Comic Book Review: Sub-Mariner: The Depths #1

The highly anticipated Sub-Mariner mini-series has arrived in the bunker. The Revolution members are fans of the artist. Just looking at the cover lets you know you are in for an artistic treat. Hopefully the story measures up to the art. In Rokk’s words, Sub-Mariner has the potential to be Marvel’s Black Adam.

Creative Team
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Esad Ribic

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The story starts with the submarine Plato on patrol. The captain describes how he had to lock up one of the crewmen. We see the crewman in a straight jacket. His fear has gotten the best of him. The captain explains that there is no such thing as the Sub-Mariner. He is a legend. Besides, he would visit the captain before he would visit the second engineer.

Next, we see a man in the observation area of the submarine. He spots something beautiful in the darkness of the ocean. A flash of light fills the observation area.

Meanwhile, some explorers discover something on a snowy mountain top. Something that is definitely not human. Professor Stein tells the other explorer to take pictures and summon the Serpas. The other says that bad weather is closing in. Stein does not care. He plans on capturing a snowman.

Our story moves to America. Multiple dirigibles fill the sky. One is moored to a building. Inside, Stein is addressing the American Institute of Scientific Research. He explains that he spent the last 3 months looking for the Abominable Snowman in the Himalayas. He discovered a large footprint on one of the slopes. It is eighteen inches long. He pursued the maker of the footprint for 2 days.

Then he announces the Abominable Snowman. Inside a glass cage is the Red Himalayan bear. All tests confirm that the bear made the footprint. There is no such thing as an Abominable Snowman. Reason has triumphed over fantasy.

After his presentation, he talks to a man from the government. They want to know what he knows about Atlantis. An explorer named Marlowe searched for Atlantis in 1939. He suffered a nervous breakdown. He said he left a piece of himself in the ocean depths. They think he might have found something. The last message from him says that he sees it, something beautiful.

They want Stein to find it. Marlowe is suspected of being a communist. They want Stein to find it before Marlowe gives it to the Communists.

The rest of the story is narrated by Stein through his journal entries. As the voyage gets underway, Stein wonders how he could ever turn down an offer like this one. He hopes the crew will not loose respect for him when they find out that he gets seasick.

Stein comments on how beautiful the view is. The navigator tells him to enjoy it now because it will get a whole lot darker. Once you go deeper it gets darker and more dangerous. Stein does not understand how it can be dangerous when they are in the submarine. Nelson, the navigator, tells him the danger comes from inside your head. The mind does strange things when you are in the depths.

Nelson warns Stein that a ship called the Medusa spotted Namor, the Sub-Mariner. The captain ordered the crew to fire at Namor. The ship ran aground. Stein does not believe that Namor could cause the grounding. Survivors of the wreck claimed to have seen him swimming by and laughing at them.

Stein says that story is ridiculous. The Medusa sank over a hundred years ago. He asks if Nelson really believes the Sub-Mariner exists. Nelson is no lover of Namor, but he won’t deny him when he is in his world. Stein asks if he also thinks Namor wrecked the Titanic.

Nelson says that one of the passengers on the Titanic had a map to Atlantis. Both man and map were lost in the wreck. Stein says that the Titanic was sunk by an iceberg, not a mythical half-man. He reminds the crew that they are on a scientific expedition. They need to remember that. He tells them good night.

Stein reminds himself not to get on the wrong side of the crew. He needs to prove to them that their fairy tales are just that. Untruths. He wonders what kind of fears the depths will bring out in him.

Suddenly, Stein is thrown across the room as the sub hits something. We see the sub lurching on it’s side. Stein spots Nelson and asks what happened. They hit a hydrothermal vent when passing a mid-ocean ridge.

A crewman starts yelling that this happened because Stein denied the existance of Namor. Stein replies that there will be no more superstitious claptrap on his scientific expedition. The crewman says that science does not count in the depths. Stein wants to know who built the ship. Without science they would not be able to breath in the sub.

Stein looks through the periscope. He tells the others that it is a giant squid. A crewman says that he has seen a giant squid and what is out there is not a squid. Stein wants to go out in the pods and investigate. Others tell him it is crazy to go out when they are caught in a vent. He goes anyways. One of the others joins him. Stein says he has to stop the superstition now if the mission is going to succeed. He has to prove that Namor does not exist.

Comments
The Good: Ribic’s art is the high point of this issue. At times he is great. Sometimes I can see the influence of Steve Rude and Alex Ross. The use of the darkness is reminiscent of Alex Ross’ work on the Terminator series. Some of the characters show a strong Steve Rude influence. Ribic’s shot of the explorers looking at the snow covered mountains is a great one.
Milligan’s story revealed the status of Namor in this world. He is currently thought of as a myth. He did a good job building the character of Stein and the crew.
The Bad: Milligan’s story did not impress me. I mistakenly thought that a series called Sub-Mariner would show the Sub-Mariner in the first issue. The only pictures of Namor were the cover and the next issue shot. This issue should have been called Stein: The Depths. Stein is your typical skeptic who will later be proven wrong. Based on the next issue picture, it will happen next time.

Overall:So far, this is a poor story that is not supporting the great artwork being turned in by Ribic. Hopefully, the story improves by the next issue.

3 Comments

  1. Milligan, once again, has proved that he is Marvel’s Winick (except that he came first and, in my opinion, has been sucking since Animal Man in the 80s).

  2. ” I mistakenly thought that a series called Sub-Mariner would show the Sub-Mariner in the first issue.”

    It has a bunch of mariners who went around in a sub. Seems like just what the title promissed to me.

  3. Thanks a bunch for the review! I loved Ribic’s work in Silver Surfer: Requiem, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to read The Depths.

    Just a sidenote: I remember a lot of the breathtaking scenery shots of space in Requiem, and it makes me glad to see that scenery shots are just as breathtaking in the ocean/ mountains.

    I see that the cover price is $3.99. Is the page count still standard? (That is, 22 pages)

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