Sunday, November 11, 2012

New 52 Review: Aquaman 1-6

 Aquaman: The Trench Hardcover Collection, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis. 

Aquaman was the surprise hit of the last year's New 52 initiative from DC Comics. His book continually sells in DC's top ten, and critical reaction has been equally as positive. And the good news is that the book deserves all of this praise.

Issues 1-4 introduce a great new villain, the Trench, unthinking monsters of the deep that just want food. And by food they mean humans. The 4 issues are mostly an extended battle, with some action-packed art. The entire art team (penciler, inker, and colorist) is at the top of their game here, putting out dynamic page after dynamic page.

  Issue 5 is a solo story featuring Aquaman lost in a desert, but issues 6 is the best of this batch. All Mera (don't call her "Aquawoman") wants to do is buy food for the couple's new dog. She ends up breaking one man's wrist, escaping from the police, and nearly killing an escaped murderer. What makes this issue great is not just how great Mera looks when she is kicking butt (though this is part of what makes this issue great), but Geoff Johns and the art team are also able to communicate just how "other" Mera is. The "stranger in a strange land" motif has been used many times in many types of stories, but this version is terrific. The joint misunderstandings between humanity and Mera cause both sides to err. But this makes her commitment to serve humanity at her husband's side at the end of the issue all the more touching.

There is meta-narrative at work in these issues, as well. Aquaman is considered a lame hero, nothing but the guy who talks to fish, which is a commentary on how comics readers felt about the character before this series started. There is no reason to think that in the less than five years that Aquaman and Mera have been present on Earth (per the New 52 timeline) that these feelings would have generated, but this is Johns' way of commenting on readers' preconceived notions of the character. The scene is issue 1 where he orders fish and chips at a seafood joint is terrific.

The art team will be leaving the book in the near future, moving on to DC's flagship Justice League book. They deserve this honor, but it does leave fans of Aquaman wonder what is next for the king of the seven seas.


  1. I was pleasantly surprised by this collection, one of my favorite of the New 52 (and I'm only getting to these books now that the collections are coming out). I'm not sure we learn a lot about Aquaman -- most the characterization comes from other characters showing us how they feel about Aquaman, and our hero reacting to it -- but it was a nice judo-flip on the fan theme that Aquaman is lame.

    I still like the over-the-top animated Aquaman from television's Brave & The Bold best, but this Aquaman is worth reading again. I'll look for the next collection.

    1. Between the Brave Bold version, and the NEW 52, it's possible this is (unintentional pun approaching) the high water mark for his popularity and critical acclaim.

    2. And thanks for stopping by, Paul. I will add a link to your site on the sidebar ... at some point.

      I intended this blog to be mostly books, with podcasts and comics thrown in to balance, but comics are slowly taking over, as I review the posts for the last 6 months or so!

  2. I've read the next few issues (no 7-10 I believe) and both the writing and art maintain the same quality from the first 6. I'm not sure whether or not the the art team had already transitioned by that point or not, but I can testify that the following arc at least is just as good.

    Also here's your "Mera is Awesome Moment of the Day":
    You're welcome :)

    1. First a student finds me on Twitter, and now THIS????? I mean, thanks for stopping by!