We’ve come to the end of the line for my “First 10: New 52” series and what better way to end it than with comic’s most underrated hero, the one and only king of Atlantis Aquaman! Did DC comics finally give this marine marvel the credit he’s been due with the “New 52”? Read on, find out.
The series begins as half human, half Atlantean Arthur Curry (Aquaman) chooses to leave the throne of Atlantis behind in favor of life on the surface, namely Amnesty Bay a surrounding coastal area of Boston. Joining Aquaman is his wife Mera (often called Aquawoman) and both struggle adjusting to land life and the scrutinizing public who sees the duo as weak and useless (something most people feel in the real world). Much like its creators fight to make Aquaman a legitimate hero the man himself fights to earn the respect of his fellow citizens. Even after the first story arc (featuring an underwater race of bloodthirsty fish people known as the Trench) Aquaman saves the entire city from certain death and the only thanks he gets is a free dog from one of the local cops. He saved your life and you repay him with a responsibility? Gee, thanks.
This series is one of the first that addresses the public’s real life misunderstanding of the character and addresses it head on metaphorically saying “Hey, I’m so much cooler than you understand, and I don’t just talk to fish!” Its creators do a great job of making Aquaman look like a badass straight from issue one, by having him leap tall buildings, withstand direct gunfire from an AK-47 and lift an armored car over his head. Did you know Aquaman could do all that? Well you should have because he’s always been able to.
Although “Aquaman” is a little light in the story department at first, after “The Trench” storyline things get considerably more exciting later on with the inclusion of Aquaman’s arch nemesis The Black Manta! This Black Manta storyline also ushers in the first appearance of Aquaman’s other hero team appropriately named “The Others”. The team is composed of the animal whispering Ya’Wara, the dead soldier channeling Prisoner of War and the very Batman-like Operative. This group of misfits may seem like cheap knockoffs but I think they’re an interesting addition to the DC universe and I look forward to seeing more from them in future “Aquaman” issues.
By far the best feature of this comic is its art by penciler Ivan Reis and inker Joe Prado. The clean and cozy setting of Amnesty Bay is a refreshing change from the dingy streets of other DC titles like Gotham City and even Metropolis. More importantly the water effects look amazing with many vibrant colors and brilliant lights contrasting to the darkness of the deep. Since the series is so heavy on imagery and light on words it’s obvious why having great artwork is even more important with “Aquaman”.
If you’ve never really gotten to know the Aquaman character then now is the perfect time to give him a chance. Geoff Johns has done a great job of highlighting all of Aquaman’s features and if you’re already convinced that the king of Atlantis is a chump just read the first few issues and you’ll find out you’re sadly mistaken. This series is fun, it looks great and the story has enough meat on its bones to keep you coming back for more. I give it four and a half out of five Atlantean seals!