Review: Aquaman #14
Published by DC Comics
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Pete Woods and Pere Perez
Coloured by Tony Avina
This is a prelude to the Throne of Atlantis and it begins with a flashback to the 1800s. There was an altercation between an Atlantean and a group of sailors aboard a ship. The Captain of the ship has plans of revenge on his mind, but a group of Atlanteans surface and surrounded them. Cut to the present and Aquaman is in Amnesty Bay, Maine contacting various sea life with the intent of communicating with his brother, the King of Atlantis (Orm/Ocean Master). Ocean Master then mentions someone that was recently killed prior to the DC reboot. In the meantime, a guard from Belle Reve Prison is making a proposition to Black Manta. He declines to say the least. Aquaman and Ocean Master begin their discussion where Aquaman tells him of recent events with Black Manta, which prompts his brother to ask, “What is a Black Manta?” The conversation between them gets to be more direct afterwards. The scene shifts to Norway where Vulko is helping some of his fellow villagers. However, someone comes up to him with a startling discovery, which forces him to immediately rush into the water. Aquaman and Ocean Master discuss some of their philosophical differences between the surface world and the ocean. They also conclude the story from the beginning with the Atlanteans and the people from the ship. Ocean Master then does his best to once again reassure him that his intent is not to attack the surface. The book ends with someone at the “Bottom of the Atlantic Ocean” who uses the Scepter to destroy a large group of boulders, which unleashes the Trench!
This was purely a set-up issue, but it still contained some significant information such as some of the history between Atlantis and the surface world as well as establishing the relationship with Aquaman and his brother, Ocean Master/Orm (his name wasn’t actually mentioned in this issue). This makes me anticipate the upcoming storyline even more as it isn’t going to just be the comic equivalent of a blockbuster extravaganza that’s more action-driven than story-driven. The Atlanteans were established as badasses in this issue by simply showing up and remaining silent. One of the things that this title has done so effectively is taking advantage of the reboot and re-establishing their villains as legitimate threats once again. Ocean Master was so calm and cool that I forgot about the fact that he’s been bested so many times before. Even though Black Manta was taken out at the end of the previous arc, he still manages to be badass as well. I’m glad to see that the Trench are back as they were suddenly and quickly defeated back in the first arc. This was almost spoiler material, but they’re return has been mentioned various times before. Also, it was mentioned elsewhere on this site already so I’m not really spoiling this, but it was also revealed that Garth is alive and well. This made me happy as his was the one death that I didn’t like in Blackest Night. I’m also pleased that I’m actually interested in Vulko’s involvement in any story for a change. Pete Woods and Pere Perez did a fine job overall as artists and that last page looked very good. The colours by Avina were able to help maintain a consistent look to the book as it was bright and flashy. Aquaman’s body armour has that dynamic look due to the colouring and I’m glad that this aspect of his appearance was consistent.
I did miss Reis’ art as he’s been such an important part of making Aquaman a hit for DC. I’ll get over his departure for sure as the story continues to be consistent and the history continues to be further explored. The fish on the first splash page looked like they were tripping balls. I am unsure of whether or not I like this, but Ocean Master was obscured by shadows and close ups for the entire issue. It did make him more intriguing and even more threatening; however, I wondered in the back of my mind if they were trying not to spoil his appearance or something (which may not be the case at all because he was on the cover after all). Some of the panels with Aquaman’s face did feel a bit flat, but that wasn’t a major issue as the art was good overall. The guard at Belle Reve was kind of a dumbass with Black Manta. It was kind of like the equivalent of having Billy Batson captive without tape on his mouth or Batman with access to his utility belt. Well come to think of it, he can pretty much get out of anything so maybe it’s more like having Batman captive without being fully sedated.
Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?
Buy It! Even though it’s a prelude it still had some quality scenes and it would have stood fine on its own and not part of an upcoming crossover. There were some great character moments and it did a lot to build up the upcoming Throne of Atlantis storyline. I was interested in this book prior to the reboot because of the creative team, but I did not anticipate actually picking up every single issue of this title thus far with indefinite plans to continue buying well over a year later.