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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Aquaman (Vol.5) #1 - Dec. 1993

sgComics Weekend The Aquaman: Time and Tide mini-series is the only solo Aquaman title we have yet to cover on the Shrine, so let's get to it!

After the aborted Aquaman solo series from 1991-1992, the decision was made to try and "reboot" Aquaman and try and make him a bit more contemporary and vital, at least according to series editor Kevin Dooley.

So Aquaman got a new creative team of superstar writer Pete David and relative newcomers Kirk Jarvinen and Brad Vancata on the art, complete with new(ish) origin and backstory.

This issue opens with Aquaman, in the present day, writing a journal about his life, and he recalls the startling claim his mother, Atlanna, made in her own journals that her son Arthur was sired, not by surface dweller Tom Curry, but by an Atlantean wizard. Aquaman doesn't believe any of this, and is troubled that his family tree contains so many nuts, as it were.

The Arthur recalls the first day he ran into the first of many, many supervillains he would face in his time, in addition to the first other superhero he would meet, well rendered by Jarvinen and Vancata
...The Trickster subdues Flash with some toy, and he sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Aquaman saves him from being eaten by sharks (this being the first of many instances where David would give us an example how dumb the average shark is, one of my favorite bits of business from him).

Aquaman and Flash have a talk, and even though Aquaman doesn't trust surface dwellers in general and these two brightly-dressed guys in particular, Flash explains what's going on up there and convinces Arthur he's on the level.

They quickly find and coral the Trickster, and the Flash tries to make it up to Aquaman by "vouching" for him to the people of Crescent Shore, the coastal town Aquaman is nearest.

It doesn't go well, as the bright lights and the various hucksters and politicians freak him out, and he storms off sick of the whole thing. As the crowd swarms their new hero, the Trickster, who has escaped, starts trash-talking "Water Boy." Aquaman just storms off, until Trickster gets too close, and:
Aquaman doesn't make many friends when he tells off the crowd and storms off.

The Flash meets up with Arthur, apologizes for all the chaos, and hands him a key to the city, calling Aquaman "a hell of a guy."

Like a lot of Peter David's Aquaman stories, these read a lot better to me than they I did when I first read them. I'm still not too keen on Aquaman being so angry and pissy at people, but this was at the beginning of his superhero career, and you need an extreme place from which to move him over time.

The art by Jarvinen and Brancata is solid superhero storytelling, and in some panels (like this one) you'd think it was by Michael Golden, no easy trick. Some later pages seem a bit rushed, but overall a solid effort, and Aquaman looks suitably heroic and imposing.

So not a bad start, and we'll see where the story goes tomorrow with issue #2!

There's some other Aqua-related comics out this week. Aqualad didn't appear much in the first two issues of the adorably charming Tiny Titans comic, but in this week's third issue as you can see he gets a chance to shine!


Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

In college, when I was just coming out of my self-conscious phase (i.e. not buying comics), I happened upon this and bought it. I remember thinking how entertaining it was--reinventing the character in an accessible way. It's Aquaman: Year One without the label.

Anonymous said...

I've always rather hated this story, not because the story itself was bad, but because of what it did to the character. Aquaman becomes vastly less likable in this reinvention, beginning the long Sub-Mariner phase that he's still dealing with. The issues are well written, and the art is pretty solid, but the overall effect leaves me more than empty. Aquaman already wearing the scale armor before becoming a hero has always struck me as odd. What's he swimming around in orange mail for if he's not living the life of an adventurer? That's a minor quibble, I know, but a legitimate one I'd say, considering the attention to detail that PD's later writing bears. The overblown anger Arthur shows is, perhaps, the most frustrating part of this series, and most following series, to me. I agree with Rob that we need a place of distinction to move Aquaman from, but I'd much rather that be a place of naiveté and lack of confidence as he travels the road to kingly mien and bearing.