Aquaman: Rebirth #1 (August, 2016)
“The Drowning, Prologue: After the Deluge”
Writer – Dan Abnett
Pencillers – Scot Eaton & Oscar Jimenez
Inkers – Mark Morales & Oscar Jimenez
Colorist – Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer – Pat Brosseau
Editors – Brian Cunningham & Amedeo Turturro
Cover Price: $2.99
Hey, Happy Friday everybody. Time for another Reader-Requested-Review… this time from a good pal and “bloggin’ brother” Deron from over at Murph Manor. He’s a big fan and expert on all things Daredevil and Red Hood… definitely give him a look! Just like last week’s requester, Deron’s got a permanent home on the “blogroll of Chris”.
Anyhoo, Deron suggested covering some Aquaman… either from The New-52! or Rebirth. Considering that I’ve got a stack of unread Rebirth taller than most first-graders, I figure this is a pretty good excuse to finally get around to chipping away at that pile!
And so, Aquaman: Rebirth!
We open with some narration captions whose purpose it seems, is to tell us that… ya know what, Earth is mostly water. Yeah, can’t help but feel like we hear that a lot in Aquaman books. Anyhoo, our main man is heading toward a a group of Atlantean terrorists who call themselves The Deluge. He is being guided to them with the aid of Mera and Captain Sark, who are currently at the new Atlantean Embassy, Spindrift Station.
It isn’t long before Arthur runs into The Deluge… who renounce him as their King. It’s explained that these goofs are fiercely xenophobic… and probably don’t dig Aquaman’s attempts at forming a peaceful coalition with the land-dwellers. In fact, these baddies have tied fusion bombs to their giant sea beasts in hopes of sending them into port to destroy them some cities.
During the battle, Murk questions Mera as to why Arthur would fight against his own people just to aid the “dry-landers”. Mera clarifies that The Deluge are not “their people”… they are terrorists! She checks with Garth… Tempest… Aqualad… yeah, him… about whether or not the American people have any idea that this battle is occurring. He says for now, mum’s the word… however, if the fight moves closer to land… they may catch wind of it.
The fight continues, and we are given a bit of exposition on Aquaman’s place in the world… he’s a hero, he’s a member of the Justice League… to the public, he’s either a menace (more on that in a bit), or a joke… dur hur, didja know that he talks to fish? Can we please stop… eh, forget it… I’ll complain more about that down below. So, yeah… he can be viewed as a menace. Case in point, The Throne of Atlantis storyline where Gotham City was flooded!
The fight still continues… now Aquaman and Corum Rath have made it ashore. Rath realizes he hasn’t made it to his destination of Boston, and decides to improvise… he’ll just vaporize the coast instead of the city! Not today though, pal. Aquaman kayos him good.
Later, we join Arthur at Sam’s Seafood, which is a place his father used to take him. He is soon joined by Mera… and they have a chat ova’ chowda’. Topics include the Deluge… their failed terrorist act, their designs on secession from Atlantis. It’s a pretty good scene, where Mera appears far less “fish out of water” than I’d come to expect. It’s made pretty clear that her dry-landing it is all for Arthur.
We wrap up with a reveal for the big-bad. Give ya three guesses who it is… Okay, it’s Black Manta. Duh.
Not bad… but it sorta feels like we’ve already been here. It’s like every time there’s a new-start or jumping on point for Aquaman, the focus is on establishing him as a force to be reckoned with… which, c’mon, he obviously is. It just feels like we’re overcorrecting from the way “the mainstream” might view him… ya know, “hur hur, he talks to fish”.
While on the subject… can we please stop with that? Not just the jokes about it… but the acknowledgement that the jokes exist in the first place? I get that we’re kinda hanging a lampshade on the gag now… however, it feels like the sole defining character for Arthur nowadays is “more than just talking to fish”. I think that’s lazy and does the character and title a great disservice. This would have been so much better had they just showed him being a bad-ass, without the snarky “see… he’s not a joke” narration.
To show that I’m not kidding… well, take a look:
… a bit tiresome, no? Eh, maybe it’s just me.
Another well-trodden bit of Aquaman lore is the fact that he is of two worlds… and not liked nor accepted by either one. I’m cool with having this point emphasized, especially in light of what he is trying to accomplish with Spindrift Station. I really like the idea of he and Mera acting like delegates from Atlantis… having not read any further than this, I cannot say whether or not this stuck.
While I’m not the biggest New-52! fan out there, I really appreciate that the events of Throne of Atlantis are still part of the canon. That was a really good story, and I am happy to see that it wasn’t wiped away with the latest relaunch. I will say I was a bit disappointed not to see any direct follow-up from Aquaman and Mera’s brief scene in DC Universe: Rebirth… ya know, where Arthur proposed. Are they already married here? That’s kind of the impression I’m getting… though, I am admittedly rather dense at times.
Overall… this serves as a great introduction to Aquaman and his world for new readers (talking to fish jokes notwithstanding). It’s basically a fight with expository narration running over it… good for newbies, and light enough not to irritate seasoned veterans. The art here is absolutely beautiful… the only way it could have been better is if Mera was wearing her Aquawoman duds from last year. That was a helluva costume. There’s enough here for a reader to decide whether or not this is a title they’d like to continue picking up… it’s a prologue, but there’s also a story here in and of itself.
Before we go, a big thanks to Deron from Murph Manor for the suggestion. It’s inspiring me to chip away (ever so slowly) into my Rebirth stack, and pedantic complaints aside, I dug this issue. If anyone reading has a book they’d like me to spotlight here, please don’t hesitate to reach out (here, there, anywhere)! Thanks!