Comic Book Review – Captain America #4 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I’m reviewing Captain America #4 (or #708 with Legacy numbering), written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, with pencils by Leinil Francis Yu, inks by Gerry Alanguilan, colours by Sunny Cho and letters from VC’s Joe Caramagna, with cover art by Alex Ross.

Cover art by Alex Ross

Steve Rogers is still trying to make up for what was done in his name, and with his face, when Hydra took over the United States. He’s lost the trust of his government and the American people, and is now rushing to the aid of Sharon Carter, Agent 13, who has been working with the government and has been captured during her latest mission. Cap goes in alone, tearing his way through a base full of goons before coming up against an opponent who’s battle abilities rival his own. Meanwhile Sharon is questioned and tortured by members of the mysterious Power Elite, the next group who are looking to take over the US!

Coates’ run so far on Captain America has been thrilling, and in this issue he shows off a deep and clear understanding of the character, as Cap narrates over his fights. See Cap is an idealist, and truly believes in America and the ideals it should stand for. It’s why he is the Captain of it. But his issue increasingly lies with people who call themselves patriots but act like nothing but, people who “swear by the flag one day, and set it on fire the next”. Even without a familiarity with Coates’ non-fiction writings (with which you should get acquainted), it’s difficult not to see the commentary here on the current climate in the United States. The plot here is good, and it’s ties some of the best Cap stories in the past 20 years is a big plus, but it’s the characterisation of Steve Rogers this commentary that makes the book shine. More is being done and said with the aftermath of Secret Empire here and with a more deft hand than in the event itself.

Art by Yu, Alanguilan, Cho and Caramagna

Yu’s Cap is fierce with a real sense of power. For such an action-heavy issue, nothing drags and it feels kinetic and brutal. At the same time, the interrogation scenes with Sharon are dark and ominous, allowing the threat level in both scenes to come through very strongly. The colours are slightly washed out and dulled, which suits the tone and the base environs of the issue.

Coates and Yu’s Captain America is my favourite book on the stands right now, and goes to the top of my reading pile whenever it comes out. The art is strong and the plot and character musings are incredibly timely. Don’t sleep on this. Pick it up at your LCS, and the first 3 issues if you haven’t already read them!

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 Book Review – Man-eaters #1 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up the first issue of the new Image Comics series Man-eaters, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk, colours by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters by Joe Caramagna.

A young girl, Maude, introduces us to her dad as he heads off to work as a police officer. He’s investigating a particularly gruesome homicide, which turns out to be perpetrated by a cat. Not an ordinarily cat though, instead suspicion falls on any number of adolescent girls in the area who, infected by a mutant strain of toxoplasmosis, can transform into cat-like monsters who violently attack and kill anyone nearby. This change is brought on during the onset of menses, which the government tightly suppress through hormone therapy in the water. But it isn’t effective in everyone, and Maude has just got her first period.

This first issue is a lot of set up, from the principle cast to the task force that has been set up to deal with the ‘cat’ problem, with the background laid down for the status quo of the world. The series appears to owe a lot of its DNA to Kelly Sue Deconnick and Val De Landro’s Bitch Planet (its no coincidence that Maude has a Bitch Planet poster on her wall), but what I found interesting is that the direction of the series moving forward is likely best indicated by the back matter rather than the bulk of the issue. While the always relevant ‘fuck the patriarchy’ angle to the story is hinted at in the plot, it is resolved much more clearly through the propaganda in the pages following the comic, where the warnings for men and boys for cat attacks or girlfriends who may be cats are clear, despite the issue indicating that anyone can be the victim of a cat attack, especially close family members. It casts Man-eater in a much clearer light, and I expect subsequent issues to focus in on that aspect a little more, drawing on the male fear and confusion of female biology and strength. In this first issue, Cain sets up the plot well and draws a compelling character in Maude, and the simplicity of the final reveal sets the forward momentum up for the series.

Art by Niemczyk, Rosenberg, and Caramagna (Image Comics)

Niemczyk’s pencils and inks use bold lines for well defined character work, that overall is reminiscent of Tank Girl or Kim and Kim. Reteaming with Cain after they worked on Mockingbird together, there is some gruesome art here that shines through, but there are choices with layout and flow that feels very modern and relevant. The colours from Rosenberg are bright and bold, though some of the darker scenes allow her to stretch out and nail those too.

Man-eaters is off to a good start, and while it’s potential is its main selling point, this first issue is the time to jump on and check it out. Pick it up at your local comic book shop or online now!

 

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 Book Review – The Punisher #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

Marvel relaunched The Punisher with a new #1 this week with the ‘World War Frank’ arc, with previous series writer Matt Rosenberg continuing on writing duties, art from Szymon Kudranski, colours by Antonio Fabela and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit.

Cover by Greg Smallwood (Marvel Comics)

Shady dealings have been going on between Hydra and Roxxon, and their respective leaders Baron Zemo and Dario Agger. Partnering with The Mandarin, they have been convincing or strong-arming UN members to recognise Bagalia as a sovereign nation. Presumably as a cover for further shady dealings. But a wrench in their plans has turned up in the form of Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. See Frank is after bigger game than his usual gangland targets on the streets of New York, and he is set to go to war with Hydra and a whole nation.

Here Castle is as driven as ever, choosing his words carefully and only ever as a terrifying bogeyman to create maximum intimidation for his targets. While he is going after people who usually go up against Captain America or the Avengers, it’s a nice change of pace for The Punisher, And it is good to see his tactics and planning come into play to deal with that scale. Something that really bothered me in Secret Empire was the characterisation of Castle, doing things and making decisions that seemed wildly out of character and fairly stupid, so this is a welcome return to form. While the set up page indicates that this series and Rosenberg’s work on the character before takes its motivation out of the ashes of that event, it seems that is all that it is. The story here seems to be grand in scope and very entertaining, with a strong cast that I’m looking forward to seeing in action.

Art by Kudranski, Fabela and Petit (Marvel Comics)

The art from Kudranski is kinetic and dark, evoking The Punisher MAX series. There are a few moments where faces are a little inconsistent., and there are some signs or text in the art that looks like they was added as an afterthought later. But largely the issue is strong, with the explosive action given vibrant life by the colours from Fabela. The highlight however has to be the multi panelled sequence outside the lift in the Roxxon base, which was superb.

The Punisher #1 is a good start to a story with a lot of potential for fun, huge explosive action. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally now!

Score: 7  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