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    Review: Aquaman #1

    By | September 30th, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Geoff Johns
    Illustrated by Ivan Reis

    The superstar creators from BLACKEST NIGHT and BRIGHTEST DAY reunite to take AQUAMAN to amazing new depths!

    Aquaman has renounced the throne of Atlantis — but the sea will not release Arthur Curry so easily. Now, from a forgotten corner of the ocean emerges… The Trench! A broken race of creatures that should not exist, an unspeakable need driving them, The Trench will be the most talked-about new characters in the DC Universe!

    Watching my beloved Boston Red Sox unravel completely and destroy their season in a spectacular fashion was actually the second epic fail I witnessed on Wednesday. The first was Aquaman #1. I won’t even try and sugar coat this, this review will be resoundingly negative.

    If that’s your sort of thing, click on down!

    I didn’t just mention the Red Sox in my opening due to the unbearable bitterness pervading my soul at the moment, since the more I think about it their downfall is ultimately reflective of a downfall highlighted by this book. And no, I don’t mean of the fall of Aquaman, the King of the Seven Seas and master of rocking the color orange. No, I mean the downfall of Geoff Johns.

    For most of my youth, I was a devout Marvel Zombie. When I was 17, a little book called Green Lantern Rebirth brought me into the DC Universe with the promise of exciting, accessible storytelling and a year or so later my existence as a devout fan of the DCU was solidified thanks to a little big event called Infinite Crisis. What did these two books have in common? They were both written by Geoff Johns and they were both fantastic examples of comics done right.

    How the mighty have fallen.

    Johns used to be able to revive beloved characters for a modern DC Universe like it was his job. Perfectly accentuating what makes those characters great while leaving out decades of flotsam. He did it with Green Lantern, he did it with The Flash. That is why when I heard he would be helming the revival of one of DC’s most misunderstood heroes that I immediately thought “well, its time for me to finally appreciate Aquaman”. In short, worse than the exact opposite occurred: I’m actually starting to hate the guy after reading this comic book.

    Because not only has Johns seemingly forgotten how to write accessible characters, he seems like he’s forgotten how to write PERIOD if this issue is any indication. Stocky dialogue, horribly contrived plot twists and a misguided attempt at being metatextual all combine to attack Mr. Johns’ former credibility. Okay Geoff, I get it, you know Aquaman is cooler than people give him credit for, but having him at at a seafood restaurant and get mocked by the Boston Police is NOT the way to show that. The story spends WAY more time telling us how derided Aquaman is and telling us how cool he should be and spends absolutely zero time showing WHY we should believe that. Sorry, but comics should NEVER tell and should always show, and it was just embarrassing how often this issue read like a fanboy rant in support of his favorite character. And the parts of the story that actually decided to, ya know, tell an actual STORY were so dry and played out that they called for nothing but eye rolls. Abandoning the seas in the name of looooove, Geoff? Secret race from the bottom of the ocean that likes to eat people? That’s your big motivator and threat? Come on now.

    Now, I will say that is impossible to give this issue an absolute flatline rating because the art is just so goddamn good. Ivan Reis has consistently upped his game with each book he works on and this next step is just absolutely gorgeous. His use of light and perspective really help to bring the sense of grandeur to the titular character that the dialogue absolutely fails to do. His characters’ facial expressions carry the emotion to a T, be it contained rage, mirthful ignorance or pure love, he manages to make these emotions bleed through the pages. On top of this, despite their reason for being ending up incredibly contrived, the mystery monsters from the bottom of the sea blending into the black water of the depths perfectly and this balance conveys a real sense of deep visual dread that, again, the story does not capitalize on. If there were ever a wasted opportunity for Reis, this book is it.

    Continued below

    I know, I know, I’ve been very very harsh in this review and quite honestly, I hate writing reviews like this. I really do. But it is also very rare that I feel legitimately ripped off after I read a comic book, and I feel like I wasted every penny I spent on this issue. And it isn’t the dialogue that takes reader investment for granted or the story that just bleeds of mediocrity that gets to me the most, it’s the fact that someone I could once trust to create the absolute best comics can offer just does not seem to value quality in his work anymore.

    Final Verdict: 3.5 – Enjoy the Pretty Pictures but Please God Don’t Read the Words.


    Joshua Mocle

    Joshua Mocle is an educator, writer, audio spelunker and general enthusiast of things loud and fast. He is also a devout Canadian. He can often be found thinking about comics too much, pretending to know things about baseball and trying to convince the masses that pop-punk is still a legitimate genre. Stalk him out on twitter and thought grenade.

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