“Aquaman” #30 winds down — at least for now — the Hercules storyline, courtesy Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier and Alvaro Martinez. But what’s more interesting here, is how “Aquaman” is quietly edging itself towards some other DC Comics series that also seem at times to exist on the fringes of the universe.
Parker’s story for “Aquaman” #30 is pleasant, one that works well in part because of the “You can’t win” situation that Aquaman’s been backed into. The fight against Hercules isn’t just the normal slugfest, because both Aquaman and the reader understand how Hercules isn’t a bad guy, but someone who’s out of his mind. It’s a familiar situation to have a superhero unable to use all of their might to fight off an enemy, but more often than not it’s a slightly artificial construct. A weapon or ability is temporarily lost, or the place in which the fight is taking place has some sort of physical liability. Here, Parker’s only constraint is Aquaman’s morality. He understands who Hercules is and was, and because of that can’t just blast him into eternity. It makes for a much more interesting fight, with Aquaman trying to appeal to Hercules’ submerged mind.
The b-plot with Mera and unrest in Atlantis isn’t quite as grabbing, but it’s also not the main focus. With just a few pages, it’s definitely something that will simmer on the back burner until it rises up to take over the title. That’s a good method, and it also mirrors the way that a lot of political upsets happen; it’s usually that slow burn that turns into something larger when you aren’t looking right at it.
Pelletier pencils the main story, with Martinez taking the b- and c-plot pages. I like Pelletier’s art; the swirling nest of monsters comes across as dangerous and creepy, even as they’re soaring off into the sky. Hercules also comes across as a real physical powerhouse; his size and bulk make him look unstoppable without looking particularly crazy or overly muscled. Martinez’s art blends well with Pelletier’s, making him a smart choice as the second artist here. Both artists favor a clean line, and uncluttered storytelling.
“Aquaman” #30 does a nice job of wrapping up the Hercules storyline, even as it also opens the door for a follow-up. But more importantly, I like how Parker is letting this book connect a bit with “Wonder Woman.” It’s easy for a title like “Aquaman” to feel like it’s playing on the fringes of the DC Universe, unconnected to the other books (the earlier crossover with “Justice League” being an exception). This makes it feel part of a greater whole, without at the same time tangling itself too tightly with other story threads. It’s a nice touch, and the sort of continuity that works well. All in all, this was fun.