Never could I have imagined reading or enjoying Aquaman. It’s not a knock to the character, but rather a testament to my fickle nature, especially when it comes to superheroes. I’ve spent most of my life as more of a ‘Marvel girl’, having grown up learning to read with X-Men comics, and aside from my high school years spent reading Batman and being ‘edgy’, many classic DC characters have remained outside of my radar until the past six years or so.
Right out of the gate, I’ll admit the only thing that drew me to this issue was the announcement that Stjepan Sejic (Sunstone, Ravine) would be producing art for a short run of the series (as well as an upcoming issue of Suicide Squad!). Being one of my favorite artists in comics right now, I tend to collect anything he creates just to see it and give it a try. Inevitably, I dove into Aquaman and was visually delighted.
But to my surprise, I was captured by the story as well, written by Dan Abnett (Resurrection Man, Legion, The New Deadwardians). This special-sized anniversary issue had a lot of ground to cover following the events of previous Aquaman issues, all while beginning a new story arc to follow, and it really stepped up to the plate. The underwater kingdom of Atlantis doesn’t just feel like a city with a big, blue backdrop. There’s real immersion of design to reflect that you are in the ocean, where every movement conjures bubbles and waves in your wake, where coral and shipwrecks are the foundation on which homes and businesses are built. It’s not a Disney mermaid-world, but a functioning landscape that just happens to be underwater. While this is represented visually with a stunning attention to detail per panel, it’s also inherent in how the characters are interacting and living through political turmoil.
Our new antagonist Corum Rath has the potential to be a real Kingpin of Atlantis with the way his schemes are playing out, and I hope he gets at least a nice five-issue saga to establish just how he and the Drift took over everything, why Aquaman would fear or hide in wait from them, and how Mera’s return and reunion with Arthur will make a difference in the end. There seems to be quite a few factors at play with the rebels of the Ninth Tride and new mutations of merfolk stirring things up!
In summary, this issue serves as a great way for new readers to get into Aquaman, a very nice build on top of the foundation of the existing series, and a gorgeous tale of other worlds to enjoy visually and verbally.