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Friday, September 23, 2016

Aquaman (Vol.9) #7

"Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears The Crown" by Dan Abnett, Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher, and Gabe Eltaeb.

Aquaman and Mera are back in Atlantis, dealing with the various, sundry details of running a kingdom. He is, of course, most concerned with just who is trying to sabotage relations between Atlantis and the Surface World, but a lot of other stuff is getting in the way. One of the elders, Koah, suggests that if Aquaman is to marry Mera, she undergo a series of "tests" to prove her worthiness. Aquaman is, of course, aghast at this, and tells a stuttering Koah to get out.

Aquaman then meets with Murk, who was there at the wreckage of the Navy vessel. Murk shows him an Atlantean helmet found there, "proving" it was the work of one of them, Except--the helmet has been retrofitted with an air-breathing apparatus, meaning the person using it could not breathe water. Meanwhile, in Venice, at the HQ of N.E.M.O., Black Manta makes quick work of those who oppose his forced ascension to leader, after killing the previous Fisher King. 

Aquaman goes to see Corum Rath, the head of the resistance group known as The Deluge. Corum sees Aquaman as an illegitimate ruler, a half-breed (a crack which earns him a left cross from Tula). He refuses to help Aquaman get to the bottom of who is behind all this. Later, Aquaman has a discreet line of communication (an "Aqua-Phone") set up with Agent Irving of the FBI. He thinks that the FBI's investigation of the Scavenger--and who he sold his stolen Atleantean treasures to--might provide some clues. 

Not too far away, N.E.M.O. launches its first plan--unleashing some sort of giant beast the emerges from the Atlantean sea bed, and lumbers its way toward Atlantis. To be continued!

I have joked many times that I am really tired of seeing Aquaman get bogged down in Atlantis, and I have referred to it as the "'uneasy lies the head that wears the crown' bit." And here is Dan Abnett literally calling a story that, which didn't fill me with confidence, I have to admit. I just don't understand why Aquaman writers--virtually every single one of them--are so obsessed with getting Arthur back in Atlantis and dealing with all this palace intrigue stuff. Even Geoff Johns, who did more than any single Aqua-writer to transform the view of Aquaman into a full-fledged superhero, couldn't help bringing the story back to Atlantis during his final issues of the previous series.

That said, I still enjoyed Aquaman #7, watching the Sea King get pulled in several different directions. It would be easy to just blame the Deluge, especially since Corum is so unrepentant. But Arthur knows something else is going on, so he has to do a little detective work and see the bigger picture. Traditionally, Aquaman was written as a hothead and Mera was the calmer, more deliberate one, but Abnett has flipped that here. Heck, Aquaman would probably still be in a jail cell if Mera hadn't had enough and broke him out.

Abnett's political commentary is even more explicit this issue, right down to Corum trying to insult his king by calling him "progressive." To some, that is an insult, but to others, it just underscores how sadly stuck The Deluge is in its view of the way world is now vs. the way it was. The Deluge is going to Make Atlantis Great again, come hell or high water. 

On the art front, I do miss Brad Walker, but the Eaton/Faucher team do nice work here, especially with some of the close-ups. That shot of Corum saying "False King" I thought was quite good, as is a later shot of Aquaman talking to Agent Irving. And colorist Gabe Eltaeb continues to do an exceptional job with the colors.

Aquaman #7 is on sale now!


Joe Slab said...

I enjoyed this issue. Its been said recently by Mark Waid that nobody writes sub-plots in comics anymore. Well clearly Mark isn't reading Dan Abnett's AQUAMAN which is choc-ful of them! I like that Abnett is completely comfortable giving readers a "Day In The Life" issue every so often and its these issues that make characters most human to me.

And there's so much good stuff in this issue: Foreshadowing of Arthur's eventual confrontation with the Justice League and Mera's solo journey in #10, we meet more of Arthur's council filling Atlantis' diversity quota including a member with an underwater-speech impediment (?), more goings on with The Deluge/N.E.M.O/Black Manta and the teaser at the end of what looks to be Aquaman's own personal Doomsday -- Unstoppable!

My only real gripe is the ongoing Black Manta sub-plot. I feel Manta dispensed with the Fisher King way too easily and that Abnett needs to establish N.E.M.O. a bit better. If its truly a revered secret society in the DCU on par with The Court of Owls, League of Assassins or even H.I.V.E., then lets see some of their accomplishments/connections to establish this. Also, wouldn't The Others' Operative be aware of their existence since he too has a global secret network of connections? Name dropping Professor Ivo was a good start but let's flesh this organization out a bit more and give it some legitimacy.

I though Eaton's art had improved this issue but he needs to be paired with a stronger inker as some of the line work is weak. Good continuity between art teams by not drawing Arthur's trident in the issue as is presumably remains in custody of the US government after Aquaman's prior detention.

I am very much looking forward to next issue and find myself really settling into the twice a month groove of Rebirth Aquaman :)

Unearthly Visions said...

Great stuff Rob. Picking up new comics on a monthly basis is just not something I can justify on a budget, so I'm grateful that your reviews help me keep up with one of my favorite DC characters

Lucien Desar said...

Awesome synopsis Rob. This issue had nice dialogue and a plot that has 3 to 4 separate arcs. I think Arthur & Mera are going to split at some point because the romance of them is building (common device with George RR Martin - make the reader love the characters and then boom!)