Fathom was originally created back in the late 90’s by artist Michael Turner, who died of cancer in 2008. There have been many series, miniseries, and one-shots featuring this character (this series is listed as Vol. Six), both before and after Turner’s death, but I have never read any of them. I picked this up, purely on the basis of the writer, Blake Northcott, whose novels I have enjoyed. So I am going into this title completely blind, knowing absolutely nothing about the title character or her history, and the question is can Miss Northcott make this book accessible to new readers, as well as old ones?
Thankfully the answer is a resounding YES!
From what I gather, our lead character “Fathom” (who is never actually referred to by that name in this issue) is a young woman named Aspen Matthews. She appears human, but is actually part of an undersea race called The Blue. She has various water-based powers, including the ability to breath underwater and to control water (enabling her to do things like “stand” on water and create tidal waves) as well as to control her body’s density, making her either solid enough to survive at the lowest ocean depths, or basically intangible, preventing weapons from harming her. She’s been living above ground for some time, in San Diego to be precise, working as a Marine Biologist, with her female roommate Tyler (a journalist), and she also has a boyfriend named Chance, both of whom are aware of her background and abilities but, as this story begins, the general public is not.
That’s pretty much all the info we’re given, but while plenty of questions remain, it’s enough to enable the reader to follow the story, for now. Blake utilizes the narrative technique of having Aspen tell this story to Tyler, as we see the scenes play out in flashbacks. This also helps the reader get caught up. Blake has a good feel for dialog, as the conversation between Aspen and Tyler flows naturally, sounding like two real woman would sound, so it never feels like forced exposition.
Investigating an anomaly at the bottom of the ocean, just off the coast, Aspen encounters a strange man who has powers similar to her own, who claims to be a “God,” and warns of the impending destruction of her race. A brutal fight both on water and on land ensues, during which Aspen’s powers are exposed to the public, making her an instant internet sensation. The bad guy is determined to kill Aspen, and any innocent humans who happen to get in the way. Aspen must use her wits to defeat him, but is still left with more questions than answers in the end.
That’s all I will say, to avoid major spoilers, but this turned out to be an extremely satisfying first issue. Blake provides just the right mix of action scenes and dramatic scenes, along with a smattering of humor, when appropriate. As I already mentioned, I was particularly impressed with the interaction between Aspen and Tyler, especially during a sequence where Tyler surfs the internet to gauge the public’s reaction to Aspen’s appearance, which shows how clearly attuned Blake is to today’s net-obsessed society. And she’s brilliantly backed by the art team of Marco Renna (pencils), Mark Roslan (inks) and John Starr (colors) who do a fantastic job, especially in way Aspen is drawn as sexy, but without falling into cheap “cheesecake” territory.
When I finished this issue, I couldn’t wait for the next one. All New Fathom #1 gets a Chacebook rating of 5 STARS
Categories: BLAKE NORTHCOTT