Writer Dan Abnett blew me away with issue #50 of Aquaman as it was action packed, reset the direction of the character, and introduced a clever new villain. What does he have in store for us with issue #51? Is it good?
Aquaman #51 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? DC Comics says this:
In order to solve the mystery of the rage-monster Dead Water, Aquaman must turn to the only person with any answers: the notorious Scavenger!
Why does this book matter?
Dan Abnett is a solid writer who has proven he’s the bee’s knees over and over ::coughGuardiansoftheGalaxycough::, and if issue #50 didn’t make you a believer you may just be dead. Black Water took over a human body and its source of power is a water source Aquaman can’t breathe in. Sounds like a potential ultimate nemesis!
This is no time for tanning!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Abnett continues to use two female FBI agents and Aquaman’s new above-water embassy to drive the story and he continues to drive it well. This is a detective story through and through, so don’t expect lots of action, but rest assured Abnett keeps the mystery interesting with good Aquaman and Mara characterization thrown in. The main conflict of this issue is how Aquaman is treating his detainee, a man who has no memory of becoming the Black Water monster, as he must keep him as dehydrated as possible. He’s in intense pain, and while it’s necessary, Abnett plays with the hero’s mixed feelings about the situation.
Since Aquaman and his people are openly working with the surface humans, the embassy element is playing a bigger part. I think Abnett is effectively showing us how this has made Aquaman and his place amongst the heroes different than the rest. It has effectively made him bigger than just one man and that’s an interesting element added to the character.
Vicente Cifuentes draws an easy to follow story that mixes up panels to keep the detective work–which is very dialogue heavy–interesting enough. When the story kicks up the action Cifuentes draws a mean monster and mech submersible. Mera looks fabulous whenever she’s on the page too.
It can’t be perfect can it?
That isn’t to say the art is perfect. It’s a bit rough around the edges here and there, in particular one panel that made it difficult to see how Mera was being flung backwards and there are two or so panels where the perspective seemed off.
The story isn’t the most intriguing at this juncture and that might be because the detective work in play here is really just reading Aquaman ask the perp questions. The answers aren’t intriguing since he doesn’t remember anything, which further makes the story feel dull. Ultimately what leads Aquaman to the person behind everything is because of the FBI (further showing how working with the surface humans is a big part of the story), but the perp could have easily answered the question earlier if Aquaman had the sense to ask the right question. That makes it less detective work and more blind luck.
Also move on because this is boring.
Is It Good?
It’s not bad, that’s for sure. Aquaman’s new role as the leader of a dry land embassy continues to cull up intriguing story elements and Black Water continues to be an interesting bad guy. I’m not sure this issue does enough to entertain though, as the “heroes questioning their methods” element is understandable, but not very captivating and the detective work in play is more blind luck.