Four issues into “Aquaman and the Others,” I’ll admit that I’m still a little perplexed on why this comic exists. It’s not a bad comic by any stretch of the imagination, and Dan Jurgens, Lan Medina and Allen Martinez are certainly plugging away at a book that’s readable. But throughout both this individual issue and the series in general, there’s not enough of a hook present to make this a must-read.
Part of the problem is that neither the cast nor the reason for them working together is terribly strong. Geoff Johns and then John Ostrander have both tackled the (awfully-named) Others prior to this series, and they each did their best to make these characters seem interesting and somewhat compelling. Under Jurgens’ hands, though, they’re coming across a bit more generic. That’s something you can survive on a title where the characters have been around for decades and readers can fill in the gaps in their heads; for a book starring characters that only came into existence a little over two years ago (save Aquaman), that’s a tougher sell.
Jurgens is also relying on the, “Bound together through reasons other than wanting to be” trope, and that’s quite difficult to succeed with. Comics like this, or “The Order” back in the day, have played up with some external force that regularly jams everyone together; in this case, the Atlantean artifacts that they all hold losing power if they’re apart for too long. But with that being their main bond, what gets thrown away is any sort of strong bond that Jurgens can use to have them play off of one another. If a team exists solely for the sake of batteries, well, do we really care about their interactions? Without any strong emotion (positive or negative) uniting them, the book just comes across lukewarm.
That said, Jurgens does the best he can with a flawed setup. The characters are certainly going through the motions, and Jurgens is assembling a team with new members getting introduced and thrown into the mix. Maybe when the title concludes next month there will be a stronger tie, but right now, there’s a lot of exposition being dumped and the occasional proverbial mustache-twirling. Neither one of these jumps out at the reader.
Medina and Martinez’s art looks nice, at least. Ever since first encountering Medina’s pencils on the initial “Fables” storyline, I’ve enjoyed his art, and this issue is no exception. The opening two-page spread with Aquaman wounded while others stand around him is a good example of how Medina can lay out a page nicely — your eyes are first drawn to Aquaman, and the arc of his body pulls you through the four in the background, one to the next — and it’s also drawn with crisp lines and a clean look.
“Aquaman and the Others” #4 is a great example of a middle-of-the-road comic. It’s not bad, but there’s nothing that makes you think, “I must find out what happens next,” either. I’m not convinced that the idea of having a book starring these characters is a bad idea — Ostrander’s stop-overs with them were a little stronger — but the execution of this one lacks any strong reason to care, unfortunately. If things don’t pick up quickly, the comic with the awkward title will probably be just a distant memory by this time next year.