Aquaman: Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Andy Lanning, Rod Reis, Nick J. Napolitano
Aquaman’s a badass comic, okay? Just deal with it. This issue starts off with a bang, and doesn’t let up the entire time. In the last ish, we didn’t know much about Prisoner of War except that he had an Atlantean artifact that allowed him to create massive force fields. Here, we learn much, much more. And what’s genius about HOW we learn it…is it’s not done through excruciatingly long expository dialog. It’s done with pictures. Images. Striking images, at that. Subtle words and dialog that allows the reader to fill in the blanks, instead of having the spoon shoved down their throat. THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE, FOLKS.
Yes, I’m talking to you, Tom DeFalco.
Geoff Johns is a genius in this issue with letting us get to know enough about Prisoner as is needed to tell the story. We’re not laden with facts and information we don’t need presently.
I’ve discovered I really like Prisoner, as a character. He’s so tragic and lost. I really like what he does, and how he feels the lives of these dead soldiers. He’s kind of like a vessel for their spirits. He can use these spirits and their skills, their combined strength, to do extraordinary things. A part of me DOES want to know more…but properly, you know? I kinda hope Prisoner isn’t a soldier at all…never was…and he just started picking up these spirits, so now he maybe believes he was once a soldier. I dunno. Something tragic to fit his tragic existence.
I also really love how he says, “Fall in,” to gather the spirits to him. It’s surprisingly not cheesy at all. It’s bolstering. Emboldening. It actually made my chest swell. And I’m not a military man.
Now, Black Manta…is also a badass. He always has been. It’s primarily the suit. It’s sleek, it has weapons, and the huge eyes are definitely an imposing feature. I’ve always liked Black Manta, as much of a raging douche as he is. There’s something appealing about his savage nature. It’s when he’s portrayed as a calm, collected, even down-to-earth guy that I don’t buy it. Like that Young Justice cartoon. No, this guy’s an unstoppable psychopath who kills for the joy of it. I mean, yes, there are other rewards he’s after. But does he have to kill? No. Does he do it anyway? Oh yes.
I like how we’re given a bit more on the backgrounds of Manta and Aquaman, and how they intertwine. I’ve been wondering how they were going to do that. I thought it was going to be more involved with the Others, but apparently not. It goes back further, before them. I’m wondering at what point does Manta don the suit - obviously for underwater survival - to go after Arthur. We know Arthur fled underwater, presumably back to Atlantis, after his father died, or after he was exposed, or something. Is that when Manta followed him for revenge?
Anyway, another great issue. What’s funny is that not a lot actually happens here. Black Manta fights/chases Prisoner, Mera talks to Shin, and Aquaman and Ya’Wara fight their way out of the Amazon. What’s great about it is the pacing. Brilliantly timed, this issue jumps between those three settings wonderfully. It’s all captured by more of Reis’ outstanding art — just look at Mera’s water effects, and the rest of the water in this issue (especially on the windows of Shin’s cabin)!
I’m so glad we have an Aquaman we don’t have to be embarrassed of. I’m so glad this remains one of the top-selling DC books. It deserves it. Aquaman deserves it. Geoff Johns deserves it for bringing us a story that’s deep, engaging, and as much human as it is superhuman. Well done.
Aquaman #9, the verdict: I’ve pretty much said it all already. I’ve liked this series since day 1, and though it has had a couple rough points…it’s still delivered on action and story - sometimes one more than the other - each month. Even more consistent is Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis. They are among the few creative teams on the DC books that I have absolutely no hesitation - in fact I hardly ever shut up about it - in saying are the BEST. Here, let me emphasize that a little: THE BEST. If this team ever thinks about stepping away from this title even for a month, I have no doubts in my mind it will suffer. A bit of a shame, but that’s the price paid for keeping a jewel so constantly polished.
(Photo Source: Comic Vine)