Saturday, March 12, 2016

Aquaman (vol.5) #49 (2016)


Aquaman (vol.5) #49 (April, 2016)
"Rising to the Surface"
Writer - Dan Abnett
Penciller - Vicente Cifuentes
Inkers - John Dell & Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist - Guy Major
Letterer - Tom Napolitano
Asst. Editor - Amedeo Turturro
Group Editor - Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $3.99

Wow, this is a new one.  I know I don't usually review contemporary releases, but I found myself enjoying this one so much that I wanted to discuss it.

I'm not really what one would call an Aquaman fan.  My idea of an iconic Aquaman includes long hair, a beard, and a hook hand.  That was the last time I felt invested in the character.  While what Geoff Johns did with him post-Flashpoint was a great step forward in regard to the legitimacy of the character (and hopefully sparing us of "hur hur, he talks to fish" observations), I still wasn't interested enough to pony up the three-bucks a month to follow his adventures.

I'd heard some divisive things about the most recent ex-writer on the title, Cullen Bunn's run.  I will admit that I did not follow it.  I picked up the first post-Convergence issue, and while I didn't dislike it, it also did not inspire me to pony up the now four-bucks a month it would cost to follow along.  I'd heard rumors that the post-Bunn Aquaman would feature the return of Geoff Johns to the title... which I suppose may now be held back until Rebirth.  I guess amidst all the excitement, I somehow talked myself into picking up Aquaman again... and I'm glad I did.

As this is a brand-new issue, I'm going to (attempt to) be lighter on the summary than normal.  My intent is not to completely spoil the story... just discuss some points of it.  Hopefully I'll be somewhat successful to that end...

--

Mera and Aquaman are wrapping up their day at the lighthouse when the subject of a proposition comes up.  Arthur proposed something of a cultural immersion for Atlanteans.  Living on land would help provide insight as to how "land dwellers" live.


There is a knock at the door.  It is Officer Watson who invites the Aqua's to that weekend's Sea Festival at Amnesty Bay.  While Arthur hesitates, Mera accepts the invitation.  Before leaving, Watson tells them they should bring friends along.


The next day at the Festival, we join Arthur, Mera, Tula, and Garth... the latter trying to become accustomed to their bizarre land-dweller garments.  This is a fun scene, where Arthur and Mera introduce their guests to such novelties and diversions as cotton candy, fair games, photo booths and ships in bottles.

Remember Fun?
I'm starting to...
This really is a wonderful cluster of scenes.  Arthur and Mera discuss his unique place in the world, being as though he is born of both land and sea.  Arthur believes he will be able to make Atlantis relevant to the global community once more.  Mera ultimately approves, and in an absolutely jaw-dropping full-page spread dons an Aquawoman costume.


There are scenes peppered throughout this issue introducing an incoming threat from the water.  We see several individuals attacked by clawed hands emerging from various water sources, including a cup of water, fish tanks, a sprinkler, and a bath tub.  These scenes definitely lend to how dangerous a threat this creature will be in short order.  I'm looking forward to seeing how that all plays out.


--

I really cannot believe how excited I am for the next issue of Aquaman.  That is probably a statement I've never made before.  This was such a fun issue, as well as a perfect "jumping on point".  From what I'd heard, the last run on this title was a rather large departure for the character.  If so, I suppose this is a return to form.

The writing was very good.  Normally, when I think "Aquaman" I think of a guy with a stick up his butt.  No fun, all serious... this issue changed all of that.  Arthur is embracing a lighter hearted, almost self-depreciating in a way, attitude.  Mera came across as a very real/human character as well.  The two together felt like a very natural couple... I really like that.

The pending threat was handled very well.  Spacing these vignettes out really helped the flow of the story.  Interjecting a serious deadly threat throughout a fun visit to the fair story was a great decision.

The art... well, this was a beautiful book.  I'm not terribly familiar with Cifuentes, though I'm sure I've seen his work before.  He is a wonderful fit for this title, and I hope he will be on it (and the post-Rebirth volume) for a while to come.

Recommended for certain.  Should still be on the racks as of this writing... do yourself a favor and check it out.  I say this as a guy who has not ever collected an extended run on this title.

If tasked with a numerical grade... 9/10.

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