“Aquaman” #12 by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado doesn’t address the impending zero issue break anywhere near as cleanly as one might expect from a book written by the Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment. Imagine you’re watching “Return of the Jedi” and Luke Skywalker is on the second Death Star, hiding under the Emperor’s throne room with Darth Vader stalking him. Only one of them is going to survive that confrontation. Then, all of a sudden, we get to see Luke at the Tosche Station with Biggs. That’s equivalent to how this issue plays out, minus the switch of scenes and with Aquaman playing the part of Luke and Black Manta subbing for his kindred soul in black armor.
“The Others” storyline has been trucking along, introducing us to the group that filled the team-sized hole in Aquaman’s life prior to his membership in the Justice League. “Aquaman” #12 puts the Others together with Mera as they collectively try to find Aquaman and help him defeat Black Manta. Aquaman is more violent in this issue, a continuing trend across the DC Universe growing out of last year’s relaunch. The actions Arthur takes in this issue are extreme, but nothing is as extreme as his final page declaration. Johns makes no bones about the fact that Aquaman is a character that has limits and will push back when necessary. The character development doesn’t quite seem evolutionary when he matches his foe tooth for tooth and eye for eye. Then again, Aquaman is Atlantean and his notion of “justice” may be different from that of Arthur’s compatriots in the League.
As always, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado deliver the most beautiful book on the rack for this week’s releases. Even with scenes of Aquaman’s trident piercing his foes as brutally as Manta slices into Aquaman’s allies, the art team, with assists from Oclair Albert and Andy Lanning manages to make every panel an outstanding piece of art with stunning detail and crisp storytelling. Rod Reis’ colors add detail and depth, providing amazing effects to the water scenes, which is pretty darn important for a title with water-based characters and locations. Reis, Prado and Reis put their skills on display with the vertical panels depicting Mera’s rendezvous with the Others: four panels covering two pages. No dialog, no narration save for one word: “Faster,” but there is certainly no mistaking the emotion and power propelling Mera forward.
“Aquaman” #12 is just another fine example of what to expect with this character from Geoff Johns and crew. It’s a classic good versus evil storyline where everything is in play. Characters will live, characters will die and there will be a whole lot of great looking art.