An extremely sizeable pull list this week took me a little longer than usual to get through, and after hungrily consuming a hell of a lot of good (and a few decidedly poor) comics, there were two that came out far ahead of the pack. And, unable to decide between them, I decided to do the only fair thing… toss a coin. So, without any further ado, I give you this week’s Comic of the Week…
Aquaman #23 (DC Comics)
It’s safe to say that the ‘novelty’ of Geoff Johns’ reinvention of Aquaman during his New 52 run has officially worn off by now. No longer is it a surprise for the oft-mocked King of Atlantis to prove himself to be completely and utterly badass, and it’s also an almost universally acknowledged fact that Johns’ Aquaman has become one of the most consistently impressive titles in the two years since DC’s controversial “reboot”.
This issue sees the conclusion of the ‘Death of a King’ arc, just in time for the events of Villain’s Month and Forever Evil, and manages to tie all the disparate plot threads together just in time. While a solid arc in its own right, this latest storyline has suffered on occasion with it almost almost seeming like there’s too much going on at once. The return of the dead king, Mera’s situation with Xebel, the Atlantis rebel’s attempts to free Orm AND the attack on Atlantis by the Scavenger (phew!) have all vied for ‘screen time’, with the effect that while the arc does feel almost dizzying in scope, there’s still been a lingering feeling – from me, at least – that perhaps spending more time focusing on two (or even three) of these plot threads would have perhaps been beneficial.
As it happens though, Johns does a great terrific of having all the threads converge and give us a satisfying – if admittedly fleeting – conclusion. He manages to convey the strength of the bond between Arthur and his wife, his dedication to the people of Atlantis, and – in one particularly jaw-dropping moment – the true power he’s capable of wielding. Artist Paul Pelletier holds up his end of the storytelling partnership admirably, providing some terrific emotional beats and giving the aforementioned jaw-dropping moment the scale and grandeur it truly deserves.
This story really shines in the second half as we see the lengths Arthur will go to in order to protect his people, and finishes with a perfectly-chosen cliffhanger that handily distances itself from the events of Forever Evil and leaves all sorts of juicy questions unanswered. A brilliant storytelling choice, and one that offers up all manner of tantalising possibilities once “normal service” is resumed after September’s event.
This is a comic which proves that, while he can have the occasional misstep, when he’s on form, Johns is a truly incredibly storyteller. He manages to keep all the plates spinning here, and – with an extremely sure-handed contribution from an artist who knows just how to nail the impressive visuals this title demands – provide enough resolution to satisfy us in the short-term, while still dangling the promise of greater things in the future. I truly love this series, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Honourable Mentions: New Avengers #9 (Marvel) was the tails to Aquaman’s heads, and could just as easily have been this week’s Comic of the Week. Hickman continues to absolutely knock this crossover out of the park, showing the full extent of Thanos’ powers as his ‘Cull Obsidian’ begin their attack on Earth, hunting down the Illuminati. Uncanny X-men #11 (Marvel) also gave a strong piece of character work, made all the more unnerving and ethereal by the stunning artwork of Frazer Irving.
And that’s all for this week. Let me know what you guys liked most this week, and I’ll see you all again here next week. Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!