fonografiks.

We Stand on Guard  opens in a home in Canada, 2112, as Amber, her older brother Tommy and their parents look on in horror as the news shows the aftermath of a terrorist attack on US soil. As they guess at which country or domestic group is responsible, the bombs start to fall. Whether Canada or a Canadian group was behind the attack or not, America has responded swiftly with unbelievable force directly aimed at civilian populations. Before they even have time to run the house is ripped apart, and with their parents dead, Amber and Tommy are left to fend for themselves in the face of an occupying US force.

12 years later, Amber is alone in the snowy Canadian wilderness trying to survive. She is set upon by a canine-like mech with a US military brand, but before it finishes her off she is saved by a group of freedom fighters known as the ‘Two-Four’. Despite not trusting her, the group patches her up and then sets into motion a plan to bring down a colossal mech stomping above the forest. By the end of the skirmish, Amber has proven herself to those skeptical of her motives, and as a position tragically opens up, she is welcomed into the ranks of the Two Four.

The first few pages of We Stand on Guard are incredibly visceral, playing up the panic and rushed confusion following a surprise attack that seems so over the top that it looks more like the start of an alien invasion than the opening salvos of a war between two democratic nations. The gut punch and tragedy immediately cools to the post-war world, with Vaughan shifting gears expertly to a situation where dedicated men and women are now fighting in a war that they lost as soon as it began. The set up and plot are great here, even if the character work is a little light. I find new series tend to choose one or the other, plot or character depth, for their opening issue and usually it is those that open big on plot and tease what development will come for their characters that are the stories that will have me coming back for more. Vaughan presents a compelling tale that almost reads like revisionist history transplanted into a near future sci-fi setting, and there are huge mech walkers so really what more could you ask for?

Skroce is given plenty of opportunity to display his range in this first issue, and doesn’t disappoint at all. The opening scenes are intense and at points grotesque (the gore and the overly puffed up and bruised faces immediately reminded me of Chris Burnham’s work), and the desolate wilderness is beautiful as the cold weather almost seems to clash with the cold appearance of the US drone machines. The colour work from Hollingsworth finishes this off perfectly (I think I’ve gone on about Matt Hollingsworth being one of my favourite colourists before), giving the book a hard and chilling edge.

We Stand On Guard is off to a strong start, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about Amber, Tommy and the Two-Four, and what this band of freedom fighters can actually do in the face of total and complete occupation by a faceless and brutal US army. Check this one out at your LCS or download it digitally now!

Score: 8 Oh Canadas out of 10

Comic Review – Saga #22

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Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I’ve finally got around to reviewing an issue of Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, from Image Comics. I’ve put it off for a while because the last few new issues of it have usually come out the same week as a new series, or the end of a series, which tends to make for a better review than the middle of a run that is still ongoing. However, as a general rule every issue of Saga is at least one of the best if not the best comic that comes out each month. This isn’t news. So many people have extolled the virtues of this series that they have retired praising it as something that is just assumed and is a waste of breath. This latest issue is no exception, so I’ll keep it brief.

Saga is the story of Alana, Marko and their daughter Hazel. Alana and Marko are from opposing sides in a long standing war between Landfall and its satellite moon Wreath, but they fell in love and ran away together. Pursued by agents from both armies, and other even more dangerous foes, the couple conceived a child together – Hazel. Throughout the series narration is provided by Hazel at some point in the future, as her parents try to stay ahead of the contract killer The Will and Prince Robot IV, and try to lay low while still attempting to raise their child, with the help of Izabel the ghost and Marko’s mother Klara. In issue #22, Alana sinks further into her reliance on drugs to get her through her job acting on the Open Circuit, a sort of trippy and nonsensical interactive soap opera, while Prince Robot IV returns to the Robot Kingdom to pay his respects to his wife, murdered by a mysterious radical named Dengo who kidnapped his new born son in the process. By the end of the issue it seems, not for the first time, that multiple characters will soon intersect again even if they don’t mean to, and it will almost certainly end badly.

The story of Saga is superb, and this issue is another great entry. I joined on a bit late, so caught up with the first 3 collected volumes during the brief hiatus for the series, and have been reading monthly since it came back about 4 issues ago. I can’t think of many other examples that I have read of a story setting the tone and creating a feeling of a very lived-in universe so quickly and in such a satisfying way. All of the craziness, every weird new species and character never feels ridiculous because it is sold so well. The device of having baby Hazel as the narrator from the start worried me a little bit, because it takes away a certain amount of peril for at least one character. You know that Hazel will survive at least to an age capable of eloquent speech and reflective thought. However, rarely does the narration betray any sense of ‘all’s well that ends well’ or assurance that any of the other characters will make it to whatever point in the future that Hazel talks to us from. Brian K. Vaughan even uses this device to foreshadow events before they happen in the most tantalising way. Fiona Staples’s art is gorgeous, bringing to life the weirdest looking lifeforms, the most tender moments and gruesome murders perfectly. The double page spread of King Robot is fantastic, as is the opening page with Isabel explaining to the infant Hazel that the universe was created by some sort of space empress breaking wind.

Just like everyone else, I’m going to say if you’re not reading Saga then you should be. Simply brilliant story and art. The first 18 issues are collected in 3 trade paperback volumes, with a few more out since then (or you can wait until later this year, when volume 4 will be out too). This is a series that is really worth checking out if you haven’t yet. As always, you can grab this issue in your local comic shop or online with whatever digital platform you want to use. In fact, I think the first issue may still be free digitally to see if you like it. That’s how I started on it!

Score: 9.5 Squares of Fadeaway out of 10