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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Aquaman (Vol.8) #41

Comics Wednesday "Terra Incognita" by Cullen Bunn, Trevor McCarthy, and Guy Major.

In St. Louis, a castle surrounded by tendrils of black goo suddenly rises up behind the famous Arch, and starts grabbing people and dragging them inside the castle stone walls. Luckily Aquaman is there to stop it...wait, is this Aquaman?!?

After freeing the innocent civilians, Aquaman stands outside the darkened door, beckoning for those inside to come out. Suddenly he is face-to-face(to-face) with a small army of nasty looking creatures. As the Sea King prepares for battle, we flash back to an indeterminate time ago, when the Aquaman we're more familiar with is racing through the ocean with Mera and members of his Atlantean guard. We see that he discovered a similar structure on the ocean floor, and that it also attacked our heroes!

Flashing back to the present, Aquaman takes on the rampaging beasts, ending the fight with a heretofore unknown power: by slamming his trident on the ground, blocks of ice shoot up out of the floor, killing all but one of the monsters: 

Back in Atlantis, in the past, news of similar attacks across the seven seas are coming in. It appears the beings living in these structures are beings from another civilization. Mera calls it an invasion, but Vulko--dragged out his cell, Hannibal Lechter-style--says he's been studying what's been happening, and this is less an invasion than an extermination.

Back in St. Louis, Aquaman is greeted as a hero by the locals, but the good cheer is interrupted by some Atlantean warships, who are here to arrest their former king. Before that can happen, Aquaman shows off another new power: teleportation!

Another flashback shows us Aquaman proposing to Mera, which she accepts. We flash forward once more, and we learn that it's been three months since the Sea King last saw Atlantis, or Amnesty Bay. Having teleported to the Amazon, Aquaman is greeted by some of the very people who he promised he would destroy to save Atlantis:

...To be continued!

And so here we are, with a semi-new Aquaman in unfamiliar surroundings. Generally avoiding whatever spoilers were out there, I didn't know that this version of Aquaman is, in fact, the same one we've been following post-New 52. That was a huge relief, because for a while there I really thought DC and writer Cullen Bunn was scrapping all the good will built up with the Sea King over the last three years, and I hated the idea of all that ground being lost. But, no, while this may be a very different Aquaman than we saw in #40, it is in fact the same guy. And while I'm not thrilled he's on the outs with Mera, I feel safe in assuming this is a storyline that will eventually reunite the two.

Many months ago on The Fire and Water Podcast, I surmised that Warner Bros. would not have spent all this time restoring Aquaman to his classic orange-and-green look only to get rid of all that for the movie version to be seen in Batman v Superman. Of course, I was proved wrong once the first photo of Jason Momoa in costume was leaked--they couldn't be more different. Now, however, I see I was sorta right, but backwards--the movie version of Aquaman isn't following the comic book's lead, it's more like the other way around.

Speaking of how things look, I really did enjoy Trevor McCarthy's art and Guy Major's colors. There's a completely worked out visual style here, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. While I am still am dubious about whether this drastic reinvention was really necessary, I have no such qualms about the art. The addition of McCarthy to the ranks of Aquaman artists makes it three winners in a row since Aquaman #1--Reis/Prado, then Pelletier/Parsons, now McCarthy. I look forward to more of these Aquaman adventures if they're gonna look like this!

Overall, I thought this was a solid start to this new "era" of Aquaman, but it remains to seen whether it will be worth taking such a drastic turn, considering how popular the previous iteration was. In several interviews, writer Bunn has asked Aquaman fans to "give him a couple of issues." Fair enough.


Gareth said...

I went into this book with low expectations. They were met. In this Aquafans opinion this wasn't a great book. The story was ok (would've worked well as a Wonder Woman story I reckon) and the new powers and collapsible trident I could have done without. Hate the new costume, completely unnecessary. I realise they'll be looking at taking the characters image more down the Momoa path (which is a good look for a movie) but I don't know why they need to change the vibrant look in the comics that has looked so good for the past 40 episodes. I have to disagree with Rob on the art, I hated it. The page shot of the flashback sequence above is a great example why I didn't like it. The previous art teams made the pages totally pop, amazing colours, beautiful crisp line work and facial detail. These ones look rough and scribbly and not at all like the beautiful stuff we have had before (also why has Arthur got such a giant head?).
Look guys, I get this may sound like fanboy whinging, but I'm pretty certain most of us who check out this site are massive fans of the characters in Aquaman's world and like me have spent a great amount of our hard earned on our fandom. I'm willing to give Bunn a few more issues, hell I slogged through all of Aquaman and the Others so I can give this a few more go's, but this isn't the character we've all come to know and love, definitely isn't the character that was not that long ago outselling all Marvel titles and to be a strong Aquaman title needs a great version of Mera. Time will tell if Bunn can show an understanding of the Aquaverse that John's & Parker had, but at first glance I'm not confident. 4.5/10. (Sorry for the rant btw)

K. White said...

BTW, have you seen the ads for next week's "Cake Wars" on Food Network? They're doing superheroes -- and it looks like Aquaman & Black Manta will be on one of the cakes!

Joe Slab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Slab said...

If you're following DC's other books Superman has lost his powers & had his secret identity made public, James Gordon has replaced Bruce Wayne as Batman, Green Lantern is wearing a hoodie, etc., so the changes made in Aquaman too are just a part of DC trying to create some hype/renewed interest in their long running titles as 12 books at #41 is pretty much unheard of these days.

That being said, I feel this reads much more like an INJUSTICE version of Aquaman than anything suited for their main continuity. While I think the production value is high and that both Bunn & Trevor are talented creators, I am not sure they are right for Aquaman. Geoff Johns kept a consistent build-up of Atlantean mythology and most of that seems casually discarded for my taste. And Mera's portrayal, no matter how Bunn thinks he's going to justify it, seems forced. Choosing Atlantis over Arthur? No way.

Martin Gray said...

I'm waiting for a few issues, to hear what the general buzz is - I disliked the Sneak Peek so much that I need some convincing to invest the money when it's all just likely to annoy me.

On the basis of this fine review, I'm not convinced yet - flashing backwards and forwards is a big bugbear, drives me bonkers!

Ryan said...

Aquaman now feels like a Marvel book to me.

Aquaman exiled from Atlantis (again)
Aquaman and Mera are estranged (again)
Aquaman claims an ancient power (again)
Aquaman encounters a lost Atlantean colony (again)

and i'm not talking about repeats from his long history, all the above happened already in his new 52 run! LOL

I'll plan to keep reading beacuse its Aquaman after all and he rocks but hopefully editor Brian C. will read this (actually one of the most optimistic reviews of #41 ive seen) and quickly shift courses and/or creative teams and get the book fun and inventive again. Call Eddie B. or Sean M. dude, they brought Aquaman to new levels of popularity so lets not lose that. RJ

Ander said...

Ok, so here are my thoughts on the issue.

I agree with a lot of what you guys had mentioned. I initially thought that they were throwing out everything Johns and Parker had brought to the table over the past 3-4 years but now it seems that is not the case which is great. After reading the preview for this, I was sure I was going to hate this. The preview had iffy dialogue, and really unpleasant colors and art. Luckily, it seemed to improve this issue. While Bunn's dialogue for Arthur is still iffy his internal dialogue I thought was written pretty well. McCarthy's art is pretty good, though I enjoyed it a lot more in the flashback scenes. That combined with the colors were really beautiful. The costume is pretty plain to be honest, though it reminded me more of Sword of Atlantis than Momoa, which I'm happy with (nothing against Momoa, I just don't want to see his version in the comics). My biggest concern is with Mera. If this is indeed following Parker and Johns runs, then we all know that the Atlanteans HATE her and she isn't their biggest fan either. And also, this is from the preview, when does Mera allow innocent lives to be slaughtered? They better have a DAMN good reason to explain that (Siren maybe?) because if not, then they've butchered her character. Like many of you, I'm not a fan of Arthur and Mera being estranged (again) and a lot of this plot seems like it's been done plenty of times before (Arthur on the run from Atlantis). Still, it was better than I anticipated and does hold enough intrigue to keep me interested. I'll give Bunn a couple more issues but if this is his new status quo for awhile, then I might have to take a break until a new creative team jumps on the book.


Anonymous said...

I liked it a lot. Badass Aquaman but the new uniform looks way too WWE.

Mandy said...

Anybody know how long Cullen Bunn is slated to be on this book?

Joshua Rainey said...

I was turned off immediately. Aquaman looks like Battlearmored He-Man. I was expecting Ocean Master to show up looking like Skeletor and Queen Mera like Teela. The art work looks murky, which is fine for the underwater scenes, but it looks like that on the surface as well. I did like that the flashback scenes were bright and familiar. As far as the story, like others have said, its more of what weve already seen. And I didnt like the extendable trident. Yeah it makes it easier to carry around, but how does all its parts collapse into itself? Ill keep reading, however, I dont think this run is going to be as good as the previous 40 issues. Im hoping this will only be a slump, and not the beginning of a decline.

KJ Sampson said...

I was bracing myself to hate this for the same reasons others have mentioned: the estrangement, the art, the fugitive status, the out-of-the-blue-sea powerup, the sneak peek ALL reminded me too much of the terrible, terrible Rick Veitch run. But this issue actually turned out OK.

Meaning I didn't hate it, or even dislike it that much. Buuuuut...I didn't hate the first couple issues of Veitch's run, either. So...we'll see

Joe said...

I know everyone is upset that Aquaman and Mera aren't together but personally, I found the Parker run extremely frustrating. If Arthur's principal internal conflict comes from not-belonging and he finds belonging through Mera, then Mera deflates a lot potential personal drama. Geoff (and many past writers) kept them apart for that reason (remember that Mera wouldn't be able to live in Atlantis? She was going to be in Amnesty Bay?).

In regard to the actual issue though, I'm don't believe Bunn to be an upgrade from Parker either. I'm more interested in what Bunn wants to do with plot but his characterization isn't right and the new powers feel like a big misstep. Aquaman has been a fantasy book before but he doesn't need to be a sorcerer for that.

Just like I kept on with Parker and Jurgens, I will keep on but I don't think I've really LIKED/LOVED an issue since Throne of Atlantis. It's starting to get ridiculous.

Words Seem Out of Place said...

Hmmmm. This left me flat. I realize all of what I'm about to say will make me sound like the typically annoying fanboy whining about a change to a beloved character. That is not at all my intention here.It gets lost in the Internet age, but it demands to be said--sometimes you just plain don't like something. And that's okay. I don't like this first issue of Aquaman. For a number of reasons. I enjoyed the Johns run and then really loved the Parker run. I found the art team to be one of the best working in comics in recent years - Aquaman was one of the best looking books on the stands. The art really popped. The stories had a sense of adventure to them. When I saw the preview pages for this book I was immediately dismayed by the art. That's totally subjective, so I'm not here to say it sucks. Just that it's not my cup of tea. I find it scratchy and stiff, with no sense of the epic grandeur that Pelletier had brought to the book. Oh well.

I'm not sure what to make of the series yet because, well, it's only been one issue! And I've liked what little Bunn work I've read before. Plus I'm really intrigued by his new Green Lantern Lost Army book - possibly because the art on that book is more my style. So I'll see how this progresses but probably from afar. Possibly taking out the trade from the library later on down the line.

I think it's natural to be sad that the things I enjoyed about the Johns and Parker have been upended. And I realize that this sort of start to Bunn's time on the book is likely what DC mandated - a big sweeping change that will seemingly change EVERYTHING! As comics fans we know that's likely not built to the last though. Things will probably revert back to something closer to a Mera and Arthur team up book at some point. Maybe? Or as the movies start to roll out it'll just morph more into the movie version of the character. We'll see. But for now I'm not a fan of this new direction.

Mr. Brooks said...

The art turned it off for me. Went too "dark".

Gareth said...

Spot on. Couldn't agree more with all of this.

Anonymous said...

New "era" of Aquaman huh... everything is getting repeated again for the 99th time.

"And Mera's portrayal, no matter how Bunn thinks he's going to justify it, seems forced. Choosing Atlantis over Arthur? No way."

Getting asked to be his wife... and then she's against him???? This isn't you personal fan fiction Bunn... 4 or 5 years of a solid relationship ("You'll never lose me") done away with in only one issue just for the sake of Soap Opera drama that comes across as if it was written for pre-teens... Mera's character has been ruin, she's now nothing more than self-interest back stabber who doesn't who only cares about herself... getting back together, no matter what Bunn's comes up with, simply won't fix it... it's over...

Lucien Desar said...

I thought this was a fun entertaining issue. The costume wasn't that much updated and it's good that there are issues with the character - bad things should happen, it's called tension and it's a sign of good writing. I feel the writing has gone up to another level of sophistication in every issue. My only complaint is that Aquaman needs to have a little more humor in it. DC is way to dark and serious focused and I think comic books are evolving to back to the 1960's early 1970's style with a tad bit of humor added to the characters.

Lucien Desar said...

P.S. Great synopsis Rob!

Straight To DVD said...

For the increase in price I feel the story has severely dropped. It's the same with The Flash. Just poor story-telling.
I've rarely found Bunn to be a good writer, and he's record for starting on a book and seeing it end/get cancelled, is getting up there.

Anonymous said...

The art turned too dark for my taste, I don't see the need for a change in the suit, I dislike this one so much, and so far the book was good, mostly because they build up a huge Atlantis mythology (like you said in your review) which was great, it was about time they do something that huge with Aquaman.
Now this last issue got me worried. And I can't say I like the thundercats sword. No, sir.
Your review is quite fair, and I liked reading it, but I think I'm not so tolerant about bullshit : this last issue made me suddenly wonder if I should keep buying the book : Aquaman and Mera are not together, the suit, the art, the new unnecessary status quo.. No, no. No.
Good thing you mentionned cullen was "asking for a few issue", I'll wait for a few issues all right, they have to be damned decisive.
And saying that, I think of G.Johns who did not need to ask us to wait for a couple of issues. It was neat right from the first issue.

Oh one more thing : you're right, it's not the comic influencing the cinema, it's the other way around, sadly.Comicbooks are less and less a primitive force of creation, they're more and more story boardsfor the films or merchandise from the films :(