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Friday, May 11, 2007

Aquaman (Vol.4) #1 - Dec. 1991

sgIt's Comic Friday again, and I've been working through the seemingly-endless parade of Aquaman #1s--this particular book being the fourth(!) solo Aquaman title re-start.

While it was nice for DC to recognize the character's longevity("Aquaman's Fiftieth Anniversary Year!"), and certainly the cover by Kevin Maguire is excellently rendered, I think we see the problem with the book--and superhero comics in general at the time--right off the bat. Aquaman looks like he's in a murderous rage(who wasn't back then?), and he isn't doing anything particularly heroic here--we can guess the guy at the end of Aquaman's knuckle sandwhich is a bad guy, but there's nothing to tell us that. Is this violent, angry cover the kind of thing that fits Aquaman? Where's the joy?

Mind you, I'm not blaming Maguire at all here--it's up to DC's editorial staff to guide where they want the character to go, so they should've requested a little more action-oriented, less-angry cover image. Maguire can draw the hell out of anything, as we'll see in other covers he did for the book later on.

Anyway, this new book is by writer Shaun McLaughlin, and artists Ken Hooper and Bob Dvorak. I'm not going to get too rough here, since I try to have respect for any group of creative people, who are almost always just trying to do their best. But this book seems to get off on the wrong foot almost instantly--Aquaman is a tortured, mopey, whiny hero. His mourning of the loss of Arthur Jr.--in a story published about fifteen years earlier--is still front and center, and you just want to shake Arthur and say "get on with it already!--dummy up and be a superhero, for Neptune's sake! You're a founding member of the Justice League!"

The art, too, leaves me cold. There's huge spots of empty, dead space page after page. Not that we need every panel crammed to the borders ala Evan Dorkin, but all these tiny figures, lost amid the panels dulls the whole effect of the book--there isn't one dynamic, grabber of an image anywhere in this first issue. Even as a die-hard Aquaman fan, I remember buying this book on the stands, reading it, and not being able to remember a single thing that happened in it afterwards. I think I even stopped buying the book, which I never thought I'd ever do for an Aquaman title.

(There is a nice, fun editorial page by editor Kevin Dooley, who does a brief rundown of the character's history, who he is, and where they plan to take him with this new book. Dooley's light-hearted tone displays a genuine affection for the character, so much so I wondered why he wasn't writing the book.)

Over the years I've picked up some of the remaining issues(this title only lasted a brief thirteen issues--how's that for bad luck?) so I'm looking forward to reading them over and seeing if they improved. Stay tuned--same AquaTime, same AquaBlog!


Anonymous said...


"I think we see the problem with the book--and superhero comics in general at the time--right off the bat."

That toxin is still in the system...

Folks looked at Gold/Silver stuff, and said, "that's too Walt Disney sunny..."

(Often true...)

So they thought the cure was, "let's make everything Quentin Tarentino dark!"

(As Spacey's Lex would say - WRONG!!!)

Great weekend, all!

Scurvy said...

I too was really disapointed with this series. I didn't even buy it when it was out. (I have since on Ebay tho) One thing I hated is how the series ends out of the blue. I mean, there is even a next issue blurb and everything. What a teaser.