Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin continue to amble on with their tale of 1950s TV, and whilst this issue does have some fantastic moments, I am beginning to wonder about where all this is going.
I think the problem with this title is that there are so many characters, and a lot of them don’t get spotlight scenes that often, and because Chaykin’s character work is fairly repetitive (ie everyone looks great, but they also look the same) you forget who is who. Perhaps Fraction should not have the character bio page at the start, but instead use ‘Fraptions’ like he did on Uncanny X-Men. As an example of how there are loads of characters only getting little bits to do, the first 2 pages here are about Maria Melato, an actor on Satellite Sam who has barely done anything in the series up until now. In this issue, we see her husband, and see that her Mother-In-Law hates her and is racist. Then, Maria and her family don’t appear again for the rest of the issue. It’s mainly there to show how racist the past was. It’s the same for the scene that reveals that Guy Roth, the writer of Satellite Sam, is gay. That scene is just Fraction showing us a bit of how being a closeted homosexual worked in the 50s (and add another sleaze dimension), and whilst that probably will go somewhere, as another character notices Roth hugging another man, it’s still indicative of how disjointed this book feels.
What should be the main plotline of Michael investigating his father barely moves at all here, and neither does the LeMonde Network’s struggle for FCC funding. Of course, I probably am being impatient, Fraction and Chaykin are planting a lot of seeds here, and if and when they do all pay off, it could be very good. It’s a bit like Robert Kirkman’s Invincible and all of it’s various subplots, I guess I just get more excited by intergalactic Battle Beasts than I do racist mother-in-laws. That’s comics fans for you!
To Fraction’s credit, he does try to tie a lot of this issue’s events together by having everyone listening to the famous ‘Shot heard round the world’ baseball game between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Being British (and also a Cubs fan) I’m not too knowledgeable about baseball history, but thanks to Don DeLillo’s novel ‘Underworld’ I know all about this game, and it was cool to have it pop up here, and really, when you think about New York at this time, a lot of your positive feelings will be about the dominance of their 3 baseball teams. It’s probably the most ‘Mad Men’ this book has felt, and it’s probably why I liked it so much.
This book is enjoyable in moments, the dialogue is snappy, the art is great, and the sheer sleaziness is a lot of fun, but in the macro-sense, I’m still not feeling it. You have to applaud the efforts of the creators though, this is a unique comic, and even if it’s not quite pulling off it’s ambitions, the fact that it actually has ambitions is better than most.