When I heard Aspen was releasing a Fathom Primer, I wasn’t sure what that would involve. Would it just be the first issue, released again for profit? Would they add anything new? Considering the series just started a fourth volume, that’s quite a bit of information to squeeze into one 32-page comic. The Primer’s actually a quick recap of the entire first volume of Fathom. At the end, it has summaries of the other two volumes, so by the time you’re done reading it, you’re basically caught up with the entire series thus far.
Deciding to release the Primer on the same day as #0, which starts the fourth volume, was a pretty good move on their part. Nobody really wants to start a series when it’s almost 40 issues in already. Basically this comic is meant to either get new readers hooked with an exciting, earth-shattering — quite literally — read and give fans of the series a quick refresher. After all, the first issue of Fathom was released back in August of 1998, nearly 13 years ago. A repeat of remembrance isn’t exactly a bad thing.
As a fan of pretty much anything Mike Turner, I’ve been following along with the Fathom series for a while now. Because of that, I didn’t really need to buy this Primer, but like I said, I was curious to see what they’d include and figured I could add it to the collection. After reading it, I’d probably still say about the same. If you already know what happens, it’s not a necessary buy, but it’s only a dollar and it’s nice to add to any collection. If anyone’s thinking of getting into the series, it’s a pretty decent read that’ll give you an idea of what Fathom is all about. It’s nice to have a preview before you invest in reading something, but there are spoilers, so keep that in mind.
For those of you that don’t already know, Fathom is made up of two worlds — the human one on land and the world of the sea people below the waves of the ocean. The story centers around a young woman, Aspen Matthews, who led a normal life, went to a prestigious school and did a doctorate thesis on marine biology on the ocean floor. Her world’s turned upside down when she finds out that there’s actually humanoid sea creatures called the Blue living in the water and she’s instantly drawn to them.
The Primer consists of maybe 10-15 pages of Aspen’s escapades with Killian, one of the Blue. It covers her training, one of her greatest mistakes and a revelation about her newfound mentor. As for Volumes 2 and 3, there are a few pages at the end that are simple summaries with some small pictures, but it’s not really done in comic form. I’m not sure if they’re planning on releasing a Fathom Primer #2 that covers Volume 2, but that might be why they chose to simply summarize the other volumes at the end.
Sadly, Michael Turner passed on back in 2008 and didn’t make it past Fathom Volume 2, but his art style has lived on through the wonderful team of artists, pencillers, inkers and colorists. Fathom and Soulfire were his pride and joy, but Turner spent a lot of time doing covers for other series. His Red Sonja #1 cover with the snake is one of my favorite comic covers to date and I’ve long admire his work in Witchblade, so it’s entirely possible that the combination of Mike Turner and Marc Silvestri is what got me into comics in the first place. Turner’s one of those artists where you see his work and you automatically recognize it as his. His attention to detail and ability to draw the perfect lines of the human form have earned him an A in my book. He can also give characters a feel you get from just looking at them. For instance, when he draws a villain, you can sense the sinister intent creep off the page in a way that’ll have you pointing at the picture and yelling, “He did it!” The only downside to his art is that a lot of his male characters look alike. They all have a powerful, businessman aura with broad shoulders and a strong jawline — masculinity incarnate. Pretty much the main male characters are the same guys drawn with different hairstyles and the same can be said of the females, but to a lesser degree. Not to say that the art is anything less than spectacular. The artwork is what drew me to Fathom and then the story hooked me. My hat’s off to the artistry crew and the amazing work they’ve been doing over the years.
Overall, the Primer is really only useful to get people interested in Fathom. Unless you want it to add to a collection, most fans won’t really want to buy this to tell them what they already know. But if you’re looking to get into it and want a taste of what it’s all about, the Primer is a great read. It comes off a little rushed, but they’re condensing 15 issues into one, excluding the summaries of Volume 2 and 3 at the end. I love the series and I’ve been following it for years, so I can honestly say it’s a good one to get into, especially if you like the ocean. There’s a solid plot with decent character development throughout and I’m interested to see what they come up with for Volume 4.