Writer Dan Abnett has infused the latest Aquaman comics with a bold sense of political intrigue. With it comes military type action, which has been increased exponentially by a U.S. government team of humans who can change to have aquatic powers. That’s good news for Aquaman since he’s going to need all the help he can get as he fights something that can turn people into a monster. We review, but is it good?
Aquaman #20 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
“H2.0” part two! Now partnered with foes including the Aquamarines and Scavenger, Aquaman and Mera’s mission with the U.S. government is off to a bad start when they discover a bizarre creature that may have killed everyone at a military research lab deep beneath the sea. And it’s still hungry…
Why does this book matter?
This latest arc delivers a horror vibe not unlike Abyss or Sphere, which suits the villain in this one. By bringing in the U.S. military special ops, Abnett has infused the book with some seriousness with a political angle that’s rife for drama.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Punch it into submission!
Opening with a big action scene, this issue helps convey the very real threat of Dead Water (a monster that appeared back in Aquaman #50), which essentially kicked off the Rebirth series. Once the heroes are safe, Abnett does a good job showing the real fear some of the characters are going through and the unease this threat brings. That helps set the tone of a brooding threat just waiting to attack and kill them all. As the issue progresses, real consequences emerge from another attack and key details help reveal Aquaman may be in over his head. Essentially this issue sets up a horror vibe and ends with a cliffhanger that will make you clamor for the next issue.
Philippe Briones draws with a lot of detail and heavier inks that help convey a sense of darkness and dread. Dead Water looks monster movie perfect and the quieter scenes have a tension in part due to the worried faces of the characters. While characters might be standing around discussing the next course of action, Briones always seems to have characters doing something to keep the panels interesting. Take for instance a scene where the military characters are moving some weapons around. In the scene two characters move boxes, another stretches and two others are chatting. It gives the scene a little extra life that helps carry things forward so it’s not too stale.
Don’t freak out!
It can’t be perfect can it?
The military certainly likes its weapons, but I did find a scene where characters discuss bringing major weaponry to the battle a bit much. They’re clearly itching to blow things up, but the cliche of military types ready and more than willing to use force reduces their characters to cliches. It’s minor, and there are moments they are certainly well written, but this element seemed forced in so as to set up a threat to Aquaman later even if it’s with good intentions.
Is It Good?
Aquaman #20 offers horror vibes as monsters lurk and dread can be felt throughout its pages. It’s an exciting turn for the series and suits the character.