Comics and superheroes go together like peanut butter and bananas, like toast and vegetarian soy bacon, like E.A. Henson and podcasting, but sometimes, well, sometimes you have to take a break. I used to be a 100% superhero only guy for a long, long time, but the burnout, well the burnout is real, and like a lot of superhero only readers, I actually gave up comics altogether for many years because there just wasn’t anything new on the shelves.
I know too many comic readers just like me who only read superhero books, sometimes only from a single publisher, and at a certain point, they are just wiped out from it. The circular storytelling, the lack of permanent development, the inability to escape the confines of the premise, it all starts adding up, and before you know it you stop spending your money on comics, and start wasting it on garbage, like rent, and health insurance.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a great deal of comfort in a standard superhero narrative. If I’m looking for a good old-fashioned comfort read I’m definitely reaching for the Mark Waid Flash run, or George Perez’s Wonder Woman. But if all you eat is peanut butter and bananas, well, even the strongest stomach will turn after long enough, and switching things up will not only help keep your interest piqued, it’ll also help you to open the minds of others about what comics can be.
You need variety in your diet, both nutritional and entertainment, and that’s just what I’m going to be talking about this week. Jules Verne’s Lighthouse is a refreshing break from the superhero monotony, and manages to breath a fresh and inspired bit of breath into a classic, but long forgotten work of classic fiction.
So let’s dive into it!
Here’s the blurb:
At the edge of the galaxy, there is a giant supercomputer known as the Lighthouse. The only brain powerful enough to navigate ships through a sargasso of naturally occurring wormholes, potentially cutting months or even years off a spaceship’s journey. Three humans, one alien, and a nanny bot have manned the remote station for years in relative peace until the arrival of Captain Kongre and his band of cutthroat pirates threatens the future of civilization and reveals that each of the Lighthouse crew has been hiding a shocking secret.
He who controls the Lighthouse controls this part of the galaxy.
From the team that brought you THE MARKED and SONATA comes this double-sized sci-fi thriller set on the high seas of space, based on the work of master storyteller JULES VERNE.
First off, I want to praise the heck out of the art for this series. If you haven’t been reading The Marked, you are not only missing out on one of the best urban fantasy series being published right now, you are also missing out on some of the best artwork in independent comics. Geirrod van Dyke and Brian Haberlin are a force of nature on that series, and they bring that same sensibility and style to Lighthouse. It’s a book that is beautiful, ugly, and fantastic, with stunning visuals that not only push the limits of what comic art can produce but also make the world of the series just as much a character as anyone else. If nothing else, buy Lighthouse for the art.
But wait, there’s more! Not only is the art fantastic, but Lighthouse itself is also an updated retelling of a fascinating story from one of the grandmasters of speculative fiction, Jules Verne. In Verne’s tale, a group of pirates captures a lighthouse and messes with it to deliberately crash ships to steal their cargo. That same basic plot is kept intact for this story, but with the added twist that the lighthouse is now a waystation directing spaceships through dangerous asteroids and ever-shifting wormholes.
Haberlin, Van Dyke, and English comic book writer David Hine don’t just stop at the premise, though. It would have been easy to just update the setting and keep the story the same, but instead, they’ve added in layers of twists and turns, including our main character, a mysterious woman named Maria Vasquez, and her robotic assistant Moses, both of whom seem to be keeping secrets from each other as well as from themselves, and you’re in for one heck of a good time.
Lighthouse is the kind of book we need to hype up. It’s interesting, different, and beautiful. The creative team here continue to blow me away with their creativity and vision, and to top it all off, it’s 48 pages for a the price of a normal-sized book from DC!
Image has had a slew of strong, genre-bending releases as of late, and Lighthouse is a worthy addition to anyone’s pull list. I highly recommend checking out this book, so ask your LCS if they still have a copy, or if they can order your one. Trust me, you won’t regret it.