Overview

Fathom Volume 2 #1

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Fathom Volume 2 #1

Credits

  • Words: J.T. Krul and Michael Turner
  • Art: Koi Turnbull
  • Inks: Jason Gorder
  • Colors: Christina Strain
  • Story Title: Poseidon Shrugged
  • Publisher: Aspen Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jun 8, 2005

It’s been a very long wait, indeed, and it’s very good to have Fathom back.

A lot has been going on, so this is the short version: Surfer girl Aspen Matthews has discovered she’s not actually human at all, but part of a race of underwater people called the Blue. Not only does she possess a lot of water and swimming-related abilities common to the Blue, but she’s in some way special even by their standards, a fact that a rogue group tried to exploit in order to destroy the humans on the surface. Aided by Cannon Hawke, kind of an underwater Han Solo with a conscience, Aspen was able to prevent that apocalypse, but the world is now aware of the presence of the Blue. Recently, Aspen has been abducted by an even more ancient race of shadowy underwater folk called the Black.

Outside of that continuity, Michael Turner has migrated the characters to his own publishing company bearing Aspen’s name. He’s also handed the art duties over for Volume 2 to Koi Turnbull, a gutsy move given that Turner’s artwork was a big reason the series became so popular. Turnbull even acknowledges this was risky in an interview at the conclusion of the issue, asserting "I have always believed that no one can draw a character better than its creator."

Okay, but can an entirely new creative team continue the adventures of Turner’s character at least as well as he did?

The answer appears to be a guarded "yes." If you read my remarks on last week’s Fathom: Prelude, I’ve already mentioned that J.T. Krul seems to have matured as a writer recently. Prelude demonstrated some of the best and deepest character work on the series so far. That seems to have continued into Volume 2. There is some real emotional content here, an impressive feat given that Aspen herself doesn’t make an appearance until late in the issue.

As a self-contained story, this book staggers a little bit. If you’re thinking now’s a good time to jump in and catch up, you’re kind of wrong. You need to read Volume 1 to understand what’s going on with the world. Krul and Turner do not stop for hardly any recap at all. If you read Volume 1 but skipped the Aspen-less Dawn of War miniseries, you’d better go hunt those issues down. I skipped the end of that and I had to do some serious inferring to figure out what everyone was referring to. I gather some black deeds that directly drive the events in this issue are rooted in what happened in Dawn of War.

But yes, story equals good. There are vague Empire Strikes Back qualities to the direction of the story. This is much more encouraging than what’s been going on with Soulfire.

But on to the important stuff for most Fathom fans. Can Koi Turnbull fill the penciler shoes on a book that has thus far been mostly art-driven?

Yes, thank god.

For my money, I don’t ask that replacement artists on a book like this be exact clones of the original penciller. The beautiful thing about comics is how they evolve and are shaped by the styles of their artists. But if you’re going to define a look for an ongoing story, I plead and beg that it be similar. Whenever "Ultimate" books abandon their Kubert-esque style roots and do something experimental and arty, it’s like if Tarantino full-time took over writing and directing The West Wing. It just feels too weird.

Koi Turnbull has a similar style. It’s different in some key places, but he seems to understand that he’s messing around in Michael Turner’s pool and isn’t radically redecorating on the very first day. Good job, gentlemen. We like to feel like our stories are continuous. The art is gorgeous and lush and he even manages to throw in a little gratuitous cheesecake on the next to last page. Turner has taught him well. Also, holy cripes, an Aspen book has an inker! Way to go, Jason Gorder!

The series seems to be in good hands. Hesitant old fans should be pleased. Potential new fans have a reason to start from the beginning.

-Jesse Vigil

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