Here’s a quick summary of Issue #1:
We begin at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Out of the darkness rise multiple vicious-looking fish people. Up they head, speaking in their own language to one another.
Meanwhile, on the streets of Boston, a group of cops are chasing down a hijacked armored bank deposit truck when the criminals spot Aquaman standing in the middle of the road. The criminals laugh until Aquaman uses his trident to flip their truck and end their ride. The cops make fun of Aquaman before he takes off. Poor fish guy.
Later, Aquaman creates an awkward scene when he stops in for a bite to eat at a seafood restaurant. Even though Aquaman has fond memories of he and his father visiting the place, the patrons feel it’s not right for him to eat seafood. One patron, a blogger, asks if he can interview Aquaman, making the day even worse when he asks Aquaman what it’s like to be nobody’s favorite superhero. Disgruntled, Aquaman leaves, but is generous enough to leave a massive tip.
Later, Aquaman reunites with his love, Mera, and decides to abandon Atlantis and start a new life together. Meanwhile, the creepy fish people have reached the surface of the water and discover a shipping crew. One crew member is pulled into the water, and it turns red with blood. One of the fish people turns to the others. “There’s food up here,” he says.
The humor! One really great element of this issue is the humor Johns includes in the issue. While Aquaman has been a joke for some time in the pop culture world, it was quite interesting to see the actual character deal with this situation. Despite his abilities, almost everyone in this issue, from the police to the criminals they chase, takes a dig at our hero. It was also endearing to see Aquaman frustrated by the misinformed humans who believe he talks to fish or can’t eat seafood. In a world where much is distorted by the media and the public’s perception of it, Aquaman stands out as DC’s answer to the floundering celebrity who can’t seem to get a break.
A legitimate terror from the deep. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water... while they only appear twice in the issue, the razor-mawed fish people are as disturbing as they should be. It will take a serious threat to give Aquaman the opportunity to stretch his hero muscles and prove himself, and these piranha people seem up to the task. The final scene, in which the creatures reach the surface and regard a fishing crew with a cold, predatory stare as they bob in the rocking waves, sent chills up my spine.
The art of Ivan Reis. Reis, along with inker Joe Prado and colorist Rod Reis, makes Aquaman look good for a fish-talker! There are a number of scenes where, due to the constant mocking, the story is very dependent on the facial expression of Aquaman, and Reis nails these panels with the skill of a real pro. Reis also has a heavy hand in the success of the menace of the fish-people, designing what can only be described as an actually scary creature from the black lagoon.
Once again, Johns barely baits his hook. I still feel strongly that these #1 issues for the New 52 should have strong hooks at the end of the books in order to guarantee readers will not lose interest and will be desperate to pick up the next issue. Action Comics, Detective Comics, and a number of other books have accomplished this, but Johns seems to always miss the mark. Maybe, he can afford to not have a “hard hook,” but it seems like a poor choice to me.
That’s it for now, my undersea friends! Remember, life is better down where it’s wetter!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer