Note: we’re doing all our DC reviews in separate posts starting this week. To find the reviews of all the other issues from November 15 and previous weeks, check our index.
Aquaman #30 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Stepan Sejic, Artist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Concepts, Excellent. Execution Needs Work
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW.
Ray: Stepan Sejic’s visual tour of Atlantis continues this issue, delivering a few great twists and some major plot advancement as Aquaman’s battle to reclaim Atlantis picks up steam. At the start of the issue, we’re introduced to new rebel leader Jurok Byss, former master of the royal bestiary and now roughneck resistance fighter, who leads an army of men, women, and monsters into battle. This issue actually got a big of controversy in advance for its bold “Resist” text and its themes of overthrowing an oppressive government, but trying to find any political leanings seems a stretch. This is underwater Game of Thrones with less gore. The opening segments look great, and when Aquaman enters the fray and battles a mind-controlled sea monster, things really pick up.
There are some weak points storywise, of course. Garth and Tula on the surface talking about Garth’s struggle with magic is fairly boring. Garth is neither interesting here or in Titans, and Tula hasn’t been given enough development to help. Likewise, Corum Rath is still a one-note villain, but his descent into complete insanity this issue seems to be becoming more and more pronounced, meaning his fall will soon be at hand. But while Mera doesn’t have all that much to do this issue (as the magic used to sneak her in backfires, and leaves her seemingly unable to breathe underwater), it’s her new captor that intrigues – one of the all-time favorite DC underwater villains, and a seeming new enemy for Aquaman post-Rath. Sejic has brought out the best in Abnett here, and I’m hoping that continues once he leaves regular art duties.
Corrina: All that work on Mera’s part, only for her to become a hostage?
That kind of swerve is emblematic of Abnett’s run, setting up terrific concepts, only for them to later fall flat. Take Corum Rath, who basically became king on the not-entirely-crazy idea that Atlantis should stay within itself, rather than be concerned with a surface world that has done great harm to it. I don’t agree with Rath but he had an interesting motivation. Here, though, he turns into a power-hungry murderous thug instead. Seriously disappointing.
The best part of the issue is Sejic’s beautiful illustrations of the fight sequences, especially the battle with the sea monster. And yet, again, I have niggles. For all his prominence this issue, have we ever seen Jurok Byss before? Or the resistance? Again, it’s tossed into the story with little basis. This arc should feel epic, instead, it’s erratic and frustrating, like most of the run.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.