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52 Catch Up: Aquaman

Aquaman with Review52 Catch Up is a series devoted to looking at issues from DC’s New 52 and seeing how they’re faring now that they’re underway, why they’re worth reading (or not), and places we hope they will go in time.




Aquaman, nobody’s favorite superhero.  The rightful King of Atlantis may be a joke on the surface world, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to fit in with humanity while defending them from threats from the deep.





Previously on Aquaman: Covering Issues #1-#6

Aquaman is not having a good day.  He stops some bank robbers only to be mocked later by the police at a seafood restaurant for trying to enjoy a plate of fish.  While he tries to recover from his day with his girlfriend, the Atlantean Mera, a group of creatures from the ocean, start attacking the shoreline.  One of the local deputies gets Arthur and Mera to help.  Following the battle, Arthur discovers a cocoon containing a dog, proving the creatures captured plenty of people to use as food later.  The pair take the body of one of the creatures to Stephen Shin, an old friend and a man who nearly killed Arthur in the past for not telling him Atlantis’ location.  Shin reveals that the creature comes from a place in the ocean known as the Trenches, and Arthur and Mera set off.

In the trenches, Mera sets about rescuing the hostages while Arthur holds off the Trench Dwellers and their queen.  When things get desperate, he throws his trident into a volcanic fissure and starts a chain reaction, sealing the Trenches behind him.  In reply, Aquaman finally gets a little admiration and is given the dog he rescued from the cocoon since his owner was one of the few who didn’t make it.

Soon after, Arthur is contacted by the Navy regarding a strange artifact they found, complete with an Atlantean rune.  When Arthur inspects it he discovers it’s sort of a black box from Atlantis of old.  A group of armed men then break in and take the rune by force.  As they try to flee, Arthur jumps onto their craft and manages to disable it, revealing the troops to be Atlanteans right before they crash into the desert.  There, Arthur hallucinates about his father while suffering from dehydration but finally activates the Atlantean rune which gives him a message from Atlantis before its fall, warning about creatures from the Trenches setting out to destroy Atlantis.  As the message ends, a Navy helicopter arrives to rescue Arthur.

Mera, in costume, heads into town to procure dog food but is molested by a store manager and breaks his arm in response.  A security guard panics and draws a gun on her while bystanders call 911.  The situation quickly escalates as Mera tries to explain her actions while defending herself from gunfire.  She surrenders when an emergency call comes over the police radio, a man wanted for killing his wife is holding his daughter at gunpoint.  Upon arriving at the scene, Mera breaks out of the police cruiser and dehydrates the man using her control of water, but the daughter stops her before she kills him.  Confused by this act of compassion, Mera flees and questions her decisions to come on land with Arthur, but is touched when a store worker comes to her with the dog food she needed and offers to help her in the future.

As Mera arrives home, Arthur is ready to disembark once again, stating that they need to meet with Shin and discuss the fate of Atlantis.

High Points

Humor: We’ve all heard the jokes: nobody likes Aquaman, he talks to fish and rides a seahorse and is oh so lame.  Johns actually took these negative associations with Aquaman and brought them into the character.  Every issue has had somebody ribbing on him, cops, kids, bloggers, and he has to constantly explain how his powers work, that Mera isn’t “Aquawoman,” and other wrong associations.  Some of them are really well placed like the Navy saving Arthur from the desert at the end of Issue #5, which leads to the newspaper headline “Fish Out of Water.”  After all he’s been through, it’s salt in the wound.  The side story with Mera’s quest for dog food is also pretty entertaining, as it quickly spirals out of control.

Morality: A big question has been raised in the issues so far, what is right and what is wrong.  Arthur struggles with this question both regarding the expectation for him to take the throne of Atlantis and later when his actions cause the death of the entire Trench Dweller species, even when they were preying on humans.  In this way Mera provides a great counterpoint to Arthur.  Once her father’s assassin, she still struggles with which lines not to cross, which manage to get her into plenty of trouble when she attempts to interact with human society.

Low Points

Pacing: Aquaman moves at a slow pace.  While the first couple of story arcs have wrapped, not a lot really happened during them.  Some of this is for a good cause, such as taking the time to get a few jabs in at Aquaman’s expense or some good side stories like Mera traveling into town, but by the end of Issue #6, I kept feeling like I wanted more for the money I put into the series.

The Volcano: Maybe this is nitpicking, but I don’t think you can start up a volcano by striking it with a magic trident.  When this moment happened, I sat there scratching my head and kept having flashbacks to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and the whole Red Matter debacle.

Looking Ahead

Who are the Trench Dwellers?: When they first appeared as generic sea monsters, there was no interest in them, but tidbits keep being revealed about these creatures, which imply they were a great civilization once, possibly even the beings who destroyed Atlantis.  Yet, thousands of years later, they are falling apart due to hunger and inbreeding.  If they caused the downfall of one great civilization, what being or situation caused theirs?

Mysteries of Atlantis: Aquaman stories are usually closely tied to the city he’s destined to rule.  With the relaunch, Geoff Johns has an opportunity to tell a different story of how it fell, how the Trench Dwellers tie into its history, and what Arthur will do with this knowledge since he has cut all ties with Atlantis.

Finding Acceptance: While I’d hate to lose the tongue in cheek humor of the series, eventually, Arthur is going to have to find a place in life, whether that’s acceptance as Aquaman on the surface or giving in to his bloodline and taking up the throne of Atlantis.

Mera, Mermaid Assassin: There have been a few flashbacks to Mera’s life as an assassin before meeting Arthur.  She worked for her father and was ordered to kill Arthur for the good of Atlantis.  What else occurred and how on Earth did Arthur not only convince Mera not to kill him but turn on her own father?

Stephen Shin: The man taught Arthur how to use his powers and yet, according to him, Shin is morally bankrupt, but there hasn’t been a lot of focus on Shin yet.  We don’t know the full story of what transpired between them and know even less of Shin’s motives now.  With Arthur having to keep coming to him for knowledge, it’s likely to become a more complicated situation quickly.



Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream


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