Aspen Comics Review – Mindfield #6, Fathom Blue Descent #3, Executive Assistant: Lotus #2, Executive Assistant: Orchid #2 and Executive Assistant: Iris #2

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I’m pretty new to the Aspen Comics world.  I remember when Fathom first launched and that the art stood out at that time. Michael Turner‘s style stood out from what else was on the shelves and was beautiful to look at.  Over a decade later Aspen Comics is going strong with numerous other series doing their best to imitate and pay homage to Turner’s unique style (Turner passed away in 2008).

Other than Lady Mechanika, I’ve never read an Aspen comic book before and the difficulty with this review was going into these five comic books without having read the previous comics.  I was worried they wouldn’t make sense and I’d walk away irritated that the comics weren’t inviting.  I admit there was more than what I understood, but overall the comics were penetrable for new readers and without any background, I quickly figured out what was going on.

But, how does each of them hold up?

Mindfield #6

Mindfield #6 CoverWritten by J.T. Krul, Alex Konat on pencils, inks by Jon Bolerjack and color done by John Starr, the series is about a C.I.A elite team of telepathic agents fighting to stop a terror group from setting off a nuclear bomb.  I found the story pretty interesting, but having missed the previous five issues, a lot, especially at the end didn’t have much impact to me.  Overall though, the story was very fast paced and kept me on my toes.

The concept is interesting but this issue really felt like an episode of 24, with the team scrambling to stop the bomb.  Replace the gun fight you’d see in that show instead with a battle within someone’s mind and they’re similar.  The art was pretty good, though there’s minor issues here and there, but some of the perspective and use of panels was solid, especially in the mindscape battle.

I was a bit lost not having read earlier issues, so I can’t recommend this for new readers, but for those who have read previous issues, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  There’s enough here that I want to go back and read the previous five issues, but also might wait for the eventual trade paperback.  It’s a solid book and as the first entry of the bunch I’ve read, I knew right away the rest of the books would be worth my time.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy (new readers wait for the trade)

Fathom Blue Descent #3

Fathom was the property I knew out of the bunch.  Written by David Schwartz, art by Alex Sanchez and colors by Peter Steigerwald this mini-series revolves about Aspen Matthew’s parents.  The style here is pretty interesting with a unique look to the characters, and I sort of understood what was going on.  The issue was coming in new, I have no emotional attachment to the characters.  I don’t know enough to care.  What was impressive though, is even with over a decade of continuity behind it, it was still pretty inviting to read.  There was some things I liked, others I didn’t, but that’s judging from an outsider.  Ask a Fathom fan, I’m sure you’ll get a different response.

The good about the series was the tension build up and I had no idea what was going to happen.  There was also a Star Wars vibe going on where they needed to rescue the princess. That’s where the emotional connection was that I didn’t have though.  Without knowing these two characters and their history, it’s hard to really care what happens and get into the story.  There’s a lot that’s cool here and enough that I want to check out more, but I have to judge what’s put before me.

This is a tough one to rate, and without having read the previous two issues or the Fathom stories before, I can’t quite recommend it due to a lack of connection.  I felt like I was coming in on the middle of something, but for Fathom fans, I’m sure it’s a buy.

Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Pass

Executive Assistant: Lotus #2, Executive Assistant: Orchid #2 and Executive Assistant: Iris #2

I’m lumping all three of these comics together because I walked away with the same feeling about them and my grades are similar enough for each.  These three comics are part of a bigger event story called The Hitlist Agenda.  Basically the executive assistants are trained female assassins.  They have bodies with unrealistic proportions, wear clothing that’s not practical and can kill the President of Paraguay with a fork (bonus points if you get the reference).  Basically, all three series are a fanboys dreams.

What’s interesting is all three of these comics I began to read with the second issue, and with all three I was pretty good.  With minor tweaks they could be stand alone stories of female assassins kicking ass.  Each had a pretty distinct voice, style and look that made them stand out.  The issue I had with all three is clearly there’s a bigger story going on.  I picked up bits a pieces involving a war between India and Pakistan, somehow Israel is involved and shady folks who shape world events.  There’s a lot I like here.  Basically this reminds me of Archaia’s The Killer, but Americanized (ie bigger explosions, skimpier clothes and a bit more blunt).

These are three comics I want to read more of and with only an issue missed for each, that should be simple.  Iris though is in it’s second volume and reading the teaser text for that, I might need to go back and read that as well, but the point is I want to. 

Out of all the comics I read, the art of these three was the most inconsistent.  Some of it’s beautiful, there’s great stuff, don’t get me wrong.  But that amazing work also makes me focus on issues with proportions and sizes of simple things like heads.  But, I can overlook that because I was so entertained, enough so you better believe I’m going back to see what I’ve missed.  This is a big budget action movie with sexy women in the lead, yes please!

Credits:

Executive Assistant: Lotus #2Vince Hernandez – writer, Oliver Nome – art, Emilio Lopez – colors

Executive Assistant: Orchid #2Scott Lobdell – story, Micah Gunnell – art, Rob Still – inks, David Curiel – colors

Executive Assistant: Iris #2David Wohl – writer, Eduardo Francisco – art, Sunny Gho – colors

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Aspen Comics provided Graphic Policy with an advance copy of these issues for FREE for review.