Aspen Comics Preview for July 27, 2011

Executive Assistant: Violet #1 of 3

Written by Marc Andreyko
Pencils by Pop Mhan
Colors by John Starr

The Executive Assistant extended series continues to impress with its newest miniseries offering, Executive Assistant: Violet. In my earlier reviews, I enjoyed EA: Iris, found EA: Orchid too sexist, and thought that EA: Lotus was emotionally deep. EA: Violet strikes a balance that the other books don’t. While it lacks the emotional depth of EA: Lotus, it also doesn’t make you feel like you’re watching the dealings of highly-priced assassin prostitutes.

Violet is a very no-nonsense Executive Assistant. She even goes as far as to say, “You hired me as a bodyguard, not a concubine. While some of the other Executive Assistants may become intimate with their employers, I am not one of them.” This made me enjoy the book infinitely more than Orchid, in which the title character allows herself to be slapped around and used by her bosses.

This book doesn’t have much in the way of action scenes. There are two pages of an assassination attempt, but this book doesn’t have the graphic gore of Orchid, or the shocking violent turn of Lotus.

The artwork is much like the other Executive Assistant books. One thing that caught my eye was the panels. During the action scenes, the panels shifted from standard squares and rectangles, to slanted, trapezoidal shapes.  It’s a good change that adds some motion to the page.

Overall, I thought that Executive Assistant: Violet was a decent book. Not great, but the character is likable and her smarmy boss is, in a strange way, compelling. In looks and in personality, Henry Vincent comes across as a version of Sterling Archer from Archer.

This book gets 3 out of 5 throwing knives.


Fathom Vol.4, #1 – The Detritus Rising

Written by Scott Lobdell
Penciled by Alex Konat
Colored by Beth Sotelo

Fathom Volume 4, Issue 1 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense following up the zero issue that came out earlier this year. Now, maybe one wasn’t meant to follow the other, but I can’t help but try to make connections between the two books.  In the last book, Aspen is fighting to escape a scientific laboratory, but in this issue, she is living in one.

Most of this book is dedicated to showing Aspen’s great water-based powers, and also the contempt that most people have towards her. Even in her most heroic moments, she is ridiculed. However, Aspen does have a few friends who still accept her duel nature. I enjoy this set-up, especially since she’ll have to infiltrate human society soon. Her struggle to be accepted by humans is easily one of the most compelling facets of this series.

The villain in this issue is pretty great, however, it seemed like he was a little too easily dispatched by Aspen. He was impervious to bullets, but she was still able to kill him quickly. This’ll be interesting to see in future issues, where more of them are likely to show up, but Aspen’s obstacle will be not how to kill them, but how to get to them.

Aspen’s inner monologue at the beginning of the book was funny and insightful. Instead of just providing narration, it set up the story while simultaneously being aware that talking to yourself is “not healthy”.

The artwork is beautiful as always. The science lab, The Wave, was especially impressive.

This issue did an outstanding job of prepping new readers, such as myself, with the basic information of Aspen’s current situation, as well as setting up new action for the rest of the series. The way that Fathom #1 ends on a cliffhanger, as well as the teaser image for issue 2, has me wanting to read more. Fathom, Volume 4, Issue 1 gets a rating of 3.5 out of 5 starfish.


Soulfire Vol 3, #2 – A Plague on Both Your Houses

Written by J.T. Krul
Pencils by Jason Fabok
Colors by John Starr

Oh, Soulfire, I just don’t know what to do with you. On the one hand, I really want to like the Soulfire series. On the other, I just feel so lost in the story. We’re on Soulfire’s third volume, however, I find that it’s been much easier to get into the story of Fathom than it has to get into this one.

One problem that I have with getting into the story is that I don’t know much about the main characters, Malikai in particular. He was the main character in the first two volumes (as I understand it), but now he’s in exile, and he hasn’t yet revealed his true nature to Paula. Paula, for her part, seems to be a tough woman, and I think that when it comes time to do some damage to some villains, she will be more than ready to stand beside Malikai.

Onyx’s battle with Grace and the Rahtumi is the best of the three books that I’ve read this week. It is both terrifying and exhilarating, and ends with a major good-guy death. As Grace says, “It’s the beginning of a war.”

As the shadow magic has been released by Onyx in the last issue, it has started to disrupt things in the “real world”.  The sudden appearance of a dark being at the end of the book makes me want to continue on to the next issue. Things are about to get crazy for Malikai, and I’m ready to see what he can do.

Soulfire’s artwork is also the best of the three books. Everyone is just so pretty to look at. Well, not everybody, as some of the evil demonspawn is just downright terrifying and ugly. The colors are so beautiful and vivid. Fabok and Starr do a great job on Soulfire, and their work is keeping me interested in the series.

Although I’m having trouble connecting the dots in Soulfire’s story, it seems to be coming together, and I’m going to continue to try and understand it. Sadly, the writing just hasn’t grabbed my imagination in the way that makes me want to keep reading. The artwork has, but the writing hasn’t. For this reason, I’m going to give Soulfire, Volume 3, Issue 2 2.5 out of 5 magical fairy wings. It had an amazing battle scene, but without being emotionally involved, it just came across as a great piece of art.

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Mary Knize, Captain Painway, "C-Pain", and formerly Mary Staggs, was Panels on Pages' May 2010 Fangirl of the Month and is a former rollergirl. When she's not busy writing, she's probably playing a video game. She also loves Wikipedia and science.

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