This weird little thing is a Kawaii Cube, part of a whole line of DC characters in MODOK-like form. Check out those eyebrows! And here's a shot of Aquaman and Batman Kawaii cubes for sale, courtesy F.O.A.M.er Chris Bern:
"The Drowning Part Five: Executive Sanction" by Dan Abnett, Philipe Briones, and Gabe Eltaeb.
Having been "freed" by Mera from a government detention center, Aquaman and Mera find themselves face to face with a small army (literally), all ready to fire upon our heroes. When fired upon, Mera is ready to respond with lethal force, but Aquaman still tries to keep things from getting too out of hand. Despite being outnumbered, the soldiers don't pose much of a threat, leaving Aquaman and Mera enough room to have an ongoing discussion about their relationship throughout the melee!
Meanwhile, tensions get ratcheted up in both the White House Situation room, and Atlantis, as they respond to the events. Finally, the fight is halted when a another party arrives: Superman!
I have to assume that writer Dan Abnett is having a bit of a laugh with this issue, since I couldn't help but chuckle at our heroes having a "talk" about their relationship, while at the same time flipping tanks and stopping choppers in mid-air. It's not intended as criticism; in fact I liked the comedic aspect of it, mixed in with the big action moments. Aquaman and Mera are complete butt-kickers here, so watching them squabble in a manner a lot of us can relate to I thought was charming. And while I want to see the whole Aquaman vs. America think wrapped up soon, I did enjoy seeing the White House consider the Sea King the "most dangerous" member of the JLA. I wonder what Batman would think about that? As I mentioned last issue, I think Philipe Briones is getting better with each issue (where have you gone, Brad Walker, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you), with his rendition of Mera still his most effective. Another thing he's good at is scene setting--both the sub-plots in Atlantis and Antarctica (where Black Manta meets the head of N.E.M.O.) have lots of interesting visual design going on and are interesting to look at. Speaking of the art, I have been loving Brad Walker's covers for this series--they have a real fluidity of movement combined that reminds me a touch of the great Michael Golden. They have consistently been winners.
I love this cartoon by Peruvian artist Andres Edery, sent in by F.O.A.M.er Jorge Perez-Reyes. Jorge explains it ran in a magazine last weekend to (obviously) commemorate Michael Phelps' astounding performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As usual, Namor didn't show up--what a jerk. Thanks Jorge!
You can stave off road ennui while fighting Darkseid with this new Justice League Road Game! Great to see Aquaman in there, of course--I'm assuming we'll see similar items like this related to the movie next year, so let's just enjoy Arthur rocking his classic look!
Since this is Aquaman's 75th year, every so often I am going to post what I call All-Time Favorite Aquaman Moments. It can be a cover, a panel, a series of panels, or, like in this case, a series of pages. This sequence from Paul Dini and Alex Ross' Justice League: Liberty and Justice remains a classic to me, and this full-page shot of the Sea King is still my single favorite Aquaman image of all time.
"The Drowning Part Four: Semper Fidelis" by Dan Abnett, Philipe Briones, and Gabe Eltaeb.
Aquaman allows himself to be arrested and imprisoned, thinking it will tamp down the escalating tensions between Atlantis and the U.S. Government. Mera consults with Tula, who is investigating the situation from their home base. The mysterious group known as N.E.M.O. (headed by a woman named Black Jack) transports Black Manta to meet their leader. Mera, tired of waiting for the Surface World to see the truth, breaks Aquaman out of prison. They escape long enough to find themselves surrounded by armed forces, all of whom are pointing their weapons at our heroes.
Writer Dan Abnett is clearly channeling real-world events in both Britian and the United States, with Aquaman's discussion about how a small subset of Atlanteans "fear change" and have turned angry and violent. He (Aquaman) even seems a bit sympathetic, but all that has to be set aside when Mera comes charging in. I enjoyed Mera's exasperation with her beau, who reminded me a bit of Superman in Kingdom Come, so determined is he to Do The Right Thing. It's an interesting idea, to have the book's main character not be the one who drives the action, but then Arthur has always been a bit stubborn, sometimes to his own detriment. I didn't mention this last issue, but I'm tickled that writer Abnett has chosen "Black Jack" as the moniker for this new villain. For those Golden Age Aquaman fans, Blackjack was of course the moniker of pretty much the only recurring bad guy the Sea King ever faced. As a bad guy, he was a miserable failure, and this new version has already outperformed her namesake by managing to break Black Manta out. I can only assume this was on purpose--if so, I enjoy the little nod to Aqua-History. After being lukewarm on Philipe Briones' work last issue, I was much more enthusiastic about it here. All the scenes in Atlantis with Tula are filled with visual invention, and Mera gets a good amount of distinctive facial reactions that reminds one a bit of the work of Kevin Maguire. I don't think he's quite got a handle on Aquaman yet, but the rest looked pretty nifty, and he can stage action sequences well. My apologies for the late review of this issue, Aquaman's increased publication combined with Olympics Fever (where I'm following a real life Aquaman) has really thrown a monkey wrench into my Shrine posting schedule.
As all Aqua-Fans have heard by now, it's been reported that Black Manta will indeed be the villain in the 2018 Aquaman movie. I don't think this comes as a big surprise to anyone, since he is by far the Sea King's most famous foe, comes with a cool handle (let's face it, "Ocean Master" elicits a snicker), and it gives the filmmakers the chance to come up with a really cool voice modulator! Seriously, after Challenge of the Super Friends, James Wan and co. have their work cut out them.
Who does everyone want to see play Manta? My first instinct would be the intense and charismatic Chiwetel Ejiofor, but Marvel has him wrapped up across the street as Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange. Although, if JK Simmons can go from The Daily Bugle to the GCPD, then who knows?
We've covered this spiffy little board books from Downtown Bookworks before, and they have all been beautifully-produced, filled to the brim with gorgeous DC stock art and eye-popping colors.
My First Book of Superpowers is the newest volume, and as you can see Aquaman is included! Huzzah! While most of the book uses art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (PBHN), the Aquaman section features a pose by Dick Giordano and I think that shot of the Sea King and his whales is by the great Ramona Fradon!
F.O.A.M. member emeritus Russell Burbage sent me a package the other day, and included was this Aquaman, which is truly Itty Bitty! It's part of a whole line of DC and Marvel characters (multiple licenses across one product? Holy Mego!) in this form. As the kids say, totes adorbs! Thanks pal!
At the SDCC today, Warner Bros. released this, the first official photo of the Justice League cast in costume! Click to embiggen, and also check out the first full trailer to Wonder Woman, also released today!
Remember the tagline, "Unite the Seven"? So who is the seventh? Green Lantern? Mera? Vulko? We'll find out in November 2017!
"The Drowning Part Three: Capitol Crimes" by Dan Abnett, Philipe Briones, and Gabe Eltaeb.
Aquaman is in Washington DC to get Merrick Garland confirmed!
Actually, no, he's dealing with something even harder than Congress: after learning that Spindrift Station has been closed following Black Manta's attack, the Sea King heads to DC to try and fix the situation. Unfortunately, a Navy ship in the South Atlantic is attacked by the Deluge, all in the name of Atlantis. The U.S. Government doesn't take too kindly to this, and they move to arrest Aquaman. Mera isn't about to just stand there and watch her beloved carted off into chains...until Arthur tells her that's exactly what he wants her to do.
After what seemed like a promising start, I'm sad to see Aquaman and Mera have problems with the Surface World again (and so soon!). Arthur even sort of debases himself by suggesting his fellow Justice Leaguer Superman "vouch" for him, all to no avail. At the same time, the band of super-villains who kidnapped Black Manta last issue explain who they are ("N.E.M.O."--cool handle) and after he demonstrates how ruthless and effective he is, he is told he's going to meet "the boss." I was a little thrown off by how different Aquaman looks via penciller Philippe Briones--not that he could, or should, just ape what Brad Walker did in issue #1, but I liked that distinctive appearance (seen on the nifty, 60s-esque cover) and missed it this time. But Briones makes up for it with Mera, who gets some great facial reactions--the final two panels show her looking aghast, followed immediately by an almost cartoony confusion. Overall, I'd say this was a fine issue, but not much more than that. Aquaman #1 was such a great start that it was going to be hard maintaining that momentum, hopefully we can get it back for issue #4, in just two weeks.