Fathom: Blue Descent is a four part story which seeks to introduce fans of the Fathom series to Aspen Matthews' past, how she was a member of the water dwelling race known as the Blue. Coming twelve years after the character first appeared, this is sure to be a highly anticipated series, and issue #0 will certainly raise that anticipation.
Aspen Matthews is the principal character in the Fathom universe. For those of you who don't know she is a member of the Blue, a humanoid race who can control water and the Black, a mysterious brother species to the Blue. As a child she lived with her Blue mother but her memory of that life is limited and her knowledge of her Black father is even less. Blue Descent seeks to reveal the story behind Aspen and her family after twelve long years.
As this is an issue #0, it really isn't meant to answer any questions. Instead it's designed to raise expectations for the series and, in the case of Fathom, refresh the memory of existing fans as to what is already known of Aspen's past and what she needs to further find out. It certainly introduces the focus of the series and establishes many of the questions Aspens seeks the answer to. There is also enough back story on who Aspen is for new fans to not feel too lost, but I recommend reading the blurb at the start and finish to help you further understand what's going on. While the issue presents a lot of memories Aspen has of her childhood, it does a good job of questioning the truthfulness of this knowledge by bringing into question the accuracy of her childhood memory. By doing this Schwartz is given some leeway to change things, and he isn't limited completely by what's been written before him. The few insights into the Blue culture are also interesting, especially for first time readers.
The real standout of this issue is the artwork. My god, is it breathtaking at times. The issue exclusively happens underwater, and Scott Clark and Jeff Chang should be commended for the art they've created. The first page is stunning with the use of several different shades of blue and what looks like a few rays of sun filtering through the water. I wish I could swim around in that water, it looks that good. Fittingly the last page is also quite stunning. The decaying background with it's muted greens and grays, Aspen just floating and once again the use of different blues for the water just make it some remarkable artwork.
Tell you what, though: Aspen certainly doesn't leave much to the imagination with her costume. There's scantily clad, and then there's Aspen with her random bits of attire that just about cover the important parts. Speaking of characters, the way Rahger was never completely drawn was a nice touch as it seemed to show Aspen's memory of him is very limited and hazy. The way he is almost part of the water on page five just looks amazing, and the fact that his head and arms are quite detailed shows that these are the parts Aspen remembers the most. There is also a good contrast between the panels that are in the water and the panels that are in a building under water. They are much brighter and obviously full of a lot more color, as they are protected from the never ending blue of the ocean. I will say that I'm not a fan of the black squiggles that separate the panels but that's a very minor complaint I have with the issue.
On the whole this is a good refresher issue for fans of the Fathom series and a good starting point for non-fans who may want to get started. It provides a new reader with enough information to fully enjoy the story and prepare them for the coming issues, while the artwork alone is really reason enough to buy this issue. After reading this, you'll be wishing every comic happened underwater.