Thanks to his “water-based” powers (which is a bit of a misunderstanding of the character’s true capabilities) Aquaman is often dismissed as a “lesser” superhero among the DC pantheon. The theory goes—take Arthur Curry out of the ocean, and he’s about as useful as Jimmy Olsen with green spandex pants.
That’s why story arcs like the current “Throne of Atlantis” place Aquaman more in his “element,” as it were, and show the true badass qualities of his underwater brethren. The latest issue, #15, opens with Gotham City being flooded, and an apparent war underway between Atlantis (led by Arthur’s half-brother Orm–Ocean Master) and the surface-world (protected by the Justice League). In the wake of events like Hurricane Sandy, the idea of a city being flooded is a bit unsettling, and there’s no question that there are casualties.
But it also appears like some mysterious third party is setting Atlantis and the “air-breathers” against each other—and this entity seems to originate from deep within the ocean floor, like some fearsome Lovecraftian Dagon-like creature.
Amongst the fast pace of the water-drenched action, we get a bit more insight into Arthur Curry as a character—including the fact that he had helped draw up a “fail safe” war plan in the event that Atlantis found itself attacked by the surface. This revelation is on par with that of Batman in the pre-New 52 “Tower of Babel” JLA storyline, with Batman coming up with the clever ways to incapacitate his teammates should the worst-case scenario come to pass.
This all leads to Aquaman being forced to choose between his Justice League peeps and his fellow Atlantians. Like in the best Sub-Mariner tales, this highlighting of the fact that the protagonist is definitely not fully human makes the character all the more interesting.
“New 52” books tend to come in two flavors these days: 1) really nice packages of story/art and 2) sort of slapdash concoctions. “Aquaman,” like fellow titles “Batman,” “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League,” “Green Lantern,” and “The Flash,” is definitely in the former category, an overall satisfying and good-looking comic. It’s true that we’ve had 3 different art teams for the last three issues — Ivan Reis/Joe Prado/Julio Ferreira, Pete Woods/Pere Perez, and with #15 Paul Pelletier/Art Thibert. But at least the art is quality and aesthetically “fits” in with each other.
We’ve got another month and change to go for “Throne of Atlantis,” crossing over between “Aquaman” and “Justice League.” Love to see Arthur’s cast expanded a bit more in the aftermath of this, as well as a bit darker and more complex interation of the character. That said, I think “Death of the Family” is as much “gritty” crossover material as I can digest in one month, so don’t get TOO dark!
Aquaman #15 hits stores today