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Friday, May 07, 2010

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #46 - Dec. 2006

Sword of Atlantis Friday "Crown of Thorns" by Kurt Buisek, Phil Winslade, Karl Kesel, and Butch Guice.

This issue opens with the Dweller watching as Arthur--now fully accepted his role as Aquaman--doing a little battle training with King Shark:
...yes, this issue (and the next) will be a bit of a change of pace. This is, as the splash page promises, "A tale of the classic Aquaman."

Aquaman, Mera, and Vulko are paying a royal visit to a faraway corner of the Atlantean kingdom, a trading post called Reef's End.

They are
met by Jesset Clesion, Reef's End official emissary. Jesset is a little thrown by this unexpected visit, and Aquaman--after some niceties--gets down to business. He wants to discuss Reef's End state of security, since there are only a small band of Atlanteans there to keep order.

Jesset assures Aquaman everything is fine, but is forced to admit there's been four murders in Reef's End just this week, at the watering hole known as The Dragon's Den.

We see the owner of the place, a tough-looking customer named Ptero, assuring his customers that once the body is cleared away, the Den will reopen for business. Aquaman interrupts, asking to see the crime scene, and Ptero is sarcastic and insolent to his king.

Vulko examines the body--which is missing a head--and asks how this came to be. Ptero explains the man was cheating in a card game, and the biter has since gone upstairs to indulge himself:

Aquaman tackles King Shark, and their battle takes them outside. King Shark is one tough customer, absorbing many of Aquaman's punches. But, luckily for him, King Shark has also been drinking--just as he's about to pounce on Aquaman, he passes out. Aquaman comments, "That's the meanest drunk I've ever seen..."

He chains up King Shark, and is told by Jesset that Vulko needs to see him immediately. Turns out that the victim has a mark of a priest--he was a member of the Thorny Crown, a group that was thought to be long gone, at least officially.

There's talk of a prophecy about the Thorny Crown, about how its dissolution would bring about the birth of a being born of the coral--the exact kind of coral Reef's End is built on!

Aquaman wonders if the murder isn't part of a plot, but Ptero insists it was just a gambling dispute gone wrong. Jesset arrives, saying King Shark has awakened and freed himself:
Meanwhile, the woman King Shark was with, Nenomi, is visited by Vulko to find out if she knows anything relevant.

Nenomi applies her feminine charms to Vulko, who is a bit startled. But before he can compose himself, King Shark returns:

...to be continued!

This two-parter was probably my favorite of Busiek's Sword of Atlantis issues, and I'm sure a huge part of that has to do with it starring Classic Aquaman and Mera. But, on top of that, the story is really good, and Phil Winslade's art is superb. It feels like this is the kind of stuff that Aquaman was doing when he missed JLA meetings.

Structurally, though, it sort of works against the series as a whole--just as Arthur Joseph accepted the mantle of Aquaman, he's sidelined for two issues while Classic Aquaman takes center stage. It reminds me more than a bit of Justice League of America #240, which was a flashback story starring the original JLA, right as the JLA Detroit team was trying to get off the ground (ironically, that one issue was written by...Kurt Busiek!).

1 comment:

Russell said...

King Shark is in the newest issue of SECRET SIX, if any one is missing him...drawn by former AQUAMAN artist Jim Califoria (sp?).