Poor Aquaman! Since he’s a water-based hero, he’s limited in what stories he can be involved in. His lower-tier status has long been the subject of jokes and derision, and though Geoff Johns did a great job with him, he’s still struggling to gain some respect.
One way to try and enhance his image is to get involved in the politics of both worlds, Atlantis and the part of the world above the oceans. That’s the angle the new series is going to explore.
Previously in AQUAMAN: REBIRTH: Born to both the surface and the sea, Arthur Curry walks in two worlds but can find a home in neither. The King of Atlantis looks to reconcile his split heritage as he embarks on a new mission that may finally make him choose between his two paths. POLITICAL PLAYER: “As the leader of a world power,” writer Dan Abnett says, “Arthur believes it’s time Atlantis became part of the global community. Atlantis has been on the outside for too long: feared, mysterious and misunderstood. But that means getting the world used to Atlantis…and vice versa.”
HERO OF TWO WORLDS
I do like the description of this issue as seen on the full-page ads: “The rising tide of hate and mistrust threatens to destroy both land and sea with revenge and bloodshed.”
Especially in a presidential election year, the use of politics is one readers can relate to. Aquaman is trying to make EVERYONE happy, seems like, and I don’t think that can end well!
The first two pages are pretty cool, setting up the fact that Aquaman rules so much of the planet. But even he can’t stop Atlanteans who despise the “dry-landers.’ In the rest of the early part of this issue, Arthur must prevent a “true Atlantean” from invading the surface world. It’s not lost on some other subjects that their king is fighting some of his own in order to prevent a war with the other part of his heritage.
But the primary focus of this issue is the relationship of Arthur and Mera, his wife. Mera is in charge of a diplomatic mission with the surface world, and she supports him even though she considers the people above water to be barbarians. After all, she loves Arthur.
During the battle, she provides technical information to Arthur, helping him in his fight. Once that’s complete, she joins him in Sam’s, a restaurant we’ve seen before – back in the first issue of Johns’ run on the character.
A couple devoted to each other is extremely rare in comics these days, and it’s really heartening to read their interaction, full of devotion and support. I hope it continues on, but a lot of storytelling is based on conflict, so I doubt it, sadly.
In the final pages of the book, we discover just who’s narrating this issue, and that will have serious consequences for Aquaman as we move forward. I’d like to see this character get strongly enhanced in the coming months, too. Arthur NEEDS someone who’s a worthy opposite number, like the Joker is to Batman. We’ll see.
Abnett has been writing Aquaman for some time now, and I’m hopeful the Rebirth refocus will give him the chance to move the character up in terms of popularity. I mean, I loved those early stories about Arthur, his child and Mera back in the day. It was almost Shakespearean in tragedy and characterization. I wouldn’t mind seeing more that, actually!
While Brad Walker is slated to take over the art starting next issue, I thought the art team here did a great job of making the underwater sequences sparkle in particular. When Arthur fights Corum Rath, the use of how the water moves around their battle is pretty strong. It shows us just how powerful these people are since they can make even war even underwater.
The restaurant sequence is good, with the facial expressions easily understood. What’s being discussed is clearly revealed in what we see, so I liked it.
BOTTOM LINE: A King in Need of Purpose
This was a good refocus for Aquaman, although I must admit this was my least favorite of the Rebirth titles so far – Batman and Detective being the ones I enjoyed most.
Politics can often be a great way to introduce interpersonal conflict, and I hope Abnett and company can make Arthur’s desire to be a player on the world stage a strong one.
I’d suggest a serious sense of personal danger be a part of this series moving forward. Granted, that’s tough because Arthur and Mera are vital to the book. Perhaps another character coming in who pulls on our heartstrings might be a great idea.
I’m going to be watching to see how Aquaman fares in DC moving forward. It would be great to see the King of the Seas be a must-read, but we’ll have to read the coming issues as they come out to see if that happens or not!