Friday, November 18, 2016

Dan Abnett’s Aquaman

Aquaman has always been underrated. Although he has persisted as an ongoing comic book series since his first appearance in 1941, Aquaman was generally a third-string player. That changed somewhat in the 1960s when DC revamped their titles, added the Justice League and ushered in the new standard of super-hero team-ups. But Aquaman was still a third stringer. None of that really mattered for fans like me. We fans saw the potential in the character. Tales of the sea are hard to resist, and Aquaman’s life is the ultimate sea story. At times, the series has been great, at other times poor editorial choices resulted in mundane story arcs. When DC Comics rebooted their line-up (yet again) it was author Dan Abnett’s Aquaman that stood out as exceptional. This series is distinguished not only by Abnett’s solid storytelling, but by a rotating production crew that includes artists Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessey, Scot Eaton, Philippe Briones, Oscar Jimenez, Mark Morales, and Wayne Faucher. Utilizing multiple artists for an ongoing series often hurts the series because the stylistic differences lend a disjointed feel to the narrative, but that’s not the case here. 
Remarkably, even with the obvious differences, the narrative flows almost seamlessly. Aquaman also benefits from Gabe Eltaeb, the colorist, whose pages are lush and infused with brightness. This combination of artwork suitable for framing and a bright palette have served Aquaman and Abnett well. Aquaman is the best of the DC Comics “Rebirth” titles. The action is hard-core slugfest style, and the characterizations are consistent. Long-time fans of Aquaman comics and new readers alike will find themselves captivated by Aquaman’s new adventures. Abnett keeps the core history generally intact without lingering on the “Rebirth” subplot running through all of the DC titles. Abnett is telling an adventure story, and that’s all we really want. Revisionist continuity is overdone and frankly unwanted in the comic book industry, and Dan Abnett has wisely skated around that by offering up some traditional action. At the onset, Aquaman is up against an Atlantean terror group known as The Deluge, and his primary goal is preventing an Atlantean war with the surface world. Meanwhile, Aquaman has Black Manta to deal with, and his fiancé, Mera, has been asked to prove she is worthy of becoming Queen by undergoing a series of “tests” at The Tower of Widowhood. 
The first eleven issues have set the stage for perhaps the best Aquaman series yet. Let’s not forget that comic books are a predominately visual medium, and the artistic crew have done a fantastic job. The series letterer is Pat Brosseau and the series editors are Brian Cunningham and Amedeo Turturro. For those of you unfamiliar with DCs “Rebirth” all titles are published with two number # 1 issues, and some issues are published with “variant” covers. Yeah, that’s how Warner Brothers (the parent company) executives nickel and dime the public. Aquaman is worth checking out.

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