Fathom is a comic book created by Michael Turner and originally published by Top Cow Productions. It debuted in 1998 and was Michael Turner's first creator-owned comic book series. Fathom has received honors and has claimed the "Number one selling comic book of the Year". Fathom is currently published by Turner's own company, Aspen MLT.
Fathom was created by Michael Turner who said that he found the inspiration from an issue of National Geographic. The first series began in 1998 and had to abruptly halt in 2002 when it was discovered that Turner had been diagnosed with cancer. During this period of inactivity on the main series comic book artist Talent Caldwell drew a miniseries titled Fathom: Killian's Tide. After Turner's cancer went into remission, he left Top Cow and launched his own company Aspen MLT Inc.. During this period there was a legal conflict between Turner and Top Cow as to who owned the rights to Fathom.
In 2004 Turner restarted the Fathom series and had a preview of it premiere in his company's first comic, Michael Turner Presents: Aspen. After that a Fathom miniseries titled Fathom: Dawn of War was produced and shortly after, the series Fathom: Cannon Hawke was started. The current Fathom series is being drawn by artist Koi Turnbull.
The concept of a female superhero with water-based Powers is very similar to the character Fathom from the Elementals, first published in 1984.
Fathom's popularity and originality led to it getting the green light in 2002 as a feature film by director James Cameron and his production company Lightstorm Entertainment, but nothing ever developed. In the past Fathom was considered for an animated film under Top Cow Productions and Fox Studios, but that also fell through.
There has also been a conflict between NBC's Surface television show (which debuted in September 2005) and its original title. The TV show was named "Fathom" originally, but due to copyright infringement on the comic book, the producers changed it at the last minute to the title "Surface". There are resemblances to note in the show; some point out that it parallels Fathom considerably.
Fathom volume 2 is currently being published by Aspen Comics, and although it will end at #11, plans for a third volume have been confirmed. An artist for the series has not been named.
Overview: The storyline revolves around a young marine biologist, Aspen Matthews, who discovers that she is a member of a race of aquatic beings who can control water with their minds. This species calls itself the Blue. She then finds that many of the Blue value her highly because of the time she spent among Humanity. It is later discovered that there is yet another underwater race and that they have their own agenda. Aspen, her friends, and the rest of mankind are affected by the underwater dilemmas and the actions of the world above.
After living for years on Earth's surface with humans and no recollection of her parents, Aspen Matthews one day is introduced to a spectacular world of underwater beings. Soon enough she learns that she is one of these beings and that she can control water with her mind.
But the underwater race is not completely at peace. A hydrogen bomb, set off by humans as a test, destroyed an entire Blue city without ever knowing about it. The Blue hold council to try and decide what to do about the situation. They know alot about humanity, but only a handful of humans know anything about the Blue. Some on the council advocate non-intervention with the humans; others wish to have spies infiltrated inside various human governments. A smaller, more radical group, wish to attack the humans. (This group, led by Killian and his 2nd in command, Taras, comes to be known as 'the Dissenters'.) The origin of the Dissenter's, how Killian came to power, and Killian's motives are explained in the miniseries "Fathom: Killian's Tide".
When Aspen enters this world, Killian enlists in her help. Aspen has unique Powers, and Killian tricks her into helping him create an enormous weapon. This weapon, later called the "Blue Sun", is a huge ball of energy out in space powered by three underwater stations on earth. Killian intends to use this weapon to drill a hole in the earth's crust. This hole would drain much of the world's ocean, lower the world's water level, and have many other unknown consequences.
Before Killian can accomplish this, Aspen is convinced by her new friend Kyla to leave Killian and escape with Cannon Hawke. Killian nonetheless manages to get his plan in motion, but with the help of Cannon and longtime friend Chance, Aspen stops the weapon and foils Killian's plan. But before the dust is settled, Kyla is dead, Cannon has thrown Taras into the ray of the blue sun, and Killian is killed by Aspen.
After the Blue sun incident Aspen finally got some down time, or so she thought. After some strange deaths at the jaws of an unknown sea creature occur, a crazy old man shows up at Aspens door. The man brings her aboard the Spelunker, a strange submarine like vessel, and in a very Moby Dick like fashion, they hunt down the unknown creature named "Big Moe".
Aspen ends up killing 2 of the unknown sea creatures, finding big Moe to be their parent. Big Moe gets away and the old man and Aspen part ways. The old man has since appeared in a single issue of Aspen Seasons as a possible foreshadow for him and the Spelunkers eventual return to the series.
Resurrection of Taras
Around a year after the blue sun, Cannon finds himself on his yacht with Lara Croft, an archaeologist and adventurer. While relaxing he is attacked and kidnapped by Biranha, the brother of Taras. Lara, having gone unnoticed, contacts her friend Sara Pezzini, a New York detective and wielder of the Witchblade, for help.
Cannon awakes in an underwater city in the Atlantic. He is being held hostage by Vana, leader of the Arctic Blue (a separate sect of the Blue living in the freezing cold north and having adapted in abilities to control ice) and mother of Biranha and Taras. She wants revenge on Cannon for the near death of her son. It turns out that Taras was not actually killed in the Blue Sun, but rather just evaporated to a large degree. Vana uses a machine to try and place Taras' remains into Cannon so that Taras might live again in Cannon's body.
Meanwhile, Sara and Lara begin searching for clues as to where Cannon might have been taken when they run into Aspen. At the same time Aspen is being targeted by Biranha's men. Aspen and Sara end up working together only to be knocked out and kidnapped. They also awaken in the underwater city below the Atlantic ocean. It turns out Vana also blames aspen for what has happened to her son and wishes to see Aspen dead. Thankfully, Lara is still free and on the way to rescue the girls, having followed Biranha's team home.
Vana's experiment comes to a saddening end when Cannon absorbs all of Taras and turns into a horrible abomination, a mere shadow of a man that can barely speak. Vana intends to kill this haunting Image of Cannon, believing her son fully lost, until Taras' mind bleeds through, forcing Cannon to say "I learned to walk before I could crawl". Realizing Taras is still in Cannons body, Vana tries to undo the experiment, hopefully getting things right this time. As this is going on, Lara sneaks in and frees Aspen and Sara. The trio of girls leave the base only to return, realizing they must free Cannon at all costs.
This time Vana's experiment works, bring Cannon back to his normal self as well as recreating Tara's body. However, when Sara and Lara break in to the chamber a fight ensues. During this, Sara is off in her own fight where she faces and kills Biranha. Vana and Aspen exchange blasts of ice and water until Vana shoots one directly at Aspen. Rather than dodge, Aspen reflects the blast by turning her arms into some form of hard water. The blast ricochets off Aspen's arms and blows up the capsule Taras was in, killing him. The girls grab Cannon and run as Vana makes a suicidal final move in her depression. It's a race out of the enemies' base as Vana explodes her body into hundreds of long, sharp, icicles. The group manages to escape to Cannon's yacht as they happily relax after such a dangerous adventure.
Cannon however did not leave Vana's headquarters without a cost though. As he looks in the mirror he sees Taras smiling back at him, now stuck in the deep recesses of his subconscious.
This was the last storyline of Fathom Volume 1 as well as the last Fathom story to be published through Top Cow Productions.
The Aspen mini-series marks the final Fathom story drawn by creator Michael Turner. The three-issue series introduces new characters Kiani, Casque, Brande, and Siphon. It also introduces the Black, a brother species to the Blue. At the end of the series, the Black kidnap Aspen and bring her to the bottom of the ocean. This acts as a precursor to Fathom: Dawn of War and the new Fathom series.
Dawn of War
Fathom: Dawn of War bridges the gap between the original series and Fathom volume 2. The story focuses on Blue warrior Kiani, who is forced to side with the rebellious councilman Marqueses in order to save her master, Casque, from the clutches of human military scientists. Marqueses, however, has engineered the situation in order to kidnap Casque, to secure the older warrior's immense power for an offensive on the humans. Kiani tracks down Marquesis and saves Casque, only to find he is part of the Black. The Black come for Casque as he is forced to rejoin them, leaving Kiani angry and lost.
Dawn of War emphasizes Kiani's loneliness and character development. It also introduces audiences further to the underwater world of the Blue.
Fathom Prelude & Beginnings
Fathom Prelude & Fathom Beginnings were 2 one-shot stories from 2005 that gave glimpses into Aspens past.
The Fathom Prelude gave us a glimpse into Aspen's teenage life, and her journey with the USA Olympic Swimming team. The story sheds some light on why she was stripped of her gold medal, and it includes a possible appearance by the Unknown.
Fathom: Beginnings shows Aspen's first appearance on the cruise ship Paradise. More clues are given as to the identity of the Unknown, and the reasons for his physical state.
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