Aquaman #36 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Riccardo Federici, Artist; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: In Which We Learn of Murk
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The current arc of Aquaman, titled “The Assassination of King Rath”, continues the march towards the liberation of Atlantis in Aquaman #36. The problem is, that’s all it really does – march on and get a little closer. The various rebel forces are pushing towards Atlantis’ core, and King Rath has made a deal with an ancient, evil force that’s transformed him into something less than human. The dialogue is strong, especially at the beginning of the issue, when Arthur and his occasional ally Murk are battling their way towards the castle. Arthur still has the mind of a superhero, believing they can take Rath into custody, but Murk believes he has to be killed. This is a debate we’ve seen multiple times in comics, of course, but Murk continues to be one of the most amusing characters in the series and gets off a few good zingers in the middle of the battle.
The other breakout star of this issue is King Shark, who’s sided with Aquaman in an attempt to save his people in the Ninth Tride. He’s stationed in the Tower of the Widowhood along with Dolphin and Vulko, and his patience is wearing thin. As they struggle to figure out how to stop Rath, Murk heads to the castle to try to lure Rath into the open so he can be ambushed. However, the villain’s already transformed himself into a hideous monster and knows Murk’s betrayed him. Aquaman jumps into the fray, while Vulko attempts to turn the magical defenses of the city against Rath. That entails a conversation with a frequently deceased ally, but the issue ends on a cliffhanger that isn’t really much of one. The issue has some great visuals courtesy of artist Federici, who comes off like a more gritty Stepan Sejic, but the story is lacking in momentum. When the battle with Rath comes to a close, it might be time for a new direction.
Corrina: To recap: Rath came to power saying Atlantis needed to be for Atlanteans, he’s a bad king, he doesn’t care about poor Atlanteans and instead wants a pure Atlantis, and his need for power has made him into a monster.
Hmm…no real-world parallel there, right?
Many interesting things could be done with this political parallel but instead, it’s become a slog of a story that is told in tiny increments. This week’s focus seems to be on Murk, who wanted to get Aquaman out of the way but not totally kill him, which seems super-unrealistic for someone who sees the need to kill Monster Rath so quickly. (And why Aquaman is so anti-killing, I’m not sure, given he’s leading a violent rebellion.)
But King Shark is always fun and the art makes the subterranean setting come alive with danger.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.