Indie Comics Spotlight: Fathom, Valhalla Cindermane, Executive Assistant Assassins

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Fathom Vol. 4 #8

Assistants in the Aspen Universe have a tendency to be a lot more trouble than they’re worth. And while Judith isn’t quite an assistant in Fathom Vol. 4 #8, she does have that tendency to be a thorn in Aspen’s side. The eighth issue is written by David Wohl, with art by Alex Konat, colors by Beth Sotelo and letters by Josh Reed.

To Aspen Matthews, Nakamura is just another surface dweller who seeks to harness the power of the Blue for his own (likely nefarious) purposes. That harnessing involves infusing Judith the abilities of the Blue, an experiment that leads to less than the desired results. Those results involve lots of people learning why they shouldn’t mess with things they don’t completely understand.

This issue spent less time focused on Aspen and a lot more time looking at Judith. Judith was introduced as sort of the starry-eyed new recruit tasked with helping Aspen in her research, so watching her being transformed into something entirely different is rather interesting. She’s a rather unassuming test subject, but she appears to have at least some of the chops necessary to be a worthy opponent for Aspen.

Konat’s art looks particularly strong in this issue, effectively making Aspen out to be a truly powerful champion of the Blue. Judith has something of a Cortana thing going on and she’s shown going back and forth between control and lack thereof. It’s something that could have been a nightmare, but he handles it very well. The style is somewhat alluring and really hits home the stakes of Aspen’s world.

Fathom Vol. 4 #8 is another issue where Aspen is faced with a potentially devastating opponent. Whether or not Judith can overcome her “treatment” remains to be seen, but knowing Aspen’s world, it’s likely the ending won’t be entirely happy.

Fathom Vol. 4 #8 is in stores January 2.

Valhalla Cindermane #1 & 2

Stories of the children of god often follow a typical template. Said child is thrust into an impossible situation on Earth where they’re forced to adapt to living as a human, despite being more powerful than them. If it ain’t broke, then why fix it? That’s the approach Enemy Transmission took with Valhalla Cindermane #1 & 2. The first two issues are written by Michael Kuty, with pencils by Axel Gimenez, colors and inks by Daniel G.A. Goiz and letters by Kelly Ishikawa.

Valhalla Cindermane is a Valkyrie, tasked with bringing the dead to the Great Hall of the Slain. She currently resides in the present day world, trying to live as low profile a life as possible. That is, of course, difficult, what with her penchant for hustling at drinking games and saving lives in spectacular, high-pursuit fashion. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Perilous, an alien from another world he doomed to oblivion. As penance, he was left behind by his race, forced to confront his decision and suffer its consequences, which involved being burned alive, flung through space and injected into humanity. Perilous and Valhalla are gearing up for a big confrontation, which should lead to even more zaniness than Earth probably wants to be a part of.

Kuty’s story is–while somewhat formulaic–interesting as well. Valhalla’s reason for existence on Earth isn’t entirely clear, but it’s made apparent that she will right wrongs when necessary. Perilous is a much different case, serving a lonely life on Earth as something of a purgatory. They’re both outsiders to society, but for different reasons and with different motives.

The pencils by Gimenez are quite well done. Valhalla is very curvy, which is likely fitting of the Valkyrie myths. Perilous is very reminiscent of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, only he’s primarily black with blue accents (instead of all blue). The scenes and action in the book are very well done and other characters are illustrated accordingly to show some scale against to the two main characters.

The first two issues of Valhalla Cindermane have some promise. The story is a little standard, but the potential of Valhalla and Perilous squaring off is rather tantalizing. If the series can continue to find a purpose for Valhalla, it could shape up to be a pretty interesting story.

Valhalla Cindermane #1 & 2 are both available now at the Enemy Transmission website.

Executive Assistant: Assassins #6

Kill or be killed. If there was a headquarters for Executive Assistants, that would likely be the motto emblazoned on the floor in a fancy tile-work. It’s the motto that Lily is forced to live by in Executive Assistant: Assassins #6 from Aspen Comics. The issue is written by Vince Hernandez, with pencils by Jordan Gunderson, inks by Mark Roslan, colors by Teodoro Gonzalez and letters by Josh Reed.

Lily and Lilac. Lilac and Lily. The two Executive Assistants really don’t like one another, culminating in a brawl between the two with only one victor. Not only that, but Rose isn’t too keen on Lily. Iris is the original EA and is seen by the others as the pinnacle, but even she has a hard time keeping Lily in line. It’s all adding up to an event that could be a big deal for Executive Assistants.

Full credit to Hernandez: he’s in the EA universe. The sixth issue of the series is pretty steeped in EA lore and canon that it’s difficult for a new reader to pick it up and know what’s going on. The fight between Lily and Lilac is replete with plans being revealed and feelings uncovered. Iris’ presence as something of a mentor to Lily is interesting as well, providing her with the most sagest of EA voices.

The art by Gunderson, Roslan and Gonzalez is strong. All the pages look well-finished and there are some overlaid panel layouts. Some of the facial detail in the characters is a little lacking, but the fight scenes still manage to come through well. There are some really great scenery pages as well, accentuating the settings the characters are moving through.

The issue is familiar territory for those who know the Executive Assistant mythos. That’s not to say there’s nothing new here, but the stories of powerful women fighting each other to wrest control of their lives away from others continues. For those who’ve never read the series, this isn’t the best issue to start with, as there’s a lot of backstory you’ll need before jumping in.

Executive Assistant: Assassins #6 is available in stores now


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