In Review: Aquaman: Rebirth #1

This encourages me to continue to read his exploits.

The covers: The Regular cover is by Brad Walker, Drew Hennessey, and Gabe Eltaeb. This is the best Rebirth cover I’ve seen yet. This is a close up of the hero, as the other covers have been, but his face is barely obscured compared to the other covers. The King of the Seas looks to his right to see the reader looking back. He’s not happy and several bubbles fly about him and his massive trident that he bears in his right hand. Sensational artwork and radiant coloring that I wish the other Rebirth covers had. Terrific work by this trio. The Variant cover by Ryan Benjamin has Aquaman looking more rugged. He’s in the same state of high alert as the Regular cover, but he’s standing atop the brand new DC Bullet against a white background. His hair is in motion, as if he’s just turned to face the reader. He holds his trident, again, ready. Decent imagery. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant B+

The story: Deep in the western Atlantic, Aquaman is contacted by Captain Sark and Mera that he is close to his prey, the Deluge — “an Atlantean terror cell, fiercely xenophobic.” At the end of the fourth page he’s made contact with this group and the action begins. As he battles this group and their beasts, writer Dan Abnett interjects the conflict with scenes elsewhere: Mera correcting a soldier that Arthur is not attacking “our people” and how some land dwellers consider him a terrorist. The villains thwarted, the hero goes to a place that brings him comfort and he and Mera share a meal. Abnett introduces new readers to Aquaman’s abilities, his wife, his people, and his beliefs. Additionally, he introduces where the hero has opposition, and it’s coming at him above and below the water. I haven’t read an Aquaman comic since he’s had both his arms (Don’t ask), so I appreciated how Abnett told his story, allowing me and other readers to have the character reintroduced. Especially interesting is how the Atlanteans are not of one mind when it comes to the surface dwellers: there is open opposition to them and even Mera seems to be going along with Arthur’s wishes simply because she loves him and not because she shares his ideals. The action is good, but the meat of the story occurs when the two lovers share a meal. How each acts and what each says made them real. The final two pages introduce Aquaman’s arch enemy and I’m really looking forward to seeing what havoc this character brings to the monthly series. Overall grade: A

The art: Two artists and inkers for this issue: Scot Eaton and Oscar Jimenez provide the pencils and Mark Morales and Jimenez  provide inks. Unfortunately the credits don’t state who is responsible for which pages, so generalizations will have to be made. The first three pages are gorgeous with fine details. The opening page looks photographic, with the full page splash of Page 2 being amazing for the amount of bubble work done on and around Aquaman. Spindrift Station, the embassy of Atlantis, is a beautiful piece of design work. It’s interiors on 3 are a nice conglomeration of the futuristic and the romantic primitive, which is a classic combination for Atlantis based structures. A new penciller takes over on 4. The work is good, but isn’t as finely detailed as the previous pages, as the line work becomes thicker. The fight scenes are well drawn, with the creatures involved looking fierce. The four pages devoted to Arthur and Mera having a table bound discussion could have been death to the book, since there aren’t many opportunities for typical comic book excitement, but whoever did the pages moves the point of view around well. Especially interesting are Mera’s reactions during the scene: the way she sits and responds to Arthur adds to her character and hints at possible dissension. The artist of the opening three pages returns for the final two which has the big bad revealed. The first two panels of the penultimate page have an excellently detailed computer console, and the third panel has a terrific close up of the villain before he puts on his mask. The final page has the villain suited up for action and he looks great. The visuals are good, but it’s obvious when one artistic team takes over for the other. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Having Gabe Eltaeb on a book is a sure sign that the colors will be done well. The first page starts with the cool blue ocean and a huge school of silver fish. This creates a very calming effect upon the reader and is an outstanding lead in to the explosive second page. Aquaman’s costume is an instant eye magnet in this setting and the huge amount of blues done on this page shows the work that went in to this single image. The second panel on Page 3 continues the bright color scheme of Atlantean costumes, but the pale work done on their computer monitors puts a good sci-fi feel into the work. The characters’ hair looks really good and the coloring work done with Aquaman’s orange uniform makes it look like it comes from the sea. When the antagonist appears on the final three pages he is backlit by reds, giving him an instant sinister feeling. Eltaeb continues to show he’s at the top of this game. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, dialogue, scene settings, yells, sounds, story title, and book credits are crafted by Pat Brosseau. I’m always pleased to see narration be a different font from dialogue and the sounds are smart when fisticuffs occur out of the water. The story title is grand, increasing the villain’s epic introduction. Overall grade: A

The final line: I haven’t read an Aquaman book in a few decades. This encourages me to continue to read his exploits. I’m in. Overall grade: A

If you’d want to learn more about this title or other books with Aquaman go to http://www.dccomics.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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