Aquaman #1 & 2
The King of the Seven Seas traditionally gets no respect. Despite the fact that he is one of the longest lasting superheroes (first appearing in 1941) and acquiring a solo cartoon, a starring role in the Super Friends and the most downloaded pilot (un-optioned for a series) program on iTunes… he’s still the silly guy who talks to fish. This reputation holds true within and without the comic book realm.
Numerous attempts at reviving and ret-conning his origins and back-story only compounded the problem. Aquaman was not cool. Deep in the comic book consciousness there was a furtive mind at work. Geoff Johns, the man who re-lit Green Lantern’s lamp and taught Hawkman to fly again would bring new depths to the oceanic ruler. The hard part was not to approach the problem of Aquaman’s uncoolness in a direct way by making him edgy and violent but instead create a unique comic book that made readers look at the character in a new way.
In the first issue, Aquaman comes into dry land and thwarts a crime with the use of his massive trident. Proving his immense strength, he also braves wild gunfire and takes down the thugs with a solemn face. Even so, the cops on the spot can’t help but feel awkward around him. Does he need a drink of water? Is he drying up? No one is really sure how Aquaman’s abilities work or what he can do.
This continues to an unsuccessful lunch at a nearby seafood shack Aquaman had frequented with his dad as a young boy. An obnoxious blogger berates Aquaman with all sorts of stupid questions including how it must feel to be the most unpopular superhero. Disgruntled, Aquaman leaves… making the reader wonder if this series is a dry sort of sitcom instead of an action series. Outside, Aquaman and his wife Mera decide to renounce the throne of Atlantis and live among the land dwellers, taking up residence in the same lighthouse once owned by his father.
Meanwhile, strange creatures lurk beneath the waves, scenting food above.
The second issue sees Aquaman trying to introduce his wife Mera to his past life as a land dweller. Mera is charmed by the snapshots of ice skating and the like, but Aquaman is finding it difficult to connect to his human past as Arthur Curry. The reminiscence is cut short when a local policeman calls them to the docks where the unthinkable has taken place.
Right by the docks, people have been taken beneath the waves by the bizarre carnivorous creatures that scent food by spraying their targets with numbing venom. Aquaman and his bride give them a good fight but in the end it looks like Aquaman is up against a threat from the ocean that is alien to both humanity and himself… and he is powerless against it.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the new Aquaman series. I collected the previous run (where oh where are those collected editions?) and really enjoyed it despite the bizarre twists and turns that it took. I was gearing myself up for a soul-searching mini-series ala Flash: Rebirth or Green Lantern: Rebirth and frankly I’m happy that’s not what we have here. The series is still holding its cards close to its chest on where it will take Aquaman, but it is clear that this is a new path, one that does not involve the regal palaces of Atlantis and instead will chart a new path.
The artwork by Ivan Reiss is outstanding. Along with the Flash and Batwoman, this is possibly the most beautiful of DC’s new 52 books. The action is still slow coming and the plot seems to be taking its time getting started but I have high hopes that given time this could be an interesting take on Aquaman that should attract new readers.
Aquaman #1 has sold out in comic shops but can be purchased in second print and downloaded at ComiXology for your iPhone or Walkman or whatever you kids use these days.