Blue Descent, the next chapter in the Fathom saga, is a tale a long time in the coming. During the course of this book we finally get to see some history of the Black, and while it does not delve very deeply, we at least get to know some of their culture and motivations as well. But the Black are not the sole focus as Aspen’s own history as a child, and that of her family is explored, and which just also happens to coincide with that of the Black.
Written by David B. Schwartz, he gives the book a fresh and unique perspective, as well as a voice through Aspen’s father Abesaloma, of which the Fathom universe has never had thus far. Abesaloma’s narrative gives the book a more personal feel and makes every situation mean more than it would have otherwise, had it just been from a standard third person viewpoint. When it does cut away to scenes such as those with Rahger and Abesaloma’s wife, it gives his story a nice little break until the next part can begin.
The Black have always been an intriguing part of the world that Aspen inhabits, always seeming to be on the peripheral of everything, they rarely seem to make an appearance at least until the events in the third volume of Fathom. The fact that they are on the verge of extinction lends credence to their argument that man is slowly destroying the Earth. By the same token, it does not in any way excuse the violation perpetuated on Aspen’s mother by Rahger, in order to save the planet, not to mention their race.
Abesaloma, our protagonist, is a very devoted family man clothed in the guise of an absentee parent, one he is aware of and ashamed of. And though it might have taken a threat to his family to wake him from his stupor, his love for them is strong and unrelenting. Rahger, the leader of the Black, is very devoted to his people and will do anything to save them no matter the cost. They are two similar people from two different cultures and they share the same problem that most do, which is the inability to set aside their differences and simply work together.
Overall the book had a much darker tone both in story and theme. Extinction and loss are highlighted in the story, loss of innocence, loss of time and youth and the loss of ideals. Even the artwork by Alex Sanchez was much darker than what was featured in previous volumes. While it might seem depressing, the book was not downtrodden and ended on a hopeful note with a brighter look towards the future.
Unlike the previous volumes of Fathom, which in no way demean their existence or importance, this story was far more intense in its narrative, drawing you in completely and leaving you wanting more at the end of every chapter. More than likely due to that first person aspect and having a writer new to the publisher, helped give this book a more fresh-sounding feel. Kudos to Aspen Comics on trying a little something different with this volume as it really stands out amongst the other books of their line. A very strong and exciting episode in the Fathom chronicles.
4.5 out of 5