“Aquaman” under the guidance of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado is one of the DC re-launch’s big hits, appearing higher on the sales charts than any “Aquaman” comic has in recent memory. Two issues into the title’s second major story arc, “The Others,” one can simultaneously see both what’s attracting people to the book, as well as what could potentially lose readers as well.
Johns is rebuilding Aquaman’s history in this title, giving him a new mentor, relationship with Mera and a completely different past with Atlantis. Here, he’s still trying to discover what happened to Atlantis that caused it to sink, even as other elements from his past (most notably Black Manta) resurface to cause problems. It’s definitely what’s helping pull the readers in; Johns is teasing interest up by providing a puzzle that needs to be solved, and he’s carefully doling out the material.
My only fear is that the speed in which Johns is giving up bits of information at times feels a little too slow. In this issue, the bulk of the issue is presented as a flashback to Aquaman’s time with “The Others.” It helps give you a feel for the heroes that Aquaman allied himself with back in the day and it’s not a bad side step into the past. But for readers who are now hoping for more information on Dr. Shin’s connection with Black Manta or perhaps a revelation on the nature of the Atlantean artifacts that everyone’s looking for are going to be out of luck. The subject is yet again brought up and then promptly dropped and if you hint but don’t reveal too much, sooner or later readers are going to give up. I’m not saying the book’s at that point yet, but rather that this is becoming a familiar pattern that sooner or later needs to be broken.
Still, there’s enough meat to grab onto for now. While Black Manta himself is mostly absent this month (after the previous issue’s grabber of an opening), his specter is forever present and Johns manages to use that to make Manta feel dangerous. The book also looks great thanks to Reis and Prado; it’s energetic and flashy, but still tells a story in a strong manner. The early flashback right after Aquaman’s father’s death is told visually in such a way that you could strip out the dialogue entirely and still follow it from start to finish, which is a nice feat.
One of my favorite parts of “Aquaman” #8 is Reis’ art, which is able to tackle the visual differences between present-day Aquaman and one six years younger with great ease. There’s an extra layer of vigor and youth applied to those flashbacks, and it’s a pleasure to be able to follow along at a glance, which time period we’re in and what’s going on.
“Aquaman” #8 is ultimately a nice issue and while I’d like the pace to pick up a little bit more, for now the book is working. One gets the feeling that Johns and Reis have carefully mapped out both the future and past of “Aquaman” in great detail; in doing so, they’ve certainly created a route that everyone is eager to follow. For now, that’s enough.