Friday, July 5, 2013

Brand New Feature: Satellite Sam #1 (Image Comics)

by Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin

It is 1951, and this is the television business. LeMONDE is a television network that produces live programs. The story opens in the middle of a commercial break of a live science fiction program, Satellite Sam. Readers are thrust into the middle of the broadcast as the issue opens in the control room. The story does not necessarily move from page to page quickly, but the way in which the story and dialogue are presented, this is a fast paced tale. It seems as though one of the actors have not shown up and his scene is coming up. In the world of live tv, can the crew pull together to make it work in time?

Fraction has an impressive handle on the world. The entire story feels like it is on fast forward and through his writing and some visual cues from Chaykin, readers will definitely experience a bit of tension or anxiety as they progress through this first issue. So much is occurring simultaneously. It is not until a few pages in that readers will pick up the differences in the word bubbles and how they help differentiate who is talking and where.

The head of the control room, a man named Dick Danning, has to make a decision about how to close out the show. He sends Libby to the actors apartment while he tries to create a backup plan. Meanwhile, a few investors are taken into another room with the intent on selling them on backing this studio's plans to work with AT&T so they can be national within four years. As the show hits a commercial break, one man heads to the scaffolding to change a lightbulb, Libby hits the streets in search of the actor, and the remaining members of the control room are working up a solution.

It all comes together in a fascinating chaos. The head writer finds a solution and the show finds its conclusion. Meanwhile, Libby has figured out why the actor did not make it to the set, and the story's B-plot finally reveals itself.

Fraction has something impressive here. The sense of opportunity and eagerness of this era is tangible to the reader. The energy that drives live television is amazingly apparent and creates quite the sensation while reading through it. Though the story looks to expand outside the individual broadcast booth as it moves forward, the way this first issue is handled proves that the creative team has a definitive handle on the story they want to tell. Though the direction it is heading looks to be somewhat mature, as evidenced by the cover of the book and its initial inside page, this first issue remains, visually, rather tame. Chaykin's art is left uncolored and the pencil work is pretty solid. There is a bit of crowding in the panels many times between the drawings and number of word balloons. Additionally, it may take a few pages to find the subtle differences between several characters who have many similarities in how they are rendered. Mostly, however, Chaykin does a good job here.

If this first issue is any indication of the voice and control that Fraction and Chaykin have for the series, this will quickly become a sought after title.

Writing: 9/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 8/10

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