A review of Fathom #3.
Credits & Solicit Info:
FATHOM (vol 4) #3
Scott Lobdell – Writer / Alex Konat – Pencils / Beth Sotelo – Colors
Michael Turner's Fathom makes its return for the sensational fourth volume!
A weary and frustrated Aspen arrives in Saudi Arabia at the request of scientists from an international conference of deep-sea researchers, but mostly, looking to avoid the scornful eye of the U.S. Government. However, Aspen soon realizes her refuge from the Americans' concerns has now become a solution for a new groups' crisis. At the request of the powers-that-be, she is hesitantly thrust back into the depths to moderate a search for oil reserves that soon turns into a discovery far greater—and potentially far more catastrophic—than what they ever could have anticipated.
For the legions of FATHOM fans who have been waiting to see Aspen in her element and taking control of her life, now is the time to jump on in—the
water's just fine!
Let's be honest and say that depicting women in comic books as busty bombshells isn't exactly a rare occurrence. To say that males are frequently depicted as chiseled Greek gods isn't that far of a stretch either. However, it is rare and interesting to see someone treat a woman exactly how they would be expected to treat a man. Now, we're not talking about giving them a high power job or a phenomenal superpower. Think about a more practical application of treating people of different genders in everyday life. When it comes to accommodating a guest in your home, generally providing a hair dryer for the women is the big difference. Unless that is, you are visiting a sheikh who has requested your presence regarding an urgent matter.
Aspen Matthews arrives at the home of a wealthy sheikh with her new personal assistant, Judith Banyaski, and her friend, Dr. Colin Woreth. The sheikh lured them to his home on the pretense of a matter of life and death, but Aspen is confused and upset when she is shown to her room and finds a plethora of gorgeous male prostitutes there. Bonus points from the female readers for a large spread of eye candy. Aspen is not offended but still makes the men leave before having a talk with Woreth. She recently discovered that she was manipulated to kill a man, who is actually alive and looking for revenge. Aspen thinks that she deserves whatever wrath is coming her way, but Dr. Woreth assures her that she's still a good person and his death is on the heads of the ones who manipulated her. They're interrupted by Shethal, the sheik's executive assistant, so Aspen and her friends make their way to meet with the sheikh.
The sheikh is impressed with Aspen's directness and reveals that he wants her team to witness his latest discovery. The team enters a bathe scope (submarine) and descends past molten lava to an ocean at the center of the earth. Outside their vessel are animals that no one recognizes and a creature that once was human. The creature is Dr. Padma Singh, a marine physiologist who used herself as a subject for genetically engineering a human who could survive and produce its own oxygen underwater, much like Aspen can.
Aspen decides to leave the ship and interact with Dr. Singh. The interaction goes badly and Aspen has to use some of her powers to protect herself. She turns herself into her water form to avoid damage to herself, but the interaction is interrupted by visitors from the surface dressed in individual suits. Their appearance marks the end of Issue 3 in a dramatic climax that you have to read to believe.
Someone who isn't familiar with the series or the characters can understand the issue thanks to a lot of back story that is revealed along the way. The characters are quickly and effectively revealed and depicted in a way that shows their personality but doesn't seem over the top. Aspen is clearly the focal point and her deadpan inner dialogue is amusing and informative. Although this issue doesn't showcase a lot of her powers, what it does reveal is demonstrated in a powerful way.
The artwork is rich and vibrant from the cover to the last page, with a preview of the next issue. The characters are recognizable and distinct throughout the panels with a great depiction of emotions and character. Although there is an obligatory bikini shot of Aspen, the comic mildly pokes fun at itself for doing so by pointing to the fact that the men notice she's jaw dropping beautiful. What we do see of Aspen's powers is visually interesting and displays her strengths with her natural ability. Overall, the characters are interesting, drawn well and portrayed in a way that quickly develops them without making them annoying or over the top. Definitely look into the previous volumes and stay tuned for the upcoming issues.
3.25 out of 4 stars.
Review by: Sarah Sed, Outhouse Contributor