Wednesday, November 27, 2019

I Had Issues! My Old Review of New 52's Aquaman #7-14

Well, this was a surprise. I knew this review was up next, but I had completely forgotten writing it. So I was surprised when I finally clicked on the link. I was clearly having fun, given ho many graphics I used below. Too many, I'm sure. Hey, nothing wrong with a little fun at the cost of your credibility and perceived level of maturity. Plus, it's nice to know I could still have fun even after the gig had gotten more than a little unpleasant. Originally published December 6, 2012. Edited for clarity.

1. Some people might be wondering if this numbering of my review points is just a gimmicky tool to help me write faster that adds little else of value to the review.

2. Yes.

3. Aquaman is one of the few DC titles I'm keeping track of after the first year of New 52. That's because I like it, despite how I tease. Ivan Reiss' art is as strong as ever. Even guest pencillers Pete Woods and Pere Perez do a good fill in (though with a boatload of inking help) while Reiss did the #0 issue. Johns is doing well with tweaking the mythology. I just wish he could tone down the quirkier parts of the book and make it even stronger. He's the one editor at DC whose writing reads like he needs a good editor, which is part of why I finally dropped Justice League after issue #12, along with their announcement of Year Two.

4. But if five years has passed in the last few issues, how is it Year Two? Oh, well...

5. Anyway, the recent storyline "The Others," where we find out about Aquaman's old team and his old mistakes, was pretty exciting and well-paced. Some of the aforementioned quirks, however, include Johns doing over-exposition at the end of the first story arc, feeling the need to add more back story with Black Manta in case we didn't sympathize with Aquaman already.

6. It's almost as if Johns doesn't have enough faith in his artist to tell the story completely. It's ironic that his doing this with artist Reiss, a very good storyteller, and barely at all with Jim Lee, who seems to always rely on the writer telling rather than him showing.

7. And, of course, there's this...

8. I'm not good at using the phrase "seriously" in conversation. But dude, seriously what the hell (see what I mean)? Johns is still determined to continue this riff about Aquaman being a joke in the DC universe, no matter how weak it comes across. It's not (too) overbearing in the above panels of issue #13, but why do this at all? Look at the promo for the upcoming "Throne of Atlantis" crossover.

 9. Other than the crossover revolving around him, there's a reason why Aquaman leads the charge. He's the one I'd have the most faith in. I'll say it again (again): In the real world, if I looked at New 52 Aquaman and Superman in the same room, I'd be more afraid of Aquaman than the goofy looking Superman.

10. Admittedly, the big trident is also a factor.

11. But even after the second storyline wraps up and Black Manta is captured, a random guard makes fun of Manta for losing to Aquaman in issue #14. Unbelievable.

12. Luckily, the joke is killed a page or two later. Johns will likely scoop it up and beat it further in issue #15.

13. The more interesting characters in Aquaman's secret team are dead by story's end. At least there are origin flashback stories that might be told. DC diversity watchdogs can take not that the surviving non-white character is a stereotypical jungle queen character. And then there's the Prisoner of War, who would have been a ballsier character if he had been any nationality but American.

14. I know the Prisoner is supposed to have the same abilities as his fallen comrades, but would embodying the spirit of  his sniper buddy necessarily make him good with handguns? I'm pretty sure those are separate disciplines. A friend of mine in the military proved to be good at hand grenades (and disc golf). He never used that skill beyond basic, but I don't think I'd spontaneously trust him to throw knives at someone attacking us.

15. You ever hear of Chekov's gun? I want to come up with "Johns' right arm."It goes like this: If a character has a right arm in the beginning of the story, it should be ripped off or at least broken by the end of an issue or at least the end of a storyline.  

 16. My idea needs work. For one thing, that last one shows a broken left arm.

17. The upcoming "Atlantis Rising" crossover seems to confirm my earlier suspicions that Johns would once again take the character he's most focused on at the moment and make them the most important person ever in the DC Universe. His Green Lantern saved the universe a couple of times. His Flash saved the timeline (or ruined it, depending on your opinion of the New 52). Aquaman is likely to stop all the continents from sinking or something.

18. At least we'll see more of Atlantis soon (nicely rendered as a teaser by Reiss in issue #0). It amazes me that Johns in some weird overcompensating way, had Aquaman triumphant above water in the majority of the thirteen issues. In "The Others" he mostly swam to get from one place to another. Water wasn't a factor in any of his victories. It's amazing how determined Johns was to prove that Aquaman is badass by having him out of water as much as he could. Finally, Johns is ready to put him back in the deep. But thanks to an overall good story, the reaction to this is less "Finally!" and more "Oh, cool!" I'm skeptic of all crossovers, but I'll at least give the next issue a try.

17. Oh, yeah. one last thing. In issue #14, Aquaman talks to fish.

18. That's right. After panels of this...

We now get Aquaman using fish to call out his brother, Ocean Master. 

Yeah, he talks to fish. 

19. And don't tell me it's just a telepathic nudge or however they explained it in issue #1. He had to steer those little bastards. There are no highways in the ocean, buddy! Aquaman steered those suckers the way you steer the remote controlled batarang in the Arkham video games! What the hell Johns?!?

20. I don't play either Arkham Asylum or Arkham City. I just watch the walkthrough videos.

21. I don't know if that last point gives me extra geek brownie points or will force me to trade them all in for dork dollars.

22. The hell with it. Let Aquaman talk to fish after thirteen issues of Johns' spin doctoring. I'm going to sit by my toilet and wait for someone to drown me. I'll be sure to clean it first.

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