Written by: Geoff Johns
Pencilled by: Ivan Reis
Inked by: Joe Prado
Colored by: Rod Reis
Lettering by: Nick J. Napolitano
Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99
Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology
Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!
Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts with a cloaked woman running through the jungles of Brazil with Black Manta in hot pursuit. It’s clear immediately that this woman is a long way from home, since she’s wearing what appears to be Middle Eastern garb (and also because Black Manta uses the line “You are a long way from home”):
We find out that this woman is called The Seer, and she’s looking for someone Black Manta refers to as “that savage girl.” Black Manta’s face is heavily scarred, which to me suggests that “savage girl” left him a souvenir during an earlier encounter. Black Manta is hunting down Aquaman’s friends and allies, which includes these two woman. After killing the Seer, he removes some kind of Atlantean artifact from her body.
Meanwhile, Aquaman and Mera are rescuing a ship from a violent storm in the Atlantic, before heading off to find Aquaman’s old enemy Dr. Shin to question him about the idea that someone had intentionally sank Atlantis. When they arrive at Shin’s, a teleportation tunnel delivers “savage girl” to them. She clearly has had a pretty nasty past with Shin, calling him murderer.
She tells Aquaman that the Seer has been killed, and that Shin must have told Black Manta where to find her. Mera has no idea who this woman is or what her past connection to Aquaman is. That is pretty much where the issue ends.
Review: One thing I loved about this issue was that so much of the story was left to the reader to figure out themselves. There are tons of hints, like the fact that each of The Others on the cover has an “Atlantis artifact” of some sort, and the news clippings in Chin’s office.
I sort of felt reminded of the Kingdom story currently running in Batwing, with a villain hunting down the members of a retired superhero group we have never seen before for mysterious reasons. But Johns and Winick have each put a very different spin on the story.
Black Manta is a character I’ve had mixed feelings towards over the years. He’s never really felt like a “heavy hitter” villain to me, but Geoff Johns does a great job with him. Aquawar from Brightest Day and now his appearance here really has made me see Black Manta as more than just a jobber supervillain. I think Geoff Johns definitely has some evil in his heart. He just writes villains (Flash’s rogues, Sinestro, Black Manta) so much better than anyone else.
Like I said before, one of my favorite parts of this comic was all the detail that the art team slipped in. If I had spent even half as much time paying attention to my school work as I did the last panel of this comic, I would probably have gone Ivy League (okay, probably not):
On top of the great detail, Reis also draws some of the best action sequences I’ve even seen. The opening battle between Black Manta and The Seer, along with Aquaman and Mera saving a ship from a storm were just incredibly dynamic. You can really see the action, even if there are still images:
Back when New 52 started, if you had told me that Aquaman would still be one of my favorite comics seven months later, I would have said you were crazy. I really expected it to end up on my “wait a month, save a buck” list. I was expecting a solid comic, but nothing that I would be constantly hitting refresh on my computer Wednesday afternoons to make sure I got as soon as Comixology loaded it. I was definitely wrong about that.
I do have one very, very small complaint about this issue. The comic starts with a woman in Middle Eastern garb running through the jungles of Brazil. Did we really need Black Manta saying the no-shit line of “You are a long way from home”? Something about this annoyed me more than it should. The rest of the issue was written with such a terrific air of “let the reader figure things out themselves for now” that line just felt out of place.
As I’ve said in past reviews, there have been Aquaman books I’ve liked before, but it always felt like the creators of those series had to “change” Aquaman to make an interesting story around him. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis went the opposite direction, showing exactly why Aquaman doesn’t need any changes to be a great character and to be able to tell great stories around. Even Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis SHOULD have had a hard time making Aquaman not only relevant but one of the best comics any company is putting out, but they are making it look easy. Has Aquaman ever been a top ten seller before now? I really doubt it. But Aquaman clearly is hitting a chord with readers, including this one. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Final Score: 9.0 – Still going strong. What I like is that each issue is so different that I can still find plenty to say after writing quite a few Aquaman reviews the last few months. The Others is shaping up to be another great arc, so check it out!