Aquaman isn’t just a hero anymore, but a leader of a nation too. Well, he always was, but with Atlantis attempting to make peace with the surface dwellers his people are a right bit angry. We check out issue #4 and ask the question: is it good?
Aquaman #4 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? According to DC Comics official summary:
“The Drowning” part four. Aquaman is arrested for a war crime he didn’t commit: ordering an Atlantean terrorist attack on the surface, killing hundreds! The young king is willing to sit behind bars if it means peace between two worlds, but one ally is determined to break Aquaman out, no matter the cost: his girlfriend Mera!
Why does this book matter?
Writer Dan Abnett, through his reinforced connection of Aquaman to his nation of Atlantis, has imbued the new series with a raised stakes situation that allows for a different sort of hero story. Last issue Aquaman was handcuffed, but went along with it willingly. How long is that going to last? Judging by the cover not long indeed.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I honestly marveled at some of the dialogue in this issue due to the complex nature of the topics (domestic terrorists, secessionists, survivalists all come up in conversation). Aquaman speaks candidly to a government official and makes a lot of sense. At the same time Mera speaks to the Chief of Staff and is basically talked down to about how her culture is medieval. While the latter conversation is a bit one sided (and aims to paint the US government in an ignorant and angry way) both arguments make sense. Abnett is essentially laying the groundwork for a battle and as with most real world cases everyone thinks they are right, just as they do here.
Abnett progresses Black Manta’s story well too (who stole the show in the last issue) with plenty of dialogue. The fact is, this isn’t a boring read, because the ideas and thoughts of the characters are intriguing.
Aquaman comes off as a real hero in this issue and doesn’t even fight.
It’s not all talking though and Philippe Briones does a fantastic job with those scenes. A full page splash ends the book with a cliffhanger that effectively shows the odds are stacked against our heroes, another full-page spread shows off the destruction of the terrorist act and there’s plenty of detail whenever the Atlanteans show up. The dialogue heavy scenes are well rendered with good timing as far as close ups and cut away angles. For much of this comic you could take a camera and recreate it shot for shot and it’d be as tense and interesting in live action form due to everything coming together.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Is it believable the US government is hellbent on handcuffing Aquaman? I think so, especially after the flood in Gotham a few years ago, but I do think Abnett is making the rhetoric coming from the US government a bit too heated. They are of course wrong in their thinking (Aquaman can’t be fighting the good guys after all), but there’s a lack of reasoning on their part that’s a bit frustrating. It’s basically laid on a little too thick which makes it hard to take seriously. There’s xenophobia going on though so it’s not an impossible reaction for them to have.
Is It Good?
Aquaman vs. the U.S. government is shaping up to be a compelling fight of ideas as well as actions. A lot of intriguing concepts are unfurled and a striking case is made for nonviolent actions in this issue.