Fathom Volume 1: A World Below

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

In 1998, this was probably one of the highlights of the graphic novel industry, and among my favourite comic styles. I followed what I could find of Michael Turner's Witchblade series but never got around to starting Fathom until this collection. I don't think I'll proceed; it was laborious trying to follow the story. While the art is what I remember from that era, I don't think it dated very well unless you're unto oversexualised portrayals of the human form, which was also popular and expected of the same era. Fans would probably find this pleasingly collectable. 2.5 stars for the art, 0.5 star for the nostalgia.

This eARC was courtesy of of NetGalley.
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My Rating : 3.5

Okay, the storyline given in the blurb was what attracted me to this novel, and was really excited to look at the artwork as well! Omg I cannot start to explain how gorgeous the artwork and the coloring in this book is, and how extremely detailed the characters are. The storyline was pretty awesome and I would have loved to read more of it though. I felt the number of pages were really small and I couldn't get a real picture of how the actual plot-line is going to be. But other than that, I really loved how this graphic novel turned out, and if you are a fan of amazing artwork then you should definitely check this out!
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ARC from Netgalley. Professionally reviewed for Diamond Bookshelf.

Aspen Matthews grew up on a cruise ship that was lost at sea for 10 years. Her whereabouts before that time are unknown to her, and while she has become a successful marine biologist with a promising future, she is still curious about her past. The past begins to rear itself, however, when she is invited to study on an underwater laboratory known only as the DMD, or Deep Marine Discovery. It is there where she meets Killian, a strange man who is both not human and can breathe underwater.

A US Navy test pilot is performing maneuvers in a prototype amphibious fighter jet near the DMD. When his wingman is killed by otherworldly looking underwater craft, this hothead takes initiative to exact revenge (against orders) and in the skirmish, a torpedo goes off course and explodes part of the DMD. Before she drowns, Aspen realizes that she too can breathe underwater. Is this the clue that will show Aspen her past? What is her part to play in the war between the surface world and the world underwater?

Michael Turner released FATHOM in 1998, and it was met with much acclaim, particularly because of the amazing artwork. Anything Turner took time to draw was astonishing. While FATHOM does continue on to this day, it continues on under the guidance of others as Michael Turner passed away in 2008 after a long battle with cancer. This Volume, subtitled STARTER EDITION, provides a great starting point for new fans to enjoy the adventures of Aspen and the Blue, while also giving FATHOM fans the chance to own or reread the beginning of the whole saga.

This title is not nearly as risque or adult as Turner’s previous project, WITCHBLADE, but FATHOM: STARTER EDITION VOL 1: A WORLD BELOW is still recommended for ages 15 and up due to Turner’s emphasis on exaggerated anatomy, language, and violence.
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3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. The artwork is gorgeous, lush and detailed and beautiful. Some reviews I've read complained about the female bodies being to boobily; honestly, I didn't find them as out-of-proportion as you usually see in comics- almost every character was ridiculously fabulous, male and female alike. I actually found the men to be the more unrealistic ones, and just as scantily clad as the women, so yay equality, I guess. The story had potential- lots of mysterious things going on, top secret underwater government facility, some sort of mer-people (think able to morph into water rather than half fish) that have mysterious origins (I'm thinking Atlanteans, but could be aliens), a plot to get back at the humans for polluting the oceans, and more. The story teases out bits and pieces at a fairly steady rate, keeping a decent tension going- I would actually like to know what's going to happen next. Where this falls flat is with the characters. They're pretty much two dimensional, not a lot of development going on here. I didn't find myself caring much about them really. I'd recommend this mainly for the art- so pretty! The story is mildly interesting, the characters meh. 

#FathomVolume1AWorldBelow #NetGalley
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This was a great underwater adventure.  It feels much longer than it is, and I can't understand why, but even though it feels long, you want to keep going to see what happens next.  My only real complaint is that I am tired of graphic novels with scantily clad women with big breasts.  Not all “super” women need to look like this.  DO BETTER artists.

#NancyDrewChallnge #Jewelry
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Fathom Volume 1: A World Below starts off with an interesting hook: a cruise ship returning after being reported missing a decade ago. The story then follows a girl, Aspen, who was found on the missing ship all those years ago, and who is now a marine biologist and who finds herself to be in the middle of a brewing war between “sea” people and humans (i.e. only the government in this case). The story felt a bit flat and obvious, especially when it came to the villains, and I wish the ending wasn’t so predictable. I also didn’t realize that this was the first in many volumes. On one hand I want to read more about Aspen’s adventures, while on the other hand I could care less. However, here’s what I truly enjoyed: the art. Glorious colors and interesting portrayal of characters, albeit slightly sexualized. The only complaint I had was the tiny font, even after zooming in. It was hard to read. 

Thank you NetGalley and Diamond Books Distributors for this eARC. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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This one was rough for me.   I can usually get through a comic this size in a day or two.  It’s taken me nearly a month to get through this one. The art work is gorgeous.  The story though is lacking.  Little to no character development.  Still a bit confused about whether this is an alien story or more like mermaid’ish humans with advanced tech - as this is volume 1 I’d hope they explain what this all is later, but I feel like I needed more information right from the start.  I gave it three stars but most of that was the art.  The story for me would be a 1 while the art was 4.  So this would be a low 3 overall.
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Overall Fathom: A World Below was a good graphic novel. The story started a bit slow and took a while to get interesting. Once it did though I found it hard to put down. Aspen was a great character who changed a ton a this story was told. She had some tough choices to make, and was a part of a war that threatened to cause irreparable harm to the planet. If you are a fan of fantasy and science fiction then this is a graphic novel you will want to read.
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If I could submit a zero star rating I would. Despite beautiful artwork, this was one of the few times I put down a graphic novel about halfway through it. I just could not believe how BORING this story was with all the things that were going on. I think the biggest problem was that the main character is SOOOOO dull, that there is nothing compelling enough about her to keep me reading. Giant yawn.
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"Fathom" is a nice call back to the golden years of comics. Although it wasn't for me, there will definitely be a market for this.
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When Michael Turner's Fathom first came out back in 1998, it was heralded with much fanfare. The artwork was amazing. But like most books of this time, the artwork far exceeded the story and it did not take very long for fandom to lose interest.

The story of Fathom begins with the arrival of the cruise ship Paradise in San Diego, ten years after it was reported lost at sea. A military quarantine is set up but surprisingly no one on board the ship ever knew they were missing. Even stranger is a young girl who was found by the crew of Paradise who has no memory. She only knows her name is Aspen.

Aspen is adopted by naval officer, Captain Matthews and he raises the child as her own. Aspen is attracted to open water and spends much of her time swimming and surfing. She grows up to be a Marine Biologist and is invited to study on board an underwater facility known as the DMD. 

Here she is introduced to a strange man who despite his appearance, is not human and can breathe underwater. During this time the Navy develops an amphibious fighter plane and during its test run it is attacked by a craft that can operate above and under water as well. Pursuing this strange craft the Navy fires a torpedo, but the craft disappears and the torpedo is heading directly toward the DMD. In the explosion the facility is heavily damaged and flooded. Before she drowns Aspen comes to realize that she can breathe underwater like the strange man. 

Aspen finds there are is a highly developed race living underwater and that war between the surface world and the underwater world is coming. With Aspen caught in between.

Michael Turner is one of the premier comic artists working today. That is why he is so often invited to work on cover art for various other books. The artwork in Fathom is stunning and well worth the cost of the comic alone. But the story itself needs help in developing as it so often happens with artist driven labels. The artwork way overshadows the story being told, instead of working together to make an all around great book. And that is too bad because Turner has a lot to say with this book. His take on the ocean and its resources, environmentalism and the military could have made for a truly good book. 

But unfortunately Fathom falls to being only an average story with great art.
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I like that this is a collected volume. It brings the story together instead of waiting for the next issue. This gives the story a more complete feel.  The art is quite expressive adds to the story.
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A gorgeously drawn series, Fathom was one of my favorites as a teen girl. It was released in a time where there were few superhero movies, and it took everything I loved about The Little Mermaid and mashed it together with a sci-fi action movie. Today, it still holds up well, and the story and characters remain relevant.

It's great to see that Aspen Comcis is releasing this afforable, streamlined version of the original story arc. I love Michael Turner's work and, for a time, even collected special editions and extra supplements, but it's really nice to have a version like this where you can focus on the story. The artwork is stellar, packed with details that you don't see very often. It's clear from the pages that this project was one of passion, as the panels are carefully drawn - not rushed like the unfortunate reality of most comics on tight deadlines.

The story is a complete arc, and, having not read it for years, I hardly noticed any edits. The story feels like an action movie with a sci-fi mystery element. I love how this story arc is complete, yet it still leaves you with unanswered questions so you want to seek out the next volumes.

There is a little bit of violence, but a lot of it is tastefully shown (in shadow or in small portions of panels), so it wasn't a strong horror element. I appreciated this, because I read this comic for the beauty, and I'm not a big fan of blood and gore.

If you've never read Michael Turner or are a returning fan, I highly recommend checking out this beautifully-rendered series. It's hard to find comics drawn at this level - even today - and the fun, action-packed story makes it a fun ride.

Thank you so much to Aspen Comics and NetGalley for providing a copy for review.
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A ten years old Aspen Matthews appears in a ship dissapeared for 10 years; always atracted by the sea, she become an Olympic swimmer and later a Marine Biologist. The story start when she is invited to join a submarine facility where a strange technology is studied under conjoin efforts of Japan and US.


This a sort of The Abysm / Siren, in a bit of pulpy way.


There are various forms of underwater fighting, with and without weapons.

-Mysterious gorgeous girl with mysterious past or amnesia? Check.
Tough Aspen is (big suprise) a speshul snowflake and in the first moment made me facepalm with the (view spoiler) and find her not annoying after a moment.

-Incredible hot menfolk? Check.


-Two countries fighting for something thinking that the other is cheating to get advantages (well hello, Stargate) Check. And meanwhile (view spoiler).

-The menfolk have a pretty cool technology (alien level and I'm still not clear if they are indeed alien or not). Amphibian bubly ships and stuff. As I said, they remind me of James Cameron's Abyss (1989)

¿Ven lo que quiero decir?


Romance? Nope. Just an annoying ex
Violence? Oh, yes.
Bad language? pretty covered with #*& style.

-->Entertaining. I'll give it a try with the other volumens

This comics started at the end of 90s and there was talk -in between demands for copyright with the other publishers- to became a movie but still there are not results. The original author since then pass away.


Bueno este es un comic que a pesar de ser hecho a fines de los 1990s  yo lo veo más bien ochentero, con mucha accion, tipos musculosos, heroes de la marina haciendo de payasos pero buenos para pelear (a lo TopGun), y civilizaciones perdidas en el fondo oceanico que no estan nada de satisfechos con la polucion y con el hecho de que los humanos se crean homo superior cuando son mpas homotrash que otra cosa. Y .... gobiernos que salivan ante el avance tecnologico armamentista y que se dejan cegar por ello.

Un barco crucero aparece despues de estar perdido diez años, nadie sabe nada y un capitan adopta a una niña huerfana, la protagonista quien no tiene memoria de su vida anterior. Depues ella se convierte en biologa marina y es llamada a ayudar en la investigacion en una instalacion secreta en el fondo del mar donde ven lo que parece tecnologia alienigina del tipo biotecnologico. Mientras tanto hay aviones anfibios, mucho movimiento de hombre de negro, y dos facciones de lo que parecen hombres acuaticos que andan detras de esta chica a pesar de que estuvo como quince años sin que nadie se metiera con ella aunque la vigilaban de lejos.

Asi esta Aston Matthews se ve metida en conspiraciones, civilaciones raras, unos hombres yummy, y mucha aventura.

A pesar de que concluye el arco de la historia, hay varios volumenes que amplian la historia , y la verdad me los leeria.

Sólo me asalta una duda: ¿Que hacia el gobierno de Chile mientras tanta cosa rara pasaba en la Isla de Pascua? ¿Ah? ¿Ah? lol.
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Stunning artwork. Michael Turner was truly one of the great talents in comics illustration, it is a great sadness that he was taken too soon from this world. Fathom was his own creation, a fantasy about a young girl who discovers she has a hidden legacy with an underwater world. This is nothing new: concepts for mer-people have been around for a long time. But Turner's artwork is gorgeous and makes you want to keep flipping the pages to see what comes next. 

This "starter edition" is well worth picking up for fans of the comics or new readers alike. Highly recommend.
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Fathom seemed interesting and the cover looked nice too, so I decided to try this. I should've known better, although I had a hunch - this was not for me. The story follows Aspen Matthews, who's a marine biologist and a former Olympic swimmer and it surely seems she's into sea and water. At the age of eleven she was found on a cruise ship without memory how she got there. Now she's "a well-formed adult" (ahem) and suddenly she becomes the only survivor of an attack to a underwater military base. These mermen attack and it could be she's one of them. Well, the beginning is very slow and it takes time to get the story anywhere and then there's not enough pages to do it well. The whole "the Japanese are behind this!!" made no sense and wasn't well constructed. The evil plot doesn't make sense either, what was the point of the light pillars even? We know nothing of Aspen really, except she has little to none on her what comes to clothes. Killian doesn't explain anything even remotely well and that's it.

The art could look nice if it didn't objectify women so much. Big boobs are everywhere and Aspen's luscious lips are something else too. The colors are beautiful and nice, but cannot save the comic. The rhythm is out of tune and the plot isn't balanced, which makes this quite boring. There is too much text walls, but they don't contain any real information and there's no flow. At least there's some kind of a plot though... The comic would've needed heavy editing, sadly so. Structure-wise Fathom is a mess, even if the idea sounds swell.
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Note: I did not finish this graphic novel

I read about half of this volume before giving up. I like the concept of this story, I like Aspen, who is supposed to be the main protagonist. But we barely see much of her or get to know her at all.

The focus on the military and the navy really was a downer for me. I was way more interested in the ocean being and finding out Where and how Aspen fits into all of it. The narrative just took too long to get there.

I really wanted to like this. I really did. Especially because of how intriguing the concept is. The art also looks great! I just wished that the focus was a little different.
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I thought the story for this comic was pretty interesting, but it didn't really hold my interest all that well throughout the whole thing. I didn't like the fact that there were hardly any female characters (three, four if you count a surfer girl that was on one page.) and the ones that were in the story we drawn so overly sexualized that it was very distracting. The art style was alright, but it wasn't my favorite that I've ever seen in a comic book before. I would have rated this higher if there had been more women who were drawn with normal proportions. Although I did mostly like the plot it was pretty easy to figure out what was going on and I was able to predict most of the major plots points before they happened. All in all I enjoyed the book for the most part and I would recommend giving it a try. I realize that art styles are personal so you may like this better than I did.
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A reprint of Michael Turners late 1990s Fathom. The art is very much in the Top Cow style of the time, a lot of cheesecake, some beefcake and actually some lovely pieces, Turner really at the top of his game for this.

Interestingly, it hasn't dated a bit. Nothing jumps out of time or place and the futuristic look for the aquatic vehicles, still looks quite futuristic (another skill of Turners).

This is a complete story, you don't need to read anything else to follow it all. It's also at a really low price point and frankly seems a steal at the price - for the artwork alone.
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