As illustrated on the cover, in this issue, Aquaman, the water-based ocean monarch finds himself in the harshest possible location for him, the desert!  In the first page, we see Arthur falling from the sky and crashing down, very hard.  How did he get there?  The story is told in flashbacks, and we discover that Commander Clay from the Navy called Aquaman in for help.  The government was attempting to examine the bit of wreckage from the alien space craft Aquaman and Mera brought to the surface last issue, when it started blasting a deafening noise that resembles a dolphin’s chattering.  Just as Aquaman arrives, strange soldiers in battle armor blast in and steal the artifact, which looks identical to Aquaman’s “A” belt buckle.  (Which he explains actually stands for Atlantis, not Aquaman.)  Aquaman races after the men and leaps onto their aircraft as it takes off.  He forces himself inside and when he punches one of the guards, his faceplate shatters and water pours out.  “You’re Atlantean,” he surmises.  The ship is damaged and when one of the soldiers fires his weapon, it causes the craft to explode, sending Aquaman flying toward the desert below.

Aquaman doesn’t fare well in the desert.  First he must rip a piece of shrapnel from his leg, then he staggers around, trying in vain to locate water.  He finally collapses from dehydration and hallucinates a conversation with his deceased father.  He manages to get back up and uses his aquatic telepathy to locate the remains of the downed plane and the A shaped artifact, which works as something of a mystical “black box.”  He places it in water and something of a water-hologram appears, an Atlantean military man who warns of a threat to Atlantis, something that sounds like the creatures from The Trench.  (See issues 1, 2, 3 and 4.)  The man in the hologram also warns that the King and Queen of ancient Atlantis kept some very important secret from its people.  Just as the hologram fades, a Navy helicopter arrives to rescue him, which makes him more of a joke in the press.  Nevertheless, Aquaman has unearthed a mystery that he must investigate.

Ivan Reis’ gorgeous artwork continues to shine in this series.  It’s really beautiful!  The action sequences are bone-rattlingly dynamic.  His facial expressions are so emotive and expressive.  The rhythm of the storytelling just flows flawlessly.  I can’t gush enough!  Just excellent!

Writer Geoff Johns continues to embrace the underdog hero and crafts a top-notch, action-packed super hero story.  The new story nicely ties into the first story arc, “The Trench” but clearly sets up further mysteries to be unraveled, hinting at dark secrets about the very nature of Atlantis, Aquaman’s rightful home, from which he has distanced himself.  I actually find it kind of cool that Johns took the liberty of not basing this title’s first arc on Atlantis and establishing Aquaman’s back history.  Instead, he just hit the ground running and is filling in the background as we move forward.  Very bold, but an excellent idea and he’s executing it perfectly!

The issue ends fairly abruptly, but that’s the only criticism I can give this book.

Verdict: Buy

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and Cover by Ivan Reis