Aquaman #37 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Riccardo Federici, Artist; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Stop and Start Pacing
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Dan Abnett’s run on Aquaman has essentially been one giant mega-arc, mostly dealing with Aquaman losing the throne and fighting to survive against the forces of the insane king Corum Rath. The arc seems to be reaching its conclusion (the title will be pulled into a crossover with Suicide Squad starting in August) and the final arc is apparently going to be one big slugfest against an ancient evil that has been locked up in Atlantis since time immemorial. The last few issues have seen Rath transformed from a standard evil king to an insane, magic drunk monster who becomes less and less human with every action he takes, and now Aquaman and Murk are alone against the mad king in his chambers. The initial battle doesn’t go well for them, with Murk quickly losing an arm to Rath’s tentacles and Aquaman fleeing to try to get his dying ally some help before it’s too late. The B-team of Vulko and Dolphin is trying and failing to get the help of the ancient Atlantean elder Null, now a ghost, but they’re interrupted by an army of zombies led by the resurrected Kadaver.
The art by Riccardo Federici is very good – sort of a rougher take on the same general style that Stepan Sejic has, with a bit of a Mike Grell vibe mixed in. The problem is, the story doesn’t give it the support it needs. Corum Rath is still a one-dimensional villain, and even more so now that he’s turned into a degenerating monster. The mysterious force of dark magic that he’s channeled is quickly turning him into a puppet, indicating that he might not even be the real villain of this arc. And after a year of stories, that makes him little more than a shaggy dog story leading to a fight against…what? Unless there’s some giant reveal coming, the big bad of this series appears to be a purple cloud. The issue seems to be walking back Mera’s possible crowning as queen of Atlantis, as Elder Null claims that Aquaman is the true king, but the final showdown to determine that is still coming. It’s a story with a lot going for it visually, but it feels like it’s gone on at least several months too long at this point.
Corrina: The time to do Atlantean court politics was way back at the beginning of this particular arc, with Arthur out of the story, and focusing on those left trying to rule Atlantis, while weaving in Arthur’s return from the dead with rumors of a new champion of the downtrodden.
But the pacing is all over the place with this arc. Instead of seeing Rath’s slow descent into the person who took on the dark magic, all we ever saw was a ranting one-dimensional villain. Now he’s a more powerful one-dimensional villain. All the parts were present for a great underwater political rebellion/thriller and yet the story lurches from here to there, in stops and starts.
Murk’s confrontation with dark Rath should have far more resonance but, since we only got to know Murk last issue, it doesn’t. And that’s basically what’s happened to this whole arc.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.