Written by Andrew Fontana
Aquaman has always been a character that danced the line between cheesy hero and brooding monarch with an odd sense of fashion, whose everyman background clashed with the byzantine traditions of the underwater kingdom he happens to rule. Geoff Johns successfully navigated these two extremes during his run, and his work still stands as the benchmark upon which all successive writers of the characters are to be judged. Dan Abnett is respectful of all that came before, and if anything, his previous arc invoked Johns’ take on the character a bit too heavily. With this issue he takes a different approach , one that has been absent with the Aquaman book of the past few years: the cheese factor.
When a monstrous figure stomps its way to the borders of Atlantis, Aquaman leads his soldiers into a futile battle against a foe that seemingly absorbs all their attacks. Scott Eaton’s pencils portray this extended fight scene admirably. We get a sense of genuine urgency and scale through Eaton’s clean lines, without a single panel being hampered by clutter. My only real complaint where the artwork is concerned are the colors, which come off as too muted for a comic with such bombastic action. Perhaps that was the intent, given the underwater locale, but I like Aquaman’s chainmail chest armor to have a bit of a gleam.
Abnett has a good handle on Aquaman and his supporting cast, giving each of the supporting characters a distinctive voice. Having the grizzled warrior Murk say stuff like “Neptune’s balls” is an example of this, and the slight cheesiness of the dialogue gives the entire proceedings the air of a blockbuster action movie. Having the monster be The Shaggy Man, an obscure Justice League villain, was also a fun reveal. Unfortunately, Mera’s subplot hinders the issue’s momentum with yet another storyline about her failing to find her place among the Atlanteans. Johns had previously explored that dynamic during his run, and to have it rehashed again here feels like a waste of her character. Her studies at the Tower of Widowhood add a nice touch of world building to Abnett’s Atlantis, but it definitely feels incongruent to the main plot. I’m still on board with the current arc despite some misgivings, and I hope that Abnett can maintain the blockbuster tone he establishes here.