Aquaman #25 kicks off the “Underworld” arc and serves as a solid jumping-on point for new readers. Is it good?
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Publisher: DC Comics
I’m going to start by addressing the thing that gripped me from this issue’s first page onward: the art. Stjepan Sejic handles both the pencils and coloration and his work here is extremely impressive. This issue introduces readers to the current state of Atlantis now that Orin is no longer king, and we don’t just learn about the city through expositional dialogue. We see what its various zones physically look like, from the architectural styles of buildings to the ways light and shadow intermingle across streets and hollows. The amount of crisp detail included throughout this issue’s backgrounds is simply mind-boggling.
My only complaint with this issue’s art has to do with the inconsistency of detail in panels’ foregrounds. In a lot of scenes, this isn’t a problem. There are a few, however, where certain characters or subjects seem to vary a bit strangely in how they’re rendered. There are times when the less detailed style fits very well, but others where it’s just a bit too at odds with what surrounds it. As a whole, though, the artwork here is beautiful, and the characters’ expressive faces are particularly noteworthy.
Narratively, this issue is solid. Writer Dan Abnett hits every beat he needs to in terms of giving the reader all necessary background information. The story may have elements that feel familiar, but the actual execution makes up for the slight sense of predictability. Hopefully future issues will further develop the plot threads that show promise. There is much to appreciate here; a lot of attention is paid to the Ninth Tride, a sub-setting of Atlantis that I’m already fond of. I also enjoy the scenes that show how various residents of Atlantis struggle with the knowledge that Corum Rath is an oppressive and cruel ruler. Seeing this negative impact makes Rath seem like an actual villain, not just some guy sitting on Orin’s throne until he inevitably gets punched off of it.
As I stated previously, my qualms are minor ones. There is some dialogue that feels a bit awkwardly telegraphed and the art lacks cohesion in a few spots. Overall though, this issue delivers. Aquaman #25 is a strong start to a new era for the king of Atlantis.