We took a break to focus on E3 last week and now that I’ve dumped a Big Gulp of Visine into my eyeballs, it’s once again time to talk new comics. It’s a good week to dive back in as Aspen Comics celebrates 15 years as a company by launching a new volume of its flagship title, Fathom.
FATHOM Vol 7 #1
Story: Ron Marz
Art: Siya Oum
Colors: Peter Steigerwald
Published by: Aspen Comics
With Michael Turner’s most popular creation heading to the big screen in a few years, it’s more important than ever that the character have a compelling library of stories to capitalize on. Fathom’s previous volume, written by Blake Northcott, did a superb job of contemporizing superhero marine biologist Aspen Matthews without feeling as if it were simply pandering for new readers. I didn’t know what to expect going into this new series by veteran comics writer Ron Marz. What we get by the opening’s final page is a true mixed bag of serviceable (at times ham-fisted) writing buttressed by some of the most breathtaking Siya Oum art that rivals Michael Turner himself.
Fathom #1 starts out incredibly promising with a tense kidnapping scene as the Russian military abducts Aspen’s brother Finn. The way the sequence is brought in by the fish tank captures the aquatic theme of this world in a simple yet fun way. You never feel out of the water by this book, in fact, you can’t help but walk away from this issue feeling hydrated AF. Though from opening, it gets a bit predictable as you don’t even need to get to the end to be presented the series premise. Before we get to Aspen officially being on a mission to save her brother you have to deal with lots of exposition about Fathom, The Blue, The War, and her situation of government protection which is all meant to lower the fence for new readers. While it’s necessary, I feel as though it could have been streamlined a bit better versus being the only meat in this sandwich. Perhaps my biggest problem with Fathom #1 is how it handles moral messaging. Campaigning for us in the real world to be more mindful of rampant ocean pollution was something more digestible when the character first debuted but in today’s world of –easy to be anti–, public service announcements in comics come off a bit off-putting if they’re not treated with nuance. The issue devotes an entire scene to Fathom explaining the hardships of a sea turtle she’s caring for when there was never any piece of dialogue that suggested the man in the suit wanted to know what that animal’s situation was. It’s the epitome of not allowing the readers to work for their meal.
There is one reason and one reason alone why you should even bother putting Fathom #1 on top of that growing pile of comics you need to read.
The art of Siya Oum polished by the work of Peter Steigerwald.
Siya is best known to fans of Aspen Comics for her creator-owned apocalyptic western Lola XoXo. When she illustrates and colors her own work, it’s got a Copic hand-crafted charm that few artists outside of convention commisions even bother with. When she does pencils and inks exclusively on Fathom, I have a hard time accepting it’s her art. Her work goes from good to exquisite in this book. Except for defining muscle and emphasizing actions, linework is kept to a minimum which allows Steigerwald to set the right ambiance through all the cool tone colors the book shows off. While the work of the two together is magnificent, Oum on her own creates some captivating beauty shots that look like they could all be on a poster. Looking at some of the finished product, I had problems believing it wasn’t drawn by Michael Turner himself.
Fathom #1 sets up too simple of a story, one which hopefully gets more complex over the next issue or two. However, if you’re a fan of the art of comics, this is one of the most beautiful issues you’ll see all year.
Here’s all the #1’s for 6/20
REGULAR SHOW 25 YEARS LATER #1 (BOOM! Studios) (W) Christopher Hastings (A) Anna Johnstone (CA) JK Phan If you're missing Regular Show, 25 Years Later ain't a bad way to go.
BTVS SEASON 12 THE RECKONING #1 (DARK HORSE) (W) Joss Whedon, Christos N. Gage (A) Karl Story (CA) Georges Jeanty If you still remember UPN and The WB network then you'll probably want more Buffy which this book delivers.The rest of us can move on.
BATMAN PRELUDE TO THE WEDDING RED HOOD VS ANARKY #1 (DC Comics) (W) Tim Seeley (A) Javi Fernandez (CA) Rafael Albuquerque Seriously. No more wedding tie-ins, DC.
SHANGHAI RED #1 (Image Comics) (W) Christopher Sebela (A/CA) Josh Hixson It's Django Unchained on the high seas. Dig it!
INFINITY COUNTDOWN BLACK WIDOW #1 (Marvel) (W) Gerry Duggan (A) Nicole Virella (CA) Bill Seinkiewicz A capable book but one that ultimatlely doesn't feel necessary or more than a market share grab.
PETER PARKER SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 (Marvel) (W) Chip Zdarsky (A) Mike Allred, Chris Bachalo (CA) Javi Garron So many fun stories in this book. It takes the sting out of losing Dan Slott on ASM.
ARCHIES SUPERTEENS VS CRUSADERS #1 (Archie Comics) (W) Ian Flynn, David Williams, Gary Martin (CA) Gary Martin (A/CA) Kelsey Shannon, David Williams The book has a hard time deciding if it wants to be juvenille or taken seriously. Pass.
FRUIT NINJA ANCIENT ORIGINS #1 (Keenspot Entertainment) No. Just. No
LOST CITY EXPLORERS #1 (Aftershock Comics) (W) Zack Kaplan (A) Alvaro Sarreseca (CA) Rafael La Torre A great book that feels like an urban Goonies.
TANK GIRL ALL STARS #1 (Titan Comics) (W) Alan Martin (A) Brett Parson, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Jim Mahfood (A/CA) Chris Wahl How Tank Girl got her tank. Yes!
TRUMPS TITANS VS DARK DONALDS MENTAL #1 It has some cleaver satire moments but it drolls on one joke forever. It fails to separate itself from the thousand other moking Trump pieces of art.