Dan Abnett (W), Vicente Cifuentes (P), Juan Castro (I), Guy Major (C)
Cover By: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andre Dalhouse
Publisher: DC Comics
This series is a pretty interesting one to talk about. Aquaman seems to a be a difficult hero to sell for DC. This was partly because of all the “Aquaman is useless” jokes (funny how something becomes a meme and then it becomes “fact”). I think it’s partly because it’s difficult to define him as a character. He’s a more serious hero for sure, but it’s kind of hard to say who Arthur Curry is besides that. He’s definitely got an interesting back story with a lot of potential; he’s the hybrid son of human and Atlantean destined to be king of Atlantis. That’s an awesome origin story.
The New 52 Aquaman series also seems like one that was difficult to tame. Four writers that I absolutely love have written it since its New 52 relaunch. Only two of those writers have really wowed me with their Aquaman material.
Geoff Johns started it off with 25 powerhouse issues that actually managed to silence the Aquaman deniers. His run on the title is definitely my favorite of the series, though it may be unfair because he got to use the two most interesting Aquaman villains, Black Manta and Ocean Master. To his credit, though, he created the terrifying Trench, and it takes more than just using the right villains to make a title great.
The great Jeff Parker followed it up with some pretty solid work, but it never excited me. The story about Arthur’s mother was probably his best on this book, and it was a pretty well-written stint.
Cullen Bunn, another writer I can’t get enough of (seriously, read his Magneto title, it will blow your friggin’ mind), took it over from here. He’s been harassed on social media for this book (which is never ever okay people), so I won’t really linger on his run on Aquaman. I will just leave it at this; it could have been stronger.
Now we have Dan Abnett of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy fame on the book. I have to say, he’s made me excited to read Aquaman again. His new villain, Dead Water, is a really well-designed and just plain awesome villain for Arthur Curry. He’s also lightened up the character a bit by having the hero actively try to relate to people more through humor. The introduction of FBI Agents Irving and Ajar also did the title some justice, as they are both pretty entertaining characters.
This issue picks up with Aquaman duking it out with a new-and-improved Scavenger in his attempts to figure out the origins of Dead Water. Meanwhile, Mera struggles to keep Dead Water imprisoned at the Spindrift Station. Dead Water escapes, and Aquaman must keep he and Scavenger from tearing each other apart.
This issue was another strong one in Abnett’s Aquaman catalogue. It brings the Dead Water story to a great conclusion that I won’t spoil.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Scavenger as a villain, but this issue did the smart thing by only making him a part of the overall threat. It also has him playing the regular greedy bad guy, and sometimes simplicity is best with the villain. It does give him some depth by having him get genuinely offended when Aquaman insinuates that he doesn’t really care about the lives of his crew. I enjoyed that little ping of humanity in the character of Scavenger.
I really like Dead Water as a villain. He’s sort of like Jekyll and Hyde if Hyde were a cannibal fish-man. It reveals his origin, and you can’t help but feel for the guy.
This issue also has a nice moment when Aquaman loses his patience and really cuts loose on the Scavenger. It adds a bit more personality to Aquaman, whom, like I said, has a character that writers seem to have a hard time pinning down. Giving a character a breaking point like Abnett does for Arthur Curry in this issue goes a long way in fleshing out what makes that character tick.
This issue does get a bit exposition-heavy at times, especially when the Scavenger explains the mysterious substance that made Jonah Payne into Dead Water. It bogs down the pacing a little bit and makes some of the dialogue really not interesting. However, it doesn’t damage the issue too much.
Also, and this isn’t the Abnett or Aquaman’s fault, there are eight solid pages of advertisement in this book without any story in those eight pages. DC is really bad about letting their ads interfere with the story. Neither of the big dogs are innocent of this crime, but DC is in the unfortunate position of having tried those terrible half-page Twix ads a few months back. Throwing this much overbearing advertisement at me is not going to make me want to read Rebirth any more than I already do, nor is it going to make me actually want to play Overwatch.
All that aside, this is a genuinely good issue. It won’t change your life, but it’s a great action-packed issue with some solid character moments mixed in. Give it a read.
Final Score: 7.5/10