In many ways, “Aquaman” #32 is the quintessential installment of the series these days; it’s good, with there always being one little thread that makes me ready to come back next month to see what happens next. Here, it’s the introduction of Chimera, thanks to Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons.
While Parker gives Chimera an interesting origin and a power set that fits well with the “Aquaman” title in general, it’s Pelletier’s design of the character that has grabbed my attention. A mixture of multiple creatures — thus the name — Chimera’s strange tentacles and sucker pads look wonderfully alien on his semi-humanoid body. It’s hard to look at a creation and have the audience instantly think, “That shouldn’t exist” and Pelletier nails it here. That “wrongness” factor is what makes the best monsters work, because just the sight of them hits that trigger.
That’s not discounting Parker’s work on the title, though; the idea of Chimera works, and it’s good to have a foe for whom Aquaman can’t fall back on his other abilities in order to defeat. Parker also moves Mera’s storyline forward; it’s been simmering on the back burner for a while, but here it kicks into high gear. And while watching people’s opinions turn on a dime as Mera and Tula are attacked feels a bit sudden, I also can’t deny the fact that the real world has given us equally large shifts of opinion through a PR disaster. I’ll also admit that Mera’s decision on how to scare the truth out of her attackers made me laugh, even as it plays in well to what was already established under Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’s time on the title.
(On a quick side note, can I just add how nice it was to see that Rick Magyar inked two pages of this issue? I remember taking notice of his inks back when he worked with Jan Duursema on “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” for DC Comics back in the early ’90s, and quickly came to recognize his work in comics as someone who always elevated the final product. These days it seems like his inking credits are usually part of a larger, pitching-in-to-help-out basis. But it would be great to see him inking a book by his lonesome on a monthly basis these days.)
“Aquaman” #32 feels as dependable as ever, as it solidly trucks along. It’s a good, solid, enjoyable book. Hopefully the crossover with “Swamp Thing” brought some new readers here (and vice versa), because I’d like to see this creative team continue with their overall plans. It’s not reinventing the wheel or making me gasp in shock, but it doesn’t need to either.