I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
And I have to say: I'm surprised. I really despised this character, not only during his appearances in other Fathom volumes, but during the first two volumes. (Just to get complicated, while trying to make this less complicated, this omnibus is a collection of four volumes of Kiani graphic novels. Each graphic novel is around four or five issues that were originally published separately.)
The first two volumes made Kiani out to be the same as she was before: cold, distant, even a little bitchy. And it's not that her family history didn't explain a lot about why she was so slow to trust, and so mean even, but it didn't help that Aspen had a very similar history - losing her family - and Aspen didn't turn out the same way. (And both Aspen and Kiani had Captain Matthews and Casque, respectively, although the way the relationships progressed? Again, it made sense that Kiani turned out quite so differently from Aspen. Then again, Killian being Kiani's father also makes sense; they both share quite a few qualities, like their stubbornness.)
Also, one action towards the end of the Fathom Omnibus Volume 2? That really didn't help. I couldn't quite forgive Kiani, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to muster up any enthusiasm for this omnibus. I ended up pushing through the first two volumes, if only because all the mini-series seem interconnected, and I'm interested enough in this world to want to know everything, no matter how much I disliked one character. And, boy, am I glad I pushed through!
Volume one talked more about the religions of The Blue, specifically around one city where the faithful waited for their God, Kira, to return. (Kira is a she, by the way, and when Kiani shows up, with her power, well, she's the clear candidate for Kira.) Much like the best of Fathom, The Blue understand most of the world's complexities - families, politics, religion, fanatics of both kinds, and betrayal and coups - but they don't understand the specifics: our phrasings, or how we create our unique loyalties. I've seen political fanaticism, but not religious fanaticism, in The Blue, so this caught my attention immediately. I still didn't feel like Kiani had grown as a person, nor that this was nuanced enough for me to really enjoy this as much as the graphic novels about Aspen.
The second volume was more political dissidents, something that had been done before - but never with Kiani as a leader. Being a leader allowed her character to develop a bit, as she was forced to think of the good of the group following her. As much as I enjoy the real world politics which continues to get more complicated - as they tend to do - I felt this was retreading some of the same water. Since it ended the same way in some ways? The feeling of deja vu got worse, not better. Still, it was equally as interesting as the first volume, and I appreciated the little bit of growing Kiani did. The art was on par with volume one, and while I appreciated it, I was still pining for Turner's art.
The third volume brought together a new team, and a new direction for Kiani. She becomes weary of death and destruction following her around, and instead of being bitter towards others, and herself, and life in general, she decides she needs a change of pace. Life on the Earth, instead of blow the waters, was inconceivable to her until now - but she's lost her younger sister, and this blow is the one that finally drives her up and out of the oceans. Once upon the land, she discovers a family that takes her in, and that not all humans are evil or deserving of destruction.
Betrayal and manipulation follow her doggedly, and her instilled sense that she's cursed and these things are bound to happen to her are all reinforced. Still, she makes a discovery about a supposedly lost family member, and that changes all her priorities. Here, we see a Kiani who is not only open to a better world, and a better life, but is willing to change, and work for it in the end. And it's beautiful: it makes me see her in a whole new light, and I love who she's become in this volume. The writing and art step it up, too. This is the first volume about Kiani in particular that feels this nuanced, and I really started enjoying this omnibus here. The art is just beautiful and it's probably the first time I stopped missing Turner's artwork.
The same team comes back for volume four, exploring Kiani's relationship with her younger sister Anika, and how that makes her see the world even more differently. She wants to protect Anika, and not just keeping her physically safe. In fact, she takes Anika into battle more than once. No, she wants to keep Anika innocent, and being from quite as bitter at the world as Kiani has been. Even while she shelters Anika from the worst of the physical abuses hurled her way, and allowing Anika to protect herself when need be, she is far more protective of keeping Anika a child as long as possible.
If anything, Kiani grows more in this fourth volume, and it makes me want to see more of her. I need to find the volume in which Anika is kidnapped, just to fill in the holes, but these omnibuses continue to focus on one particular character without filling in the mini-series that explain these things. Which I understand: it kinda makes sense in its own way. If I'm interested in one character, I want their stories pulled together.
Still, I find myself yearning to know more about the stories that are referenced, but not reprinted here. The last two volumes are so astoundingly good that I find this to be my favorite graphic novel from the Aspen Humble Bundle so far. Looking forward to more stories being told in this universe.