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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Aquaman (Vol.8) #20 - July 2013

"Skinwalker" by John Ostrander, Manuel Garcia, and more.

This issue of Aquaman opens not with Aquaman nor in Atlantis. No, we find ourselves in Arizona as a man with a rifle finds the corpse of a steer, looking like its been ripped apart. It doesn't take him long to find the culprit:

We flash up to the heavens, where The Operative's flying fortress is skipping across the sky. A conversation with his grandson is interrupted by Aquaman, P.O.W., and Y'Wara, who transport aboard without warning.

Aquaman explains to The Others what he's been doing the last few weeks/issues, and asks his former team to go a mission for him:
It's at this point that Aquaman departs the book, and we follow The Others in their attempt to retrieve the power glove, which is now in the possession of the skinwalker. 

After a brief fight, The Others and the young woman named Sky (who is a Shaman) defeat the skinwalker, getting back the glove. The Others plan to depart, with Y'Wara promising they will be back. The issue ends with Sky and the ghost of her mother watching the plane take off as the sun sets.
This issue was clearly designed with two purposes in mind: one, to give the current creative team a month off, and two, to work as a "backdoor pilot" (to borrow a TV term) for The Others, should DC decide to give them their own series (something that's been hinted at, on and off, ever since they first appeared). I can only assume the introduction of Sky is meant, eventually, to bolster the team's ranks a little in case they do need to carry their own book.

Aquaman's cameo in his own title reminded me of Margot Kidder as Lois Lane showing up for about five minutes in Superman III, before she departs the movie. It felt weird to have this side trip in the middle of the storyline (and one that, IMO, is already dragging a bit), but that's what fill-in stories are for.

Writer John Ostrander has pulled this duty for Aquaman before, and his custom-built one-offs are uniformly very good (see here and here). I wasn't as thrilled with this one, mostly because I just didn't want to take this detour at all--but of course that's not Ostrander's fault. If DC does choose to give The Others their own book, I think he'd be a great candidate to write it.

Speaking of cameo appearances, Aquaman pops up even less in Justice League #20 (also a fill-in issue, at least on the art side). After Despero opens a can of major, er, league whupass on the JL's new members Firestorm, Element Girl, and The Atom, the rest of the team assembles to clean up a large chunk of the Watchtower that has crashed to Earth. It's here where the Sea King shows up:
Wow, Aquaman is regularly featured in two books, yet this month he's barely appearing in three pages total! Better luck next month, Arthur!


Joe Huber said...

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who felt that way about #20 for both series. I really think that this issue of Aquaman would have been better as an Others one-shot. I like that but after having been over exposed to them I really felt like I needed to take a break from them. I'm not sure I would buy a solo book of them though.

I don't know if it's maybe the pre-summer slump or if it's just taking too long for this Trinity War to get here but I'm really starting to get bored with DC's offerings of late.

Russell said...

I totally agree with both of you, Rob and Joe. This month the Aquaman content was awful! He's not in his own book, and he's not in JLA...I'm pretty sure that *this* month was WTF month, ya know!?! Both of these books were disappointing, for many reasons. What, if anything, was the point of the AQUAMAN issue? Did The Others actually get the Atlantean Battle Glove? It wasn't on the guy on the cover or at the beginning; it showed up later, and was shown being blown off his hand, but it was never shown that anybody ever picked it up! Bad. And the JLA? So I won't spoil it for anybody who hasn't read it yet, but WTH is the history of the JLA now? They talk about how Despero fought the JLA before, but....huh? Confusing, and stupid.

Shellhead said...

I was very disappointed in both books this month.

Lucien Desar said...

This issue was definitely my least favorite of the Aquaman/52. It's like watching an 80's TV show where there is a thin plot for the character to go away when in real life the actor is out having a baby or broke their leg or something. Come to think of it, maybe Arthur is on vacation? Getting some much needed R&R with Mera somewhere in the deep Pacific ocean.

Straight To DVD said...

Yep, this issue was a low-point of this series which is disappointing as Ostrander's work usually impresses me.