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Friday, May 18, 2007

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #52 - July 2007

sgWhen last we left them, Aquaman mk.2, Tempest, Lorena(aka Aquagirl), Sub Diego Mayor Cal Durham, Topo had just arrived in the underwater city only to find it's been taken over by Black Manta.

In this issue, they actually confront Manta, who is confused as to who this new guy is and why he calls himself Aquaman. They rescue their sea creature/human hybrid friend Alonzo, and then are ambushed by Manta's minions but manage to escape, not before Aquaman gets one good shot in at Manta. They drop off Alonzo for medical treatment, and then Aquaman, Lorena, and Mal continue on to find out the reasons behind some of what Manta's been doing.

As I've stated before, while there were definitely some parts of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis that I liked, I couldn't really get past that this wasn't Aquaman, or at least the one I knew. But for some reason, this issue really kicked it up a notch for me. The storyline seemed clearer, more focused, and the characterizations sharper.

One thing that helped is the artwork--since there's no inker credit for this issue, I assume artist Shawn McManus inked his own pencils this time. As much as I liked Walden Wong's inks, I think McManus inking himself is a vast improvement, at least at capturing the right tone--McManus' line is rougher, looser, less rounded edges, making the whole book look a little more rough shod, and I think that matches the storyline very well. Black Manta even wears a new suit at the end and the design looks like its right out of a Nick Cardy-drawn issue of the original Aquaman series.

Another thing that caught me off guard with this issue was the tone. This book is settling into a fun adventure, full of danger, something for us overgrown fanboys and fangirls(hey, Laura!), but yet there's nothing in here that a younger reader couldn't handle.

In fact, I've found that Aquaman:SOA is managing to capture a tone I wish more mainstream superhero comics would try for--an all ages appeal, but not necessairily written just for little kids. And even though that's something I've been looking for, I initially had the opposite reaction when I saw this panel:

...I saw this, and went "aw, come on. This is so silly." And then just a few seconds after that, I caught myself and said "No--this is exactly how the DCU should read." Sure, it's an incredibly goofy image, but writer Tad Williams just throws this in and moves on, like the classic DC books used to. He doesn't distance himself from this ironically--like he, as the writer, is complimenting the readers for knowing how silly this is--rather, the approach is just unapologetically fantastic, like the world of superheroes is meant to be. This is a world where there are women with animal heads that talk like Lindsay Lohan; let's move on.

My only complaint about the book is still the same one I said last time--that the new Aquaman is still a bit indistinct amid all the other members of the cast. You can get away with that in a Batman comic, since everyone knows who Batman is and he doesn't need to say or do much to make the point. But since you're still trying to sell the audience on the concept as "Aquaman" as the main character, I think he needs to be more defined. But this is only Williams' third issue, so maybe that's down the line.

Ok, actually, I do have one more complaint, but it has nothing to do with the book itself. While reading this delightfully multi-generational-appropriate story, I came across this ad:

Great Guardians! What a hideous, violent, gory, grotesque ad. I'm no prude, but if I saw this ad in a comic book my kid was reading I'd rip the page right out of it. Five Green Lanterns, crucified, with blood splattering out of their chests?? Ugh. Ultra-violence in superhero comics doesn't make them cooler, it just makes them stupider. Where's a Hostess Cupcake ad when you need one?


Rick L. Phillips said...

Yes it seems that the days of innocence are gone in the comic books.

chunky B said...

Wow, that is pretty messed up (the ad) reminds me of an old Man-Thing comic I had where he rips a lady's head off and a snake pops out of her mouth...

Here comes the night terrors again!

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of the current GL series, but I admit that is excessive. Mainstream, non-animated style comics are most definitely NOT for kids anymore. I have to be careful when my son tries to look over my shoulder when I ready my monthly comics.

That's why I read him Silver Age stories at bedtime!


chunky B said...

You know now that I look at it closer, the Lobster Lady has Farrah hair, These could be Aqua's Angels...

Scurvy said...

[rant] I'll tell you another thing that's been bothering me of late, is those smarmy anti-smoking ads with the "whadafxup?" for a slogan. I find that seriously out of place in my comics, and honestly those ads piss me off so much they make me want to start smoking. [/rant]

Anonymous said...

That kinda pointless excess ain't "Cutting Edge Creativity" -
just lazy writing.

Any damn fool can pull of an easy Disgust Shock; it's like a snuff film.