If you rummaged through the piles of comics and graphic novels crammed on my book shelves, stacked on my floor or stowed away in boxes, you’d come across titles such as Dark Horse’s Hellboy: House of the Living Dead, Del Rey’s The Dresden Files or DC’s Arkham Asylum. The one thing that each of these books have in common? A great writer. Hellboy is written by Mike Mignola, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison.
So when I got the chance to review Michael Turner’s Fathom #4 from Aspen Comics I jumped at it. The writer for the issue is none other than Scott Lobdell, who hit it big in the 1990’s with his lengthy run on Marvel’s X-Men books and didn’t look back, penning stories for such noteworthy books as Aspen’s The Scourge, Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Image Comics’ WildCats and more recently DC Comics’ Teen Titans.
If you’re not familiar with Fathom, it’s sort of like Witchblade under water. The series stars heroine marine biologist Aspen Matthews, the offspring of two underwater humanoid races, The Blue and The Black. Her ancestry gives her the unique ability to feel comfortable both on land or hundreds of feet below the water’s surface.
In Fathom #4, “Grasping for air not there,” Aspen makes an astonishing discovery: she uncovers a mysterious living structure in an ocean miles below the Sahara Desert. When she touches the structure, Aspen is “sucked in”—shades of Alice in Wonderland—to be confronted not by the White Rabbit or Mad Hatter, but a bitter Japanese businessman bent on exploiting the advanced technology of The Blue—her ancestors—to extract vengeance against those that killed his lady love in the destruction of the Deep Water Discovery project and maybe threatening the planet to boot.
One of the technologies of the Blue is a helmet of “liquid air,” which allows divers to breathe underwater without any oxygen tanks.
Lobdell, teamed with artist Alex Konat, draws the reader in right from the start and builds on the action, weaving a well-paced, well-crafted, imaginitive story of mystery and suspense.
And the art is phenomenal. Aspen and her environs are beautifully rendered. Konat (with an assist from Cory Smith), colorist Beth Sotelo and letterer Josh Reed create layouts that are dynamic with colors that pop. My favorite page is the opening splash page showing Aspen looking at the stained glass window of a mysterious cathedral deep in the ocean. Some of the layouts of the subsequent pages, for example, echo this stained glass feel.
If you are a fan of Lobdell or Konat, you need to add this title to your regular reading list.