Saturday, October 1, 2011

Aquaman #1 - A Review

Over a year ago, when Brightest Day came out, I noted that I wanted to see Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis on an Aquaman book. Looking back, I wish I'd known that genie was listening to me at that moment so I could have wished for world peace, a functioning TARDIS or a weekend in Vegas with Karen Gillian & Billie Piper instead. But as far as wishes go, this was a nice one to have come true.

This issue is relatively light on action, save for one scene where Aquaman thwarts a bank robbery by showing that while he isn't faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive, he's certainly tough enough to shrug off several shots to the face and strong enough to lever a moving armored car off the road. Most of the issue focuses on Aquaman enduring questions from dozens of curious civilians. Willing to deal with their misconceptions until their questions become insults, Aquaman returns to the lighthouse where he was raised as a child, where he meets with his no-longer estranged wife - the super-strong aquamancer Mera - and the two discuss how to go about starting a new life together in the surface world.

Johns script is heavy on humor and this issue had me laughing so hard I had to put the book down at one point While some may question Johns' breaking the fourth wall somewhat in order to have Aquaman directly answering critics questions about his powers and weaknesses, I think this is a brilliant subversion on Johns' part. It may seem like a waste of time to us old-timers to confirm that Aquaman can stay out of the water for more than an hour, that he commands sea-life rather than talking to it and yes, that he does eat fish (Well what do you think the Atlanteans eat down there? Kelp?!) but addressing these questions in a humorous fashion allows Johns to let the new readers who only know about Aquaman from The Superfriends and countless stand-up comedy routines to be quickly told what the score is while defusing the tension. Now that the jokes are out of the way, we can turn to the serious business... like just what are those things that are coming out of the depths of the ocean looking for food?

A frequent partner with Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis' artwork is as strong as ever. In these days of ever-changing creator line-ups, there are few teams like Kirby & Lee or Wolfman & Perez that works together extensively on one title, let alone several. Johns and Reis team-ups make a case for the wisdom of making such pairings standard practice as Reis' heroic art perfectly meshes with Johns' dialogue. The inks by Joe Prado and colors by Rod Reis join with this pairing to create a comic that looks as amazing as it reads.

As Ookla the Mok once said, "Even Peter David can't make (Aquaman) cool." Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis don't make Aquaman cool either. They don't need to. They've shown us that Aquaman that doesn't care if we think he's cool or not... and to my mind there's nothing cooler than that! But in all seriousness this is a great title, one of the best of The New 52 and you should be reading it. No joke.

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