While I may not be as big an Aquafan as Rob Kelly of AquamanShrine.com fame, I appreciate a good Aquaman story and I root for the King of the Sea to do well regardless of the creators and direction of his stories. Hell, I even bought into Justice League Detroit largely because of Aquaman! So when this series was announced (after years of being alluded to, hinted at, and presumed to occur), I got my gills ready for an undersea adventure.
After following Aquaman and Mera through “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” into this bold new relaunch, and reconnecting to my once-favorite hero, I found myself cringing at the possibilities of what was going to be altered/forgotten/ignored with regards to Aquaman and Mera. To this point, I’m pleased to say that Aquaman appears to be carrying on quite nicely from where he was left at the end of “Brightest Day.”
Geoff Johns used the first issue to set Aquaman upon his path of forging a new life in his father’s world. Taking up residence in a lighthouse and forsaking his duty to the throne of Atlantis, Aquaman and Mera spend part of this issue getting to know one another again. Their rekindling is interrupted by the Trench: a creepy, quick, massively carnivorous cross between anglerfish and Sleestaks. The attack gives Johns yet another chance to show just how battle-ready Aquaman is and how Mera is every bit his equal once the fight breaks out.
That conveniently gives Ivan Reis and Joe Prado a welcome range of subject matter to draw, from the sleepy fishing port of Beachrock to frenzied fish-men clawing over one another to feed. Reis draws it all with masterful skill, clean delivery, and incredible detail. Rod Reis’ colors effortlessly melt into the page, making this book look heroic and bold.
Nick J. Napolitano rounds out the visual spectacle of this issue with a fine bit of double work for the Trench’s dialog. There is one point where Aquaman reaches out to communicate with available sea life and he comes across the Trench’s thoughts. That one panel where the thoughts reverberate in Aquaman’s mind is handled so well that the creepiness pops from the page.
This issue is fast moving. I got to the end of the story and had to go back to count pages just to make sure the issue itself wasn’t abbreviated as the story was briskly paced to great effect. As the Ookla the Mok song goes, “I know there’s gonna come a day when they’re gonna stare in slack-jawed wonder as they hear me say, ‘I am Aquaman and nobody better mess with me!’” Two issues in, this series has me down with the slack-jawed wonder. As a fan of Arthur Curry, I’ve seen quite a bit, from his seahorse-riding days on “Super Friends” to the hook and back. This series, however, sets the high-water (had to do it) mark for “Aquaman.”