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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Aquaman (Vol.8) #17 - April 2013

"Throne of Atlantis Epilogue" by Geoff Johns, Paul Pelletier, Sean Parsons, and Rod Reis.

This issue of Aquaman opens with a grim image: bloodied whales, under attack from whalers. As they plan to shoot a harpoon into yet another victim, two smaller boats approach, carrying members of the Sea Devils. But the whalers are equipped with more than just conventional weapons--they aim what look likes an Atlantean weapon at them, and ready to fire.

But before it can, a trident comes out the water and jams the cannon, causing it to implode! Following that comes the man who threw it:

Aquaman and his Atlantean troops smash the end of one of the ships, causing it to list. The Sea King then boards and issues a command:
One of Aquaman's men seems to ready kill one of the whalers, which Aquaman interrupts. The man in question, named Murk, argues with Aquaman, which is shocking to some of the other men. Murk is used to following the orders of Ocean Master, and isn't too sure about this new kinder, gentler leader, who is content to send the whalers--who have exceeded the limit for how many whales can be killed--to the authorities.

The Sea Devils board, and they also get in Aquaman's face. Coming on the heels of the attack on the East Coast, they regard Aquaman and his men as little better than the whalers. Voices are raised, and Murk chooses that moment to fire a weapon near them, as a warning to the Sea Devils. Once again, Aquaman is forced to reprimand his errant charge in front of everyone else, which Murk accepts...but not happily.

Aquaman then attends to his dying children:
Miles away, a somewhat familiar-looking man in an underwater diving suit finds some abandoned Atlantean weaponry, just laying on the ocean floor. He is followed by a small group of others, and after he gestures toward the find, they move in.

Later, Aquaman and Amanda Waller talk about the government effort to reclaim all the weapons (and how some...scavenger has beaten them to it), Ocean Master's upcoming trial, and how the Surface World doesn't trust Aquaman or the rest of the Justice League. Seemingly a man without a conuntry, Waller asks why Aquaman is even doing all this. He dives back into the water, without answering.

Over in Amnesty Bay, Mera goes on with her life without Aquaman, but of course it's not going to as easy as all that:
Somewhere in Antarctica, the reverberations from Aquaman's telepathic commands are picked up by some sort of creature that lives in a deep, dark cave. He mutters aloud: "King of the Seven Seas? How wrong you are." To be continued!

After a dynamic multi-issue storyline in "Throne of Atlantis", Johns and co. follow up with what a powerful coda, featuring (IMO) artist Paul Pelletier's strongest work on the book to date. Aquaman's deep connection to the creatures of the sea has always been one of my favorite elements of the character, and the scenes with the Sea King and them were quite resonant for me. They underscore what a continually compromised existence Aquaman must lead, having to accept that the Surface World kills a huge number of his subjects on a regular basis. The two-page spread (seen directly above) is one of my favorite moments of the series so far...it's wonderfully composed by Pelletier, and brought to vivid life by Pelletier, inker Sean Parsons, and (of course) colorist Rod Reis.

After worrying at the end of Justice League #17 that Aquaman was separating himself from the Justice League and Mera, we can already see how they will end up back together: Amanda Waller issues an order to round up Mera, which we see a little bit of here. That's clearly not going to go down well with either of them, which (I'm guessing) will lead to them reuniting, either in Atlantis or above. Mera is such a big part of this book and the Aquaman "mythos" in general, it seemed like a bad decision to cut her out of it. But it's clear from this issue that she'll be back soon enough.

I also enjoyed the little gag Geoff Johns threw in to Aqua-History--Murk talks about saving Orm's life from the Fire-Trolls (from Aquaman #1!) and the Deep Six, baddies who have tussled with Aquaman before pre-New 52. A nice bit of geeky business in the middle of so much Sturm und drang.

I thoroughly enjoyed this issue of Aquaman, and feel as like the art team of Pelletier and Parsons are really coming into their own on the title. Looking very forward to seeing where things go from here, in and out of the book...


Andy Luckett said...

A great issue that really propelled the overarching story forward. And lots of great bits: Aquaman addressing the creatures, Murk, and the return of both an old foe and possibly a new one. Way more than I was expecting from an epilogue.

Joe Slab said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this issue as well what little of it there was...at this point I think I'd be in favor of Aquaman (1 of DC's top 10 sellers) being upped in page count/price like Batman, JL, & Action just to make it a more satisfying read. That being said, I am hearing that Pelletier is struggling with DC's strict deadlines so its probably not likely.

Geoff's Sea Devils were unremarkable but I'm sure we will see them down the road... and as rob said, the mentions of the Fire Trolls & Deep Six were noticed & appreciated.

Looking forward to next issue and -finally- seeing Aquaman actually in Atlantis with the start of the Dead King arc. I am told it will expand upon Tula's character in some significant ways...

Anonymous said...

Struggling with the deadlines? Ah crap, I hope we don't have any delays. That's the last thing this book needs after all the momentum

Russell said...

It was a fine issue but I didn't think it was anywhere near as great as you did, Rob. I thought it felt very much like a "place holder."
And what's the meaning of the cover? I thought it meant Aquaman would be thrown in jail/prison, but nothing like this scene appeared at all in the story.

Designer Daddy said...

I admittedly miss Reis/Prado, but Pelletier/Parsons did a decent job. They were especially great with underwater scenes.

Unknown said...

That two-page spread is spectacular! Aside from its huge scope the marine life is rendered realistically and with lots of attention to detail. In the past, this was seldom the case as rather simple, cartoony images were used.

I love the dichotomy of a spectacularly built, flame haired goddess in a skin-tight emerald catsuit doing something so mundane as pushing a grocery cart. The bag boys must love it when Mera goes shopping.

Also, I like the return of Aquaman's empathy for the sea creatures. Much has been made of Aquaman not fitting into surface or Atlantean culture. Perhaps, it's with the fauna of the ocean where he truly is comfortable.

TheFlash said...

Perhaps the cover symbolises how Aquaman feels trapped in his new role as king.