Due to a delay of some sort, “Aquaman” #19 is the last of the “What the Fifty-Two?!” covers from DC’s April promotion. Yes, it is May, but May is also one of the four months in 2013 that has four Wednesdays, so this could be construed as a fifth week event. At any rate, “Aquaman” #19 comes from writer Geoff Johns and artist Paul Pelletier, continuing the story of Aquaman’s reluctance to assume the throne of Atlantis while another King roams the Earth, wreaking havoc and threatening Mera. This is a title worth the wait on the rare occasion that a wait is required.
It also features the New 52 debut of Topo, Aquaman’s cephalopodic companion from the Silver Age. Through story choices like this, Johns continues to build Aquaman’s worlds — both above and below the surface — while he provides longtime readers with reasons to smile. One of the bricks Johns uses in his construction project in “Aquaman” #19 is an Atlantean called Swatt, who has a bit of a hording problem, as Murk and Tula discover when they pay him a visit. Murk’s faith in Orm moves forward to a logical point, as does the subplot of Orm’s pending hearings. Johns tops that all with a last page reveal that had me raising my eyebrows in silent surprise.
Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons navigate the seven seas quite nicely, with a dynamic range of camera angles, panel compositions and character reactions. Rod Reis’ colored pencil-like hues craft a murky, believable and mysterious world beneath the waves. On some occasions, Reis’ colors get more expressive than it appears the line art was intended for, but the water and waves make it all possible and even somewhat soothing. Dezi Sienty follows suit with a solid range of lettering options, including a telepathic communique Tula receives and the gravelly tones of the risen ice king.
All of this adds up to one of the most enjoyable books on the racks nowadays, and certainly a reliably entertaining read from DC. Johns drives this title forward with action and adventure. He layers plots and subplots one over the other. While that doesn’t do much to develop the character of Aquaman, it’s quite obvious Johns’ Aquaman is conflicted right now, and that makes every subplot and the way they’re each connected to one another all the more interesting. If you missed it this week, but happen to want to pick up a recent comic when you go to the shop on Free Comic Book Day, you really should sample “Aquaman” #19. I can guarantee you the three bucks you spend on this will outshine some of the freebies you pick up.