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Friday, December 21, 2007

Aquaman (Vol.6) #'s 7-12 - March 1995 - Sept. 1995

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Ok, so we're back for the second part of my review of the first year of Aquaman, Volume Six, written by Peter David.

Like I said last week, I was a little surprised that I did enjoy some of the moments in the first year of the series--hardly a rave review, I know, but considering that my memory of the books was that I hated everything about them, it felt almost like a relief to find either the times, or I, have changed, probably a combination of the two. Seeing what a tough sell Aquaman seems to be makes me have an instant appreciation for anyone whose efforts manage to make Aquaman a "hot"(or however close he got to that designation)title.

Issue seven picks up with an attack by the Deep Six, who in a plot to be reborn and take control of a new water elemental(for an eventual Earth takeover by their master, Darkseid) have attacked a small Alaskan village, where Aquaman's former love, Kako, and his son, Koryak, live. They attack Kako and Dolphin, and after getting Dolphin to safety, Aquamand and Koryak team-up to take on the Deep Six. It ends with the elemental being born, but via the body of Kako, and as a fire elemental!

In issue eight, Aquaman tries to control Kako, who is filled with anger and wants to destroy not only the Deep Six, but Aquaman as well. This issus is pretty much one long action sequence, as Aquaman volunteers to sacrifice himself to end Kako's thirst for revenge. She can't bring herself to do it, and Naied, a water elemental takes Kako with her to commune with the Earth(it makes more sense when you read the comic).

Issue nine opens with a bad guy, Deadline, being hired to rub out Aquaman. Meanwhile, he and Dolphin head back to Atlantis, where they talk with its uneasy king, Thesily, who is none too happy always being in the shadow of Arthur in the eyes of his subjects. This is the issue where Aquaman replaces his hook with the cybernetic harpoon version, and while I find it a little Batman utility belt-ish, it at least is better than just a plain ol' hook.

Deadline of course tracks Aquaman down, and foolishly thinks he's going to be the one to bag him. This issue is drawn by fill-in artist Joe St. Pierre, someone whose work I'm not familiar with, but in this issue he has at least one moment where he effectively uses shadows and light to make Aquaman look really cool:

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We find out that Thesily has had a hand in this plot, and he is furious when he sees that Atlantis' people are looking to Koryak as possibly their next leader!

One of the things that surprised me reading these issues was the ongoing letters page debate over whether this new look for Aquaman was working. Editor Kevin Dooley had the guys and the class to print several very harsh pans, and I have to say at points I found myself agreeing with the critics.

Not because I wanted Aquaman to be the same character that they read as a kid, but because I felt all the reasons Dooley stated they were doing this to Aquaman(making him tougher, cooler, more compelling to a modern comic book audience) could've been done without making him look like another tired example of the oh-so-trendy, angry anti-hero that was filling comics at the time.
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Fortunately, my favorite--and what I thought was the best--issue of this whole first year was up next, the tenth issue, guest-starring Green Lantern.

GL gets involved in some shark attacks at the local town of Crescent Shore, and just like in Jaws, the town is now obsessed with killing these sharks. Of couse, he runs into Aquaman, who tries to warn Green Lantern off, telling him that the sharks are going through a life-to-death process and if the local people would just leave them alone, it would all be over soon.

Green Lantern won't listen to that, so of course they get involved in a classic hero vs. hero misunderstanding set-up. Aquaman correctly senses that this new Lantern isn't quite as sharp as his old teammate Hal Jordan, and actually manages to get Kyle's ring away from him!

It's here where we get a nice moment where even though this looks like a very different Aquaman, it is the same one we all know and love from his JLA days:
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The issue wraps up nicely, as Lantern decides Aquaman was right and tells the town to back off. I liked how Aquaman decided to talk his way out of this, instead of more hot-headed fighting. He may look odd, but this truly is my hero, Aquaman!

Aquaman returns to Atlantis to find that King Thesily has been killed in an undersea earthquake, and that his former subjects are leaning towards choosing his son, Koryak, as their new leader. Since Atlantis is severely damaged, the people decided to let Koryak find them a new place to settle. Aquaman is left behind, all alone, where he is haunted by the ghosts of his past.

Just when he feels totally alone, Dolphin appears and they consummate what has been brewing during all these past issues. Of course, Aquaman can never win, so even as he's lying there in post-coital bliss with Dolphin, who shows up but...Mera!

Even though its well drawn, I'm not a big fan of issue 12's cover, with Mera in a very porn-star-esque pose. I try to remember this was very much the trend in comics at the time, when every formerly well-respected superheroine (Invisible Woman, Supergirl, Catwoman) suddenly got trussed up in the most flimsy, revealing outfits. I found the whole thing embarassing and it was one of the things that really soured me on comics during this period.

Mera and Dolphin get into a cat(fish?) fight, until Aquaman finally separates them and they talk. Mera thinks she's only been away for minutes, when in fact she's been gone for months, having told Aquaman she never wants to see him again!

Mera starts to wig out, seemingly torn up by memories of some other Aquaman(a big, evil looking one, in the blue camo suit, no less!) and she takes off the Great Divide, a part of the ocean no one has ever returned from. Aquaman follows her in, instructing Dolphin to stay behind. But she loves Arthur, and refuses to heed his advice.

They all go through some sort of dimensional portal and wake up about to be executed in some sort of alternate version of Napoleon-era France, with the evil Aquaman as the executioner! What the?!?

Like I said last week and again above, I still have a lot of issues with the necessity of making Aquaman look so trendy and badass--there's a reason why Aquaman had managed to last virtually unchanged over four decades, and I still don't believe you needed to put all those trendy trappings on him to make him cool and/or relevant. It says something that this look didn't stick, and he was eventually returned to his classic look.

But I will say I enjoyed the stories a lot more than I thought I would, and I want to find issues thirteen and beyond, because I am enjoying the stories. Peter David definitely had some solid ideas, and while I may quibble with the execution, I am more comfortable with this "version" of Aquaman than I ever have been before.

4 comments:

Doug said...

Deadline. There's a blast from the past. He was EVERYWHERE for a while there, agains the Will Payton Starman, Aquaman, Hawkman.

What a product of the times. Wonder whatever became of the character...

Scurvy said...

I actually really enjoyed this run. The Thanatos issues were among my favorites.

Frank Lee Delano said...

Nope. Sorry. Just keep jogging my memory regarding my dislike of those issues. No problem with Koryak, but the rest of it tastes nasty. I don't recall: was anything regarding Kako ever resolved? I assume David intended to pick up that thread after Aquaman became the new water elemental in #50...

Luke said...

The big, camo-suited Aquaman was Thanatos, from the previous series, right?