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Saturday, December 01, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.8) #14 - Jan. 2013

"Throne of Atlantis: Prologue" by Geoff Johns, Pete Woods, Pere Perez, and more.

Big changes are afoot in this issue of Aquaman. Once you get past the awesome cover by Reis/Prado/Reis (*sniff*), we find ourselves in a whole other world, but within the book and without:
Is that Aquaman...in 1820?!?

Well, not quite, although it sure does look like him. This "sea monster" is hung upside down by the ship's captain, who lost an eye in a previous encounter. He's about to gut this mysterious man when the ship is hit by a tremendous force. It knocks he and his men off their feet, and when they right themselves they see they are surrounded...by Atlanteans!

Cut to modern day:

In Atlantis, it's king notices all the fish are staring at him. That means that his brother, Aquaman, wants to speak with him.

Meanwhile, in Belle Reve Prison, Black Manta is brought in for questioning...and an offer: to join the Suicide Squad. Manta's answer is to hit a switch on his wrecked helmet (which his interrogator was stupid enough to bring in with him) and incinerate the contract, followed by a beat-down on the guard. This is overheard by Amanda Waller herself:
Back down below, Aquaman and his brother Orm have a talk about what Manta did. Orm professes to not even know what a "Black Manta" is, and acts even a little shocked that his brother is accusing him of being in league with this pirate. After all, he professes, if he was planning to attack the Surface World, he'd tell Aquaman all about it!

Meanwhile, in Norway, Vulko is shocked to see what looks like an Atlantean has washed up dead on the shore. He takes off immediately, disappearing into the seas. We then find our way back to the brothers:
Orm and Arthur discuss what happened back in 1820, about the sailors killed their Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather. The Atlantean subjects then sank the ship, dropping all the crew into the water--and let them stay there, util they all drowned, sinking to the ocean floor from sheer exhaustion. They let the captain live, but he demanded to go down with his ship--the very ship that Orm and Arthur met at to have this discussion. Orm then says he wishes his brother "nothing but happiness" and leaves. 

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, the Dead King's Scepter comes down, guided by an unseen hand, and explodes the rock that was keeping them imprisoned:
Uh-oh...to be continued!

I've gotten so used to seeing the Sea King rendered by Reis/Prado/Reis that not seeing them this time around took a while to get used to. They may have only drawn Aquaman for a little over a year out of a 70-year history, but the mark they made was so indelible that it was a bit of a shock when I flipped past the cover.

As seen in the splash page, there were a lot of hands involved with this issue--two pencillers and five inkers--so it was hard for me to really get a handle on the art; it seems inconsistent but that's natural when you're talking about six different people drawing one comic book.

Another thing working against the artists in this issue is that Aquaman gets nothing to do in this issue, except stand around and talk to Orm. Hard for any artist to make that visually compelling, but there are some genuinely nice moments here (the aforementioned splash page especially).

Speaking of, that whole scene is awkward, because Arthur and Orm both know the story, yet they insist on going over it again anyway. It was interesting to see Ocean Master so nice here--that's a big change of pace--and in his first panel he mentions "Garth", so it seems like yet another member of the Aqua-Family will be showing up soon enough!

Post Script: We missed talking about Justice League #14, which came out last week, so come back at Noon today where we'll cover what happened with Aquaman in that book!


Randy Meyer said...

I wonder if the fact that we never really see Orm out of shadows in this issue is a plot point here. Knowing comics the way I do, it probably is.

Joe Slab said...

I have to say that I really LOVED this issue. We needed a moment to catch our breath after the non-stop action of The Others (7+ 0 issues!) arc.

I had the same issue with the art that rob did and was also a bit concerned about the poor research/editorial proofing that allowed brightly colored tropical fish being shown off the coast of Maine. The colorin itself was off and I can't wait for Rod Reis to return next issue. I believe that it will be Rod's colors in both JL & Aquaman that unify the art of Reis/Prado & Pelletier for the full ToA crossover.

I was also intrigued by the many sub-plots within this issue including the fact that Black Manta & Cheetah are both now in Bell Reve and I'm hearing rumors of a new Legion of Doom or SSSV in 2013 from DC...

But my biggest surprise was how human Johns made Orm in just one issue and I for one am taking his words to Arthur at face-value. Obviously there is more to their history since Vulko told Arthur in issue #0 that he suspected Orm murdered Atlanna to gain the Throne, but Artie seems quite comfortable just chatting about old times with his younger bro. As Johns said in the plethora of interviews he did about ToA, Orm is not going to be straight-out villain and the scene where he justly defends "the boy born with purple eyes (yay!)" shows him to be a just ruler at least in this instance.

Also, who was the helmeted soldier who took the scepter at the end of Aquaman #13 and was that army even Atlantean? Unless Orm is totally pulling the wool, it seems he would have known about such a huge maneuver but he appears sincere in his ignorance of it...Or am I being naive?

And that last page -- Oh yeah!!! Are we sure that wasn't the work of Reis & Prado? It definitely appeared to me to be a much higher caliber work that the rest of the issue art wise.

Bring on Throne of Atlantis. This story was a the perfect "Prelude" (if not placeholder) to set up what may be the biggest Aquaman story EVER and I for on can't wait until December 26th!

Ryan said...

My guess is that the army that Manta was working for was from Xebel not Atlantis. Manta had ties to Xebel in pre-New 52 continuity.

Jorge PR said...

I liked this one for the story it tells (I love when comics take its time to tell stories and backgrounds) although it was kind of weird the art differences, especially that fish-sull page.

I also liked seeing Arthur and Orm interacting in a different way we're used to see them doing. It makes up for a real fraternal relationship... let's see what happens from now.

And, are those creatures the Trench? They look a lot like them.

Kryschenn said...

So Garth is just a baby at this point ... but over in the Bat-books, Dick Grayson is already Nightwing? Did that just effectively write the Titans out of existence? Is anyone else confused, or is it just me?

Or perhaps I should just call up a trumpet fanfare to declare that as of this moment, I officially give up trying to figure out the New 52 timeline continuity.

Jorge PR said...

Kryschenn, maybe Atlanteans age faster than us? I know that doesn't make sense either, becuase Arthur would be way older than the other JLers, but just trying to find some sense in all this ;)