Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Ivan Reis
Inks by Joe Prado
Cover Price: $2.99
In a nutshell:
The creative team from Blackest Night again takes something familiar and stale and makes it cool and frightening.
Arthur (Aquaman) is a character born of two worlds, his father being a human from the U.S., and his mother the queen of the underwater city of Atlantis. Unhappy leading Atlantis, Arthur chooses to once again live in the human world however he finds that he is not as respected by men as he is in the underwater world. Our real world jokes about Aquaman are the same in Aquaman's world. Meanwhile frightening creatures show up that originate from out of the trench of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, so deep that even Aquaman has never encountered them before. The creatures are like a cross between Piranas and humans and they have a huge appetite and seem to have the need to feed on humans as well as kidnapping humans in a cocoon of sorts and taking them back to the trenches for others of their species to feed on. Aquaman fights off these creatures and wants to find out what they are, where they came from, and how he can rescue the creatures that has been taken.
Why did I pick it up?
I feel a connection to the iconic "superfriends" that I grew up with, especially when they go "back to basics" or to the more iconic versions of the character. Geoff Johns revived Green Lantern and Flash and he and Ivan Reis also were the creators behind Blackest Night which is the only event book I've ever really enjoyed.
This is the first time I can remember really connecting to Aquaman. What is often thought of as lame is played totally straight and feels cool. These new monsters are a different kind of threat but very creepy and frightening. In this story we also meet the brilliant Stephen Shin, one of Aquaman's mentors whom also once tried to kill him because of his obsession with Atlantis. There is a lot of foreshadowing in this encounter, a potential setup for a potential rivalry/threat, as well as the implication that Aquaman's Trident belonged to a threat that will return for it. Ivan Reis is an artist who has become more appealing as he goes on. He draws the characters and events clearly and the way they're supposed to be, and in a dynamic and exciting way. Oh, and Aquaman's wife Mera, she's a hottie!
In past posts I have commented about how it's more effective to imply something horrific than it is to display it out as bloody gore. There is a scene in issue 2 that does this perfectly. My only issue with it is that there used to be this rule in comics, kids don't get killed. If a superhero is representation of our hopes and fears, what is the point of the superhero if the child dies. What good is protecting the world in a child's eyes, if the child itself is dead. And I think this is another example how superhero comics have evolved from something for the inner child in all of us, to comics aren't just for kids anymore, to comics aren't for kids at all. So I think this scene is a powerful and effective scene, and horrifyingly scary. But I do think it is an example of something that is lost in the modern superhero comic.
The majority of the DC comics have gone from 22 pages to 20 pages and while that might not seem significant, it does feel a little lighter. What hasn't helped is that there have been six page previews of upcoming titles which becomes irritating when it's in every title and it just makes it clear how much story is missing that the last chunk of the comic is taken up with these shameless promotions. Imagine what a letdown it must be to actually buy this comics and being totally bored with the first third of the comic being overexposed before you ever picked it up. These kinds of promotions make me not want to buy the comics as opposed to the other way around.
Is it worth it?
Again, $2.99 is too much for a comic and with two pages cut out (the supposed justification for not making it $3.99, disgusting, especially in this economy), it's hard to tell people who's jobs are disappearing to other countries (thanks to a bipartisan collaboration at selling out the American worker for the benefit of Wall Street) that they should spend the better part of a five dollar bill on a comic they'll read through in less than twenty minutes. But this is one of the better creative teams currently working on superhero comics and Aquaman is finally being treated like a character you want to read about.