Aquaman #42 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Lan Medina, Penciller; Vicente Cifuentes, Inker; Gabe Eltaeb, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Legendary Journey
Ray: After a run going back almost three years, Dan Abnett finally wraps his run on Aquaman with Aquaman #42, which ties into Drowned Earth. It’s fitting that his finale is a mostly stand-alone issue that takes place in between moments and serves as a journey into Aquaman’s soul. Taking place right after Poseidon stabbed Aquaman, we pick up as Arthur finds himself a child again, on his father’s ship. This kicks off a series of tests for Aquaman, as he struggles to figure out where he is and what he needs to do. His father’s ghost, either something supernatural or a part of his memories, is there to guide him as he takes his first steps by guiding the ships through a deadly red storm. But from the start, supernatural elements start appearing, including a wave of giant undead whales. The highlight of Lan Medina’s art on the Mera miniseries and his past Aquaman work has been his mystical creatures, and this issue is no exception.
But once young Arthur goes past that test, he starts being tested by figures from his past. The first is Ocean Master, who views him as a naive boy unfit to lead. Next, he faces off against the monstrous specter of Corum Rath, the defining villain of Abnett’s run. Eventually, he faces off against sea raiders and their leader, Black Manta. But along the way, he gets some unexpected support from old friends. Overall, this is a decent character-driven issue that lets Abnett pay tribute to his run’s high points. The problem is, the issue is a lot like Abnett’s run as a whole. It has some interesting ideas, but they’re all in service of a plot that never quite comes together. It looks great and has a decent take on Aquaman, but it largely winds up going nowhere. Abnett’s run was by and large always entertaining, but I think a lot of people are ready for Kelly Sue DeConnick’s distinct run to begin. As a tie-in and a tribute issue, this was a decent way to go out.
Corrina: There is a tradition of stories that feature gods (and demigods) taking a journey down a mystical river of life and death. Arthur’s story in Aquaman #42 is a callback to those traditions. It’s also a nice way to wrap-up Abnett’s run. This issue is not so much a part of the Drowned Earth story as it is a walk through Arthur’s life.
Rarely have we seen Aquaman with his father and, certainly during Abnett’s run, we’ve only seen bits and pieces of his childhood, so Arthur’s journey provides insight into why Aquaman became who he is. These are the most interesting parts of the issue.
Abnett, of course, hits the highlights of his run but that part offered few new insights. It did remind, me, however, of so many plot elements that simply fell away, primarily why Mera “couldn’t” marry Aquaman and Corum Rath’s ideals before he became king.
As a send-off, however, it does the job nicely.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.