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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Aquaman (Vol.6) #17 - Feb. 1996

"Numbers" by Peter David, J. Calafiore, and Peter Palmiotti.

We start this issue not with Aquaman, but with a pale, bat-like creature sitting atop a web of dirt and ruins:
We're not sure who or where this is, until we realize we are with Aquaman: this is a dream--a nightmare, really--he's having, and it startles him out of his sleep, where Dolphin is waiting for him.

We take a momentary diversion to Washington D.C., where a military man named Admiral Strom enters his relatively drab office. After punching in a code, though, we see this man is not ordinary: a panel opens, and a blinding white light fills the room, with some sort of being or beings in it.

Strom tells them the "time is not right" for their plans, they must wait. The beings ignore this advice, telling him they will do what they like, when they like.

Back in Atlantis, Aquaman is ready to go on his mission to, as Dolphin puts it, "save the world":
...hey, that would've made a great vehicle for an Aquaman line of action figures! Oh, well.

Anyway, Aquaman pilots the ship to the first of the five lost cities of Atlantis. Since the ship is seemingly controlled by Aquaman's thoughts, he has time to hook Dolphin into it and explain to her the convoluted history of Atlantis, including the about a race of aliens simply called the Hunter/Gatherers, who were on Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago.

These beings, having depleted the Earth of its resources (what kind of stupid, pig-ignorant race of beings would do that?) they left for other worlds to conquer. Later, they returned to Earth a more enlightened race, while the rest of them were conquered by yet another race of beings, who also followed to Earth (got all that?).

Eventually, their ship finds the being we saw at the beginning, in Aquaman's dream. Dressed in formal attire, he introduces himself:

This being has no interest in talking to Aquaman, and attacks. The fight is nasty and bloody, and then ended by another creature, who is the queen of this particular race.

Aquaman is there to ask this lost city of Atlantis to emerge from their hidden, secret location and unite with him to fight against an oncoming invasion. The queen hands the other being, her husband, the king, a dagger, with which he stabs himself with.

Aquaman is startled, and the queen explains that since he has been defeated by Aquaman, and there can only be one leader
To be continued!

Wow--I remember reading this issue when it first came out, and I was confused as heck. Not only is there all that Atlantis Chronicles back story to remember, but now there's this other race of being, who were on Earth, and then left Earth, but then came back to Earth, only to be followed by another race...

Reading these books all these years, I'm not so much confused as I am just sort of bored. I've never been a big fantasy fan, and writer Peter David more firmly put Aquaman in the world of fantasy more than he ever had been. There's all these different beings, all with different abilities, and there's all this "it is foretold" stuff--it just kind of leaves me cold. It did then, it does now.

One thing that has improved over time (IMO) is David's characterization of Aquaman himself. He's not such a mopey bastard, and can actually joke around a bit, which is fun. The dynamic of him and Dolphin is a new angle, as well, and while I'll always wants Arthur to be with Mera, this is a nice change of pace.

Be back in a few hours for more!


Saranga said...

more thsn anything else I wish that the arthur/dolphin stories would get colleccted into a trade. I really loved Dolphin, she's so interesting and as you inferred, the dolphin/arthur dynamic was fun.

IADW said...

I loved this cover. Hook handed Aquaman isn't my favourite, but I wanted this as a poster in my room.

Luckily Wizard ran it as a whole page in a JLA special edition and I was able to cut that up and stick it inside my diary cover.