Black Manta appears and gives the book a boost.
This book is at its greatest when Geoff Johns gives up his overwrought dialogue and allows Ivan Reis to take control. However Johns is at least delivering interesting new characters in the form of The Others. But once the dialogue comes in, he drowns the book in exposition.
As long as Reis stays on this title it at least has a selling point. His art is detailed and emotive, as he often delivers marvellous visuals that have created a great look for the series. His Aquaman is a force of nature, gritted teeth in fury as he tears through soldiers. If the character has any real emotional depth it is from the pencils and not the script. The same can be said of the other characters as well. The Others are all uniquely designed and The Prisoner is easily the most visually engaging. Black Manta is another force of nature, but he is much more restrained in his viciousness, which makes him seem even more deadly. Aquaman and Manta couldn’t be so diametrically opposed visually and Reis has fun with both characters. His great pencils this issue lead up to a final page that is one of the stand out images of the series let alone the book. A final page which is staged beautifully by Reis, as he teases the epic confrontation that will no doubt unfold next issue.
Now as impressive as the art is Johns manages to bring things crashing down to earth. He doesn’t derail the whole book as he has done many times before in this title, he just really slows down the flow by introducing yet more back story. Granted this tale is steeped in Aquaman’s past but Johns does his trademark over explaining of the situation. The Mera/Shin scene is given far too many pages for the simple revelation that is revealed. More time could have been spent delving into Aquaman’s relationship with The Others. On that note his interaction with old flame Ya’wara was perhaps familiar, but at least explains away Aquaman’s taste in women. But the most interesting moment of the book was the beginning, even though that cliffhanger is one hell of an image. But Black Manta is a more compelling character and The Prisoner the most interesting of The Others we have seen so far. In fact Johns excels in a rare moment of succinct character introduction, as The Prisoner is instantly engaging. However their is one bizarre moment right at the beginning as Black Manta uses what can only be described as a golden stick to translate some German, which is a completely unnecessary moment.
So, although the art does wonders for the book, Johns still manages to dampen the proceedings. There is a fundamental problem with the title when every other character is more interesting than Aquaman, even with the revelation of this issue. Reis manages to give Aquaman a personality, but his dialogue from Johns does absolutely nothing to cement this characterisation. Unlike Black Manta whose characterisation is handled well by both writer and artist. The time spent on more of Aquaman’s background feels like filler and could have been delivered in one page. But scripting and dialogue problems have plagued this series from the get go and it won’t change any time soon. But for now the art is fantastic, Black Manta is compelling and this plot isn’t half as bad as the previous one.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|The art, Black Manta and The Prisoner.||Too much back story cripples the pace of the book, Johns has yet to create a compelling voice for Aquaman.|
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