While it has been teased in both characters’ titles the past couple months, “Aquaman” #31 delivers on the Aquaman/Swamp Thing meeting and does so in spectacular fashion, mixing the characters like chocolate and peanut butter. Writer Jeff Parker drops Aquaman in the bayou, searching for the Swamp Thing and looking to right wrongs unleashed by an excessive algae bloom.
This comic takes the concept of heroic misunderstanding-fueled fight and expands it to the borders of the panels and beyond. Aquaman finds his way to the bayou courtesy of his teammates from the Others, Ya’Wara, who lends a hand in the conflict, but doesn’t eclipse the Sea King during the melee. Bringing Ya’Wara into the story and having Swamp Thing fight Aquaman further integrates Parker’s work into the grander DC Universe without being oppressive or beholden to event tie-ins. Parker is simply writing the first part of a crossover with another title. In doing so, he packs in tricks and maneuvers from both characters. He gives Aquaman moments to communicate with the fauna of the bayou while Swamp Thing uses the flora to full advantage. Both characters believe they are in the right and Parker’s dialog backs that notion up throughout a fight that delivers plenty of interesting developments. That story could have filled all twenty pages of “Aquaman” #31 and not grown old, but Parker manages to advance the subplot surrounding Triton Base as well as develop the outskirts of Atlantis in the story of Mera’s royal survey.
Pelletier handles the battle between the hotheaded Atlantean and the avatar of the green, like an artist who has been waiting a very long time to draw a story he really wants to draw. Bombastic, loud and powerful, the artwork from Pelletier fills every panel with detail, depth and action. The artist’s joy shines throughout the conflict between Aquaman and Swamp Thing. Rain Beredo’s colors are earthy and lush in the swamp sequence and shift to a colder, deep blue in the scene of Mera’s survey. Drawn by Alvaro Martinez, this scene is elegantly detailed, befitting Mera’s chore. Pelletier’s pages are filled with brawny action while Martinez’s work is more refined and austere. Taken as a package, the visuals alone “In the Muck” presents the wide range of Arthur Curry’s world and adventures. Bold lettering from Travis Lanham, who gives voice to Swamp Thing and boosts the volume when Aquaman leaps to attack and also when Swamp Thing grows to mountainous proportions tops off that visual spectacle.
“Aquaman” #31 is just another fine example of what Jeff Parker; Paul Pelletier and inker Sean Parsons; Alvaro Martinez and inker Raul Fernandez; Rain Beredo and Travis Lanham bring to this title. While each of these professionals present remarkable work alone, the true collaboration of comics shines through when combined. This is what comic books are all about and this team is able to express that completely. The best part about it all is that Parker never makes “Aquaman” #31 feel like the latest part of a infinite storyline, this is simply an Aquaman story where he meets Swamp Thing and they fight. The main plot and the subplot may tie into other issues, but Parker gives the readers everything they need to enjoy this as a standalone.