Review – Aquaman #16 (DC Comics)

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Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artwork: Brad Walker (pencils), Andrew Hennessy (inks), Gabe Eltaeb (colours)
Release Date: 1st February, 2017

With the “Deluge” arc coming to an end last time out, this latest issue of Aquaman gives us a moment to take a deep breath before plunging headlong into the next storyline, allowing writer Dan Abnett to touch base with some of the supporting characters in the process.  Mera, Kae and Erika all get some face time with the King here, with each of them voicing their reactions to the barely aborted war between the US and Atlantis in believably different ways.

The issue is also punctuated by cutaways to the introduction of a brand new threat, with Abnett injecting these scenes with a feeling of menace as this powerful new adversary gradually reveals themselves.  There’s an almost horror movie vibe at play here as this unseen foe wordlessly manipulates those around him, and while his origin and motivations are only hinted at, it’s clear that he’s going to provide a truly unique threat for Arthur when the pair finally cross paths somewhere down the line.

Once again, Abnett’s character development continues to feel impressively natural, even if the political ramifications of the Deluge seem to be swept away a tad too quickly for my tastes.  It’s encouraging to see Aquaman’s standing on the world stage growing along with his approval ratings, but Abnett ensures the character remains grounded and true to his roots by having him assist with the clean-up operation in Amnesty Bay.

Brad Walker is back on pencils here, and his glossy style works well to inject a superheroic edge into what is essentially a ‘talky’ issue.  His is an immaculate, expressive Aquaman who looks equally comfortable lifting a car out of a pile of wreckage as he is sharing a quietly sweet moment with his fiancée by wiping a spot of paint off her nose.  Andrew Hennessy’s restrained inks allow Walker’s artwork to breathe, and Gabe Eltaeb’s colour work continues to provide the series with a sense of uniformity amidst the constant rotation of artists.

Serving as a mixture of epilogue and prologue, this issue provides an impressive transition from one story arc to the next, all while introducing an intriguing new threat.  Dan Abnett’s Aquaman is fast becoming the jewel in DC’s Rebirth crown, and the series is starting to display an impressive level of consistency that is going to make it an essential fortnightly read.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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