This issue focuses on Aquaman’s brother Orm, Ocean Master, who served as ruler of Atlantis in Arthur’s absence. It was under his command that the underwater nation mistakenly took revenge on the surface world, flooding Metropolis, Gotham and Boston, killing hundreds. Orm is being held at Belle Reve prison, which is broken open by the Crime Syndicate, but Orm has no intention of joining the criminals. He takes a minute to “repay” the kindness shown to him by a security guard before heading toward the water, intent on returning to reclaim the throne of Atlantis. As he notes at one point, “Walking. How tedious.” Of course it’s not that easy and he runs afoul of some of the other escaped convicts who are running amok in a local town. A local woman attempts to get him to help her find her son, but the haughty dignitary is unsympathetic and only cares about returning home. But there might be some hope for redemption.
Ocean Master’s personality is clearly defined here and he walks the same line as characters like Magneto and Doctor Doom. He’s not a “criminal” but someone from another nation who doesn’t feel bound by our laws and regulations. His attacks on the surface were acts of war, not terrorism or crime. His inherent superiority is quite evident… maybe even just a tad heavy handed. His one-after-the-other encounters with surface dwellers get a bit repetitious, but I suppose that could be attributed to him being single-minded?
There is a brief reference to the earlier ‘Black Manta’ issue, which helps to sort of contrast the two characters, as Manta actually does attend the Crime Syndicate’s gathering, albeit only briefly.
Geraldo Borges’ art is excellent! Some of the best “fill in art” so far in the event. His style is actually quite similar to that of regular artist Paul Pellitier, so it didn’t feel like an abrupt detour. It helps that regular series colorist Rod Reis is present to work his usual magic, for instance the iridescent coloring on Orm’s tunic that really brings it to life. Just a small example, but it was a nice touch.
Unlike a lot of ‘Villains Month’ books, this isn’t an origin tale. Which is fine. Even preferable really. It builds up further one of Aquaman’s major supporting characters/villains and sets him up for his eventual return to Atlantis. The art is really good. The characterization was strong. All in all, a solid entry.
AQUAMAN #23.2/OCEAN MASTER #1
Plot by Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard
Words by Bedard
Pencils by Geraldo Borges
Cover by Paul Pellitier (uncredited)