This Means War-Head
Dan Abnett (W), Scot Eaton (P), Wayne Faucher (I), Gabe Eltaeb (C)
Cover by Andrew Hennessy and Gabe Eltaeb
Publisher: DC Comics
Things have been pretty complicated lately in the life of Arthur Curry, king of the underwater realm of Atlantis. In what honestly was the best Aquaman story I have ever read, Atlantis has been on the brink of all-out war with the United States. This was spurred onwards by the shadow organization known as N.E.M.O, who committed a number of false flag operations against the United States, disguising themselves as Atlantean military.
Leading N.E.M.O was none other than Black Manta, who killed the previous Fisher King of N.E.M.O. and assumed the mantle. Aquaman was narrowly able to track down the organization and present proof to the United States government that it was not Atlantis instigating conflict with America. This was not without casualties, as a number of the Atlantean royal council were killed by N.E.M.O as well as the U.S military.
In the aftermath, Arthur’s aquatelepathy has been misbehaving. This has been caused by a mysterious entity known as Warhead, a telepathic cyborg war machine who has been manipulating students and faculty at Beckman University to perform missions for him.
This issue opens up with a woman being forced to open fire upon Aquaman. He disarms her, and his telepathy begins to misfire once more. A drone begins shooting at him, and Warhead appears, gunning down the king of Atlantis.
We are taken two hours beforehand, when Aquaman arrived at the U.N headquarters located in Manhattan. He meets up with a security detail which insists on protecting him. His telepathy begins misbehaving. Inside, a mass of Aquaman fans have formed. They have fallen in love with the king for his exploits in halting war between Atlantis and the U.S.
Mera, Murk, and others of Aquaman’s retinue watch on from television in Amnesty Bay as Arthur begins his U.N address. As he starts, we see Warhead activating his own telepathy, and Aquaman sees a bleeding soldier in the crowd. The soldier disappears, and Arthur continues his address.
Afterwards, he sees the soldier outside and leaves the security detail behind. The detail begins to panic. Arthur finds the soldier outside Beckman college, and he sees a war zone all around him. It all disappears, and a man with a gun begins firing upon Aquaman while apologizing. He disarms the man, and the man points Arthur in the direction of the campus lab.
He’s attacked once more upon entering the lab area, and he disarms this assailant as well. This man tells Aquaman the name of Warhead, informs him of his telepathic abilities, and tells Arthur that his aquatelepathy makes him “receptive to contact but resistant to control” by Warhead.
From here, the woman from the beginning of the comic arrives, and we are in the “present.” The security detail surrounds Beckman, as Aquaman attacks Warhead. He pleads with the machine-man to stop through telepathy while attempting to apprehend him.
Warhead grabs Aquaman’s head, and Aquaman finds himself in a hellish war zone. An explosion flings him across the landscape, and he becomes convinced that what he is seeing is real as the comic concludes.
Dan Abnett is, hands down, one of the best writers working right now. His work on Aquaman and Titans is incredible, and he has few peers at either of the big two companies.
This story is interesting, and it seems to be leading in a very intriguing direction in regards to Warhead’s intent and origins. I’m genuinely not sure where this is going, and I am excited to find out.
I’m not sure what the point of the time skip was other than to accommodate the fact that Aquaman was at Beckman at the end of the last comic. It wasn’t confusing, but it didn’t really serve that grand a purpose either.
There is a bit of a lull in and around the section where Aquaman gives his address. The segments back in Amnesty Bay don’t really add anything, but they’re not particularly funny either. We’re also not made privy to much of Aquaman’s address, and I’m actually a little disappointed by that. I’m sure it would have been very interesting given the insane political atmosphere that surrounds Atlantis in DC Comics.
This story also has the unfortunate role of taking place after “Deluge.” That really was the best Aquaman story I’ve ever read, no hyperbole, surpassing even Geoff Johns’ impressive tenure with the king of Atlantis. It had political intrigue, Aquaman’s greatest villain Black Manta, and palpable tension that carried through from one issue to the next. It even served to provide interesting commentary about the War on Terror via the subplot with the Atlantean terror cell known as the Deluge. It also solidly characterized Arthur Curry and gave him a defined personality. This is something that even Geoff Johns struggled with back during his stint on Aquaman.
All this being said, this puts “Warhead” in the unfortunate position of not having grabbed me like “Deluge” did. It may yet get to that level of brilliance, but it hasn’t arrived yet. This by no means makes this a bad comic, but it does give “Warhead” the same uphill battle that Charles Soule faced when taking over Daredevil after Mark Waid left the title. You’re left wondering, “Can this be as good?” The difference of course is that this still has the same brilliant writer, and, like Charles Soule has since done on Daredevil, I’m sure Mr. Abnett will wow me yet again.
The art is quite good on this book. Eaton, Faucher, and Eltaeb have given life to a striking and action-packed story. I dig the design of Warhead. He’s reminiscent of 90’s comics without dipping into the ridiculous hypermasculine excess of the 1990’s in comic books. The name, Warhead, is pretty reminiscent too, though I will say I’m not a fan of the moniker.
As I said, Dan Abnett is rocking this comic book as well as the comics world at large. This a great book, and I have full faith in him maintaining the high quality I have come to expect of him.
Final Score: 8/10