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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Aquaman (Vol.8) #3 - Jan. 2012

Comics Weekend "The Trench Part Three" by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis.

This issue of Aquaman opens not with The Trench, bur rather a gentle flashback with Tom Curry and his son, in a page that is a tour de force for the art team, most especially colorist Rod Reis:
This melancholy reverie is interrupted by the matter at hand: Aquaman and Mera fighting off an attack by The Trench, with everyone getting an idea of just what they're up against:
Aquaman and Mera continue to mow some of The Trench down, but then one of them grabs Aquaman by the head and declares him "bad food." He tosses him aside like a rag doll, and issues an order to his fellow Trench (Trenchmen? Trenchi?) to head back underwater...but not before taking some food with him, in this case bodies of both humans and deceased Trench.

The cops want know who these beings are, and turn to Aquaman for answers. When he says he doesn't know, they are simultaneously confused an angry: doesn't Aquaman know everything that lives in the sea?

The cops plan to cover the shoreline and shoot anything that pops up, a plan Aquaman advises against: he suggests that some of the missing people could still be alive. When asked why he thinks that, Aquaman rips open one of the cocoons The Trench left behind, and:
One of The Trench has been shot in the head, and Aquaman--against the wishes of the cops--takes the body with him when he and Mera leave, leaping into the sky.

They take the body to a ramshackle house, owned by the man seen in Arthur's family album back in issue #1. He's a biologist named Stephen Shin, who, Arthur explains, helped him develop his powers when he was a child. Bitter over not being taken to Atlantis, Shin apparently tried to kill Arthur(!), and they have not spoken much since.

Examining the body, Shin (who makes a cryptic aside to Arthur's trident--"He's going to come looking for it") concludes that the amount of energy the average Trench uses is so massive that it must eat twenty to thirty times its weight every day (like me during my Kubert School days). He also makes another curious discovery:
Shin determines by what he finds in their lungs that they come from the mid-atlantic region, specifically the trench. Aquaman and Mera decide to head there, and Shin begs to be allowed to keep the body, since he believes it will help him get his credibility back.

Aquaman refuses, and ignores Shin's repeated pleadings. Aquaman and Mera take off as Shin asks, for what seems to be the millionth time, "Where is Atlantis?!"
...to be continued!

Woo! This is my favorite issue of the series so far, partly because the art team of Reis/Prado/Reis really outdid themselves this time around. From the painterly soft edges of the opening page to the grit and blood of the fight scene with The Trench to the penultimate splash (no pun intended) page with Aquaman and Mera (which IMO is one for the ages, in terms of iconic shots of the Sea King), these guys are knocking it out of the park every single issue. To me, Aquaman is one of the best-looking books of the DC's entire New 52 line, if not the best.
On a more personal note, I was glad to see the dog survive--might we be seeing the introduction of Aquaman's own version of the Ace The Bat-Hound?--and I was even more glad to see I was right about the goo the The Trench emits does have some paralyzing properties, as I surmised during our look at Aquaman #2. Some Aqua-Fans disagreed with me on that, including even my Fire and Water Podcast co-host, The Irredeemable Shag. All I have to say to that is, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon, "Suck it, nerds!"
(Although Aquaman does say he felt nothing, so my guess that he was partly paralyzed at the end of issue #2 was wrong. So I guess only partially suck it, nerds)

Anyway, it's interesting all the sub-plots Geoff Johns is setting up--it's pretty clear Shin will be back, and who is this mysterious person who wants his trident back? Orm?

One final thought--even though this is the Aquaman and Mera we're all familiar with, there are moments where its obvious we are in a new DCU. After all, Stephen Shin has been searching his whole life for Atlantis? In the DCU that existed before the relaunch, Atlantis was such a known quantity there was a U.N. Ambassador to it, and humans could even take tours of the place! So either this is a new DCU where Atlantis is not quite so well known (indeed, one of the cops in this issue thinks its a myth), or Shin is profoundly stupid.

Other than the fact these issues go by in mere minutes (I actually read this issue the entire way through while I still at my LCS), I have been quite satisfied with this new Aquaman series: Aquaman and Mera are together again, there's plenty of action, a tough new villain(s), and the art is some of the best the character has ever been treated to--and that's saying something when it comes to Aquaman.

And just as satisfying is the knowledge that I'm not the only one feels this way--right out of the gate Aquaman was one of the new 52's best-selling titles, and if the team of Johns/Reis/Prado/Reis keep it up, it will stay that way for a long time!


David J. Cutler said...

Part of me wondered if Shin is going to be a new Piranha Man or something like that, using Trench DNA he maybe managed to pilfer. Loved the universe building with the untold tale of Aquaman's trident being teased, and cool to see Mera can Hulk-leap right along side Aquaman. Another very good issue that I liked more and more upon each read through. (I'm up to like five now).

And I'm just going to be the one to say it--in my humble opinion, an Aquaman comic has never looked this good. The work on the bubbles underwater on that last page is just gorgeous--pencils, inks and colours. I could look at the spiral pattern in the second to last panel all day.

Joseph Brian Scott said...

I echo all the enthusiasm about the art, especially on the last page; I really like the barest hint of a suggestion of the underwater landscape behind them, in the murk, with that brain coral pattern or whatever it is. Nifty detail.

Orin's dad said...

This was a great read, and the art is indeed phenomenal. I am loving this series so far. Good subplots, strong main plot, cool new enemy to fight/negotiate with (whatever comes our way next issue, can the two of them really take on the entire race of the Trench?), and outstanding art. I can't wait for issue 4!

Ryan Daly said...

For anyone who's counting, page 19 of issue #3 is the first time we see Aquaman in the water in this new series.

Designer Daddy said...

Did anyone else notice the purple scar (?) on Dr. Shin's neck in the first few panels he appears in? Maybe he's part trench creature? Or is already gestating, mixing with his crazy Atlantis obsession on his way to becoming Aquaman's next big bad?!?

Shellhead said...

Great issue. This and Batgirl are the stars of the New 52 IMHO. Here's hoping Johns stays on this title longer than he did on Flash.

BBNETMAN said...

I love the addition of the paralysis from the trench's excretions.