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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.8) #9 - July 2012

Comics Weekend "The Others Chapter Three" by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Andy Lanning, and Rod Reis.

This issue opens in Germany, with Black Manta on the hunt for another member of The Others. Inside a dark, quiet office, a man makes a series of phone calls, calls that it is clear are unwelcome to their recipients.

Before he can place one last call, Black Manta grabs the man by the neck:
We then learn that this man is a member of the The Others known as Prisoner-of-War, who recognizes his attacker, and grabs the wrist manacles that seem to be the source of his power. Manta's real goal is not to kill the man, but possess the manacles. POW knows this, and refuses to let Manta achieve his goal. He jumps out a window, with Manta in pursuit.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, in the Amazon, Aquaman and Y'Wara are engaged in a brutal fight with their attackers:
Y'Wara is merciless, slicing up her opponents with abandon. When her "pet" panther is shot, she slices the neck of the gunman. Another begs for his life, and Y'Wara responds by commanding some nearby jungle cats to have at him.

Aquaman, having subdued his foes, is aghast at all the killing, which Y'Wara scoffs at. She seems to hint at a previous relationship the two had, which Aquaman tries to deflect:
Back home, Dr. Steven Shin tries to resume his work, but Mera won't let him, demanding to know what he knows. Shin explains that many years ago, Tom Curry saved his life when he was lost at sea, and how Curry showed up years later with his young son in tow, a son with amazing powers:
Shin goes on to say that he became a joke in the scientific community, with his unbelievable stories of Atlantis and people with amazing powers. Desperate, broke, and lonely, Shin took up with a treasure hunter who said he could prove the existence of Atlantis--all he needed was a sample of Arthur's blood.

A fight ensued, with Tom Curry getting in the middle. During the melee, Aquaman's father had a heart attack, dying a few days later. In a fit of rage, Arthur sought revenge against Manta
To be continued!

With this issue, Geoff Johns and co. officially made the biggest, most decisive split from previous Aquaman continuity.
Aquaman's mother did not die when he was a boy, there is no Arthur Jr., and he and Manta have a much more involved relationship than ever before. In some ways, this is a more rational explanation for Manta's undying hatred of Aquaman; in the previous continuity they never had this level of personal interaction.

I guess DC really is committed vis-a-vis this New 52 universe that there were no superheroes before just a few years ago. Otherwise, Shin's stories of a superpowered young man would not have brought him derision because they seemed so ridiculous. I know they say American lives have no second acts, but post-Aquaman's debut I'm not sure why Shin is still living a life of loneliness and poverty; there's a career for him in Reality TV, at least.

As usual, the art in this book is tremendous; the spookily-lit torrential downpour seen in the Black Manta sequences remind me of Suspiria, providing a nice contrast to the warm colors of the Amazon jungle sequences. On a more basic level, Y'Wara is so ridiculously attractive that you could see why Aquaman would be drawn to her; it's clear that this new version of the Sea King has had no trouble with the ladies!


Wings1295 said...

Loved this issue, and I was okay with the changes to his and Black Manta's past. Part of me hopes that maybe Aquaman didn't purposely kill Manta's father but that the man ended up dead and everyone, maybe Arthur himself, blamed him. We shall see, I suppose!

Love that Y'wara has the same power as Aquaman, but with land - or at least jungle - animals! And I like the Prisoner-of-War character. Interesting!

Also love that Aquaman's "old" origin/birth is back to what it once was!

Fun and action-packed issue!

Joe Slab said...

For me personally, this was the weakest issue (of a very strong series) so far...largely hinging on what I perceived as some needlessly heavy-handed writing by Johns. He tells us what he wants readers to believe rather than showing us and letting us draw our own conclusions: Is Manta responsible for Thomas Curry's death? Well in my mind - Yes - he attacked him and he died of a resulting heart-attack. Is Aquaman responsible for Manta's father's death? Probably not, but we are told he is just to heighten the cliffhanger...

Ironically for me, this issue is getting some of the highest reviews of the series from sites like CBR & IGN. Oh well :)

Joe Slab

Russell said...

I'm with Joe here. I thought this was the weakest issue yet. Those five pages of Shin talking were the worst. If we're going to be TOLD and not shown all this back story, is it too much to ask that we get it in 1 or 2 pages, max?

And Rob, how do you say that there was no Arthur Jr? Couldn't his murder have been the result of all these other murders? Mera at the end when she said, "So this is what it's about? Manta murdered Arhtur's father?" couldn't she be including the death of their son? OR...are you thinking this through more deeply than I am? I'm confused, which is not where I want to be when I read comics.

Oh, and those cats were leopards or jaguars, not tigers. :-)

rob! said...


I say there's now no Arthur Jr for multiple reasons:

1)Now that all of Arthur and Mera's history is taking place in just five years--less than that, actually--it seems unlikely that they met, fell in love, married, had a child, had the child die, and then had their relationship recover--in just four + years. Sure, superhero lifespans are ridiculously condensed, but this just seems crazy.

2)There has never been a single mention of Arthur Jr. in nine issues so far. In all of the scenes taking place in their home, we don't see a single picture of Arthur Jr.

3)All this talk of Black Manta, and the fact that he murdered a child--their child--has not come up ONCE?

4)This version of Aquaman and Mera are a lot more violent than the previous incarnations. Mera barely seems to tolerate humans at all--so I don't buy that if Black Manta killed her son, Mera wouldn't be out there 24/7 hunting him down.

So while this is just a guess on my part, and not based on anything Johns has or hasn't said, I'd bet the farm that this New 52 Aquaman does not have an Arthur Jr.

Hugo said...

I wonder what are the whereabouts of any Aqualad or Aquagirl in the new 52...

I'm tempted to say they all got the Donna Troy/Wally West limbo status, even Geoff Johns' own Jackson Hyde...

(On another side, Jackson and Lorena have for them the diversity factor DC promotes...)

It was really strange to never have Arthur mentionning Garth's death during all Brightest Day. A few words about it wouldn't have been too much...

Anyway, another continuity, now...

Russell said...

Okay, Rob(b), I see your points. I especially agree with numbers (2) and (4). So I will say you're right.

And like Hugo says, where does this leave the two Aqualads and Aquagirls? Garth has been mentioned in TT, hasn't he? So the character DID exist, right?

Joe Slab said...

Johns has gone on record saying that Aqualad Kaldur'ahm (there's a video of this on DC's website)will appear in the series down the road.

As far as Garth, Tula, & Lorena who knows?

I am guessing that when Mera & Aquaman return to Atlantis (the next arc after the Others) we may learn more about who is alive & in existence.

Dennis Doucette said...

Garth was mentioned in Redhood and the outlaws#1

Jorge PR said...

I don't think this issue was weak, as I like learning Aquaman's history, although I agree it culd have been short. I like the mention of the JL... do you think they will show up eventually?

I don't think Arthur killed Manta's father, that would be really out of character for him, but I do thik everybody blames hims for that.

Also, I think there's no Aquababy this time, but I would like to see Garth, not the new Aqualad.

And finally, yes, there are no tigers in the Amazon jungle (neither leopards), so they must be jaguars, thus the character's name Y'Wara (which could be read Yawara, a sound game for Jaguara) and ehr black panthers, which actually are black jaguars ;)

Anonymous said...

LOVE black mantas new coustume :)

Andy Luckett said...

This was actually one of my favorite issues so far. As you said Rob, I liked the contrasting scenes of Manta and POW in the rain vs. Aquaman and Ya'Wara in the bright jungle.

I'm intrigued by a few things that Johns is doing here. First, while reading this issue it occurred to me that while the Dr. Shin character comes off as quite a bit slimy/shady, he fills an important part of this new origin. It makes sense that as Arthur's powers began to develop, Tom Curry may have been a little lost in trying to teach Arthur to develop them. Thus bringing him to a scientist that had the right knowledge was a good idea, even if Shin turned out to have selfish motives.

Secondly, I like the personal progression that is being set up in regards to Arthur's character. During his younger days, before and after the death of Tom Curry, Arthur was driven, angry, and focused on Manta. As we saw last issue, he even was somewhat willing to let people die in an avalanche so that he could catch up to Manta. Of course we also saw that he couldn't allow that little girl to die either, proving that he did have a heroic spirit as well. In the present day, we see a man who is disturbed by Ya'Wara's bloody brand of justice, and who diplomatically softens some of Mera's sharper edges. I appreciate the arc that Johns is building in Aquaman's journey.

Third, I'm on board with the idea of Arthur possibly killing Manta's father (though hopefully in a defensive way). As Rob said, it gives Manta a legitimate beef with the Sea King and it ties into the younger Arthur's explosive temper. As long as it doesn't turn out that Arthur murdered an innocent or unarmed man for revenge, then I can see story potential there.

Anyway, that turned out to be quite a rant but I had a lot to say about this issue. If anybody's actually read this whole thing, then thanks, and the check's in the mail. ;)

Jorge PR said...

Andy Luckett, I read your post ;)

It could perfectly also be that Manta's fatehr died or was killed for someone else, and Arthur was kn the wrong place at the wrong time, thus Manta thinking he killed his father. You know, this kind of stuff is typical lol.

Maybe Arthur swore to kill the man (Manta's dad) but had second thoughts in the last minute, and someone else took advantage of it and did the job him/herself and incriminated Arthur. If this is the way it was, I bet it was... Y'Wara!

Anonymous said...

Just finished #9 -

Don't get me wrong - I love having new Aquaman comics to read this summer, but . . .

Anyone else notice that Aquaman only appears in 9 panels in this issue (not including panels depicting him as a boy - 3). Oh, and the cover, too.

This drives me so crazy - it's as if the writer can't think of anything for the lead character to do, so all of the action surrounds other characters who are easier to write because, of course, they haven't been around since, what, 1940?!? So in a weird way it seems like Aquaman is kind of a supporting character the comic.

And so, I ask the writer and editor, "You are planning on actually having some Aquaman in your Aquaman comics?"