REVIEW: Lightning Strike #2

Almost a year ago now the first issue of the Lightning Strike Presents anthology book was launched at the KAPOW! Con in the UK followed by a wider release in Ireland shortly afterwards. Almost universally acclaimed as a success, it has seemed like a long twelve months as we awaited the second instalment which is due to be released at this years London Super Con at the end of February. Having set a high bar that it would do well to replicate, the second issue has a lot to live up to.
The book let loose with a statement of intent with the opening strip ‘A Clockwork Universe’ written by Ciaran Marcantonio and art by Cormac Hughes. Channelling some fine exposition this thoroughly entertaining second chapter of the tale was superb. The narrative was very tight and met all necessary story beats that as the story was being moved forward you found yourself entrenched while Hughes on art was on top form. There were some fine panel layouts and the old arid western style in the art was pulled off with ease. This was a strip that upped its game from issue one and that first strip was no slouch.
‘Apocalypse Whispers’ from Scarlett Hopper and Peter Mason was a post apocalyptic tale that displays the power of word of mouth with a man and his dog and the variations that they take on in reputation passed on from person to person. A smart story with some nice smooth pencils from Mason.
‘Bloodless’ penned by Richard Evans and exceptional line work from Rob Carey is a tense thriller of a story that is fast paced and oh so beautiful to look at. The addition of bows and arrows to a modern hostage situation added a cool additional visual that further enhanced this tales ‘bad ass’ factor.
Liam Browne and Daryl Cox’s ‘Monkey of Oz’ continued the strong opening from issue one where we see a leaderless bunch of soldiers cross paths with our hero monkey. What shines through in the narrative is that of the sense of what’s right and fair that the monkey displays in saving a woman from a cruel outcome at the hands of the soldiers. There are some good kinetic action shots from Cox that are worth a mention also featuring a standoff between the monkey and some wolves.
Pete Hernandez was a stand out creator of the opening book so I was looking forward to ‘Villainous’, his strip in this issue with art by Graeme Howard. The story takes place on a sub way train and this opening short was an action filled with a protagonist who seems like he could carry a book on his own. Graeme Howard’s art channels Michael Lark in part and it is a perfect match for the tone of the story. Great all round strip.
The first ‘Nightmare Scenario’ was a total creep fest in which the art and story combined to leave you quite disturbed, the second issue however played with your sanity and the total mind warping story harked back and funnelled the halcyon hey days of chemically induced comix. Though I did love the appearances of Abandoned Comics Nestor in the background of several panels.
The Stephen Carey penned ‘Relos’ was a cool mix of creatures of myth and magic and Monty Borror’s art displayed great structure to give us a story with graphic gore  but with a tragic ending that brought a surprisingly heart wrenching ending to the strip.
Richmond Clements ‘Brian Boru’ with art by Cormac Hughes continued the story from issue one and didn’t let up with the enjoyment factor. Clements story deals with Brian repelling a Nordic invasion and bracing himself for their revenge with Hughes contributing a brutal interpretation of close hand combat that was superb.
Stephen Carey and Rob Carey’s ‘Reality Watch’ rounds off the strips in this issue and like last issue Peter Mason’s colours compliment Rob’s pencils well. We see the story here told retroactively and it is paced wonderfully with the tale tying up any loose threads to wrap the issue nicely.
Lightning Strike have obviously learnt from their experiences from the first issue and have produced a fantastic anthology that should have no problems retaining their readership from a year ago and pulling in new readers. Some of the very best of today’s indy talent is on show in an book jam packed with something for everyone.
Also this issue coincides with the release of a variant cover and new logo from Lightning strike which you can see below and the news that  Eoin McAuley, Founding Publisher of Lightning Strike Comics has been awarded the Trinity Entrepreneurship Award 2013.

lightning strike 2 SpecialVariantCover New Lightning Strike Logo and Variant Cover for Issue #2