“Aquaman” #16, written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Paul Pelletier, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Rod Reis and lettered by Nick J. Napolitano is less an Aquaman comic and much more a DC Universe comic. In the penultimate chapter of “Throne of Atlantis” Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman are challenged to free themselves from the thrall of the Trench while reservists called in to serve as the Justice League fight the attacking Atlantean army. That army is led by Aquaman’s half-brother, Orm, who appears to be a brilliant strategist.
Johns’ story gives artist Paul Pelletier a very full plate, spilling over with characters, creatures and textured scenery that nicely suits Pelletier’s talent. Considerably more cartoony than the previous “Aquaman” art team of Prado and Reis, Pelletier and Parsons are perfect for such an incredible, over-the-top battle. Pelletier’s characters are varied in build and body language and virtually distinguishable without the brilliant coloring from Rod Reis. The undersea battles, the dream sequence in Cyborg’s mind, the brutal hissing attack of the Trench and the roiling energy of the Atlantean scepter in its new master’s hands are all spectacular examples of the meshing of talents between Pelletier, Parsons and Reis. If this team weren’t on “Aquaman,” I certainly would love to see them on “Justice League” together. The spread with Hawkman flying across the page is a wonderful example of what could have been had DC chosen Pelletier to draw “Hawkman,” but unfortunately that was not meant to be. Hawkman’s loss is Aquaman’s gain.
Keeping with Johns’ cinematic training, “Aquaman” #16 is filled with lots of widescreen panels that stretch across the page. It seems as though this issue might have more horizontal panels than vertical, but Pelletier and Johns collaborate nicely to fill each panel, regardless of orientation, with action, character and detail. The only panel that suffers from such intensity is a panel where Arthur is looking at a sonar readout of the Trench, but the details in the imagery are not critical to the story, simply nice-to-have details that were lost under other information. Johns has crafted “Throne of Atlantis” to be a true crossover between “Aquaman” and “Justice League,” where both titles support one story. While I suppose it might be possible to only follow one of the titles, there is simply so much going on with Aquaman and the League that if other readers are anything like me, they simply feel compelled to get both books.
This is what crossovers should be: action-packed, fun stories that entertain and dazzle, filled with character bits and powerful art. In “Aquaman” #16 there is plenty of Justice League action, including a major revelation for Cyborg that sets him among the most powerful characters in the DC Universe, but as it is couched in this crossover, it is handled without much pomp, simply leaving the thread open-ended for further investigation elsewhere. Additionally, there is well-measured, revealing character moments for Batman as his relationships with Cyborg and Aquaman are given clearer shape and finer detail. Most importantly, however, is the impressively handled plot twist that delivers one of the most thrilling final page since the DC reboot. “Aquaman” #16 is a great slice of life in the DC Universe and offers a nice assortment of characters and character moments for fans of many of DC’s iconic heroes.