“Aquaman” #25 wraps up Geoff Johns’ run on the title (but not with the character) and he and Paul Pelletier have done so in a solid, enjoyable manner. The “Death of a King” storyline has felt a little unevenly paced for much of its run, so seeing it all come together is a relief.
For a book that Johns is departing, it feels like there’s still a lot of set-up; the revelation of the four missing kingdoms of Atlantis (and how all seven together are the “Seven Seas”), for instance, as well as the follow-on from just what the Trench from two years ago really contained. As it turns out, some of that is going to feed into a “Justice League” storyline next year, so while incoming “Aquaman” writer Jeff Parker might get to pick up some of those pieces, some are no doubt being held in reserve by Johns. The main plot is tied up quite neatly, though; not only Aquaman versus the undead Atlan, but also the decision on where Aquaman and Mera will end up (and if they’ll still be together).
Johns also clearly puts away some of the toys that he created for his time on “Aquaman.” That’s not a bad thing; some of them clearly tipped the balance of power a bit, and this way it gives Parker some more story possibilities without performing a complete wiping-the-slate-clean action. The biggest of these is Atlan himself; without giving anything away, let’s just say that this shuffling the character out of the picture was done with a certain level of emotion that came across as satisfying and believable.
I’m glad that Pelletier and inker Sean Parsons are sticking around on “Aquaman,” because they quickly went from a replacement for Ivan Reis to a dependable and enjoyable art team in their own right. The big two-page splash with Aquaman and his army behind him is eye-catching, with real and imaginary creatures alike looking menacing, but never drawing your attention away from Aquaman himself. I’ve enjoyed the bearded, six-months-later rendition of the character (is there no way to convince everyone that Aquaman’s beard needs to stick around?); it helps give him that solid, beefy look that makes Aquaman feel that much more regal. Storytelling is always very by the book and easy to follow, and with energetic forms and expressions that light up characters’ faces, it’s a winner.
“Aquaman” #25 is a satisfying conclusion to a storyline and a particular era in the character’s history. I’ve enjoyed Parker’s writing on other titles and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with the character. “Aquaman” has proven to be one of the big successes from the New 52, and hopefully that will continue into the 2014. Until then, though, this has been a revitalization of a character that has been fun to swim alongside.