If DC Comics is planning on creating an Others comic, “Aquaman Annual” #1 is certainly another step in that direction. Following on from “Aquaman” #20, John Ostrander, Geraldo Borges and Netho Diaz check in with Aquaman’s non-Justice League team, as someone attempts to steal Vostok’s Atlantean helmet. While I like that Ostrander is trying to build up some more relationships between the various characters, they don’t feel like they’re quite ready for their own title just yet.
Ostrander’s taken some of the stranger setups of the characters and tweaked them a bit. Having the isolated Aaron get to start interacting more with Sky works well, especially since it’s Sky and Ya’wara who get the most attention in “Aquaman Annual” #1. Sky’s introduction a few months ago was a solid, entertaining story, and I appreciate that she hasn’t been promptly forgotten like so many legacy heroes. While most of the characters receiving temptations from the new villain that’s stolen the helmet felt a little hollow and obvious, I liked that Ostrander’s scene with Ya’wara was the one that felt believable and interesting. Ya’wara was the character that stood out the most when introduced by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis in “Aquaman,” last year, and Ostrander builds on that foundation takes the character into an interesting direction.
The problem is that some characters still don’t quite come across as three-dimensional. The Operative and Prisoner of War are both more than a little flat, and their temptation scenes end up feeling rushed and hurried through, almost as if it was expected rather than because Ostrander wanted to write those scenes. The ending of the comic is likewise a little overly simple. It doesn’t so much come to a conclusion as it stops dead in its tracks; the final scene lacks any sort of finality, to the point that it took me a minute to realize that the issue was over, and with no real resolution between conflicts it begs the question on where, if anywhere, this will be continued.
Pencils are split between Borges and Diaz, and it’s too bad that Borges couldn’t have drawn the entire comic. Based on the 7-inker battalion enlisted for “Aquaman Annual” #1, though, it looks like we were lucky that it was published on time with only two artists providing pencils. Borges’s pencils look good here; they’re keeping in line with both Reis’s and now Paul Pelletier’s runs on “Aquaman,” with a clean look and a certain level of expressiveness. Diaz’s pencils are also along that line, but they feel a little too simple and lacking any real amount of expression. (The scene where Aquaman punches the new villain in the face, in particular, is lacking any sort of gravity or strength in its art.) It’s not bad from Diaz, but it’s not memorable either.
“Aquaman Annual” #1 ultimately gives me hope that if there is a title starring the Others, that Ostrander will be on board and continue to build and flesh out these characters. If it does happen, though, can someone come up with a better name for these characters and their potential comic? The Outsiders would fit quite well. Hopefully between now and then, someone will find one that sings. At any rate, this comic isn’t bad, but I did find myself wishing that it was a little better.