‘Satellite Sam’ #1: The Comic You Should Be Reading This Week

Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin hand in a superior noir with an odd history. In addition to that, we’ve got reviews of books from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, and Valiant. But first, let’s talk about the children’s show hero murdered with a bunch of dirty pictures.

Satellite Sam has an odd history. It’s based, in a weird way, off Howard Chaykin’s influential, and controversial Black Kiss; Fraction, unable to read the comic when it came out back in the ’80s, instead formed an image of what he thought the book was about. And then twenty-five years or so later, he writes it, and gets Chaykin to draw it.

It’s undeniably a noir story, built around the golden age of live television. Fraction, however, approaches the era with zero nostalgia: Satellite Sam is a crappy show slapped together at the last minute by hacks, and everybody involved knows it. But it’s a hit, and the network is hoping to leverage that into more growth. Meanwhile, the actor playing Sam turns up dead in a crappy apartment, and his son discovers dear old Dad has been collecting pinup shots of hundreds of women.

Chaykin and Fraction go together very, very well. Chaykin is of course an old hand at this, but the book is filled with clever layout tricks and subtle details that make the book pop. The opening pages are claustrophobic, with tall, narrow panels as the pressure slowly rises in the control room. It perfectly accents Fraction’s plotting and dialogue.

It’s decidedly off-beat, but you won’t find a more different book on the stands. But you will find some excellent ones to read, such as for example…

<!–pagetitle:Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1–>

Pandora is, of course, key to the upcoming Trinity War event, but to this point, she’s a fairly mysterious character. We know she’s immortal and tied to both the Phantom Stranger and the Question, but little beyond that. So Ray Fawkes has a chance to fill in the blanks, and he makes some fascinating choices.

First, Pandora doesn’t really have any superpowers, per se. She can’t throw around magic, she can’t teleport, and her one “power” is mostly that she can’t die, although she really, really wants to. What she can do, however, is kick ass. When you’ve got thousands of years with nothing to do, a girl has to get a hobby.