Writer: Dan Abnett
Artwork: Philippe Briones, Gabe Eltaeb (colours)
Release Date: 17th August 2016
Of all DC’s Rebirth series, this is very possibly the one I wanted to love the most. Aquaman has been a favourite character of mine for quite some time now, and the prospect of seeing Dan Abnett continuing his strong run with the King of Atlantis seemed to be a “can’t miss” situation. And, to a point, the first arc has delivered, just not quite as emphatically as I’d hoped.
There are some great moments in this issue as Arthur and Mera fight their way through the assembled might of the US Military, and while there’s a definite feeling throughout that lot of potentially irreparable damage is being done to Aquaman’s dream of bringing Atlantis onto the world political stage, it’s still pretty damn cool to see the power couple hurling tanks and soldiers around.
Some of the writing is a little too self-aware for my tastes, it has to be said, and the whole “he’s not an important member of the League, he’s the fish guy” stuff is starting to get a little played out. There’s also a fairly awful “tank” pun that’s delivered with an almost impossibly straight face by Mera, but for the most part Abnett continues to do an impressive job with the story. The political shenanigans and belligerent, unforgiving nature of the US military provide a fantastic lynchpin to the series, and Arthur’s continued heroic attempts to turn the other cheek and try to “do the right thing” give the book an impressive beating heart of emotion.
Sadly, my ongoing problems with the artwork of Philippe Briones continue here with pretty much exactly the same criticism as the previous two issues. Don’t get me wrong, his layouts and action sequences are impressive, and he does a great job with the aforementioned scenes of tank and soldier hurling – it’s just those faces, man. Waxy, emotionless and often comically distorted, they continually drag me kicking and screaming out of the moment, distracting from what should otherwise be a wonderfully over-the-top rampage.
While it’s essentially one long action sequence, there’s a lot to like about this issue, and about this series so far as a whole. The final pages offer an intriguing new direction and potential obstacle, and while some of the flaws from earlier in the arc remain – Black Manta’s side story still feels superfluous, although it’s clear that Abnett is merely keeping the situation simmering away until it’s time to bring it to the boil – this can definitely be viewed as strong opening arc which impressively establishes the new status quo for Aquaman in the post-Rebirth world. We just need to sort out those darn faces.
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