Like many other heroes in the New 52, Aquaman is now something of a blank slate. Certain past events have been depicted or at least teased, but clearly much is different about the new Aquaman. This issue takes us back six years to focus on his life after his Atlantean nature was revealed to the surface world. His father Tom lies on his deathbed and urges Arthur to find Atlantis and his mother and to tell her that Tom never stopped waiting for her return. He then dies, leaving Arthur alone and hounded by the press. Angrily, he turns his back on humanity and flees to the ocean. There is a battle that forces Arthur to push his still underdeveloped telepathic powers. He emerges from the water in the midst of a terrible storm and spies a small boat about to be destroyed on the rocks. Then, he saves the boat and the two passengers, a father and daughter, and the father tells him about another man he knows of that also claimed to be from Atlantis. (What a coincidence!) Arthur must travel to Norway and encounters a familiar face to longtime Aquaman readers. He also learns some tragic details about the state of Atlantis. The book climaxes with our first glimpse of the legendary city in this new continuity, rendered exquisitely by this book’s regular art team Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis.
This was another fantastic issue of this almost-always fantastic series. It was a nice breather from the regular storyline that helped to fill in more of Arthur’s past, which as of now, is still kind of mysterious to readers. Arthur is alone and lost for most of the story and the writing captures that mood perfectly. Though only seen in glimpses, Tom Curry has evolved into one of the best dads in comics and his impact on his son can be seen throughout this series. Just before saving the doomed boat, Arthur remembers the explanation Tom gave him as to why he acts as a lighthouse keeper. It’s no wonder Arthur loses his way after his father’s death.
I’ve already praised the art, namely the sideways, two-page spread depicting Atlantis, but honestly it’s exquisite throughout. There’s another single page spread of Arthur being attacked by a creature of the deep that looks amazing. The montage of Arthur travelling the world’s oceans is cinematic… it helps that the panels are shaped like movie screens. I’m notorious for calling out artists for drawing women in an overly sexual manner, but this art team evens the odds, with Arthur the Adonis strutting around shirtless through almost the entire issue. Gotta admit… he’s gorgeous.
If I have one complaint or critique, it’s just that this is a vignette. There’s a structure to it and the developments and additions are invaluable, but… what happens next?! When will we find out? This is a special issue, slightly apart from the regular series. When will we find out what else happened to Arthur in Atlantis? Let’s hope there’s a follow-up annual or something coming down the pike.
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and Cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado