Under the sea.
Underwater action, mysterious creatures, a trained fish named Jeffrey – if you’re looking for your next family adventure title, BOOM! Studios has you covered. With The Deep #1, Tom Taylor and James Brouwer make an immediate splash, combining good natured familial hijinks with a cool mystery beneath the waves. Featuring a cast of relatable characters and some truly impressive art, this debut is one worth jumping in.
From the get-go it’s clear that the Netkon family is cooler than yours. Not only do they have amazing scuba suits, a killer training facility and an (allegedly) trained fish, they also live on a state of the art submarine called The Arronax. If that’s not enough, they spend their days investigating underwater mysteries culled from dusty old maps – Tuesday night dinner at Applebee’s this isn’t. Fortunately, Tom Taylor does a nice job of making the Nekton family themselves relatable. Despite their fancy digs, they’re still wired like any ordinary family. Siblings Ant and Fontaine bicker over who gets next in the scuba suit. Spouses Will and Kaiko debate the merits of technology versus traditional instruments. And Jeffrey the fish can totally remember his training beyond ten seconds (maybe). It’s the Nekton’s easy and effortless bond that really grabs readers at the start, so much so that the time spent getting to the meat of the read is downright leisurely.
Of course, once we do get there, things escalate quickly. For the bulk of the read Taylor sticks to a light, family friendly tone, with a seeming eye on an all ages adventure. A later instance procures a munched-on whale and the toothy terror doing the snacking, which quickly extends the book’s all-ages appeal towards the other end of the spectrum. It also sets the book’s overarching adventure in motion, with a nice, almost serialized cliffhanger to drum up interest for the next installment.
Also aiding in that tidal pull is artist Brouwer. Oftentimes books that take place in one singular location –such as underwater—can feel limited in their artistic offering. Not so here. Issue #1 is of course awash with deep blues and brilliant greens, but Brouwer’s great character work and strong layout design ensure that everything remains unique and often mesmerizing. His style has a shaded, almost animated style to it, with exaggerated proportions and a myriad of unique physical expressions. That level of nuance lends itself well to Taylor’s portrayals –Ant is all exuberance and youth, Fontaine is too-cool-for-school disdain and Jeffrey, oh Jeffrey, is an instant scene stealer. Beyond his cast, Brouwer also excels in establishing the book’s adventure atmosphere. His underwater seascapes are gorgeous, his Arronax sleek but imposing, and his beasties appropriately impressive. On multiple levels, this book is a treat for the eyes.
The Deep is off to a great start, and the best part is Taylor and Brouwer or only just getting their feet wet. The debut’s strong family dynamic and adventurous spirit is furthered by the book’s truly wondrous art, making for an easily engaging and all too entertaining trip under the sea.