In a time and place ravaged by environmental hazards, Deep Beyond is a fantastical reflection of our world cranked up to 10. Beyond any allegorical insights, the first issue establishes a dystopian world where humanity’s vestiges struggle to survive on a barely inhabitable planet. Writers Mirka Andolfo and David Goy set the stage for the series in meticulous fashion as far as initial issues go. It’s easy to get invested in the series, from opening with a bang to forming characters and relationships organically. I can’t determine what the series has in store, but Deep Beyond #1 begs audiences to find out.
In 2085, the world is reduced to encased colonies. A mysterious event has all but left the world in tatters. Dangerous toxins leave everyone wearing masks (We can relate) from the “poisonous wilds” outside the colony. A secret anomaly lies deep within the ocean’s depths and may hold the answers to the current state of things. Scientists, farmers, and hospital staff are a precious commodity. Despite the danger, Pam, a research scientist, lies at the heart of the story. Her submarine has gone missing during an expedition to discover the source of an abnormality in the ocean. Before her vessel went down, she was able to get out a final, dire message. Now, Pam’s friends and family are pulled into the secrecy at the bottom of the ocean.
An opening scene can make or break a series. Drag it out too long, and you lose your audience; throw everything you got at the opener, and the rest of the story can’t live up to it. Deep Beyond deftly straddles the line between the two, hitting us with suspense right off the bat but cutting away at just the right moment. The incident serves to pull us in as an audience as well as all the characters involved.
Not unlike other works of Andolfo, the characters are well established, and the way they cross paths is natural. It’s how these characters cross paths and interact that adds depth to the story. Dr. Paul Bailey is as timid as they come, a far cry from the macho men of the ’90s. He is Pam’s ex, and it’s his credentials as a scientist and his relationship with Pam that forces him into a mission he never asked for. Within a few short pages, we grasp who this man is: a reticent doormat whose fear defines him. However, I do not doubt that there is more in store for Paul, and it will be fascinating to see how his character arc plays out throughout the series.
Through Paul we are introduced to Pam’s wife Eve, and immediately a sense of conflict and awkwardness surrounds them. We learn that Eve is in a position of power, the head of an undetermined organization monitoring Pam’s submarine. As if their respective relationships with Pam weren’t enough, Paul and Eve butt heads on whether or not Pam can/should be saved, or even if she’s alive at all. Paul holds out hope that she is alive and can be saved, but Eve has given up and decides to follow “protocol’. The scene is tense, and a lot is revealed to the audience, leaving us asking plenty of questions for issue #2. The way information is provided in Deep Beyond is how storytelling should be done.
At no point in Deep Beyond are we fed information through exposition dumps. I can’t clearly say what’s at the heart of the incident that caused the planet to be in such turmoil, but the story doesn’t feel lacking; we are left wondering, invested even. There isn’t any omniscient third-person narrator, with only minor inner dialogue coming from Paul as he remembers his breakup with Pam. I would even argue that there is just enough information to have audiences committed to the series, but just enough left out to leave us wanting to discover more.
Some taut scenes mostly stem from tense discussions, but if the cliffhanger is any indication, there is plenty of action and monster mayhem to satiate the horror fan in all of us. For some readers, the issue might feel like a slow burn, but there is a payoff and enough surprises to incentivize continued reading.
Deep Beyond is a significant first issue that lays down narrative breadcrumbs to have readers following along. Strong characters, compelling interactions, and horror — suffice to say, Deep Beyond #1 provides plenty of thrills to warrant picking it up.
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