From abysmal to mediocre, Aquaman’s new arc might have some potential.
After last issue’s little detour it’s nice to see the start of a storyline that has some interesting potential. Although it is purely set up and throws up some mysteries, the issue still never comes to life.
This is mainly due to Geoff Johns’ script which fluctuates between well paced and exposition heavy. The opening prologue in Brazil efficiently sets up the antagonist and proposes a future conflict. Easily the best part of the book, as Johns hands over the characterisation of Black Manta to Ivan Reis. Reis pencils make Manta a formidable and deadly opponent and although the scars are a little over the top, they don’t distract from the artistic characterisation. However Johns does hammer home how evil Manta is a little too much with his dialogue. The reader gets that he is the villain, the dialogue is unnecessary. But it’s nice to see an actual antagonistic force which may have some presence in the book.
As for Aquaman himself, he continues to have no real identity. He spouts dialogue intended to have an impact, but there is really nothing there to get invested in. Mera fares better due her fiery attitude, but it is still a one dimensional characterisation. However it was nice to see both of them do some superheroics as they save some sailors. Dr Shin just dumps exposition and it does slow down the pace. Johns continues to over explain everything, especially past events. It will help get new readers up to speed, but it hinders other narrative aspects, like character. But the second action scene does distract slightly and it leads to an interesting bit of new back story for Aquaman. That is the most interesting thing about the whole book, the fact that Aquaman used to be in some sort of super group when he was young. Hopefully it will add some much needed depth to the title character.
Once again Ivan Reis does more work on this book than Johns. His pencils constantly impress and his use of action is visually engaging. Both fights are frenetic, clear and well choreograph. The Black Manta opening gambit is easily the most interesting, as Reis expresses Manta through his movement. But not to be out done the splash page of Aquaman pulling a ship to safety is a great heroic image. Reis’ character work is solid and the designs of The Others are interesting even if a little familiar.
So it still has problems but there is enough potential in this issue to at least be slightly interested in this new story arc. Black Manta is a welcome addition and Aquaman’s mysterious past brings some intrigue. The art is as always the book’s only real selling point. But on the whole this is a by the numbers set up issue which rarely moves above average.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|The art, Black Manta and its potential||Lifeless characters and by the numbers plot|
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