Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist(s): Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessey
Release Date: 22nd June 2016
Fresh from righting the Aquaman ship at the end of the New 52 series, writer Dan Abnett joins up with artists Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessey to provide a confident, consistent voice for the King of Atlantis in the post-Rebirth DC Universe.
While it does feel in a lot of ways like a logical continuation of the New 52 Rebirth Aquaman series rather than a brand new start, there are definitely some interesting new factors at play here. Rather than dealing with internal conflicts and underwater threats, this new series is initially based around Arthur trying to integrate Atlantis into the global political stage, and sees him opening “Spindrift Station”, a dry land Atlantean embassy, to help facilitate that transition.
We are also treated to some much-needed evolution of Arthur’s relationship with Mera, with DC’s relaxed take on the “nobody gets married!” rule leading to the well-publicised proposal in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 and a fresh dynamic between the pair which seems set to be tested to its limit in the weeks and months to come.
It also definitely doesn’t hurt that Abnett has opted to kick off this new series – as was revealed during the Aquaman: Rebirth issue – with Black Manta filling the role of lead villain. While his use so far hasn’t necessarily added anything new to the character or his “I’ll get revenge on you for killing my father” dynamic with Aquaman, as effective antagonists go it’d be tough to think of a better one for a storyline like this.
It’s perhaps easy to dismiss Brad Walker as another of DC’s “house style” artists, but his pencils here are bold, dynamic and detailed, and there’s no denying the craftsmanship and visual flair that goes into each and every one of his pages. Some of his characters may look just a tad cartoony for my tastes, although that may partially be a by-product of Gabe Eltaeb’s colours, which are a little too bright and garish in places. Hennessey’s inks give Walker’s pencils an impressive solidity, something which helps to provide some fantastic, poster-worthy splash pages along the way here, and which adds a sense of scale and genuine peril to the shocking events which take place during the second half of the issue.
Overall then, this is a fine opening issue that takes its time to establish the new status quo before throwing a Manta-shaped spanner into the works and letting all hell break loose. For the time being, the threat against Aquaman is fairly conventional (if impressively well-orchestrated), and it’ll be interesting moving forwards to see whether Abnett can inject anything truly ground-breaking into this series. I’ll definitely be hanging around long enough to find out, that’s for sure.
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