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Friday, April 20, 2007

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #51 - 2007

sgI've decided to cover the newest issue of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis for each week's Comic Friday, that way I can feel like I'm keeping people who might not be reading the book (and that's most of Humanity) up to date.

This is the second issue by the new creative team of Tad Williams, Shawn McManus, and Walden Wong, this time with a niiiice cover by master Michael Wm. Kaluta. It picks up shortly after last issue, so we have the JLA (or at least some of them) attending the "funeral" of the Dweller, aka the original Aquaman.

Any superhero's funeral needs to be put in quotes since it's so rarely final. That's even more the case this time, since Aquaman's death last issue was done so off-handedly, so perfunctorily, that I didn't believe for a second it was The End. That feeling is reinforced with this issue, where members of the JLA themselves doubt it really means Aquaman is gone forever. Maybe Tad Williams is trying a classic mis-direct, and Arthur really is dead. I don't know--this approach seems lose/lose to me--if he's isn't dead, then all this talk about it really undercuts the drama. If he is, then DC has allowed a writer to unceremoniously bump off one of their most durable characters for a cheap, instantly-forgettable plot twist (that can't be it, since of course DC would never do that).

Anyway, the new Aquaman, Tempest, Cal Durham, new comic relief Topo, and holdover from the previous Aquaman incarnation, Lorena (aka the new Aquagirl) and a few others head out to find one of these mysterious "hatches" that work like wormholes under the sea. When they do, they run afoul of a whole gang of bad fish/human hybrid bad guys, and a fairly bloody battle ensues. They finally reach their destination--the underwater city of Sub Diego--and they discover its been taken over by...Black Manta!

I don't want to be too negative when I talk about a comic, since I try to keep the Shrine a happy place, and I just don't feel right about slamming creative people who are obviously trying to do good work. It's just a comic book, for Neptune's sake. And I have to keep in mind that we are only two issues into Williams' run.

But so far, I feel that the new Aquaman is becoming a co-star in his own book. At this point, we've got him, Mera, Tempest, Cal, Topo, Lorena, an evil duplicate Aquaman, and the bad guy who created the evil duplicate. The book is so crowded that Aquaman really isn't making much of an impression.

If anything, it's Lorena/Aquagirl that resonates the most. Back when she was introduced in the earlier incarnation of this book, I thought she was a great character, a great counterpoint to the self-serious Aquaman. It seemed like they were grooming her to become his new sidekick and I thought to myself, if they did want a new Aquaman, DC could do worse than replace him with Lorena. I'm glad Williams has brought her back, and I only hope that over time he pares away the rest of the ever-growing AquaFamily and gives Lorena more to do.

The art by Shawn McManus is still very nice, but I'm still not totally sold his cartoony style fits well with all the blood and guts this new Aquaman's world consists of. The little dots-for-eyes characters are cute and all, I just don't know whether they work in this context.

Of course, I'm still going to buy Aquaman--it's Aquaman. I have nothing but high hopes for the title and that Williams and McManus are given the chance to really do something with the book.


Tegan said...


Plaidstallions said...

I've just about to ask about what the hell is going on with that comic?

So Aquaman was a monster and now he's dead? Does anyone at DC like this character?

Anonymous said...

>So Aquaman was a monster and now he's dead?<

Some dingleberry at DC thought, "Hey - it worked for Hal!"

(Of course, it didn't. Not really.)


Anonymous said...

Nothing against Busiek or Guice who I've always been fans of, but I feel DC missed a real opportunity with Infinite Crisis to put ALL their title back to a point that the general public could pick it up and say "Oh yeah...Aquaman! Like on the Super Friends". In other words, Aruthur Curry with two hands, clean shaven, in his orange and green. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and JLA have all benfitted from that approach, but Aquaman and Flash (among others) did not.


Anonymous said...


With you there, bro!

Actually I'd look at it as the "Late Silver/Early Bronze" versions.

If there's one thing that CLASSIC stories like "For the Man Who Has Everything" and "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" stories proved, it was that - in the right hands! - that world was in no way broken and in need of "fixing!"