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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.8) #11 - Sept. 2012

Comics Weekend "The Others Chapter Five" by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jonathan Glapion, Andy Lanning, and Rod Reis.

"The Others" storyline continues, picking up six years in the past, with Aquaman and his assembled team in the tomb of the first king of Atlantis:
The First King forged the weapons that Black Manta has been searching for, but they seem to matter little to Aquaman: he considers Atlantis' first ruler a bit of a fool, relating an ancient legend about how the King drowned in his attempt to find his wife and children as Atlantis crumbled down around him.
Flashing back to today, Black Manta tussles briefly with Mera, using his high-tech suit to block her hydrokinesis. But his real target is Dr. Steven Shin: grabbing him by the arm, he teleports away, leaving Mera to seethe.

Back on The Operative's plane, he shows Aquaman and the rest that Manta is most likely headed for the Dead King's Tomb. The missing member of The Others, Vostok, arrives, having spent two years on the moon(!). Tensions run high, as POW accuses Aquaman of forgetting them ever since he joined the Justice League. Arthur deflects this charge, saying that he is trying to protect them by going after Manta alone.

The Others try and talk Aquaman out of this approach, but he is determined:
Aquaman sneaks up to the waterfall that hides the tomb, spotting Manta's ship. Inside the tomb, Manta and his men search for the missing seventh relic.

Manta threatens Shin, demanding he help locate the relic. Shin refuses, saying he would "rather die" than betray Arthur again, which shocks Aquaman. But using Shin's notes, some of Manta's men figure out that they can use the other relics to find the missing one. A huge glowing light emanates from below the tomb (eerily flanked by statues of The Trench), revealing:

To be continued!

This issue of Aquaman feels like what it is: a quiet(er) prelude to the big finale, which is in the next issue.
Arthur is a pretty big jerk to his Others pals and, despite his face being hidden behind a hood, I could palpably feel POW's feeling of hurt over being "dumped" by Aquaman in favor the Justice League (which, considering what's been going on in that book, seems like a dubious choice on Arthur's part). I usually praise the Reis/Prado/Reis art team for their gangbusters two-page spreads, but here it was that quieter moment that stood out the most to me.

Another nice moment is on page two, where young(er) Arthur stands with the trident for the first time, in a pose that is a carbon copy of the splash page from Aquaman #1:
I'm glad that Dr. Shin is, in fact, not working with Manta behind the scenes--he's been such a squirrelly little rat (if may mix my animal metaphors) so far that this gives him a modicum of dignity, refusing to betray Arthur any further. And of course, that there's another rogue element in this story waiting to be revealed! My bet's on the Human Flying Fish.


Shellhead said...

Kinda surprised you didn't mention that the final relic revealed looks an awful lot like the weapon Ocean Master uses.

Joe Slab said...

After last issue (which I thought was the weakest of the current run) this issue was a total knockout for me! Some much needed characterization, a deepening of the plot coupled with a heightening of the stakes, and art that was -- despite 3 different inkers -- beautifully cinematic. A great issue!

I especially loved the final page (it felt like Indian Jones to me) and notice that the top portion of the scepter appears to be the weapon Mera is holding in the Trinity War preview! Awesome foreshadowing that's going to make waiting 5 weeks for the next issue excruciating haha!

@Shellhead - the Ocean Master uses a magical "trident" with a complete circle at the top to channel it energy. Check out our FCBD 2012 post to see what I mean about the scepter.

Joe Slab

Ryan said...

Does anybody else want to see the Others in their own series after this story concludes?

rob! said...

@Ryan--Considering how well Aquaman is selling, I'd be happy to see an "Aquaman and the Others spin-off book, showing us their previous adventures! That way we get more Aquaman per month and it wouldn't take anything away from the current book!

Count Drunkula said...

@Joe - I wholeheartedly agree with your praise for this issue. Other than seeing Aquaman and Black Manta throw down, I've been disappointed in this story arc because, frankly, I haven't really understood what it's about or why I should care about this supporting cast. Issue #11 finally answered those questions. I LOVE Manta's plan! I love the Tomb of the First King setting! And I love Vostok and POW! I wish most of this exposition had come out two issues ago, but I'm grateful it has at all.

Also, the phenomenal art team continues to crush with this book. As @Rob said, even the subtler moments with Arthur and the Others are extraordinarily well done.

Ryan Daly said...

I just looked through the issue again, and I think my favorite image is the third panel on page 14. You see the ripple effect from Aquaman's splash into the water, and then the sharp turn and wake trail left underwater already outdistancing the Operative's C-130 (reflected in the water).

It's such a small image, but beautifully rendered and one of the best depictions of Aquaman's power since the first issue of the series.

Danial said...

Someone pointed out to me that in Justice League, when they discover which villains gave up info on each hero, the picture shows The Operative's face as Aquaman's. Also, The Others have been wondering how Manta found each of them, so there could be a traitor in the group. I don't believe The Operative is the actual traitor (as we saw him break into Manta's hideout, as well as inform Arthur where Manta was teleporting to), but it could be his son. What do you think?

Dennis Doucette said...

My guess is also that the operatives son will turn out to be evil. I hope it's not the operative. I like him. But in this issue Arthur did mention that the operative plays for every side. Also my favorite panel was as well the one showcasing Arthur's swimming speed. Never seen it done that way before and it was amazing. Overall this issue was outstanding. Vostak and prisoner of war are my favorite Others. I really do hope though that Aquaman puts on his scale male next issue. That thing rips so easily.

Jorge PR said...

I also thinnk the Operateive's son is teh traitor; we'll see.

And Rob, I know I'll sound pathetic here, but I loved the Flying Fisherman, so hope you're rigt lol.

Jorge PR said...

I meant to say, the Human Flying Fish lol

Anonymous said...

Rob or Anyone Else: I notice they name the first Atlantis king as Kahina. Is this consistent with any past series (like the Atlantis series)? Or is this a new name?



Russell said...

Rob, I totally didn't get that Aquaman thought the first king was a fool. I thought that since the king wanted to save his family, and when that didn't work, he died, that that meant that the weapons etc lost all meaning, ie the king didn't try to save the weapons, he tried to save the important stuff. I just re-read it and I guess it could be that Arthur's saying he's an idiot, but I like my take on it better. :-)

rob! said...


You could be right; but there something in the way it seemed Arthur was talking about the king that made think he thought the guy was a bad king--but maybe I'm wrong.

Part of the hazard of writing these posts so quickly (book comes out Wed, I have to have this written by Friday) is that I basically write my recap off of my first impressions; sometimes I miss stuff or misinterpret; this might be one of those times.

I'm looking forward to getting the trades of this series, and reading them all in a giant chunk.

Anonymous said...

Opps....my bad. Just re-read. I'm still learning The Others names....Kahina is an Other and king is 'The Dead King.' Silly mistake on my part.


Ryan Daly said...

@rob! - I pre-ordered "The Trench" HC as soon as it was listed on Amazon. I'll do the same with "The Others" as soon as the collection is solicited.

I've had problems with the pacing of this arc so far; I have a feeling it will read much better in one sitting than spread over eight months.

Danial said...

I re-read the entire series last week and there are definitely things I picked up that I didn't the first time around. Things such as the scar on Shin's neck, and that fact it was freshly healing during the "Six Years Ago" flashback.

I just wish DC would release the HCs a little sooner. The Trench arc ended in February and the HC isn't out until September :(