Matt Fraction's scummy sex-soaked tale of mid-20th century television turns its attention to the history of Kara Kelly, the party girl turned evangelical who was recently revealed to be a member of Sam's box of dirty pictures. While she's an old cliché, Fraction's ear for dialogue and detail of the characters and their shame haunted world makes her backstory an absorbing read and stands as probably the most engaging issue of 'Sam' yet. I'm beginning to think I've misjudged the length of the comic however, as I'd assumed it was a miniseries, but considering the methodical novel-like way the information is doled out, it seems the book is slated for a long run. This kind of unhurried storytelling seems to be the reward for commercial success these days as writers like Fraction and Hickman earn recognizable names writing for the "Big Two" before returning to indies, leveraging their fan-bases to write the stories they want to tell with reduced editorial and commercial pressures. And 'Sam' is definitely non-commercial, it's an adult book and not just because of the constant dingy sweat-stink horniness that reeks off the page, it's a mature mystery story that doesn't rush the scandal.
It's not to say I don't have some minor detractions, like I mentioned in the review for #2 the pacing and size of cast seems better suited for collected volumes, as I had a little difficulty distinguishing some of the characters and their relationship to the plot. As this is an occasional difficulty I have it could just be me, however I still hold the book will be an improved experience read collected with the spider-web laid out in full.
Chaykin's art continues to be stellar, at this point further praise just becomes redundant, perfectly suited for Fraction. With the conclusion of the issue seeming to be the start of the mystery's actual investigation it looks like we're in for the long haul as Micheal begins slowly pulling threads from his father's secret life, but reading a monthly book of this quality and maturity, I say the longer the better.
Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Howard Chaykin Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 9/4/13