This issue sneaks up on you. At first it seems like a mix of Harry Tower/Jess Franco movies and Doctor Who’s “Inferno,” but as you read on, you find yourself surprised and enrapt.
The story begins with a Saudi attache escorting Fathom and her friends to their chambers where a surprise awaits them.
I get the feeling that the creative team are fully aware of Aspen’s reputation and decided to challenge it. The gender flip could be considered trying too hard, and of course, does nothing for me, but I wouldn’t want to see a harem of lovelies in a serious super hero adventure anyway. So, let’s judge this scene neutral.
When Fathom meets the Saudi sheik, he refers to her as Dr. Matthews. That’s a big check mark in the favor category. However, he comes off as a little cliché, at first. What with big boisterous laughing, and I start to have flashbacks to several movies with this type of character.
Okay. So far, I’m giving this book three stars, and I’m considering two if this sheik is really after Fathom’s bottom. The creative team keep the book at three however when the Shiek appears to actually want Fathom’s help. He transports her via helicopter to a magma pit. Ah, I think. Doctor Who’s “Inferno.”
Fathom changes into something more appropriate. I’m almost tempted to give the book three and a half stars. Afterall, I’m only human, and Fathom looks good, real good. Proportionate good. Thank you Alex Konat.
We’re still at three bullets, but then the story takes a twist that exhibits Beth Sotelo’s jaw-dropping colors.
It turns out that an unexplored ocean lies beneath the magma pit. Well, this causes me to blink. I start trying to wrap my head around the science. Is this even possible? Ice floats. Under the ice, water flows. Two temperature extremes common to the real world existing at the same time. This however is something different. Possible? Already, though I’m giving this book four bullets because it’s kicked my thinking processes into gear. Then, I remember that sulfur-fixing ecosystems were once thought to be impossible until explorers found them thriving near hydrothermal vents. Suddenly, the possibility of an ocean beneath a pool of magma becomes less and less improbable.
So I’m thinking Fathom has now earned four bullets but it can’t go farther. Wrong. The creative team have two surprises left. The first is a weird lifeform with an intriguing history.
The second leaves the book on an exciting cliffhanger. Bam. Five Stars. It kind of gives me the same vibe new Hawaii-Five-O did. They found a box in a car on the highway, and you’re saying to yourself, wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a head in the box. You didn’t actually believe there would be a head in the box, but damned if Kono didn’t pull that sucker out.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.