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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.8) #7 - May 2012

Comics Weekend "The Others" by Geoff Johns, Joe Prado, Ivan Reis, and Rod Reis.

This issue opens with an as-yet-unknown woman running through jungle, being chased by a possibly-familiar assailant. When the pursuer fires some sort of razor-like missile at the woman, she seems to be able to see the immediate future, which means her death.

Thanks to an explosion, the pursuer catches up with his prey, and we see its a "face" us Aqua-Fans know all too well:
The woman, who Manta refers to as Kahina The Seer, tries to fight him off, but to no avail. Manta then removes his helmet, revealing a deeply-scarred face, and whips out a knife.

While ruthlessly stabbing Kahina, he promises to also kill her family. Kahina calls out for "Arthur", and Manta then makes another grim promise:
Is Kahina seeing the future as she dies, or possibly recalling something from the past? The answer to that question will have to wait, because the story then flies across the world to The Atlantic Ocean:
After rescuing the fishing boat from being capsized by the wave (with Mera helping by forcing the wave to change direction), Aquaman and Mera go to Dr. Steven Shin's house to find out about the strange glyph he found in issue #5. Mera doesn't trust Shin, and neither does Aquaman, but he figures that anything involving Atlantis will get Shin to be forthcoming.

Amid news reports of Aquaman and "Aquawoman" helping ships escape "[O]ne of the worst storms ever to attack the New England Coast", Shin is started to see Aquaman back in house. After being shown the glyph, Shin wants to know more about The Trench, and where they came from, with Aquaman admitting through gritted teeth that he killed them all.

Shin activates the glyph, which triggers the same holographic message Aquaman saw when he first discovered it. Mera notices Arthur's trident is beginning to glow, followed by an unexpected visitor:
This new stranger goes after Shin, only to be tackled by Mera. The fight spills outside, where Mera forms a panther out of water(!) to hold off the real one that has also mysteriously appeared. She then turns her attention towards the woman, but before they can lay a hand on each other, Aquaman steps in to end it:
...oh, Arthur, looks like you have some 'splainin' to do! Of course, to be continued!

I think this was my favorite issue of Aquaman so far. It felt like there was more plot than in previous issues, making it a more dense read, and therefore it took a little longer to get through and savor. Considering that Aquaman only comes out once a month (for now!), it at times got a little frustrating reading the new issue so quickly. But this one feels a bit more complex, something I appreciated.

Its great of course to see Aquaman's #1 foe, Black Manta, back in the mix--how he's connected to The Others we of course don't yet know, but it's reassuring(?) to see he's the same old psychopath we all know and love(??). Overall, a fantastic start to a new arc, with some nice interaction between Aquaman and Mera amid the action (there's a fun moment where Mera seems to act as though Shin isn't even in the room, talking only to her husband).

And speaking of fantastic, I wanted to highlight this page from the book:
When I first saw this page, I actually let out a tiny gasp, I was so blown away by how gorgeous it was. It's so beautifully rendered, and so iconic in terms of Aquaman action shots, that I feel like I can safely say this is one of the greatest single Aquaman illustrations, ever.

In fact, I was so in love with this piece I immediately wrote to Ivan, Joe, and Rod, telling them how great I thought it was and basically waxing their collective car. I also said that if I was a young kid reading Aquaman comics for the first time, shots like this would make me an Aqua-Fan for life, the way the work of Nick Cardy, Ramona Fradon, and Jim Aparo did for me when I was growing up. Yeah, I think it's that good.

Dear DC: I would humbly suggest you buy this page from the guys, frame it, and put it up on the wall of the offices--this is one of the best shots of one of your marquee characters you're ever going to see.


Ben said...

Agreed. It felt dense but had so many splash pages! And they are all beautiful. The Black Manta one was a surprise to me (even though I remembered seeing it somewhere after I saw it) and the Aquaman one w/ the boat is amazing!

David J. Cutler said...

I'm not sure if it was my favorite issue (I think that goes to #3) but it was pretty tight. I wasn't into 6 much at all, so this was a real treat for me. Even with just a one month slip I was getting worried.

Russell said...

I think this is my least favorite issue! Johns is trying to create some sort of tension but since we don't know who the Others or Shin are, I don't really care if they kill or are killed. It's not working for me. As I read it I thought, "when will we ever know who these people are?" Too many questions and no answers makes Russell unhappy. ;-(