Review: Brightest Day #20 By Geoff Johns And Peter Tomasi

Brightest Day #20

Written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi

Art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

Well I’ll be damned, that was pretty freaking sweet. Aquawar takes the entirety of this issue to wrap up, and the story is oh so much better because of it. Reading this issue does a great job from cover to cover of making you understand why Aquaman is important, and on top of that, why his supporting cast is important. This is quite possibly the best Aquaman story that I’ve read, the characters are awesome without crossing out of the lines of believability, And the art? The art is Ivan Reis, the art holds up.

When last we left our aquatic hero his hand was freshly severed and Black Manta seemed imminent with a killshot, Aquaman and Aqualad weren’t really seeming to cut it against Black Manta and Siren’s army. This is where the first really nice moment of the issue kicked in, with the full acknowledgement that Aquman has a sizable family. Quickly the fight adds Mera and Aquagirl to the fray and it’s pretty cool as each member of the Aquaman family gets a chance to show off what they can do. Lorena gets to beat people up, Mera controls the water (in a way most epic), Arthur controls the (dead) creatures of the sea, and Jackson shows a little bit of everything before providing the key to the entire Aquawar.

It’s an epic fight issue, big moments, gorgeous double page spreads of pure awesome. Is there a giant plot to it? Nope, but hey, that’s what they’ve been building up since the beginning of Brightest Day for Aquaman, they got all the leg work and exposition out of the way so that this issue could be spent wrapping it all up. It also allowed time to be spent wrapping up the drama between Arthur and Mera, as there have been trust issues since she revealed her true origin to him. The way they handled it I like as well, as the sum of it is that each member of the Aquaman family is an outcast, torn between two worlds. Aquaman is torn between the surface and the sea, Mera is from Xebel and torn between her heritage and being Queen of Atlantis, Aquagirl is a human torn between the surface and the sea, and Aqualad…well, we all know what he is by now. There’s a theme that brings these four together aside from various water abilities and a common ability to breathe underwater, and it makes them stronger characters.

They also managed to find out just what makes Aquaman tick. Missing a hand, controlling dead fish, his wife having initially been sent to kill him, and his own life only recently restored, Aquaman has been dealt a wealth of issues to create a plot and story arc around him. A character like him needs a hook (sometime even literally), but I think Johns and Tomasi finally figured it out. He’s Aquaman, he’s a man of two worlds who fights for both, and he does so with an aura of confidence fit only for a king. Strip him of everything and he still won’t quit, cut off his hand and he’ll cauterize the wound and beat you with the stub, build doubt around his wife and he’ll trust her when it counts. He’s an incredibly unique character when you keep him in an environment where he’s able to shine, keeping him around the seas, facing villains fit for him. There’s definitely a hook here, and I like it.

The fight goes a bit quickly, which is expected after how quickly the Hawkwar wrapped up a few issues ago. It’s as the issue ends that you’re reminded that this is Brightest Day, and not an awesome Aquaman book that you start wondering why you can’t just buy. An Aquaman book that you want to buy, isn’t that a crazy thought? I know I forgot for a little while that I wasn’t reading one, and if Johns or Tomasi were to launch a new ongoing I would definitely buy it. Aquaman has had the best story arc in this book and it’s done more to make me a fan of the character than years of casual reads have done. It’s the first time I’ve ever given a damn about the guy who talks to fish.

Ivan Reis and Joe Prado are just plain awesome and this issue is freaking gorgeous. Like I was saying before, there are several double page spreads that showcase just what these characters can do and they do an amazing job at it. The attention to detail is just crazy, I mean, just look at Aquaman and the zombified creatures of the sea, Reis manages to take something that he did in Blackest Night as a moment of horror and turn it into something epic and iconic, and uniquely Aquaman.

Six issues left in this series means that this homerun leaves me feeling good as we come down the final stretch. Three more months and Brightest Day is over, we’ve already seen a month of comics solicited with Brightest Day over, it’s coming up on us quickly. The events that wrap this issue up raise quite a few big questions about the nature of Brightest Day as a whole, as well as creating doubt about events in previous issues. It’s amazing how fluidly this issue flows back into being Brightest Day and not Aquaman, as for once the book doesn’t shift off on to new characters to end after a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger is still Aquaman despite this being the conclusion to Aquawar. Firestorm and the Martian Manhunter still have stories to wrap, and I’m excited for both! I want more!



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