Indie Comics Spotlight: All New Fathom Volume 6 #1, John Carter: The End #1, and Crossfire #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

All New Fathom Volume 6 #1


“So you got punched in the face by God?”

When you’re tasked with being a custodian for a culture, there can be a lot of pressure. Fortunately for Aspen Mathews, she’s dealt with that pressure before on multiple occasions. All of that pressure has no doubt prepared her for her latest conflict in All New Fathom Volume 6 #1 from Aspen Comics. The issue is written by Blake Northcott, illustrated by Marco Renna, inked by Mark Roslan, colored by John Starr, and lettered by Zen.

Now, the preeminent heroine must navigate the treacherous divide between the humans and her ancestral people of The Blue – as well as the surprises in store for both races in this all-new FATHOM landscape where anything is possible!

As a character, Aspen Mathews has always had to contend with the responsibility of being a bridge between two worlds and Northcott doesn’t shy away from that in All New Fathom Volume 6 #1. Her take on Aspen is more of a modern, millennial one that emphasizes her youthfulness – despite her storied history as a champion of the two worlds. Northcott does a great job of parlaying that personality into a re-introduction of sorts for the character, telling the story through Aspen retelling the story to a friend. There’s also general social media trends worked in as well that Northcott leans on to emphasize a powerful subtext about perception being reality. The overall plot isn’t exactly new in terms of the character, but Northcott does use it effectively as a starting point for a larger, more overarching plot.

Renna’s illustrations match Northcott’s more youthful take on the character. Aspen is rendered as vibrant and full of vigor which helps support the notion that she’s capable of defending people on land from threats in the ocean and vice versa. Renna offers a stark, visual contrast in her opponent throughout the issue, presenting him as an older being stuck in a different era of thinking. The sharp linework keeps the appearance in line with other entries in the Fathom comic series and Renna doesn’t oversexualize the character gratuitously. Roslan’s inks and colors by Starr’s colors are bright and vivid, offering a great visual difference in the locales the fight travels to.

All New Fathom Volume 6 #1 is something of a reboot for a property that’s been around for quite some time. Aspen Mathews isn’t exactly squaring off a challenge she hasn’t encountered before, but the encounter will create an interesting plotline as the series progresses. Northcott’s take on the character emphasizes a youthful exuberance that could go a long way to revitalizing the character. Renna’s illustrations are equally as buoyant, focusing on sharp lines to give the characters standing against the backdrops. All New Fathom Volume 6 #1 is a solid first issue that offers a fresh take on a familiar character.

All New Fathom Volume 6 #1 is available now.

John Carter: The End #1


“Where is John Carter?”

As far as planetary liberators go, John Carter is one of the best-known. Most of his work was done on Mars, but his reputation has spread throughout the universe far and wide. In John Carter: The End #1 from Dynamite Comics, his reputation is put to the test as he seeks to step back from his notoriety. The issue is written by Brian Wood and Alex Cox, illustrated by Hayden Sherman, colored by Chris O’Halloran, and lettered by Thomas Napolitano.

Centuries have passed and time has taken its toll. Conflict burns across the landscape of Barsoom. A war of supremacy and genocide at the hands of a brutal despot has brought the planet to the edge of collapse. A search party has finally located an aged John Carter and Dejah Thoris, living in quiet seclusion on a desert moon, in perpetual mourning for a lost son. How could they be Mars’ last hope?

The tone in John Carter: The End #1 is one of pessimism and despair. Both Wood and Cox do an excellent job of conveying that sense of gloom through the brooding John Carter and depressed Dejah Thoris, both of whom are in mourning. The pervasive sense of dread shines through, as Wood and Cox let the reader know that the Carter and Thoris aren’t really as keen on doing what they’re best known for in liberating oppressed worlds. And the plot itself is pretty interesting as the writers manage to make the John Carter mythos feel somewhat refreshed. What’s most amazing about the issue that there’s really not a lot of dialogue throughout, but Wood and Cox still manage to tell a pretty emotional story where the characters’ facial expressions convey the tone.

Those facial expressions are handled quite masterfully by Sherman’s unique artistic approach. He illustrates the characters in a way that’s very stylized, emphasizing jagged edges for the characters. The bold outlines are sharp and cut against the sparsely illustrated backgrounds, allowing Sherman to focus on the aforementioned characters. The harsh artistic approach lends itself well to the narrative and Sherman really leans on that to bolster the sense of despair throughout the issue. O’Halloran’s colors are somewhat washed out in a way that make the desolate landscape feel that much more desolate.

John Carter: The End #1 is an issue that focuses on the minimal. John Carter and Dejah Thoris are two tired saviors who wear their trials and tribulations tiredly. The story by Wood and Cox is a fascinating take on the two heroes who are thrust into the thick of war yet another time – even if they don’t want it. The artwork by Sherman is as haggard as the characters themselves and lends itself well to the overarching tone of the issue. John Carter: The End #1 is a pretty heady foray into the character with an illustrious history that turns some of that history on its head.

John Carter: The End #1 is available now.

Crossfire #1


“Sometimes the answer is always no.”

The premise of a government-funded super-team is not a new one. There’s something interesting about the notion of the government financing a group of individuals to wage their wars for them. In Crossfire #1 from Splotch Comics, that concept is taken in a slightly different direction. The issue is written by Andrew J. Lucas, illustrated by Wong Comics, and lettered by Nikki Sherman.

After being hired by the Earth Protection Agency to form a team of supers, Detroit-based mercenary Crossfire leads his team into battle against local crime.

Lucas attempts to introduce the reader to a new group of superheroes in Crossfire #1, but the introductions feel a little scattered. There are plenty of generic powers represented by the players and Lucas doesn’t really do much to make them stand out in any way. The pacing of the narrative is just as erratic, in that Lucas crashes through their introductions as a set-up for a potential set-up by the end of the issue. That further compounds the confusing plot, in that Lucas doesn’t really give the reader much to digest other than just a bunch of action sequences. And the issue ends pretty abruptly as if Lucas is forcing a cliffhanger by just breaking up a specific scene.

The artwork by Wong Comics is pretty scattered in its approach as well. The members of Crossfire’s team all sport the same red garb, yet there’s little to distinguish one from another in the thick of battle. Characters are illustrated by a somewhat relaxed approach that sort of undercuts the frenetic tone the story is trying to set. The backgrounds appear to be rendered in a base fashion and the characters themselves don’t really sport an appearance that’s unique or new. And the colors are primarily reds and blacks which tries to give the book a more mercenary-like look.

Crossfire #1 is a pretty confusing comic at times that isn’t really sure what it wants to be. Crossfire and his team of “heroes” are all powered individuals who fight crime for the government and are pretty good at their job. Lucas really wants to tell a story about superheroes fighting crime, but there are some basic elements of the narrative that seem glossed over. The artwork by Wong Comics is fairly basic and doesn’t really infuse the book with anything that really stands out. Crossfire #1 is a generic first issue that doesn’t really hit the mark.

Crossfire #1 is available now.

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