Joe Hill, Stuart Immonen, and Dave Stewart make a superstar team on Black Label horror title PLUNGE.

Writer: Joe Hill, Artist: Stuart Immonen, Colorist: Dave Stewart, Letterer: Deron Bennett, Cover: Jeremy Wilson.

"Plunge #1" cover art by Jeremy Wilson

The latest title in Joe Hill’s “Hill House Comics” line is Plunge, a new sci-fi / thriller / mystery title for DC’s Black Label line of non-continuity stories for mature readers. The cover of Plunge gets to the mystery right away, with the research ship Derleth plunging over the edge of an abyss. The water around the vessel is composed of enigmatic mathematical formulas, which also pop up in the story. After a tidal wave hits the Bering Strait, a distress signal is received by a naval station from the Derleth. Highly mysterious, since that ship was listed as lost with all hands almost 40 years ago.

In the first few pages, it is obvious that a master colorist is at work. In my opinion, Dave Stewart is the best colorist in the business. Stewart is a true artist; his skies and clouds, and his surface details on the ship’s metalwork are impressive examples. His painterly effects and desaturated color schemes add realism and visual interest.

Leave it to master colorist Dave Stewart to make a landscape of dead giant squid look beautiful.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see that artist Stuart Immonen isn’t as “retired from comics” as he seemed to be. I have followed his career since his Legion of Super-Heroes days, and I have enjoyed watching his skills grow over the years. He is one of the very few comics illustrators in my memory who got better and better every year up until he (kinda) retired, with no plateauing or drop-off in skills. It takes a master visual storyteller like Immomen to make this exposition-heavy issue with pages of men standing on a ship deck talking look interesting, and a verbal storyteller like Hill to spice things up with loads of humor and pop culture references in his Joss Whedon-esque way.

All the exposition leads to a colorful salvage team hired by the corporation that owns the ship, to venture into Russian waters to investigate and retrieve research info from the Derleth. Russians aren’t the only danger they face, as what they find on the last page literally plunges the story into a new and unexpected direction.

Unlike other Black Label series, there really wasn't anything in this story that wasn't appropriate for younger readers (aside from a joke about sex toys). Also unlike other DC Black Label series, this one clocks in at a regular-length 23 pages.

Plunge #1 is available February 19, 2020.

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