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Friday, September 21, 2007

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #56 - Nov. 2007

sgThis is the penultimate issue of Sword of Atlantis(*sniff*) and I'm determined to wring as much enjoyment out of these issues as I can, knowing it's all over in one more month.

Sure, Aquaman will presumably be a regular member of the new Outsiders book, but I'll miss having one Comic Friday a month being about an Aquaman solo book.

When last we left them, Aquaman was in the clutches of bad guy Krusivax and uber-DC bad guy Vandal Savage, who had a plan to sink a good portion of the populated earth and rule over the people who would now be forced via genetic engineering to live underwater. Lorena(aka Aquagirl), Mal, and new recruit to the cause Cyborg had just burst in to save the day.

Turns out Aquaman was playing possum, and he starts kicking some super-villain butt. Krusivax tries to escape, leaving Lorena and Cyborg to take on Savage. Aquaman gets a giant escape craft dropped on him while Krusivax talks about his plan, James Bond-villain-style.

Aquaman manages to turn the tables and frees himself(using science and physics, a nice old-scholly touch; Julius Schwartz would've been proud), and while he's got Krusivax strung up he gets attacked by a weird sea creature/hot chick hybrid who is part of Krusivax's team. Luckily Lorena and Mal help Aquaman fend her off.

After a discussion with Greg Jupiter about how the plan to sink all these cities cannot be overwritten in the time it would for even Cyborg to figure out, Aquaman jumps into the sea and catches up with the escape ship containing Krusivax and Vandal Savage.

Savage tries to knock Aquaman off the now airborn ship, but Aquaman tersely kicks him in the teeth and throws him off the ship(why some superhero doesn't capture Vandal Savage and then cut him up into little pieces, rending his immortal status moot, is the subject for another time). He confronts Krusivax who boasts that since the sea creatures that are messing with the Earth's tectonic plates have been re-engineered to withstand any outside commands(like, say, Aquaman telling them to stop), there's nothing anyone can do.

Except...Aquaman has figured out that Krusivax himself is half sea-creature, and uses his mental powers to tap into that part of the big K's brain, and he forces him to tell Aquaman the code! Yessss! Yay Aquaman!

He does so, and Cyborg uses the code to stop the whole thing. The issue ends with Aquaman deciding he needs to talk to his Dad to find some answers, and that Mal and Lorena need to start rebuilding Sub Diego.

On the final page, we cut back to Sub Diego where Kyesha and Topo are trying to figure out what's happened, when a weird, creepy guy(who briefly appeared last issue) shows up and sticks a harpoon right into Kyesha's guts, leading us directly into the next and last issue.

Williams really ramps up the action in this issue, and lot of stuff happens in a short time. I was glad the main story was solved here, leaving the final issue to be more of a coda, maybe answering some of the questions still open about this new Aquaman. I found the final page a little gruesome, but there are a lot of sub-plots to wrap-up and not a lot of space left to solve them all. The art by McManus is just great; cartoony but still rough around the edges.

I'm so glad this new Aquaman got to be very heroic, resourceful and inventive. I feel like he's just coming into his own and of course his book is cancelled. Can't wait to see what Williams does with the final issue.


Anonymous said...

I've got to say, both the writing and the art still leave me cold in these issues. Don't get me wrong, the PLOTTING seems pretty decent. They're giving us a slightly better than average superhero yarn, and he seems to have a decent grasp of some of the characters, but there is just SOMETHING wrong. Every character cursing every two panels, overly ironic dialog, I don't quite know what it is, but something bothers me.

And the art........well......if the book wasn't be canceled, I think I'd eventually stop buying it, that's how bad it is. It's WAY too cartoony for a serious book. Everything looks like a parody of itself...actually, you know, that's the problem with the dialog as well.

Anyroad, I'm broken hearted that there won't be an ongoing Aquaman, and I have certainly supported the book, despite all of my criticism, but I'm hoping that the next time they bring it back, they'll do it right.

rob! said...

i feel your pain, Benton. while i have been enjoying SOA for what it is, its not the Aquaman book i'd like to see(and i suspect its not even the Aquaman book Tad Williams would've liked to have written, but this was what was offered).

the cartooniness doesnt bother me, and i actually found the book relatively irony-free, one of the things i liked about it.

but in one respect, im sorta glad its not really finding a footing...eventually Classic Aquaman will be back. i have to remember there were YEARS when Aquaman was only in JLA(and sometimes barely in that!) and the character survived.

eventually regimes at DC will change, and some writer and/or artist will have become a big name and when theyre asked what book they'd like to do, theyll answer "a really classic Aquaman book."

(fingers crossed)

Anonymous said...

I think you're right Rob. Look at Hal Jordan. For all they went through to make us try and forget him as Green Lantern, he's back now, because a good writer figured out how to make it all work.

One day Arthur will patrol the seas again, in orange and green, with short hair, and two good hands. :-)


Tad Williams said...

I don't think I'm giving any secrets away at this point to say that I most definitely planned to bring back the old Aquaman (yes, with 2, count 'em, 2 ordinary hands) when I accepted the job.

It was only after I had already been months and months working on it, and had already published an issue or two (and began the process by "killing" Orin) that it was made clear to me that, no, I was not going to be allowed to bring back Original Aquaman.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Williams, I think it is very admirable the way you actually talk directly to your fans. Thank you sir. I don't know if you'll come back and read this, I rather hope that you will.

I can tell that you actually really care about the characters you're writing about, and that you LOVE Aquaman. That means a great deal. Even if the writing of this last particular issue didn't grab me, I have enjoyed your run, which is more than I can say for the lion's share of DC's current fare.

I suppose that I just wanted to say, despite the fact that I don't like everything about your style (which I'm aware is a matter of taste on my part and not a particular fault of yours), the enthusiasm you bring to the book has kept me reading all these issues.

I have heard before that you weren't allowed to bring Arthur back, and I am very sorry for it (and more than a little angry at DC). I think that if you had, many of the problems, perceived or real, with your run would have worked themselves out and we would have been left with some thoroughly enjoyable tales. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the Sea King sir, those of us who love the character appreciate it.

Diabolu Frank said...

I was enjoying the book earlier on, but it seemed to derail after Orin/Dweller was written out entirely, turning a mystery into a plot hole. Also, a lot of new, big ideas were being developed slowly, and then the cancellation notice hits and we're in Exposition City. I like the art, though it's hard to reconcile that it's Shawn McManus rather than Bob Fingerman.

I won't get to read my copy until next week, so I once again skipped the synopsis after the introductory text.

The problem with Aquaman, which is now a vicious cycle, is that he doesn't have enough fans for creative probability to rescue him. He's starred in one failed, under read series after another for forty years. With such a small fanbase, the likelihood of one fanboy becoming both a creator and popular enough to hold sway with a new potential readership is astronomical.

For instance, I loved John Arcudi's run, but nobody knows who he is. I was digging Williams as well, but he didn't get half a year before the ax fell. The last time Aquaman sold to a reasonably sizable readership, he had a beard and a harpoon. The future does not look bright. Pray for Morrison or Waid to give him a pass...

rob! said...

well, both Alex Ross and Mark Waid are huge fans, so i dont think its that unlilkely a scenario.

i'm just guessing here, but there's obviously some conclusion the higher-ups at DC made that the original Aquaman should not be re-instated, even when the writer they hired, Tad Williams, who, you know, IS A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, wanted to.

i dont know if its Dan Didio or Paul Levitz(who once wrote Aquaman!) or whoever, but i dont think its Aquaman's fanbase is the problem, exactly, or at least the whole problem.

Anonymous said...

Agree Rob, the problem seems to stem, in large part, from the editorial staff at DC.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm not blaming the fanbase, but the lack of one, in large part because of DC editorial consistantly hobbling the character. After a successful run in Adventure, he gets his own title... only to get swallowed up in the implosion. He has a popular mini-series... which is immediately retconned and ignored by editorial. He gets another set of mini-series, specials and a brief ongoing... mostly written and drawn by unknowns, or the commercially unloved Curt Swan. Finally, a big push with a hot writer and some quality newcomers... except Aquaman is nigh-unrecognizable and creative differences run the writer off after four years. Now, we've got yet another best-selling novelist writing a DC book... but given the tiniest fraction of press afforded to virtually any other book given the same attention, including the much-maligned Wonder Woman micro-run by Jodi Picoult.

Anonymous said...

Hal Jordan went nuts in 1994. He was finally brought back as Green Lantern in 2004. That's ten years, folks.

Oliver Queen was killed in 1995 and didn't return until 2001. Six years.

I don't know 'bout anyone else but it makes me wonder whether I'll even be reading comics when Arthur Curry, the real Arthur Curry, makes his return.

rob! said...

well, look at it this way, Vince--10 years for Hal, six for Ollie--the times are getting shorter!

i say three years for the return of Aquaman, or right after Dan Didio leaves DC, whichever comes first.

Diabolu Frank said...

Something that could really help: Aquaman being in the script for the upcoming Justice League movie, alongside Superman, Batman, Wondeer Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and the Manhunter from Mars...

rob! said...

is that definite? i keep reading different things...its just the big three plus Flash and GL, no, it's the magnificent seven...

man, if Aquaman is in the movie, that'd be sweeeet...

tho i still can't, for the life of me, figure out how this movie gets made for less than $500 million and runs less than three hours...

Diabolu Frank said...

Nothing about the Justice League movie is carved in stone, but it has been confirmed by Reuters that Arthur & J'Onn are both in the current script.