STORY: Geoff Johns
ART: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jonathan Glapion, and Andy Lanning
While he gets out all of the cosmic-level threats and crossover bonanzas with Green Lantern, Geoff Johns saves the scandal and intrigue for Aquaman, a series that has been one of the ‘New 52’s best titles, not only for it’s fantastic arcs and high-caliber artwork, but also because this is a character who has never really been treated right, so Johns is doing everything he can to right that wrong. “The Others” started off rather vague, only sparingly giving readers small amounts of information regarding the team Arthur was on before the Justice League. Most of this arc has been about Aquaman’s relationship with his arch-nemesis Black Manta and how it differentiates from old DCU canon, even on a metafictional level. So it’s nice that in Aquaman #11, Johns gives us a little more character development for some of the…well…other members of the Others.
“The Others” is starting to feel like ‘Arthur Curry’s Asshole Hour’ because he just can’t seem to be nice to any of his former teammates. While the King of Atlantis may have shown some compassion to some persons during the run of “The Trench”, all of that seems to have been washed away in favor of a far more pig-headed version of Arthur that wont listen to anyone else and makes rash, impulsive decisions that hurt him and those around him. And while I’m confident this is all part of Johns’ plan for Aquaman, it’s a bit disconcerting to see the character so violently shaken from his generally stoic presence. Then again, having to deal with a vengeful criminal who happens to be a genius super villain can push a man.
If the Justice League is supposed to be the cool kids club, then the Others is definitely the nerd table. Aquaman himself straddles the line between mainstream and alternative, while the four other remaining members all have some quirk that keeps them from enjoying an actual life outside their powers. Prisoner is haunted by the memories of his military squad and their families – he constantly feels the pain of having lost his surrogate brothers, while simultaneously feeling empty because he had no real family of his own. The Operative – whom we discovered is an elderly gentleman last issue – assumes the thankless mantle of the “nameless agent working for every side…” then using those relationships to garner support when need be. As evidenced by his age, the Operative seems to believe his actions are necessary to keep the world spinning, so to speak.
Vostok quickly becomes the most interesting of the team after his quick tale of growing up in a Russian isolation chamber (with literally no human contact at all) in preparation to be the nation’s greatest Cosmonaut, a dream that faded when the program was cancelled and Vostok was released, left to wander a world full of creatures and things he have never seen. Vostok admits to the team that he’s been on the moon for two years, “waiting for you to contact me.” Even on a team of misfits, Vostok is ‘out there’. All of the Others are outsiders who don’t fit into normal society, and they came together because of this fact.
“The Others” continues to be dynamite. Johns is weaving an intricate melodrama that’s less about the sinking of Atlantis and more about Arthur Curry’s relationship with his past. While Black Manta represents the worst of Aquaman’s history, the Others represent the best of his younger days. Unfortunately, Arthur is only focused on defeating Black Manta, forsaking the help of his allies and opting to rush in by himself. Black Manta’s big find at issue’s end also promises big things for the next issue.