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Customer Review

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The King of the Seven Seas Has Returned, September 11, 2012
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This review is from: Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (The New 52) (Hardcover)
Arthur Curry, AKA Aquaman, might be one the most underrated and unappreciated characters in comicdom. Or at least, he's up there. He's a character who's been around since 1941 and has felt like a B-tier character hanging out with A-tier characters in his 70+ years in comics. He wasn't always like that though. His solo series has (in my opinion) been pretty good through his comic life-span. His Silver-Age comics are pretty good (the showcase collection), the Peter David reboot Aquaman: Time and Tide lead to the serious pirate Aquaman that got a small following in Justice League and Unlimited cartoon series, Rick Veitch's slow but beautifully drawn Aquaman: The Waterbearer, Kurt Busiek's surprisingly good take with an Aquaman ringer in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis, Vol. 1: Once and Future, and even the mid to late 70's collection Aquaman: Death of the Prince. By himself, Arthur is a reasonably established character.

But then the Super Friends television show happened in 1973 and well...the stigma of Aquaman began. Since then everyone has made a joke on Arthur's behalf, in all forms of media. He's been portrayed as various things over the year like cannon fodder for the Justice League, as well as simply being the guy that can swim fast and talk to fish thanks to Super Friends. Sure he's has the occasional and decent public portrayal (Grant Morrison's JLA for example or JLA Annual #2 where he lead the group), but nothing great. So it's always felt like he's a B-list character (some would argue C-list) hanging around a league of A-listers...

Until Geoff Johns 2009 event Blackest Night came about and Aquaman came back to the DC Universe as a black lantern. "Aquaman's back as a black lantern?" People thought. "Meh." But then Aquaman summons zombie sharks and kills of bunch of Atlanteans. Wait? What?! People took notice. And even Aquaman's wife, Mera got a following going due to being a main player in the event as well. And then Arthur came back to life and was a key component in the Brightest Day event. And out of all those who came back to life during that event, Arthur was probably the most popular of the bunch. Now with the New 52, Geoff Johns decides to carry on writing Arthur and his "Aquawoman" wife Mera with artist Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, to create a fresh new start on the king of the seven seas.

AQUAMAN VOL 1: THE TRENCH collects issues #1-6 and see's Arthur going about his daily life as super-hero crime fighter on the sea and on land. But the world see's Arthur as "that guy that talks to fish", and so many people see him as joke. Even when Arthur stops a pack of bank robbers, they laugh at the notion of him being a threat and the police feel embarrassed to have Arthur do something they themselves could of done. While Arthur is slowly getting back into the habit of life, a species of being from the darkest depths of the ocean come to land to feast upon those in their paths. It's up to Arthur and Mera to save the day.

Johns immediately talks about the criticism and perception of our worlds view of Aquaman and attacks it head on which makes for some great comedic use. Everything and anything you can think of, Johns answers it for Arthur. Does he actually talk to fish? Why eat the fish you he talks to? Why the orange colors? Does the A on the belt stand for Aquaman or Atlantis? Or how does it feel being the punch line of the joke? Johns even goes far enough to show Arthur's power set more fully then simply swimming fast. Super hearing, super strength and reflexes, and near-bullet proof skin are little details added to Arthur never quite seen before to establish Arthur really is a powerful being. Johns also shows a likable personality from Arthur that is well-tempered about how society treats him and just wanting to do what's right. All of these attributes make Aquaman stand out as powerful and likable character. And you don't have have read any past Aquaman material at all to enjoy the story.

Although the book is predominantly about Aquaman, you could almost consider it a buddy book, because Mera shares quite a bit of panel time with Arthur. It's one of the main themes regarding the book is Arthur and Mera's relationship together and it's handle fairly well. Mera herself has her share of powers and attributes that we get to see are quite different from Arthur (some bad and some good). Mera gets to have an entire issue of her going solo into town to simply get supplies and you see her personality (which it too is quite comedic). Either way, the dynamics between the two is nice to see happen.

Mention has to go to Ivan Reis. His art alone is amazing. Every fine detail of water and sand (!), to spash pages showing Aquaman in his shining orange outfit are stellar. You'll spend half the time looking and taking in Reis beautiful artwork. Special mention does also go for Joe Prado who does the coloring, as wall as drawing issue #6. Again, the art is stellar.

Now why the 4 star review instead of 5 you say? Two things come to mind. One of which is that the Trench arc is a mere 4 issues. Actually you can argue its 3 issues and it ends very abruptly (Though I do get the feeling The Trench will come back somewhere down the line in Johns run.). And the other thing is the issues collected which I'll explain. Issue #1 deal primarily on establishing Aquaman, while issues 2-4 are the Trench arc. Then issue #5 is the prologue to the next arc, "The Others". And issue #6 is mostly a stand alone tale about Mera going into town. See the problem here? It feels sort of scattered when you look at it, as if Johns played the Trench arc very safely (which it feels like) and just wanted to get to the next arc as soon as possible. It just feels a bit incohesive.

Overall though, AQUAMAN VOL 1: THE TRENCH is still a good start for this unexpected hit in the New 52. It has fabulous art and a capable writer behind it. This short volume may not be perfect, but the current team sure makes it feel like it does have it coming for it down the road. It's a new era for the king of Atlantis. And the fish jokes stop here.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 11, 2012 4:38:18 PM PDT
Slim Cat says:
Great review!!! Thanks!!! Cannot wait to get this one and go through it. I always liked Aquaman while others laughed at me, but what Geoff Johns did in "Brightest Day" and the ongoing series is just amazing. It's really sad that he'll be done after issue 16 along with Ivan Reis. Two big reasons to love DC!!!

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 11:55:04 PM PDT
Flawless review, I felt the exact same way.

Posted on Sep 22, 2012 11:11:11 PM PDT
Yggdrasil says:
Great review, feel the same way. Great title but abrupt ending to the trench story and lacks a bit of cohesion indeed.

Posted on Jun 27, 2013 3:39:21 PM PDT
Chris says:
It's funny, before I read your review I thought to myself "Lol... aquaman? Really?"

I'm fairly knew to the world of comics so all I know about aquaman is the reputation has attained that you talked about. Your review, however, has mad me interested in aquaman and I plan on going to my local comic book store tomorrow and getting it.

Posted on Apr 19, 2016 6:39:46 AM PDT
"Super hearing, super strength and reflexes, and near-bullet proof skin are little details added to Arthur never quite seen before to establish Arthur really is a powerful being. Johns also shows a likable personality from Arthur that is well-tempered about how society treats him and just wanting to do what's right. All of these attributes make Aquaman stand out as powerful and likable character."
-So he's kind of the New-52's slightly toned down version of classic Superman, in some ways? Ok. (That statement IS a compliment, by the way. I mean...obviously it's cooler, more aspirational and original, to have a chip on your shoulder and a 5-day shave, but for us lesser men, being personable and trying to do what's right can be something we have to settle for, as our own goal)
Fine and informative review.
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