Aquaman’s past makes for a surprisingly entertaining read.
To say this book has had a bumpy ride is an understatement. Since its inception it has managed to be one of the blandest comics on the stands, which traded in simple characterisation, uninteresting plots and banal dialogue. The only saving grace has been Ivan Reis gorgeous art work. However with this issue Geoff Johns has decided to give Aquaman some much needed depth, shame it only took eight months to do so.
Opening six years ago we get a grief stricken Aquaman who has something to say to the frenzied media outside. This set up is a great way to open up the book. Johns manages to dial down his dialogue completely and lets Reis take control of the characterisation. It is a solid opening which speaks volumes of the character’s state of mind. Jumping ahead a year we see a determined looking Aquaman with his trident and yet again the art speaks for itself, giving the audience just enough to assume what has happened to Aquaman in his absence. Of course when we move back to the present Johns does his trademark exposition dump, but unlike other issues it is surrounded by genuine characterisation and humour.
Yes, the book manages to sustain some humorous moments due to the simple plot device of having Mera being jealous of Ya’Wara and Arthur’s past connection. The moment is handled well and hopefully it won’t be run into the ground like the books other attempts at humour. As for Ya’Wara she is a simply constructed character, but she does what the narrative requires of her and doesn’t out stay her welcome. It was also nice to see Mera take control of the situation and demand answers. Add to this a intriguing flash back that introduces the rest of The Others and gives a younger Aquaman a furious edge and the book has managed to flesh out not only the plot but the characters. It all adds up to a entertaining read.
Also it’s worth noting that the persistent looming threat of Black Manta does wonders for the book. We have already seen this villain in action last issue and Johns manages to keep the idea of the character being a menacing threat, which really helps with the overall narrative.
Reis as always delivers a beautiful looking book. From the final page to Mera’s disdain at Arthur and Ya’Wara closeness, he nails it. Reis brings such emotion to the book and as has always been the case he delivers more of the characterisation than the script. This is the first time Aquaman has been shown with a different set of emotions and Reis goes to town. Really capturing a side of Arthur that allows us to relate to him. His work on the action scenes is solid and the double page depicting The Others in all their glory is the defining image of the book.
So, Aquaman has come a long way from previous issues. Johns has an interesting plot here and has managed to finally infuse the book with some characterisation. This is turn leads the audience to get invested in the book. This is helped greatly by Reis’ great handle on the character and the world he inhabits. Lets hope it continues down this path at least for the time being.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|A solid narrative, fantastic art and some much needed characterisation||Still has a few problems with exposition|
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