“Aquaman” #36 is the second part of Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier’s “Maelstrom,” which pushes the series into the second year of the two creators working together on this title. And while it’s operating on the, “Everything you knew was wrong!” story structure, what’s nice is how it’s starting to tie together everything from the previous year.
With an understanding now about the mysterious earthquakes that have continued to shake Atlantis throughout Parker’s time on the title, “Aquaman” #36 brings in Martian Manhunter to try and help shed more light onto what really happened to the late Queen Atlanna and why her tomb is empty. It’s an odd guest appearance at a glance, but in many ways it’s the sort of thing that you should expect more from a shared-universe comic. After all, when you have friends who can change their shape and read minds, why wouldn’t you give them a call when someone with those abilities is needed?
There are some distinctly odd concepts going on here, ones that involve telepathic memories being embedded within the city of Atlantis itself. While it feels a little out of Martian Manhunter’s purview, this is also a city that literally senses who’s ruling it and reacts accordingly. In an entire setting of weird science, it’s as reasonable a jump as any for J’onn to be able to pick up these thoughts. More importantly, it moves us down an interesting path that leads back to an earlier issue that has much more importance than it initially seemed. For those who have been on board since “Aquaman” #26, it’s nice to know that the book under Parker and Pelletier has been building up towards something larger.
Pelletier’s art is consistent as ever. His characters are smooth and clean, with Sean Parsons providing a slick line over the pencils. The monstrous form that our heroes go up against is right up Pelletier’s alley, too; lots of larger-than-life appendages that ripple with strength as they buffet Aquaman and company around. Pelletier, Parsons, and Rain Beredo also do a good job with Mera’s hard-water form in this attack, making it easy to see while also still looking translucent. Beredo’s pushing the telepathic memories into either sepia-tone or grays is a nice touch too, letting us see the full-color Aquaman and Martian Manhunter swim through them.
“Aquaman” #36 is another dependable issue from an equally dependable creative team. It’s not reinventing the form but it doesn’t need (or aim) to. If you’re looking for a solid, reliable superhero comic, you’ll do well with “Aquaman.”