Depowered thanks to Braniac and missing a hand, Aquaman struggles to find purpose in Metropolis to varying degrees of success.
Previously in CONVERGENCE: Braniac has used his plot-bendy powers to make everything canon, and in the process secluded large cities (and often multiple versions of cities) under large domes for a year, isolating them from the rest of the world(s). Aquaman has been stuck in Pre-Zero Hour Metropolis.
STIR CRAZY BORED VIGILANTE
Cut off from the world, the citizens of Pre-Zero Hour Metropolis have had to cope in odd ways. Food and water are being provided, so that’s good, but being trapped isn’t good for morale and it is starting to give some of the residents degrees of cabin fever.
The worst that we see is of Aquaman, who has the cabin fever exacerbated by being unable to access the ocean. He’s surviving on tap water, but everyone who sees him can tell that something’s off.
He gets by as he can, playing the role of vigilante enough that he gets mistaken for Batman at first, because some people won’t stop committing crimes even when everything is handed to them. But it isn’t enough.
Then Braniac throws down the gauntlet and gives the metahumans their powers back. Aquaman regains his ability to talk to fish in a rush. He also sees who he thinks he needs to fight. And then we see what happens when his opponent goes to gather intel on Aquaman.
It probably isn’t a good sign for a story when I found it more interesting before Braniac set things in motion with the dome. Aquaman is often the story of the Fish out of Water trope, but here it felt so much more subdued than I’m used to seeing. Here it felt so absolute, because there was no way for him to get back to his wife, to his kingdom, to even the very water that helps keep him alive. He’s maintaining the best he can, and I think that Aquaman could have been defeated eventually in a battle of attrition. But that very nature isn’t quick, and doesn’t work well with the CONVERGENCE storyline.
Since the part of the story I found interesting is already over by virtue of the challenges being issued, I don’t know if I’d like to pick up the next issue. I’d much rather look up a previous Aquaman story that shows this more human side of him. As someone who has only slightly more knowledge of the DC Universe than your average person on the street, I’m now intrigued to look into back issues. I don’t think this was DC’s intention.
THE HIGH PRICE OF INTEL
The most distinctive detail about the art that sticks out is the the inking. There are many panels where Cliff Richards makes a conscious decision not to ink at all, and when its done it often goes a minimalist approach. The resulting effect feels like a painting rather than a comic that I’m used to seeing, and I think that it achieves varying degrees of success. At the same time, this sort of art is not going to be the type that everyone likes.
What makes it stand out so much, perhaps, is in contrast to the main cover by Becky Clooman. Clooman’s lines are heavy, while Richards’ lines are often non-existent. I feel like this is a perfect example of why I’ve never been fond of the cover art being so different than the interior art in many Western comics. I understand that this is the norm, but especially as someone whose comic background doesn’t root itself in The Big Two, it again makes me hesitate to proceed forward. If I had not already signed up for this review, I certainly would not have picked up this issue based on the cover art. I would have been much more interested if it had more closely resembled the interior art.
The artwork is most successful in office environments that often have a sort of analog with water. Sometimes it’s how windows are lit with the light, or large monitors/computer screens. It’s an excellent blend of the cool blues and needing to use more inking, even though it’s still done minimalist. I’d be interested, for science, to see what this artwork would have looked like with varying degrees of inking lines.
BOTTOM LINE: SURPRISINGLY REFRESHING
As someone who is not well-versed in DC canon, I’m sure I missed plenty of nuance, even with Wikipedia helping me. That said, I think that this issue is going to cater to a select group of people: people who like Aquaman, people who like Deathblow, and people like me who like these character pieces. I don’t regret picking it up, but I’ll probably wait until I hear reviews to #2 before I rush out in a buying frenzy.
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