Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Cover Artist: Jeremy Wilson
Editors: Mark Doyle, Amedeo Turturro
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer Joe Hill and artist Stuart Immonen invite readers to test the dark waters in Plunge #1. Giant squids are washing up on shore, sea worms are going cannibalistic, and a long-time sunken oil ship is reemerging from its watery depths with a crew that is still very much all hands on deck.
After a tsunami hits Massacre Bay of Attu Island near Alaska, an old exploration vessel called the Dereleth begins sending out a distress signal. The only problem is that the Dereleth has been sunken for nearly 40 years with no surviving crew members. We are then introduced to the main players of the story, each with their own backgrounds and agendas related to excavating and exploring the Dereleth. There’s the marine biologist tasked with collecting the rare samples aboard the Dereleth, the in-over-his-head oil company worker sent by his bosses to retrieve their long forgotten vessel as a PR stunt, and the rough and brash captain of the salvaging crew and his two witty crew mates.
As first issues go, Plunge is relatively standard-fair as Hill sets up the necessary background and tone of the story, allowing readers to acquaint themselves with the characters and the horror they will soon be encountering. The issue is filled with quite a bit of exposition, but it moves along at a brisk pace thanks in part to its interesting premise and Immonen’s art, reminding readers that this is a six-issue miniseries and that the horror will soon be ramping up in the coming issues. Where the issue falters is with its characters who are being sent in after the Dereleth. They’re likable enough and each have their own quirks, but for the most part, they’re there just to give readers the necessary context before diving into the larger story.
Though much of the dialogue in this issue feels like exposition, Immonen’s art helps give each character more of an identity, especially with interactions between the hardy captain of the salvaging crew hulking over the dorky oil worker. But it’s the very few moments of dread and horror in this issue where Immonen really shines, leaving readers eagerly awaiting more deep-diving horror. Colors by Dave Stewart also help set the dark mood once the salvaging crew sets sail and arrives at the island, signaling a turn for the more horrific after the calm before the storm. Bennett’s lettering gets the job done in an issue that needs to establish a lot of things, and it’ll be interesting to see what they can do once the story delves underwater and the characters meet some of the more monstrous creatures lurking in the depths.
This issue could very well just be suffering from first issue-itis, and I think Hill is an experienced enough writer that we can expect to see some more interesting character beats as issues come out. But for now, the art and the continuing mystery of the Dereleth is what is propelling this story forward.