Captain Holden leads his crew on a routine data gathering mission somewhere near Guam when they are hit by a mystery vessel, leaving the sub broken and helpless, while their superiors argue about the seriousness of the situation, with a few scientific phrases thrown in for good measure.
It takes a few pages for this tale to become anything other than that simple description, but if there’s one thing BOOM! seems to excel at, it’s taking stories that’s seem familiar, and then throwing in some unexpected elements to make them gripping and unexpected. That’s what Challenger Deep has going for it.
We soon learn that there are only 50 hours of air left in the vessel and its stuck near a huge ice shelf, and only one man can save them. Dr Eric Chase’s fly fishing opportunity is interrupted by men in dark suits, imploring him to serve his country and save these men’s lives. But he’d rather not. Chase is an expert in the ocean’s depths, but couldn’t care less about saving over 100 lives. In fact, he hasn’t cared much for the deep blue since his wife’s death 5 years ago, and hasn’t stepped on a boat since. That finally changes however when the men in charge let him know about the sub’s precarious position, plus the fact that it’s warheads are set to detonate in 72 hours. Nuclear warheads + methane ice=Armageddon. A planetary match. And that’s bad.
Written by Andrew Crosby and Andy Schmidt, with art by Chee, it seems somewhat reminiscent of one of BOOM!’s better titles, Station, but with a nuclear sub replacing an international space station. With 3 issues left, I can only assume the rest of this series will quicken the pace. There’s a lot of set up in this issue, but it is necessary, and now that it’s out of the way, hopefully the real adventure can begin. Some may be disappointed by the art. It’s dark and sketchy, with minimal detail, but it is a mood setter. Thankfully the pace and dialogue make up for it. Characters are quickly established and intriguing plot elements, such as the Captain’s erratic behaviour, and the crew’s handling of him after the crash, plus the mysterious name that also helps convince Dr Chase to save the world, all help to lift this tale above the depths of mediocrity.