It’s been almost an entire year since we last looked at an issue of Satellite Sam, and now we come back on #10, the last issue of the second arc. Better late than never I suppose? I reread through the entire first half and all the issues of the second arc before this one to reacquaint myself with what’s going on, so let’s see how this finale goes. Is it good?
Satellite Sam #10 (Image Comics)
Back in my reviews for the fourth and fifth issues, I said I was skipping the story summary I normally do for my reviews because there is just too much happening. The same will be done here as well, for the very same reason. There is just a ton of story going on here and there’s too much to cover, for good and for ill.
What I mean about that is that this series still retains its biggest issue that’s been haunting it since fourth issue: there are just too many plotlines and characters in here. Almost every single character in this comic has a storyline and motivations, and it interweaves with another character or storyline. The series is trying to do so much at once, that is just for the life of it cannot balance any of these stories, leading to moments where storylines or plots just get dragged out or almost forgotten in the grand scheme of thing. The biggest example of all of this is the whole murder mystery (you know, the big storyline that started everything), which barely got any focus at all during this arc except this issue and a rare mention in previous ones.
This is sooooo riveting.
The other problem with trying to do all of these stories with their own characters is that honestly, not everything here is interesting or even all that well fleshed out or developed. The entire subplot with Guy being outed as gay and being blackmailed? It’s not particularly interesting, since Guy himself has really no other character trait to him other than being gay. That entire storyline where Dr. Joseph Ginsberg is trying to keep the company from going under? It got a token mention in this issue, but hasn’t really affected anything yet. Or how about the entire character of Eve Echol, the woman that Eugene Ford was struggling to get from his new show during the entire first arc? Well… she’s in the story, but we still know really nothing about her. Or Dick Danning, who’s dying of lung cancer. Why should we care about him? He’s been a background character who served little point up until he got lung cancer out of the blue and we’re supposed to be upset that he died or that characters cared, considering we’ve seen so little interaction between him and them throughout the series. Honestly, that’s the problem here: poor development for a lot of these characters and storylines that used to be intriguing at one point.
I say “for a lot of these”, not “all of these.” When I say that, I mean that there are some decent and interesting plotlines and characters here. When we do actually see development with the murder mystery, it’s quite interesting and makes you curious about who, why, and how they did it. Michael White, our protagonist, feels like a fleshed out character in comparison to most… to a certain degree (Matt Fraction seems to pick out character traits/flaws for him at random points and have them go away or be more upfront whenever it’s convenient to the plot). The storyline with Eugene Ford, his TV show, and his secret is quite good and well done, since Ford had been slowly developing over time and his behavior began to make sense after the reveal. Hell, the ending of this issue leaves a lot of these storylines, even the less than interesting ones, off on good and intriguing notes to give the audience a reason to come back. There is good here and hopefully Fraction can turn this around in the final arc next year.
But enough about the plot and the story, what about the rest of the writing in this comic? Well, it’s perfectly fine. The dialogue is alright, though there are very little memorable lines and it can be kind of dry at times. The pacing is again alright, but gets dragged down by some of the more dialogue heavy scenes. The characterization is fine, even if the characters are forgettable or don’t do much. The story flow is decent, though again, it’s trying to do a tad too much at points to where it’s hard to keep track of everything. Honestly, there is a lot of work here to be done that does need some more ironing out to improve upon.
The artwork is also so-so, honestly. While it still remains good at capturing the feeling and tone of the 1950s, it’s just kind of unimpressive otherwise. The characters still tend look similar to one another, there’s not anything particularly visually impressive in the book, and the word balloons can be tricky to figure out who they go to without any lines to connecting to the characters. The art’s not bad ultimately, but it’s not visually stunning or memorable here either.
Is It Good?
Satellite Sam #10 ends the second arc on a good note… but it still retains a lot of the plots that have plaguing this comic, especially this arc. It’s trying to do too much, characters and storylines are not all fleshed out equally or given enough effort, it feels like drags on at points, and the artwork is only okay. With the finale to series coming next year, that’s where it can hopefully turn around and go out strongly. However, at this point, it’s almost hard to get all that excited or invested anymore.