At WonderCon 2013 in Anaheim, Aspen Comics announced "The Elite Saga," its third summer event in a row, which also serves as a celebration and culmination of 15 years of "Fathom." A five-issue miniseries released over five weeks, "The Elite Saga" launches in June written by Vince Hernandez, J.T. Krul and David Wohl with art by the brand new Aspen art team of V. Ken Marion and colorist Jordi Escuin.
"It's kind of a collection of Aspen's finest talents and a few new artists, so we're excited about that," Aspen Editor-in-Chief Hernandez told CBR News. "It culminates all 15 years of the storyline has gone up to this point with our main character, Aspen Matthews, and also the popular character Kiani and the main character Killian. It's not just a culmination of the last 15 years, but it's also a bit of a stage setter for what we have planned for hopefully the next 15 years. It's a big story that sets the whole landscape for the 'Fathom' Universe."
"The Elite Saga" also heralds the Aspen return of Michael Turner protege Talent Caldewell, who will provide interlocking covers for the five-issue miniseries.
"[Talent Caldwell] was around when we first started Aspen and he's been in and out of the comics scene the last few years, but we've wrangled him onto this project to do a huge, five-part interlocking cover, which spans the entire series," said Hernandez. "This piece is mind-blowing. It's every character you could think of and five covers long. It's definitely the biggest piece we've ever done here. [Caldwell on 'Fathom'] is something fans have been clamoring for for a while, so we're happy to satiate that thirst for his art."
Aspen's event is appropriately timed to conclude right before the launch of the publisher's "All-New Fathom" #1 as part of its 10-for-10 initiative, which provides a jumping-on point for new readers.
"It's all been planned that way," said Hernandez. "We're excited. It works perfectly where if you're a reader, you can read 'The Elite Saga,' see what happens to the universe and then the one dollar 'Fathom' issue takes you on a whole new adventure. This new 'Fathom' series is a bit of a refreshing direction for 'Fathom.' We're in our fifteenth year of it and along with that comes a whole group of people that have no idea where the origin of Aspen came from and where these characters have evolved from. We're taking this chance to set the stage for new readers and this first issue of the new volume is a jumping-on point."
Hernandez, Krul and Wohl have all worked with the "Fathom" universe in the past (with Wohl jumping on to write "All-New Fathom" as well), and Hernandez noted the challenges of balancing all three takes on the characters.
"It's been equal parts fun and frightening," he said. "It's fun because these are characters we've worked with before and love, but it's also a little frightening because these are characters reaching 15 years. As a writer, I get a lot of pressure when I write a 'Fathom' book because not only is it Michael Turner's creation and the property he's most known for, but it's also that Aspen is our iconic mascot. She's our Mickey Mouse. It's a huge challenge. We wanted to make sure our story met that challenge and was equal in scale. We came up with a big, giant, epic story."
The process for the event began when Aspen co-owner and president Frank Mastromauro approached Hernandez about the possibility of doing a "Fathom" event. After outlining the story, Hernandez brought it to Wohl and Krul and the trio then hashed out the story.
"We mashed up everything we thought would be cool and I can say for 'Fathom' fans that there's a really cool moment coming in 'The Elite Saga.' If you've been a 'Fathom' reader for 15 years and you've seen Aspen Matthews and you've seen Kiani and where their paths have been headed -- they're our two top girls of the 'Fathom' universe, but they haven't interacted much. This is the culmination of their paths and how they meet up really informs the big crux of the story. Fans love both characters and for us to finally put them together into this big series for a perfect-timed event, I think there are a lot of fun things that will come out of that to set the stage for future books."
Hernandez did note that "The Elite Saga" was both a way to bring new readers on and a celebration of 15 years of "Fathom."
"'The Elite Saga' -- and I use celebration lightly because the book definitely has moments of both tragedy and some cool new directions -- but that event book is our celebration of our 15-year anniversary. I would say 'All-New Fathom' #1 in July is not so much a celebration, but a new direction that we're presenting to readers. It's definitely going to be very new-reader friendly. If you're a reader from day one and you're still around, there's not going to be a radical change. We're not going the New 52 route where you don't recognize the character or they might have a brand new outfit. We wanted to get a little more organic with it and see what direction we could take based on the stuff that's happened already while making it accessible to new readers. We did a lot of trimming down of the fat that's collected over the years with the story and characters that have come and gone.
"This is really a new start for Aspen herself. It's a very Aspen-centric story. You don't have to read the past 'Fathom' volumes to jump into this one," Hernandez continue. "'The Elite Saga' leads into that by settling all these scores and closing all these loose ends that we've had for 15 years now."
Looking toward the launch of "The Elite Saga" this summer, Hernandez teased big developments as Aspen hits the convention circuit leading up to Comic-Con International 2013.
"It's a good time to be a 'Fathom' fan and a great time to check it out."
"The Elite Saga" hits in June from Aspen Comics.