I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
Michael Turner's pencils are even more gorgeous and captivating to me than the colored works - and that's saying a lot, because the finished products are some of the most lush I've seen in comics. I've been reading about Turner and reactions to his art, and a lot of people try to say his women are feminine - read hot - but also strong and powerful - true - but I really don't think that shows so much through the art as how they're written. To Turner's credit, he created, and at least co-wrote, these stories, and I find Aspen a rich character full of inner strengths, conflicts, and a world that challenges her. Each time she meets those challenges.
I simply find his women idealized forms. (The pencils emphasized how much his children look like small adults; at the end, I was unable to tell at first if Aspen was an adult or child since there are some flashback scenes and the only way to tell for me was her body. Her face looks exactly the same. It was slightly disturbing, to be honest, since he's obviously drawing hypersexualized adult women.)
Despite this, man, his pencils. I was kinda prepared for the random 'X's peppered throughout this book. I can't find confirmation online, so clearly I'm Googling it wrong, but I believe the Xs are pencilers shorthand for 'this should be black.' A lot of times they pencil it in when the areas are smaller - pupils, light shading, etc - but if there's a silhouette or something that they intend to be inked/black, and it's large, there are Xs placed throughout those spots. (One X for mid-spaces, but to avoid confusion, there can be multiple Xs for larger spaces that are meant to be black.) I remember this from my Wizard reading days, I believe, and it was information that was in the back of my brain: the fact snuck out when I was surprised by the first X, and then I went, 'oh, right,' and just accepted it. It could be distracting, in that I just wanted to enjoy the art without those interruptions to the visuals, but not enough so for me to even knock down half a star.
Much of this felt new: it was an expanded issue one, and was still surprised by how much new storyline was in this book. In fact, some of this was referenced in one of the volume notes - meaning that the information was only in this edition. I really love having this whole story, and I appreciate the information about Aspen, and her father. (I feel like that's most of the new storyline, but it feels important since we see so little of Aspen's biological father in the Fathom stories up to this point.)
I wasn't sure if this would be a retread or if I'd be bored by that, but it wasn't and I wasn't. Instead, I found myself thrilled by this gem of a comic. Highly recommended.