Aquamen #4 – Chuck Brown/Brandon Thomas, Writers; Sami Basri/Vicente Cifuentes, Artists; Adriano Lucas, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: As we know, this series will be undergoing some massive changes in the coming months—if it doesn’t end altogether—as Arthur Curry is dying with the rest of the Justice League. But until then, it’s throwing everything it has at the wall to create one of the defining Aquaman stories of the modern era. It brings everything together—different subplots from Arthur and Mera’s books, Jackson’s solo stories, and even Black Manta’s miniseries. And a surprising amount of it comes back to a one-off Aquaman/Frankenstein story that kicked off Brandon Thomas’ era on this character. At the center of the plot is a collection of Atlantean sleeper cells that is activating and pulling off large-scale attacks on the surface world—bringing Atlantis close to war with all of humanity. It’s not a new plotline, but it is one of the most clever executions of it I’ve seen yet, and the writers are carefully balancing action with a surprising amount of diplomacy.
This is a fairly sprawling cast of characters, which makes it all the more impressive that it seems like everyone gets the chance to shine. It’s good to see Aquaman and Aquaman fighting side by side again, and even supporting characters like Jackson’s boyfriend Ha’Wea play a key role in holding the surface world at bay. If there’s any breakout star here, though, it’s definitely Black Manta. He’s still a ruthless mercenary, but the series draws a nice contrast between him and the more outwardly cruel Scavenger. He genuinely does seem to want to become a better person for the sake of his son—but his desire to protect Jackson has him falling back on deadly old habits. It’s probably the most nuanced supervillain reformation arc since the one Dan Slott and Christos Gage gave Dr. Octopus. Hopefully this one sticks like that one didn’t, because with Arthur on the way out, the sea is going to need all the guardians it can get.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.