on 23 June 2012
It all comes down to this. After a year and a half since Vol. 2, "Fathom Vol. 3" started in June 2008 and 10 issues later concluded in February 2010, here in its entirety in "Fathom: Vol. 3 - Worlds At War", concluding the vision of its creator, Michael Turner, who sadly would not live to see his opus finished after losing his battle with bone cancer. By this point it should be clear if you're a fan of Fathom, and chances are if you've read Vol. 2 then you have a clear idea about what to expect going into this third and in a way final volume.
The sense of finality plays a heavy role in this volume, and by now if you've read previous volumes you know the drill: ambitious story, even more ambitious visuals, with Michael Turner's notes being made by J.T. Krul and Sal Regla who return as writer and inker with penciling and colouring duties by Alé Garza and John Starr. Aspen and Chance continue their relationship, isolated from the rest of the world as Aspen decides which side she will stand with as relations between the US Navy and the Blue escalate, while the Black finally begin their rise to the surface to regain their place as the dominant species on earth once again, and a very much alive Killian plots his revenge against the humans by forming a new group of disgruntled Blue, all routes leading to a standoff between all four factions in Istanbul, Turkey. Where the story lacks with less exposition unlike the previous volumes, it makes up with an incredible build-up to the climactic ending, and by the time the page has been turned and several key characters have passed away as you read this book, there is a real sense that this is the end of the story Michael Turner envisioned up to and from now on the series will move into uncharted waters as it continues on its own.
The biggest problem with this book though, as was a minor but still noteworthy point of Vol. 2, is once again pieces of backstory are deliberately left out, encouraging you with "*" references to read " Fathom: Kiani, Vol. 1 - Blade of Fire", and while in Vol. 2 these omissions didn't impact greatly on the story, this time around the missing details have greater importance when reading this book, with some characters now aligned with different people and harbouring different motivations, and begs the question as to why Aspen MLT didn't include the comic in this book rather than simply for the reason to squeeze more money out of the comic's loyal readers. In short, if you want the full experience, you have to have read "Blade of Fire" beforehand.
Unlike the previous two volumes, there is no further reading once the main story is finished and instead only various covers for the issues are included in the back pages, but considering the sense of finality that weighs heavily when reading this book, the fact that this in a way ends the Fathom story means a lack of additional work helps maintain the feeling that this is the end of the story you have followed since it started in August 1998.
Truth be told: Vol. 3 is a relatively flawed book, with important information deliberately left out to expoit the need to purchase the extra works on Fathom that are out there, but based on the content left to read and the feeling that this is the end of this three-volume story, what's left fires on all cylinders with a great build-up, a tremendous climax and an emotional ending that marks the end of this particular story but also provides you with a sense of hope that Fathom does have a future beyond just what Michael Turner had envisioned up to, and Vol. 3 ends up being a fitting conclusion to a rather unique and intriguing story that shows just how great comic book writing can truly be.