In Review: Fathom Blue #2

An entertaining read that shows two worlds colliding, with a team of four playing in the middle

The covers: A foursome to find of this issue for completists. The A cover is by Claudio Avella and Erick Arciniega and it features the series’ unnamed antagonist going for a walk, surrounded by white insect/coral-like creatures. He looks exceeding happy to being encircled by these creatures, making this creepy looking. This character is not smiling on the inside of the book, nor do these swirling creatures appear. Paolo Pantalena and Ula Mos do the B cover which shows one of the Blue (the underwater dwellers) swimming forward, casting a spell. This doesn’t happen in this book, either, and I don’t know whom this character is, but she sure is pretty. The illustration and colors are good, but the context is lost on me. The C is by Mike Krome and Erick Arciniega. This is the most detailed cover of the set, showcasing Elia Fawn using her abilities to manipulate water. This is a spectacular image with sensational coloring. This is a print and poster worthy cover. The final cover, the D, is by Paolo Pantalena and Ula Mos again, though it’s a San Diego Comic-Con limited edition of 200. This has, I’m assuming, Elia in a bikini on the beach. It looks nice, but it’s not great. She looks unnatural. Overall grades: A B+, B A, C A+, and D B-

The story: At a baseball stadium in San Jose, California, a man stands just inside the stairwell, hearing the crowd yell, “Throw it harder, loser!”, “You gotta kill ’em!”, and “Murder ’em!” He appears downcast as he hears such negativity. The man takes a seat and is soon confronted by the ticket holder whose seat he’s in. The upset fan reaches for this man, but begins to cough and holds his throat. Soon, other fans begin to do the same, while his man says, “You all lack patience. Everything is rushed beyond the point of satisfaction. I prefer to savor the moment. Take it all in. Enjoy myself. Life is too short, you know.” As he exits the stadium he passes the body of a boy, dead. It seems he’s killed everyone in the stadium. The story then moves to Japan where the assembled team of Blue have to speak with Elia Fawn. Julie states that they don’t even know if Elia is an Elite (a Blue that can manipulate water), and Aman suggests caution. Jet suggests that Calvin lead the team since he’s so huge, but the big guy isn’t comfortable leading. Aman says they should come up with a plan, like going up and talking to her. They do so, and things don’t go smoothly. Back on the Rig, Admiral Maylander and soldier Fisher have a conversation about what they may have to do with their recently assembled team. Writer Vince Hernandez has some solid character growth as his tale proceeds, from both the protagonists and the antagonists. He also has a lot of teases that characters are planning for more than their opposites know. This makes the story more realistic; rather than have this quartet blindly follow Maylander it seems they’re doing things that readers are not privy too. Elia has a nice scene with Maylander that escalates quickly and instantly gains reader sympathy. I’m interested to see what the foursome is up to, as well as how Fawn fits in to this tale. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book are very good. Penciller Claudio Avella and digital inker Mark Roslan have really put a lot of detail into this issue. The faces on their characters are incredibly consistent; normally this type of consistency is seen only in animation. In fact, this book looks like a series of stills from a high end animation production, it looks that good. The opening pages in the baseball stadium have some excellent perspective work on Pages 2 and 3 for the seats, which had to be difficult to do so well. The antagonist has got just the right amount of snark and menace on his face as the kills everyone there. Once the book moves to the protagonists, those from the Blue, the characters have an almost manga-esque quality, and I like it. When Elia begins to manipulate water Avella and Roslan render it like tight threads, which makes sense for what’s occurring. On the Rig, the secret that’s revealed to Elia is done very well: it’s got an obvious science fiction edge but it’s also got a horrific feel which is perfect for how Miss Fawn feels. Every panel has a nice little detail, be it a scar in something for age or an object that adds to a  character. My favorite of these was what it is says on the back of the vehicle’s mud flap on the final page — that’s funny and sad. This book looks great. Overall grade: A

The colors: Erick Arciniega is going to town on this book. The first panel shows that he’s got major game with how he’s colored the mass of people attending this event. It one were to look closely at the throng, it’s apparent that Avella and Roslan drew some shapes in there, but Arciniega’s coloring really brings this crowd to life. Pages 2 and 3 have him doing some excellent subtle shading of the seats: they’re not one blanket color but contain many different violets, which grow paler the farther they are from the primary action. The scene on the beach has some excellent coloring for the skies, which gives it a fairy tale quality. The interior of the Rig rightly has cold blues for the scientific proceedings going on there, and to show how Maylander lacks any emotion — he’s one cold fish. This justifies Elia’s red hair, because it shows she has energy that conflicts with the Admiral. The artwork is great, but the coloring is fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, sounds, dialogue, and a television broadcast are brought to life by Josh Reed. The scene settings are something I haven’t seen before in comics. The first letter of each is done in a fancy script, suggesting the world of the Blue, but the remainder of the text is done in italics, reflecting the world above the waters. This is a nice way to make the change in locations stick out and give the book an instant fantasy element. Overall grade: A

The final line: I’m glad I picked this book up. It’s an entertaining read that shows two worlds colliding, with a team of four playing in the middle. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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