Saturday, June 14, 2014

Secret Origins #2 - July 2014

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Comics Weekend "Graduation" by Jeff Parker, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, and Rain Beredo.

Hello again everyone, Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett here with a review of Secret Origins #2, featuring the official New 52 backstories of Tamaran's own Starfire, Gotham City's Batman, and of course, Aquaman!

This review will only cover Aquaman's origin in detail, as relayed by Jeff Parker with art from Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Rain Beredo. But both Starfire and Batman's origins are interesting and well-told, especially Batman's as written by Ray Fawkes with Dustin Nyugen, Derek Fridolfs and John Kalisz on art.

In the New 52 origin of Aquaman, there are a few wrinkles added to the Silver Age tale of a lonely lighthouse keeper, his mysterious maiden from the sea and the hero their love brought into the world. Aquaman's mother (wearing an Atlantean wetsuit with a familiar pattern/color scheme) rescues Tom Curry as he is swept overboard while saving another man. They fall in love and have a son named Arthur. A few happy years later, she leaves suddenly, telling Tom that she has no choice.

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One day, young Arthur is swept out to sea. His panicked father finally finds him playing happily underwater, surrounded by marine life (a scene that has been replicated in almost every telling of Aquaman's origin since the Silver Age). Concerned and curious about Arthur's unique nature, Tom enlists the help of Dr. Stephen Shin, whose life he once saved. Dr. Shin spends years analyzing Arthur's abilities and forming theories about the source of his powers.

Sooner rather than later, the time comes for Arthur's high school graduation. Tom congratulates Arthur, but so does Dr. Shin, who has brought along a reporter from Scientific American to catalogue his findings. Though he alludes to Tom agreeing to the deal, Arthur's father asserts that the timing is wrong. He trashes all of Dr. Shin's research before it can be shown to the reporter.

Dr. Shin, devastated by the loss of his life's work, hires a local criminal to retrieve a blood sample of Arthur's that has yet to be destroyed. Meanwhile, Arthur is on vacation off of Amnesty Bay when he and his friend Danny get word of a plane crash nearby. Finding the occupants trapped inside the submerged plane, Arthur realizes that he only has time for one spectacular maneuver:
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While he saves the plane's passengers, Arthur is also caught on video and identified. Returning home, he finds his father struggling with an unknown man, who he fends off. When Tom dies soon after, Arthur bolts after the criminal, finally tracking him down to a boat off shore. In a rage he snaps the man's neck, only to find that this is not the man he was chasing, but his father.

Confused and exposed, Arthur retreats to the sea. He soon finds an ally in Vulko, who was once his mother's royal adviser. Accompanying him to Atlantis, Arthur is recognized as the rightful king. Not ready to undertake such an incredible role, Arthur seeks out other heroic figures with amazing powers; first leading The Others, then fighting off Darkseid's invasion alongside the Justice League.
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I have to say that on the whole, I really enjoy the mythology that Geoff Johns, Jeff Parker and Dan Jurgens (as incredibly visualized by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Rod Reis and Paul Pelletier, among others) have crafted for Aquaman since the New 52 began. The attention to detail once again spotlights Johns' unique talent for blending fundamental character elements with new complications that deepen the story.

In this case, we have a return to Aquaman's Silver Age beginnings as the son of a surface man and the Queen of Atlantis. But beyond that, we also have a backstory for Atlantis that has begun to rival Peter David's version; with dead kings, prison realms, and magical objects that all have bearing on Arthur and Mera's lives.

Black Manta's motivation to pursue Aquaman is now more personal than ever, perhaps even a bit more understandable. Dr. Shin and Vulko have also become complex figures in Arthur's life; alternately helpful and self-serving. And personally, I think the introduction of The Others is another great piece of the puzzle. Needless to say, examining the work Aquaman's creative teams have done in the past few years reveals a strong success indeed.  


6 comments:

BlUsKrEEm said...

I'm getting a little nervous about Mera being downplayed recently. MEra and Author's relatioship is a huge part of the apeal of the N52 Aquaman, but it feels like it's being neglected recently. Does Mera really warent less of a mention than the Others? I really hope they don't push for a Mera / Ya'Wara love triangle plot.

r duncan said...

Yeah. I think that (love triangle thing) would be a mistake.

aqua buckeye said...

Other internet sites are reporting Jason Momoa is Aquaman in the upcoming Batman v.s.Superman film & apparently has a multiple film contract for future appearances.Have you heard anything in this area Rob?If true, I think it's lame as lame can get.I'm sure the actors in Catwoman,Jonah Hex & Green Lantern all had sequel deals for their DC characters & look how they turned out.

aqua buckeye said...

Also Ryan Reynolds is apparently done playing GL Hal Jordan which I'm okay with since I never got a "Hal" vibe from him in the first place.

Russell said...

I had no idea this book even existed. I'll look for it this week, thanks for the heads up!

Russell said...

I had no idea this book even existed. I'll look for it this week, thanks for the heads up!