I'm a well read technosexual who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
Every time. Every time I think this can't get weirder and/or kinkier, it does.
And oh, there's that thing on his cock, which is, yes, always called his cock. Which given that mask, and all the rings, just makes it all feel naughtier than it should.
So... funny story, I uploaded the wrong image to this cover. Um, obviously, because this is Swamp Thing - by Christian Ward. At least it's the right artist, I guess. And I submitted a change, but I can't tell when it will be changed. Sorry!
I did, however, need to point out that this happens:
And I kinda fucking love Matt Fraction right now.
I was pretty sure Christian Ward's artwork on Black Bolt was no fluke; it was too amazing for me not to love ODY-C. And I love Matt Fraction's work, particularly on Hawkeye, and I'd heard amazing things about this series. I also had it as part of a Humble Bundle, so this should have been a no-brainer. But I wanted to read it on Comixology and it was so inexpensive, I bought it again. Because I could also get volume two ridiculously cheap.
And man, I shouldn't have waited this long. I haven't read the Odyssey in a while, but the themes I remember are there: the pettiness of the gods, the long travel home, the weariness after war. Except it has sci-fi elements and all kinds of weird shit. Like total fuckery: a third sex, because Zues - a bearded goddess - got mad at children in general and got rid of men to stop all children, a leather bound man as a pet, and daddy-daughter incest - and killing ones daughters by the handful if they don't give you sons. (I'm not quite sure how some dudes survived, but I'm rolling with it for now. My mind has been so thoroughly fucked, it can't quite pick apart that question right now.)
Oh, also a multi-breasted she-Cyclops. Seduction and betrayal. Drugs. Violence. I feel like Fraction said 'fuck it, let's throw all that and a ship that's driven by dreams in there.' Like I said, a while since I read the Odyssey, but this lines up with what I remember, as far as the obstacles in Odysseus' way in the original story. (Odyssia, by the way, in this story.) What's really impressive is how bizarre, and science fiction-y, this gets without straying too far from the original structure. It blends the old and the new perfectly, creating something new and exciting from that fusion.
But to be honest, I came here because Ward. I know that Ward has said on Twitter that ODY-C landed him Black Bolt. I was going to read Black Bolt no matter who wrote, or illustrated it, but I didn't expect to fall in love as fast and hard as I did. Ward's art not only matched the story perfectly, but the story was amazing, thoughtful and thought provoking. It's the same here: Fraction gave Ward something clever and weird and funny, and Ward just made everything work around that structure. Knowing that an artist works well with one particular writer? That's really awesome. It's more awesome when they can work magic with more than one writer: it means that their next pairing will most likely be just as amazing. (So long as the story has meat on its bones. Fraction tells a much different story here than in Black Bolt - but they both give Ward a lot to work with, and he really works it hard.)
Black Bolt was, for the most part, muted. (Yes, that's going to come up as a comparison a lot in this review.) Both that aspect, and the highlights of color, made sense: it made it creepier, and lent a lot more to the more frightening aspect of that story. This is the exact opposite: neon colors that make me appreciate why 'psychedelic' comes up so often when this is described. And it's not just that art: the bizarre aspects feel just as trippy. But this is what I'm talking about when I say that Ward can work with different artists, and writers. The story calls for something, and Ward changes his style - somewhat, as some panels are more loose here than in Black Bolt - and palette to give the story what it needs rather than imposing his own will on the storyline. The fact that Fraction's writing and Ward's storyline match up so well also makes this feel incredibly whole; a disparate style of writing and art can make a comic, or graphic novel, feel incredibly fractured. I've only read two of Ward's illustrated works, but both times, he makes sure the story remains whole. (By the way, I am both placing the burden and the majority of the praise on Ward's shoulder for one reason; the writing usually comes first when making comics. The artist gets the script, and then illustrates. I know people who work in tandem, or give general ideas and script tightly around the art, but this is not the case most times. I'm assuming that this is how Ward works with both ODY-C and Black Bolt. Which means that it's usually up the artist to mold the art to the story, so given my pretty reasonable assumption, Fraction gets kudos for the brilliant story some cohesiveness and Ward gets kudos for both the brilliant art and most of the cohesiveness of the story. Fraction gets the credit for some because I suspect Ward is a ihyperintelligent artist who reacts best to smart storylines, and Fraction gave him a lot of smart storylines to work with!)
I could rave and rave about this. But instead, I'm going to keep this review relatively short. This is naughty in a lot of ways, this is trippy, and most of all? This is a lot of fun. I hope Fraction and Ward has as much fun creating this as I had reading it, because it really only seems fair. (And mabye likely? There's a lot of love put into this work and that makes me feel like they really had fun doing this series.)
This topped six hundred pages as a PDF for Humble Bundle, although it's under 500 on Comixology, which is fairly accurate as far as page numbers go. I've given up trying to figure that out and just used the PDF page count, so I could accurately note which page my notes were on in the end.
This starts with Michael Turner's work. I've talked about the things I wasn't crazy about, like repeating a scene exactly three times with other people's thoughts on what happened. The more I think about this, the more I dislike this, particularly in Fathom. Which is actually a good thing: i cared enough about the world and world building that I felt the repetition took away from giving me more about the world. The politics felt very real, the infighting, the splintering of groups without one people, and then came the added difficulties of dealing with two completely different cultures. I also felt this started out with slightly more stilted dialogue, but when rereading Spawn, I felt the same way. Todd McFarlane adjusted to writing his own series, and as he did so, he learned how to smooth things out as far as plot and dialogue went. And he had a pretty steep learning curve, but so did Turner. Turner quickly dropped the repetition of scenes, and his dialogue very quickly got a more natural feel that allowed myself to fully lose myself in his world. I did notice a couple panels that felt off to me - but it was parts of panels, like some feet that stick out in my mind - and it was a quick distraction. I cared too much about his world and too much about these characters to let that get in my way, and I brushed it off as someone dealing with not only double the duties. Overall, I was impressed that he was handling two times the amount of work while keeping the quality of his art spectacular for the most part. (Also, I can't remember who or when, but one artist was asked about the favorite issue he drew and he claimed all he saw was flaws so his favorite one was the issue with the least flaws at that point.)
I didn't even knock off a star for any of this, though. I might have knocked down like a fourth, but was willing to keep it at five and briefly mention these flaws. The real reason I knocked down a star was that I felt Koi Turnbull's art on the second series didn't match Turner's quality. Which is a tough act to follow! Turner was amazing, and despite the hypersexualization - especially of women - and the fact that I felt like all his women looked fairly similar as far as body type went, I'm always in awe seeing Turner's art. It's no surprise, either, that he attracted some of the best inkers and colorists to work for him: the colors sparkle on the covers (bright colors to attract customers passing by, I assume) while they either remain so or turn muted inside in order to match the tone of the scene they're working on. (And the lighting situation, of course, given that so much of this takes place under water.) So, really, who could they get to replace Turner for me? Hard call, especially as I'm reading this after his passing, so probably got overly defensive. Turnbull isn't a bad artist, and as with Turner most of his art was spectacular. I did prefer Turner's style, while appreciating the stylization that Turnbull choose to use. (Turner's art is more realistic, if you think every woman in the world is a super skinny supermodel and every dude is buff with ten packs, but that's pretty standard for a lot of comics, especially when Fathom was being originally published. Which I actually appreciate that there are half-naked dudes parading all around. Not my thing, but for readers who are into that thing? It was nice to see Turner give them a little Chippendale along with the Hooters, especially since female readership is something that's still growing and so it wasn't quite as common to see this much naked male booty in comics when Fathom was originally being published. Points there.) Unfortunately, Turnbull not only was coming to bat after Turner, I felt like his flaws were slightly more glaring. Instead of feet, it was a really weird angle while kissing.
Fortunately, the writer tasked with series two made me continue to love the series. More intrigue, more of a war between the Blue and the humans. I was worried in the first couple of issues, but was won over soon enough. I do feel like the first couple of issues were a little too scattered, and could have been one issue, but it quickly pulled together. Another steep learning curve, and I love what happened between the factions, as well as the revelations about Finn, and even what I suspect is going to happen with Kiani.
I've never really gotten into Fathom, or the Aspen universe. I was worried because I feel like the tones of comics - the way women are objectified, or treated badly - has changed so much. I knew what Turner's art was like, particularly his women, and while I was bothered by how skinny they were - but, organs, she needs a place for her organs - and what it meant that this was the idealization of women, I couldn't help but admire how obviously talented Turner was. And I didn't remember until I read this, but I vaguely recall him mentioning the men being all sexy, too, so look something for people who want that! My main concern was the way women are written: infantilized, sexualized when spoken to, and weak when it was time for the menfolk to ride in and take charge. I couldn't help but buy the Humble Bundle. I really, really wanted that Harley pink variant! That much Turner/Aspen work for fifteen and up? (Well, one and up, but I needed to spent fifteen for the bundle, and some extra on S&H for the Harley variant. Worth it!) And wow, Turner may draw idealized versions of women, but he writes them as strong. It's not just lip service, saying that Aspen adjusts quickly. She does. And while she's convinced to join up in things she doesn't believe, she allows Kyla's kindness to reminder her who she is, and she questions herself when things feel wrong. In the end, she follows her own conscience and no one else's. She's also a superpower, and everyone needs, or wants, her to protect them instead of the other way around. (When a man tells her to get behind him, she gives him a really? Sheepishly, he points out it's just habit. Aspen might need help at times, but usually she's perfectly able to take care of herself. Cannon, who has more training - and is male - also needs help at points although he's usually able to take care of himself. It's pretty evenly balanced, I thought.)
I was going through a bad period: anxiety, depression, exhaustion. I wasn't fully engaging with everything and I literally feel like a different person since picking this up. I'm more enthusiastic, I'm less anxious and depressed, and I have more energy. I'm able to engage more with reading - as in not putting something down midway if this is any indication - as well as engage more with the world. Not to say that this book is a cure, but just to say that I needed something new, something that would make me think, but also be fun. This book was just the right thing at the right time, and that was pretty awesome.
I basically feel like I got my moneys worth in this Humble Bundle after reading this book. And I will devour omnibus two - as soon as I finish ODY-C volumes one and two. (I, ah, kinda feel like I promised Christian Ward that on Twitter, even though I just said 'probably.' Not that I'm deluding myself into thinking he's waiting for my tweet about how I found them, but I'm hoping I can tell him how awesome it is since I love Black Bolt and his art there, and he's been super awesome to me on Twitter. But, yeah, after that? I'm going to demolish this list from Humble Bundle because I'm loving the Aspen-verse right now.)
This Hawkeye just tried to murder an entire city because following orders. So I guess this Hawkeye is a jackass, too.
She looks so psychotic. It's the cross-eyed but still grinning idiotically combination, I think. I burst out laughing out loud when I saw this panel.
Koi Turnbull is, overall, a good artist. Then there are just some flat-out bizarre panels, like this, or the odd kiss I posted about earlier. It's a shame; even with some obvious flaws, Turner's work was on average better and his flaws were less emphatic. It's an even bigger shame that Turnbull's work follows up right after Turner's. If not for the juxtaposition, it wouldn't be so glaring that Turner's work is superior.
And despite these two panels, I'd gladly read another book by Turnbull. While the panels that I do pull are pretty glaringly bad, like I said, most of his work is pretty amazing. Which, to be honest, only makes these WTF panels stand out even more, and while I might chuckle for all the wrong reasons, it doesn't take away from the fact that I enjoy most of his work.
This was written and drawn after Turner had died. His creations lived on, and to be fair, I think they're in fairly good hands. The writing, in particular, is impressive. Turner is labeled as co-storyteller, in that this is his world. The new writer tackles a lot of the inner politics between The Blue and the Black and the human world, and fits Aspen in nicely. She's a link between The Blue and the Black, and I love the revelations with Finn and what's been happening with him. This will knock the star rating down a bit, though. It doesn't feel as immediate as the first storyline, perhaps because the eleven issue second volume draws this out a little, and gets convoluted with all the storylines, especially in the first couple of issues. I much preferred when Turner was writing and illustrated, despite me not fully enjoying some writing techniques at the beginning.
I'm still fully engaged, though, as I continue to care about this world and these characters.
I'd like to note that we haven't seen blond dude since Aspen tried to eat his face off raw. Well, she disengaged, and he was fine then. I hope he's still got a face when she comes back to him, though, because after all the shit she's been put through, she might enjoy that snack given how rapturous she looked at the thought of tearing into her boyfriend's face!
So after she devours blond dude's face, Aspen does this. With her brother.
Why are you pushing his face into your boobs?
So, is it me, or is this actually the most awkward kiss ever?
That angle looks weird. And kinda makes it look like she's about to devour his face, in a gross cannibal way rather than in an 'I find you hot so I will devour your face in a kiss' kind of way.
For those unfamiliar with comics, or Michael Turner, he was a superstar: his art was slick, amazing, and he had legions of fans. He was also diagnosed with cancer, although I didn't realize that Michael's father also had cancer. (His father passed away. I didn't realize that while they both had cancer, they were living together, and talking about their experiences. Michael himself died of cancer in 2008.) This is important because this story, the one that brought Michael back to drawing, is about father and sons - and was written, from what I understand, after his father died. Michael is a co-writer on this story, although he's just written some of the stories completely, as well.
Some artists try to write and, well, fail. I had some issues at the beginning, including what felt like a bit of stilted dialogue. More than that, the fact that one scene was told over again three times to give three different points of views quickly annoyed me. I get what he was doing, but repeating the dialogue three times, and then doing it again and again throughout the issues, was a bit much. Luckily for me, that was dropped, and to Turner's credit, the world he creates is rich, full of political turmoil, coups, and familial bonds - or bonds of honor - that test the limits of what people will do for those they love. One story arc was pure fun, just skewering the Moby Dick type obsession.
Turner has writing chops. He has ideas, and I feel like the issues at the beginning were just a learning curve. And quite frankly, even with the faults - both in the writing, and the few and far between panels that were slightly off - this fully engaged me. It's thoughtful, as well as fun, and that's a lot more than some pencilers end up doing with their creations.
Turner was taken from us too young. If you want reading material and to support the Prevent Cancer Foundation, by the way, the Michael Turner comixology bundle is still going on and part of the proceeds go Prevent Cancer. One of the things I love so much about Humble Bundle is that they allow the people they team up with to choose the charities. (And yes, you can add on your own if you want. I tend to go with whatever the creators choose, but then again, I've yet to see a charity that I don't find a noble cause, and thus have even stopped checking and just throwing them my money. Each time, I go back to sheepishly check out what I'm supporting and do a little fist pump that it's a good cause.) Of course, Aspen Comics is Turner's baby: Aspen Matthews is the name of the main character in Fathom, and the comic company was named after her. (And Aspen's website has coloring books of Turner's art! Wants! Waaaants!) Aspen comics was founded by Turner. When he died, they put out a tribute to him with artwork and stories by people who knew him from the industry. They also would, of course, choose a charity like Prevent Cancer to honor their founder.
I've been having trouble being fully engaged in reading, because tired all the time and depressed. This is not only breaking that, but it's cheering me up in the process. It's bittersweet because there will be no more work from Turner, but being engaged in this is making me feel better. From everything I've read so far, Turner was not only grateful for his fans, but compassionate. He sounds amazing, and I think he'd not only be happy to have someone reading more of his work, but he'd be humbled that it was helping them through a tough time.
We need more artists like Turner, not just on a talent level, but with that level of kindness.
I think about one twenty. See, it's on sale, and there's an additional 65% off. Despite having volume one in a Humble Bundle, I bought the Comixology version because so much easier to read! Plus, I adore this artist's work so it's worth it for me. I also picked up Monstress Volume 1, The Wicked and Divine Volume 4, and Saga 41. All for a little over ten dollars, which is a steal.
Finishing up the first Fathom omnibus, then probably going to read volumes one and two of this. I also have a couple physical comics - Star-Lord #6 and Suicide Squad - to read as well as the Star-Lord annual which I have on Comixology, but don't want to read until I finish up the Star-Lord run.
At least I'm all caught up with reviews! I'm chilling at my parent's summer house. It's too cold and cloudy to go out to the beach, but my parents have people over - I may skip out an hour or so after lunch to read for a bit then head back into the crowd - and
So I now this is something like 569 pages on Amazon, but my PDF from Humble Bundle shows 616. I'm not sure how that big a discrepancy translates, so I'm using the HB pages.
Also, this panel?
It's making me giggle so hard. I don't know why, it's just making me laugh.
And, y'know a whole bunch of other stuff. I'm enjoying Turner's artwork immensely, and so far, the story as well. I hope I keep enjoying this, because the Humble Bundle gave me lots to read!
Oh, Thundercracker! You and Buster made this series for me, and you don't show up nearly enough. Still, I'm intrigued by what's promised for Jazz next issue - and man, I need to read the collection where he kills some dude because that keeps coming up, particularly in this issue. In fact, Optimus Prime is told that staying loyal to Jazz will hurt him politically and he proves that he's not a good politician by saying he doesn't care. He's going to stand by Jazz, by all this friends, instead of dumping them as soon as the going gets rough.
I think the woman he's talking to actually respects that. She's also a black woman who's the President, and talks a lot about hard choices. Her father was a peaceful activist during the Civil Rights movement, and he had to make a lot of hard choices, so I think she respects that Prime isn't going to shove his loyalties or principles under the bus just to make life easier for him, even after she tells him all the reasons it'd be a good idea to say 'Jazz doesn't represent us.' And it's a long list, a lot of which focuses on the police officer Jazz killed. (I really, really need to read that volume!)
I'm also interested in seeing what happens with Pyra Magna, since she's unhappy with the current Prime and interested in starting a coup against him.
I'm just not quite as enchanted with this series as I am with Lost Light, but willing to keep reading for now. I'm liking it more a couple issues in than I was at the beginning to be honest!