With all of the big shakeups happening to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman — why shouldn’t another superhero’s world be flipped upside down?
Enter writer Cullen Bunn (writer of Sinestro) and Trevor McCarthy (artist of the now deceased Klarion title), who look to really shake things up with the status quo for our aquatic hero. What do they have in mind? Is it good?
Aquaman #41 (DC Comics)
Aquaman #41 is a mixed experience. There are elements to like while there are choices made by the creative team that’ll make you scratch your head. To start with, the story is split into two parts: One part that takes place in the present where Aquaman is on the run from Atlantis and the other taking place in the past before things went to crap. What ties them together is emergence of an old civilization from some other world bringing havoc that threatens to destroy this world unless someone stops it… Or so it may seem given the way this issue ends. Either way, this mysterious new civilization is quite intriguing and fascinating, if only because we don’t know much about it and what we do see only makes you more curious about what is going on. It’s a direction that I think could work for this book, having almost a weird horror vibe to it.
What doesn’t work, at least so far until we get better context in future issues, is the whole Aquaman against Atlantis scenario. Honestly, after reading Geoff Johns’ and some of Jeff Parker’s run on the character, this is a bit tiring. I thought the comic would be moving on beyond that now that most of the discontent that Atlantis had for Arthur is gone or wasn’t as violent as it used to. I feel the comic is regressing in this regard, as it should be moving on to explore more of the whole King of Atlantis deal. It’s disappointing, especially since it seems to be breaking up a power couple like Arthur and Mera as well. Of course, there could be a twist to this down the line (maybe possession or mind control?), but right now, it is a shame.
Cullen Bunn does a decent job on the writing for the most part. The pacing is fine and there are no real problems with the transitioning between the past and the present. The narration and dialogue are the same way, with some nice exchanges between the characters at points. Though, admittedly, the narration can be a tad over poetic or silly (“I’m the Bulwark upon which it breaks. The blessings are holding true. For now.”). The biggest part that I am mixed on is the characterization. While Aquaman seems pretty in character and normal when you see him in the past scenes, the present is where he is more willing to kill people (also, possibly due to artist’s interpretation, it looks like he almost smiles after killing a bunch of bad guys). Admittedly, I haven’t read all of Parker’s run and this sudden change in Arthur and the rest of the Atlantis will most likely be revealed as time goes on, but it does make me scratch my head and I can see people being put off by this.
As for the artwork, I’m very pleased that McCarthy has moved onto drawing more “flagship” titles such as this one. His artwork is fantastic here and he constructs some really imaginative scenes and images. The layouts are well-constructed, unique in how they are put together and even featuring unique borders that separate panels on the pages at times. The brief bit of action looks nice, the characters are drawn fairly well from their body types to their expressions and the colors by Guy Major really make the pages look so vivid and lively. The one area of the art that most people are going to look at and question is Aquaman’s new design and appearance. Admittedly, it doesn’t really bother me, but I do agree the character looks like a pro wrestler from the outfit to the overall appearance.
Hmm… that’s cool and all, but let’s see it turn into a sword next.
Is It Good?
Aquaman #41 is a comic that is going to greatly depend on how much you are willing to go with it. While the writing is good, the premise is intriguing, and the art is nice — you’ll have to be willing to accept the new status quo for Aquaman in both story and character for the time being to see how it plays out. This comic will put some people off and it’s easy to understand why. If you read my review and if you like the sound of everything, definitely go for it. If not, hold off on the book for a while until things become clearer.