Consistency seems to be the key for “Aquaman” following the DC relaunch. That consistency coagulates in the form of good story, great art and stirring mystery.
Geoff Johns steps out of the realm of predictability in this issue by dropping Aquaman — literally — into a desert and seeing what happens from there. Aquaman struggles to survive and to remain sane. At one point, he collapses into the swirling sand, only to be visited by a phantom of his father in a scene that is eerily reminiscent of Luke Skywalker falling into the frozen wastelands of Hoth and reaching out to ghostly Obi Wan Kenobi who is there simply to impart advice unto his young pupil. There’s another seemingly “Star Wars” inspired scene later in the book. Both scenes are scripted well by Johns and both give depth to the world surrounding Arthur Curry and the life he is attempting to establish.
As has been the case since they first put pencils upon the character back in “Blackest Night,” Ivan Reis, Joe Prado (with Eber Ferreira in tow assisting on the inks) and Rod Reis continue to fill this book with gorgeous artwork. The four panels of Aquaman falling and impacting upon the desert floor tell you everything that you need to know to get rolling into this issue. The double page spread that follows, with Aquaman staring out at the vast desert unfolding, swirling and menacing before him is, quite possibly, the best visual representation of sand we’re going to see in comics this year.
Aquaman comes across as haunted and somewhat conflicted in this issue. It is almost as if he is second-guessing the decisions that he has recently made. It’s melodramatic and character defining, but it also has potential to get old and make the character seem mopey. Luckily, Johns finds ways to insert some zest into the would-be Sea King’s life. That balance (as long as there is the teetering balance between the two) makes Aquaman believable, likeable and worth reading.
This issue brings twenty-two pages of story (as opposed to the “new” standard of twenty) and gives us a complete tale in this issue. Plenty of mysteries and plot threads are started for the upcoming issues as the mystery of Atlantis continues to deepen. This title is a fun read with outrageous adventures that, as this issue proves, are unpredictable. Johns and company have found the way to make “Aquaman” a great title, and they’ve even done so without relying on any of Aquaman’s traditional foes.