Aquaman #12 Review

Aquaman, Mera and The Others confront Black Manta.

Aquaman #12

Aquaman is a frustrating title. Every month we are presented with issues that are visually engaging, as Ivan Reis produces one of the best looking superhero books DC has. However Geoff Johns’ scripts are inconsistent and tend to lack interesting character work, not to mention the fact they are often bogged down with exposition that spoon feeds the reader every detail. These two elements make for a maddening read and non more so than this months installment.

Ivan Reis yet again does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the books entertainment value. His art continues to give Aquaman a range of emotion that is absent from the script. As always his character work is expressive and attempts to add depth to characters that have none, namely The Others. He stages his action perfectly as he fills each panel with a frenetic energy that jumps off the page. The double page splash that depicts the arrival of Mera and The Others encapsulates both his action staging and his attention to character detail. The book is worth picking up for the art alone.

The problems come when you have to read the dialogue. There are some positive moments within Johns script but they are outweighed by the negatives. Black Manta monologuing like the typical super villain actually works and he is by far the most interesting character Johns is using. Mera manages to also shine a little here as she has a great opening moment, but that maybe has more to do with Reis than Johns. But she is lost in the melee and disappears into the background by the end of the issue.

As for the rest of the book it is filled with a fight that has the pretence that things matter, but it is actually devoid of any real emotion. This is due to the utter underdevelopment of The Others as characters. They are one note cardboard cut-outs that only serve the story. This would be fine if the narrative was interesting, but it has become overwrought. It is essentially Black Manta VS Aquaman, but adding The Others has distilled the simple purity of the premise. The Others have damaged the proceedings due to Johns disregard for their character development. In fact these characters are so shallow that the only thing that distinguishes the one that dies from the rest is his costume. And on the note of his death, it is ridiculous to think that it inspires Aquaman to kill Manta. This reaction from Aquaman is a repeat of what has gone before and the fact he simply kills one of Manta’s minions without a second thought lessens his grand declaration of murderous intent. If he’s already killed then the revelation that he is going to kill lacks impact. But then again our title hero has no real character development either, so nothing he does has any impact.

So, yet again Reis outshines Johns and the title continues to be a beautiful mess. It seemed to be improving a few months back, but Johns has yet again dragged the whole thing down. It is a simple premise for a story, but Johns adds aspects that don’t work. Amazingly for a writer that loves to use heavy handed exposition, he does seem to neglect characterisation. This has the knock on effect of making the book a shallow read, which is a shame as it looks fantastic.


Pros Cons
The art. Devoid of tension and emotion due under developed characters. Becoming repetitive.

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  1. Dan Mirsky says:

    I feel so bad for Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. They produce such breath-taking art while the horrendous writers ruin the issue. It angers me that the writers get away with such a heinous act.


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I'm a budding writer of comics, films and television (got to keep my options open). I try to love both Marvel and DC equally, watch as many good films as I can and walk my dog three times a day.