Review: Aquaman #3 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Aquaman #3

Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled 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

Before I go forward with this review, I wanted to give a quick thank you to Pat McCullam, who is the editor on Aquaman. At San Diego Comic Con, Pat was extremely patient, and great at answering any questions I had…even the annoying ones like “Are you Jim Lee?”

Pat was also very generous with the giveaways. DC had some strange rules about when you could get their poker chips (only the first two or last two hours of the con), and Pat bent the rules a bit to help my sister and I out. So, thanks Pat! You’re an awesome guy! Hope to see you at more cons in the future.

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts with a quick look back at Aquaman’s childhood. His father is standing on a dock looking out across the ocean for Aquaman’s mother.

We are thrown back into modern day to find Aquaman and Mera fighting back the Trench. Aquaman is wounded in the fight when one takes a big bite out of his arm. They manage to drive the Trench back into the sea. Aquaman has a brief standoff with the local authorities, who seem to want to fire into the water. Aquaman reveals that the Trench have been wrapping people and animals in cocoons to bring them home as food, and that opening fire could hurt the survivors.

The military talks down at Aquaman, so Aquaman decides to take one of the Trench bodies himself to see if he can learn more about him. Aquaman and Mera seek out a disgraced marine biologist Dr. Stephen Shin. In their last encounter, Shin had tried to kill Aquaman when Aquaman wouldn’t tell him where Atlantis is.

Shin is able to help them figure out that the creature’s origins seem to suggest they come from the deepest parts of the ocean. It’s also suggested that the creatures need a lot of food to survive, so they must have left the trench in order to feed and survive.  Shin then shows that he is still crazy demanding that Aquaman tell him how to find Atlantis.

As Mera and Aquaman head to the trench to find them, they reflect on the idea that they have a lot in common with the creatures from the Trench:

Which is kind of an odd place to end the issue, if you ask me.

Review: One of the thing that really makes this book stand out is Ivan Reis’s art. No matter how much I have enjoyed Aquaman in the past, it never really had an artist that completely captured the look and feel of what I always imagined Aquaman could be. Ivan Reis’s art is just perfect on this book. I love the distinct look each of the Trench have, and the opening sequence with Aquaman’s dad staring across the sea is one of the best looking comic pages I’ve ever seen. The coloring really helps. Rod Reis really captures the look of the sea perfectly.

I do think the second and third issues in particular suffered a little from slow pacing. This is actually a complaint I have quite often about Geoff Johns. It seems to take forever for a story to really move forward. That said, the characterization throughout the book is terrific, so I am willing to give a lot of leeway there.

I especially thought Stephen Shin was an interesting character. One of the features of the New 52 is that people respond a little more realistically to superheroes than they did in the old DC Universe. I can definitely can understand a scientist wanting to use Aquaman and now the Trench to help restore their tarnished reputation. This really hearkens back to some of Marvel’s classic villains like Doctor Doom. Someone with great personal tragedy driven to do evil acts that seem perfectly justified in their own minds.

I also thought Johns did a great job providing some potential explanations for what makes the Trench the way they are. They are a really cool looking adversary, and I am anxious to find out more about them, especially what is driving them to seek food among the land folk.  I keep thinking there is much more to this story than “they ran out of food.”

I have always felt (probably unfairly) that the one area DC really was weak in was villains. Sure, there are some classics like Lex Luthor and Joker, but even characters like Sinestro were kind of dull and uninspiring over the years. Geoff Johns has gone a long way towards changing my mind on Sinestro, so I hope he can do the same for Aquaman’s rogues as well.

Aquaman still has a real solid spot as a favorite Relaunch book, but I do really hope that the story starts to pick up the pace a bit. 3 issues with no real answers just seem like too many.

Final Score: 8.5 – This series suffers a bit from Geoff Johns’ typical slow pacing, but the great characters and art make up for a lot.

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