Saturday, November 02, 2013

Aquaman (Vol.8) Annual #1 - 2013

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"A Choice of Evils" by John Ostrander, Geraldo Borges, Ruy Jose, Rod Reis, and more.

Aquaman's first annual in many years kicks off with the Sea King in the midst of battle:
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...but then we cut over to a small island which is the base of operations for The Operative. Across the island is his grandson Aaron, spending some time with the young woman named Sky, who we last saw in Aquaman #20. The Operative is none too happy about this meeting, but their argument is interrupted by an attack of some sea creatures, followed by:
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After some flying monkeys steal Vostok's helmet (that was fun, typing that), one of the sea creatures zaps Aaron, knocking him out. Sky, using her Shaman powers, channels a healing spirit, and she, Aquaman, and The Operative carry the unconscious Aaron into the mist.

While in this other realm, a spirit warns Sky that she and her friends are going to face an evil sorceress of immense power. This being manifests itself, going after the trio, but they escape back to "our" reality. Aquaman decides to call in the other Others, which of course includes his former flame Y'Wara:
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Back at The Operative's HQ, they determine who this sorceress is: a woman named Madame Xan, who resides in Hong Kong. Y'Wara transports the whole team there, where Xan is trying to use Vostok's helmet.

Much to her chagrin, the helmet rejects her. Seemingly trapped on Earth without it, Xan decides to destroy the planet. But first, she needs to prepare for the attack that is coming. Our heroes appear in Tokyo, but they all find themselves split up, face to face with their own versions of Xan, who can take many familiar forms:
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Xan tries to get Aquaman to see her side of things regarding humanity, underlining how badly the Surface World has treated the seven seas. Aquaman is not moved, and with a snap of her fingers, transports them all to a Hong Kong harbor, where they see a tsunami approaching.

Aquaman issues orders to the team, but one of them has fallen for Xan's words: Y'Wara, who attacks the rest, which leads to a knock-down, drag-out with the Operative. Meanwhile, Aquaman goes after Xan:
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Using his trident, Aquaman seemingly defeats Xan, ridding Hong Kong of the tsunami. Y'Wara realizes the error of her ways, and is so upset that she decides, then and there, to quit the team. She teleports away, asking the rest to make her apologies to Aquaman.

When Arthur returns, he is concerned about Y'Wara, but says they simply have to give her time to recover. In the meantime, they go back to the spirit realm to visit Aaron:
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I think my favorite part of this story was it's self-containedness (yeah, that's a word). After extended story arc after extended story arc in the main series, it was nice to have a (semi)complete story here.

Once again, however, Aquaman seems to be nearly a bystander in his own book--it's Sky that really frames the story, but I guess that's understandable, since this is clearly meant as a big launch pad for The Others series to come. At the rate this team is losing members, I think Aquaman's going to have kick off some sort of membership drive soon!

The art, by the simple fact of being the work of so many people, is inconsistent in places, but overall I thought the book looked pretty good: The Others are a visually compelling group of characters, and they contrast well against the bright and shiny Aquaman. And as usual, the coloring by Rod Reis (with help from Hi-Fi) bathes the book in beautiful hues.

More than anything else, I'm simply glad this Aquaman Annual exists: after so long without one (fourteen years, in fact), it's awesome to have tangible proof that this new series is one of the New 52's most enduringly popular series.


6 comments:

Randy said...

I enjoyed this annual immensely. And for pretty much all the same reasons stated in the review. John Ostrander is still a great writer.

bentongrey said...

I haven't read it, so it may be great, but I am just really ready for the Others to fade into obscurity.

Orin's dad said...

I liked this a lot as well. I generally always like Ostrander's stuff, and his Sea King stories have always been strong. Like the other comments, I was glad for a story that had an actual ending. lol
Plus, it's exciting to see Aquaman getting an annual once again!

ryan said...

Where was the power glove from the Others last adventure?

Russell said...

I just read this yesterday, and I gotta say the luster of The Others has faded for me. I, too, thought this story was centered too much around them and not around Arthur. The different level of art quality also took me out of the story a few times. And lastly, why is it that so many "ethnic" heroes have to "choose" between cultures!?! That part really annoyed me. So while I am glad to read it and enjoyed parts of it, it was basically a disappointment.

KJ Sampson said...

I didn't like this story much at all. Quite a disappointment because Ostrander's usually so good with Aquaman.