Aquaman #31 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Riccardo Federici, Artist; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Moving In Place
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: There’s a compelling concept to this series, with Aquaman deposed from his throne and forced to build a resistance out of Atlantis’ dispossessed and disadvantaged rebels, while not actually being sure if he wants the throne back. The problem is…the concept just isn’t strong enough to carry the title as long as it’s being asked to.
Solicits for March came out this week, and the plotline is still going on, with all the major elements in place including villain Corum Rath. There is a lot to like in this series, though. Riccardo Federici isn’t quite as stunning art-wise as Stepan Sejic was, but he does a very good job with bringing Atlantis to life. There’s a bit of a Conan-esque vibe as Aquaman has been reduced to a classical warrior rather than a flashy superhero, and it’s great to see him strike back against the ruthless stormtroopers Rath deposes to terrorize the lower trides.
However, too much of this issue is devoted to sitting around and talking about how to strike back instead of actually doing it. I like the ongoing tension between Arthur and Vulko, and new resistance leader Jurok Byss is an entertaining, blue-collar figure who has the heart but maybe not the competence. Mera’s gotten short shrift in this series for quite a bit, only appearing in one scene this issue where she still can’t breathe due to the backfire from her magic last issue. However, she’s getting a solo mini soon from Abnett, which means she won’t be taking a backseat for long. I thought this issue was at its best when Aquaman headed to the Ninth Tride to negotiate with Krush’s replacement, King Shark. And by negotiating, I mean brawling. This comic has embraced its out-there nature, which is when Aquaman is at its best. A faster pace, and this could be an elite Aquaman run.
Corrina: The main problem I see, as I’ve said before on this run, is pacing, in that concepts are thrown in one issue, forgotten, brought up again later with no forward momentum or backtracking to stuff we already know. For instance, Coram Rath was introduced in the previous arc as someone who was Atlantis First, a terrorist of sorts who was willing to work with Aquaman to help everyone. Then he became king without us getting to know him better, then he became a horrible tyrant who wants to destroy non-pure Atlanteans, rather than protecting all of it. This could have been an interesting progression but all his positions were announced, rather than shown.
The rebellion is the same, with Rath making deals with criminals to keep order in Atlantis. Except for a plotline introduced several issues ago, it’s basically in the same place as it was before. Similarly, Aquaman and Vulko’s argument is great except while we’ve seen Vulko on his quest, we’ve heard little about his remorse or change of personality. To know what betrayal they’re arguing about, a reader would have to read an early Justice League run.
In short, the concepts are just tossed in, rather than explored, and then brought back up again when convenient. Another example: Mera has been choking to death for two issues now.
The art has been outstanding, and the fill-in art in this issue is in that vein, but the story is frustrating.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.