REVIEW: All New Michael Turner’s Fathom #1 (of 8)

I know what you are thinking; another heroine book where the lead is half-dressed so surely this must be one of those books where sex sells.  I mean, hey if it works on MTV right?  Well, let me tell you that you would be wrong.

Fathom has been around since 1998, in one form or another.  Created by comic great Michael Turner initially for Top Cow before moving to Turner’s own company Aspen Comics, the character has gone through a number of mini series.

Aspen Matthews is the heroine of the book.  A member of the aquatic race called the Blue she has the ability to control water.  During her long history, there have been a raft of twists and turns for her and her extended cast of characters.  This issue takes a number of liberties, assuming that the reader knows something about Aspen.  Still, during the fight and subsequent interludes, writer Blake Northcott tries hard to bring everyone up to speed.

Blake Northcott is a half Canadian and half Slovakian writer, who allegedly kills vampires.  Rest assured, in manner that mirrors my own views on a certain movie/book franchise, she only kills the “sparkly ones”.   Northcott has an impressive circle of friends and after reading this, I can understand why.  Fathom is a book that carries a level of self-aware humour that is so subtle that people may well miss it.  Northcott bring s the funny that reminds me recently of the Mockingbirdbook from Marvel, Power Girl series from pre 52 and the Kickstarter Paradox Girl from Cayti Bourquin.  All these characters are aware of their physical aspects, yet it doesn’t define them.  In Fathom, we get the argument about how women are perceived in comics, told across differing points of view.  Northcott does well to give each argument equal time, but I will say that if the book is about a woman who has an affinity for water and is a member of a sea species, it’s pretty safe to assume that she will be in a swimsuit.

Marco Rena provides the art for the book with a level of charm that was quite unexpected.  In today’s comic book market place it seems that equality means that women are drawn in a bland androgynous manner.  Here Aspen is drawn with curves that help create the level of fun that is inherent within this book.  Yes, Aspen is in a swimsuit for the majority of the book, but then she is in the water for quite some time.  Rena doesn’t let the politics affect his work.  A woman character can be drawn in an attractive manner without compromising her strength.  Rena’s storytelling is superb, with a variety of panel structures and camera angles that create the pace of proceedings. Rena’s art is helped with the clean lines of digital inker Mark Roslin and the colors of John Starr.  Between this trio, the book has a vibrant fun vibe that matches Northcott’s dazzling script.

I was going to say it’s a shame that books as good as this, aren’t with a big publisher.  Firstly, looking at the price point, $3.99 is lot to pay for a comic book and there are number of Big Two books at that price that don’t have as much fun or quality in them.  Secondly, independent books publish the types of books that the Big Two can’t or won’t  publish.  With this book, Aspen and the comic publisher she has inspired is definitely making a splash on the comic book racks.

Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars

Blake Northcott – Story / Marco Renna – Art / John Starr – Colors

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