Written by Geoff Johns
Artwork by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
Geoff Johns really loves Aquaman. For a character who’s traditionally been one of the least popular and least nurtured in DC history, Johns has been consistently delivering dynamite material for Atlantis’ lost son. One of the main problems with Arthur Curry is that no writer tried (much) to delve into his characterization beyond the surface anger. Instead of becoming a more well-rounded hero through the years like Batman, Green Lantern (not including the forever-thick Hal Jordan), and Superman, Aquaman has always had a case of arrested development. It’s for all of these reasons that I’ve loved the ‘New 52’ Aquaman so very, very much.
Issue five begins the second story arc for Aquaman since the relaunch. After the events of “The Trench”, which stands by itself as an amazing story, the first page shows three panels of Arthur falling through the sky only to land in a desert. It’s a perfect use of panel space because the reader immediately knows something isn’t right and wants to know what happened, all without any dialogue. Ivan Reis and Joe Prado have been bringing their A-game since issue one and this month is no exception.
Flashing back to 12 hours earlier, we find out that Arthur has been called in by Commander Clay, the de-facto military persona who gave Aquaman grief during the events of “The Trench”, because the navy done gone and started poking at something shiny. Aquaman arrives and quickly identifies the piece as Atlantean, though it was ancient, even by their standards. Arthur realizes that it came from a time before Atlantis was sank. The artifact becomes the main point of conflict between the Navy and a mysterious new enemy as the issue continues.
This issue has solidified Aquaman as one of the premier titles of the ‘New 52.’ Letting the first four issues set up Aquaman’s world before diving into the origins of Atlantis was a fantastic strategy and it’s allowed for Arthur Curry to develop at a pace more fitting in this new era of comic books. Where once readers needed only a few pages and a narrative exposition to give them characterization, it now takes whole arcs to flesh out characters, as well it should. Johns understands the craftsmanship behind developing a character beyond their most prevalent elements. Of course Superman can fly, but how does he feel about the national debt crisis? Wonder Woman flies an invisible jet, so does she have a license? These anecdotes might seem trite, but they serve as examples for the kind of ideas Johns is using to create a deeper, richer character experience. And Aquaman is all the better for it.