2015 has been a great creative year for Aspen Comics. Thus far the publisher has put out some interesting –departure from the norm– new books like Psycho Bonkers and vitalized new editions from their Big Dog Ink acquisition such as Critter. They’ve also taken chances with their flagship titles. One of these chances has been the new team book Fathom Blue, which explores an expanded Aspen Matthews universe where the Blue are hunted by a government that fears them. The series is two issues in and we talked to Aspen Comics editor-in-chief (as well as writer on Fathom Blue) Vince Hernandez on what makes the book special and where it’s going. Oh and we’ve got some first look issue #3 finished art for you.

Comics Beat: Aspen Matthews and the various volumes of Fathom universe titles have been published over the last 15 years, where’d the idea for this new book come from?

Vince Hernandez: The answer to that question stems from both change and continuity. In terms of this title’s place within the Fathom mythos and why we chose this particular time to release this new team book, I would say it falls in line with the new direction we wanted to take Michael Turner’s classic story. Mike always intended for this series to expand and evolve as the narrative progressed, and this just felt organic to us as the next logical step.

Several years ago, within the story of Fathom: Volume 3, our characters from below the water known as the Blue rose to the surface and exposed their identity as a race to humankind, and this is a natural progression of that storyline. As an editor myself, I tend to stay true to continuity if at all possible—I just feel those types of stories resonate more for the property’s longevity—and this was a perfect opportunity within the story to really debut a new set of characters for today’s audience while staying true to Turner’s original vision.

Fathom Blue #3
Fathom Blue #3

CB:As far as this new group of characters goes, how did you come upon the right number and balance of personalities between these 5?

Without spoiling too much, I will hint that the team itself is forged from the events of issue one, so readers will not have to wait for long to see how the team is settled. But, the fun of these types of team books is that there is no set structure or limit to this team and you never know what is going to happen—so fans should hopefully be on the edge of their seats if you’re doing it well. Balancing the personalities to me is what is really interesting as well. And readers of my past work may know that I absolutely love to work with multiple characters, as I did in Damsels in Excess and Charismagic.

CB: Is there a favorite for you among them?

VH: Sure, I have my favorites that tend to come easier to me, but I’d rather keep that to myself and let the readers form their own opinions. Although, I will say I do love red heads ;)

CB: Not to give too much of the story away, but in this short zero issue the Blue we see capturing a renegade of their race don’t seem to have any conflicts about it. Will this be something the series explores in the opening or as the series goes along?

VH: That will actually be a huge thematic element to this first volume—the effect that policing their own will have on their psyche as a team. And I think in today’s climate with all of the socio-economic unrest in society, this makes for a really interesting and topical dynamic. What happens when you turn against your own kind, and what repercussions will that have on the team’s loyalty? All of that I plan to explore in great detail.

Fathom Blue #3 Interior Art
Fathom Blue #3 Interior Art

CB: Just to quickly follow up on that, the FCBD story is marketed as a “zero issue”, will it be printed in issue #1 or is it something only available for FCBD?

VH: No, that zero issue story will only be available in single issue format within the Worlds of Aspen 2015 Free Comic Book Day book, and later in the eventual trade paperback format.

CB: What makes artist Claudio Avella right for this story? Outside of the Zenoscope books he’s done, do you ever poke fun for drawing a Justin Bieber biography comic book?

VH: This is actually the first I’m hearing of his work with Zenescope or this Bieber book so I’ll definitely be giving him a solid ribbing on that! No, actually Claudio sort of fell onto our lap as he sent me samples of his work and I immediately took a liking to what I saw. I felt his ability to capture really great character moments and expressions mixed with his dynamic approach to action created this solid combination that you can see on the page. And so far, he’s been really approaching the work with such care and enthusiasm—it’s been fun watching him integrate himself with the Fathom universe and also with colorist Erick Arciniega’s work.

CB: How much of this story is going to deal with the ramifications of Dawn of War, and events going on in the current Kiani volume? How much of the books shifty Admiral Maylander’s experience with the Blue is going to be uncovered?

VH: Fans can rest assured that some of the events in the final issue of the current Fathom: Kiani volume directly lead into this all new Fathom: Blue series. As I mentioned earlier, I’m really big on classic continuity and making an effort to stay true to Mike’s vision, so I get amped up for these moments when I can bring things full circle and connect to some of our earlier stories. I’ve basically been writing the events following Dawn of War back in 2004 all the way into today’s current Kiani volume storyline, so definitely!

Fathom Blue #3 Interiors
Fathom Blue #3 Interiors

CB: Fathom has been the one part of the Aspen universe that’s already branched out into other titles like Kiani, Trish Out of Water, and The Four Points. Will we see Aspen herself in this series or are there any other plans for crossovers?

VH: Yes and no. Yes, I have plans for her to eventually crossover into Fathom: Blue. Naturally, with this new series taking place so closely to the events of the Fathom proper series, there will be plenty of crossover with many of the characters. But, no, for this first volume there is a natural storyline planned that excluded Aspen’s presence for now. But, stay tuned!

Sounds intriguing. All the Aspen titles continue to roll on. Fathom Blue #3 lands in stores August 19, 2015. You can also find their back issue catalogue digitally on Comixology.