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!

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 Book Review – Thor #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I read Thor #1 from Marvel Comics, the latest relaunch for the God of Thunder under Jason Aaron. Mike del Mundo provided art for part one, ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, with colour assists from Marco D’Alfonso, and Christian Ward drew part two ‘The Grace of Thor’, with letters on both by VC’s Joe Sabino.

The Mighty Thor is dead. Long live Thor. In ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, after the defeat of Mangog and the destruction of both the hammer Mjolnir and Asgardia, Jane Foster has reluctantly stepped down as Thor to finally focus on the treatment she needs for her cancer. The Odinson has taken up his old mantle again, with a fancy new golden arm and a lot of hammers, and with Jane’s direction he is tracking down displaced Asgardian artefacts before they fall into the wrong hands. Meanwhile, the bifrost is under repair, and until it is fixed there is no way of accessing other realms – a big problem, as Malekith the Accursed wages his War of Realms and Thor is powerless to stop it.

In the second story, ‘The Grace of Thor’, a one eyed old Thor and his grand daughters are watching over a rebooted Midgard. After all life ended on the planet long ago, now over 200 years have passed since they seeded life there once again in the forms of ‘Jane’ and ‘Steve’. As Jane dies, Thor sombrely reveals the state of the afterlife, before flying to the edge of the universe, which is rapidly ending. And there he meets the final incarnation of the Phoenix.

I hope Jason Aaron keeps writing Thor comics for a good long time yet, regardless of who Thor actually is. The arc of Jane Foster as Thor was wonderful, and enjoyed a satisfying wrap up too while not ending her story within this world. The Odinson slipping back into being Thor seems effortless, but to maintain his God of Thunder status he seems to be effectively supported by his own version of MI6, with Jane filling the role of M, and Odin and Screwbeard outfitting him with gadgets and magics in place of Q. It means that the usual brawns over brains approach needs to be taken with an element of improvisation rarely seen from this Thor. Aaron’s script is excellent, unsurprising as these are characters he has been in charge of for years now, but the new status quo of Thor and his supporting cast is still fitting in to the ongoing narrative of the plot he has been driving for a while now.

Mike del Mundo’s art is otherworldly, and yet feels very at place here. I feel that he is even better placed on Thor than his recent run on Avengers. There are some stellar action scenes in ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, but the quiet moments in the Brooklyn resettlement of Asgardian refugees works very well too, bolstered by the warm colours that often accompany del Mundo’s pages. For ‘The Grace of Thor’, Christian Ward’s skills are perfectly suited to the grand space sequences on display, from fighting a space shark to speeding to the universe’s end, and these pages are awash with cleaner colours than the first part that suits the story just as well. Rather than feeling jarring having two stories in one issue, the two artists sync right up with their respective tales, enabling them to complement each other.

To say Thor #1 is a great start would be disingenuous and a disservice to all that came before it from Aaron and the other great artists who have shaped his run on Thor. More this is a great continuation that may serve as a jumping on point for anyone who has slept on the series up until now (but if you have you should absolutely go back and read it all in trades). I’ll miss the Goddess of Thunder, but I suspect that we haven’t seen the last of her. Regardless, get this at your local comic book shop or online!

Score: 9 Asgardian Artefacts out of 10

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 112 – Snippy Snippy

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

Download this episode (right click and save)

This week we chat about the Monster Hunter film announcements and some of the US TV cancellations.

Now Playing – Reading/Watching/Playing

Adam Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett and Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven Pinker/Parks and Recreation again/Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch
Ian – The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time Book 1) by Robert Jordan/Dungeons and Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God and a load of Bigfoot documentaries/God of War on PS4 and Fortnite

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!

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 111 – Amber Lunch

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

Download this episode (right click and save)

This week we chat about trailers for SoloAnt Man and The Wasp, The Meg and Venom James Cameron, and the success of Avengers Infinity War (and the apparent fallacy of superhero fatigue).

Screentime- Avengers Infinity War

In Screentime this week we review the latest Marvel film. We do go heavily into spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it yet, skip 56:35-77:19!

Now Playing – Reading/Watching/Playing

Adam – The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead/Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 on Netflix/The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch
Ian – Strange Labyrinth by Will Ashon/Westworld Season 1/God of War and Far Cry 5 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: Avengers #675 (Marvel Comics)

1

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

This week I picked up Avengers #675, also numbered as issue #1 of Avengers: No Surrender, a new event that sees the current disparate Avenger-affiliated titles Uncanny Avengers, U.S. Avengers and Occupy Avengers combined into the main title into a 16-part weekly series. Avengers #675 was written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub, with art by Pepe Larraz, colours by David Curiel and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit, with Mark Brooks drawing the cover.

Cover art by Mark Brooks

Someone has stolen the Earth (and the Moon apparently). In an instant it disappears, leaving Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight adrift in space, scrambling to find out what has happened. Meanwhile, the planet is wracked by earthquakes, tidal waves and all manner of other weather-related disasters, and the variously prefixed or suffixed Avengers teams (including the plain ‘Avengers’), along with every other hero, fight to simultaneously save lives and figure out what is going on. Then a bunch of them inexplicably freeze, and the remaining Avengers, considering active or reserve, are called together by a mysterious figure to save the world.

This issue is all set up, stopping in on various characters only briefly as they battle this latest calamity. But the three writers deliver a tight script and a compelling kick off to this event, and the premise is promising. With a few key characters benched early on in the event, I am looking forward to some lapsed Avengers taking centre stage. I’ll admit, when No Surrender was announced I was a little worried that it was going to be yet another cross over (so soon after the last one between Avengers and Champions), but I was happy that the various titles were consolidated into a single book (even if my wallet won’t be happy about it being weekly!).

Art by Larraz, Curiel and Petit

Larraz’s art is very well suited to the frenetic action here, and he does a great job of juggling so many heroes and so much action. Falcon’s opening pages are particularly impressive, as is the scene of the Human Torch battling a tidal wave. Rogue’s hair is weirdly very big, but I think it may have been for a while so that isn’t really on Larraz. The bold lines are fleshed out with deep colours from Curiel with a clarity that helps to distinguish the various costumed characters.

Avengers #675 (or Avengers: No Surrender #1) is off to a good start, and with the writers involved and the art so far there is a lot of promise for No Surrender. Hopefully the weekly format will allow for it to remain interesting, unlike the often delayed big events that lose steam over the course of the months they take to play out. This is well worth your time, so pick it up at your LCS now!

Score: 7.5 secret Frozen Heroes out of 10

Comic Review: Legacy #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I picked up Marvel Legacy, the set up from the next stage of the Marvel Universe, ostensibly following on from all of the Generations one shots from the past few weeks. Legacy was written by Jason Aaron, with the art primarily by Esad Ribić and Steve McNiven, colours by Matthew Wilson and letters by VC’s Cory Petit, with additional art from a host of artists including Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman and Alex Maleev.

First and foremost, Legacy reads like a Previews catalogue, with snippets and hints at ongoing stories that are for the most part seemingly unconnected to the driving narrative, or 2 or 3 driving narrative of this hefty issue. One million years ago, an Avengers-style group including Odin (wielding Mjolnir), the Phoenix, a Black Panther, a Ghost Rider, a Starbrand, a Sorcerer Supreme and an Iron Fist banded together to fight a Celestial. In present day, the current Starbrand and Ghost Rider fight it out near an archeological dig site that is getting dangerously close to where that Celestial was laid low. Meanwhile, Captain America (Sam Wilson, in possibly his last adventure in the uniform), Thor (Jane Foster) and Ironheart (RiRi Williams) battle ice giants, sent by Loki to steal an item held in a SHIELD secret base. Some long dead or missing (well, 2 years or so) heroes return or are hinted at returning along the way.  Around these main through-lines, we are treated to glimpses of where the stories for some of the main books are headed. We check in with Captain America (Steve Rogers) on the road, the Odinson in a bar, and Dr Strange and Iron Fist hanging out for some reason.

Legacy succeeds for the most part in creating tangible excitement for the future of Marvel comics and this universe. Some of these plots don’t quite land, don’t seem to have much prospect for the future, or simply seem a bit like “Hey, guess who is alive again! What? How are they alive again? Don’t worry about it!”. As an attempt to bring in old, lapsed readers unhappy with the current status quo, while retaining any newer readers gained from the increased diversity in recent years, I’m not entirely sure how successful this will be. But from the perspective of good, well told comic books? The driving plot is interesting, and many of the teasers are incredibly compelling (I can’t wait for Samnee and Waid’s Captain America). I hope we see more of the Avengers of 1 million years ago again in particular.

The art in the entire issue is uniformally great, if not entirely uniformal. Esad Ribić’s work on the main plot is as good as his work on Secret Wars, to my mind the best Marvel event in a long while, due in no small part to his art. The early Avengers work is stunning to look at here in Legacy. As for the rest of the art Steve McNiven deliver’s predictably very strong pages, and in general the pages that are either current artists or upcoming artists on the plots they are relating too deliver too. Samnee’s Captain America page is warm, classic and entirely modern all at once, while Dauterman’s Thor page is as breathtakingly epic as ever.

Legacy has made me excited for the future of Marvel comics, after the onset of severe event fatigue. The return to the “original” numbering after this is a gamble that I can’t quite see the long term benefits of with regards to getting new readers in, and this certainly doesn’t feel like a place to start, but with a compelling plot and great art any current or lapsed Marvel fan should check it out.

Score: 7.5 secret SHIELD caches out of 10