After an interlude focused on the Others, Aquaman and Mera get significant, but individual, page time in “Aquaman” #21 thanks to the return of Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier — inker Sean Parsons also returns, as does regular colorist Rod Reis, all of which marks a change in current for the book’s story.
Johns dumps a lot into this issue: Mera’s return to Xebel, Aquaman’s hunt for the Scavenger, the revelation of the Scavenger’s plans and the continued rampage of the Dead King. Aquaman is given ample opportunity to flex his muscles and performs a feat of brute strength on par with Superman. It elicited a “Wow” from me while I read it, and definitely registers as one of the coolest scenes in “Aquaman” #21.
This comic book is packed full of cool visuals. Pelletier fills four pages of this issue’s twenty with splash pages or a double-page splash, but also gives the value back to the readers with just as many (if not more) pages with no fewer than six panels on the page. Six panels or one, Pelletier fills each frame with a deluge of detail and strong expression of individualism in his characters. The grander scope of undersea tales plays to the artist’s strengths and Pelletier’s more animated style helps to keep the imagery from getting stagnant. Parsons inks caress the shadows and textures of Pelletier’s work, giving colorist Rod Reis ample opportunity to continue his color explorations. Reis has been using a colored pencil-like sheen to much of his work on this title, but with “Aquaman” #21 he also employs some watercolor effects that look fabulous and help to further distinguish the already spectacular visuals of this title.
I do wish there was a spoiler-free place where I could lock up my storyline suspicions. In the case of “Aquaman,” I’d be able to go back to the suspicions I had in “Aquaman” #19 and say, “See! I was right about the Scavenger!” It’s a plot twist that definitely has repercussions despite its forehead-slapping, “Of course!”-inducing obviousness. Johns sometimes sets up the obvious and continues down that road. In this case it pays off by meeting readers’ anticipation with dynamic effect. Additionally, the second-to-last page with eight page-width panels stacked on top of each other hits the reader with rapid-fire imagery, leaving the reader wanting more only to find the turn of the page delivers an even steeper cliff to hang from. “Aquaman” #21 is a strong chapter in the adventures of the current King of Atlantis, but it does more to set up even stronger, more electrifying adventures in the months to come.