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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Emperor Aquaman #1 - Aug. 2011

Comics Weekend "Part One" by Tony Bedard, Ardian Syaf, and Vicente Cifuentes.

Well, it's here--the first solo Aquaman comic in almost four years. Sure, it's not the Aquaman we're all familiar with, but as we'll see this version does possess some of the same heroic qualities and unflagging devotion. Its just that this Aquaman has been pushed beyond the edge:
After seeing what he has wrought by sinking Rome, Aquaman heads back to his command ship, where Vulko (oh great, there's one of him in this universe, too) is waiting for him. Aquaman looks over a massive "geo-pulse emitter" built by Vulko, and powered by a warhead acquired by Aquaman, not without a lot of effort.

We then flash back to Markovia, eleven months earlier, and King Brion is heading up a roundtable of world leaders who are trying to decide what to do about the ongoing battle between Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

Since Wonder Woman is throwing every human she can find into concentration camps, King Brion wants to side with Aquaman--if only to choose a lesser of two evils.

Back in the present, Aquaman and his right hand man, his brother Orm, are getting a briefing from their military leader, Rodunn. Rodunn announces that the Amazons have been recruited by King Brion's sister, the superpowered Terra. Rodunn says, with his King's permission, he and a strike team (Seal Team Six?) can "eliminate" her. Without making a decision, Aquaman takes off. Orm follows, and wants to know what is wrong. He can barely get the name "Mera" out before Aquaman cuts him off.

Flashing back ten months, we find King Brion in Venice, preparing for a meeting with Aquaman. Suddenly, three armed Atlanteans burst out of the water and attack Brion. But he's able to hold them off with his own superpowers, until someone else shows up to balance the scales:
It turns out the three would-be assassins are traitors. Once they are "taken out" by Mera, who tries to size up King Brion, seeing whether he can be trusted by Aquaman.

Back in the present, Aquaman and Orm examine the geo-pulse emitter. It turns out the whole assassination attempt was a ruse, a plot by Aquaman to see if King Brion could truly be trusted. It led Brion to sign a mutual defense pact, and allowed Atlantis time for Vulko to design their ultimate weapon.

What's make this emitter so powerful? Well, as we can see, its powered by King Brion--aka Geo-Force--himself, who is stuck inside the thing like a hamster on a treadmill, except much more helpless.

Flashing back again, this time eight months ago, we see the leaders of the world waiting on Aquaman and King Brion. Within moments, however, the ground starts to rumble, and shortly all of the Vatican is drowned in water, along with the people in it!

Back in the present, Aquaman has made his decision on what to do:
Of course...to be continued!

While its troubling for this old school Aqua-Fan to see my hero like this, it was still great to see Arthur front and center, where he belongs, after so long on the sidelines.

The sheer scope of Aquaman's power is on display here, and I hope will go a long way in showing new fans how amazing this character can be, how impressive: this guy can sink entire cities if he wants to. The fact that he doesn't, and uses his powers for good--even for a world that frequently betrays him--makes him heroic. And its clearly that Aquaman that we're headed to, once we find our way out this nightmarish Flashpoint world...

Bonus: Shrine Correspondent Joe Slab has been rounding up various other blogs' reaction to Emperor Aquaman #1. You can find links to many of them on the Shrine's Twitter feed!


Russell said...

I want my "real" Aquaman!!!! I bought this, but I didn't really like it. :-(

rob! said...

I'm looking at this like its one of those old-school Crisis stories, where we're in a weird parallel dimension and everything's all upside down.

Except for the violence and body count, its not really all that different than what Gardner Fox used to do--Earth-X, Earth-3, etc.

I think this whole venture of Aquaman being like this would be A LOT harder to take if we didn't know Classic Aquaman was coming back at the end of it.

KJ Sampson said...

I agree with Rob! on this. 'Course, the fact that I've long wanted to read an "Aquaman as ruthless villain" story doesn't hurt, either. :)

Wings1295 said...

I agree. Even if they don't slap an "Elseworlds" on it, that is what this is. Aquaman, just not the Aquaman we know.

I enjoyed it. To me it shows just how far "Angry Aquaman" could go and, in seeing that, knowing I just don't want him to be THAT angry all the time.

Steve said...

I enjoyed this issue of SUB-MARINER.

Joe Slab said...

I didn't love the issue either but there are some points that bear commenting on:

1. I enjoyed the art/coloring, especially of the underwater scenes.

2. Arthur & Mera's relationship was central to Blackest Night, Brightest Day, and clearly here in Flashpoint as well...Johns would do well to continue this trend in Aquaman's solo upcoming. It has not been the focus of an Aquaman series since the 70's!

3. Mera's line about "metahuman kings" being the most exclusive of fraternities was very "Game of Thrones" and I am wondering if the plot theme of royalty & political intrigue will also be carried over into AQUAMAN?

Shellhead said...

I liked it. The cruelty is a bit much, though. Can't wait to see him kick some fin next issue. BTW it looks like Aquaman plays a big part in the Deathstroke mini (and Fisherman is part of Slade's crew!).

HollyH said...

I'll be honest: I don't like this storyline, and I'm not fond of the art style either. (I'm not saying it's bad, in fact I think it's quite good; it's just that the way the artist has chosen to design Aquaman in particular turns me off.)

However, I think you make a good point, Rob: if we go through this entire storyline with Aquaman demonstrating all over the place what an extremely effective and terrifying villain he could be, then by planting that notion in readers' heads, it may help to create respect for the heroic Aquaman we'll be getting later. "What Aquaman could really do if he turned bad and cut loose" would then be in the back of people's heads, and it will make hero-Aquaman look restrained and noble.

I imagine a lot of us Aqua-fans got this long ago. But sometimes, perhaps, it's more effective to demonstrate it for readers by showing the character pulling out all the stops and doing something villainous, than it is to show him being really badass in a heroic way.

If that's the thinking behind this storyline -- and it wouldn't surprise me if it was -- then I salute them. Especially if Johns intends to refer to that tension in the main series later.

rob! said...


You put it better than me, but I do think that's what's going on here: DC is showing how much of a badass Aquaman can be, and by making it in a parallel universe they can take him really far down that road.

All the better to contrast when Classic Aquaman returns in September!

owen1 said...

I enjoyed this issue and did not find it as bloody as some of the other Flashpoint tie-ins. It is great to see Aquaman at 'full power'. Remember he is only waging war against us surface types because we have been raining garbage on Atlantic for a century now. I think this is the Aquaman from the DC Universe we know just pushed to far. And someone killed Mera. Also it is great to see that outside of Flash and Bats Aquaman was chosen as a major player in the Flashpoint universe. And WW too. It was a good read now waitingn for #2 and of course Aquaman #1 in September.

David J. Cutler said...

Did anybody else notice "Aquaman created by Paul Norris"? I've never seen that before. And, what, no love for Mort? Is there a reason Weisinger was excluded?

rob! said...


The Norris credit has been on there awhile...it seemed to kick in on Aquaman Vol.7 #7, insomuch as it wasn't there on issue #6, or any before that.

I don't know the details, but I do know there was some legal fooferaw (legal term) between DC and the Weisinger estate, leaving him dropped off most (all?) of his creations.

He co-created Green Arrow--I don't believe his name was on there, either.

rob! said...

BTW, "No Love for Mort" would make a great sitcom title.

HollyH said...

I agree, Rob: I think that setting this in a parallel universe is more effective than taking the mainstream-universe character and subjecting him to some sort of plot device where he turns villainous for a while. The actions of the parallel-villain-Aquaman don't (I assume) impact how the real world views the real-Aquaman, and that's fine, because it's not Aquaman's reputation in his own world that's the problem. It's his reputation with readers.

Jared A. McGrath said...

This is the Aquaman I've been wanting to see in action for years! A man that can sink entire continents (ha! Chew on that, Namor!!!). A man who is respected and obeyed by his subjects. A man who doesn't need to rely on his finny friends to kick serious butt. A man can tear the entire DCU a new @$$ w€ol3!

I loved every minute of this book. This was Aquaman showing all those naysayers that he CAN be awesome and can make a formidable foe if he really wanted to.

This book was for all those puns, fish jokes and all those times Aquaman has been ridiculed. Older fans may have trouble seeing an Aquaman that's not all smiles, happy, happy, joy joy, but you know what, I'd trade a sappy merry Aquaman for a bad ass like this ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

Bedard really did Aquaman justice here, and despite Syaf's endless list of artistic screwups, this will be a mini that'll stay with me for all time.

Also, Deathstroke, Curse of the Ravager, in case nobody had read it. It featured our favorite sea king, and man oh man was it good. He finally did with that trident what i've been wanting to see him do since he began sporting it in brightest day! Hell yeah!

I love how all the artists in Dc are now representing him with his trident everywhere. The trident makes him look menacing, like he means bussines and that's exactly the push he needed. Plus, every other hero out there sports accesories or weapons (wonder woman=lasso, bracelets, tiara; hawkman = mace; green lantern = ring; batman = an entire armory) so why not Aquaman?

Said it once, and i'll say it again, this right here is an Aquaman story I will never EVER forget!!!