The 50th issues continue at DC Comics as Aquaman has some major developments this month and the promise of Aquawoman! That sounds like a 50th issue level reveal, but is it good?
Aquaman #50 (DC Comics)
Mera has recently been vindicated of any wrongdoing, Aquaman and the Justice League have quenched the Thule invasion, and the Atlantean people have accepted Aquaman as their true king. Sounds like a great place for new beginnings, but this issue opens with a mysterious murder seemingly unconnected from Aquaman but we soon learn only he can solve.
Why does this book matter?
I keep saying this but dammit a 50th issue should count for something and it usually does. It’s not only more pages of entertainment but something big usually happens and it’s self contained for new readers similar to annual issues. Let’s see if writer Dan Abnett and guest penciler Brett Booth (he has been drawing Flash) can make that happen!
Comedy relief and fun to read too.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue floats over you like frothy foam in a bathtub for a variety of reasons. It opens with a mysterious murder that grabs your attention, quickly cuts to the PR planning of the Atlanteans (more on that in a second) and even has two FBI agents who bring in some light chuckles that actually work too! At the same time Mera is as compelling as ever, Aquaman is valiant and heroic and there’s one hell of an action sequence complete with a ton of full splash pages too!
Abnett successfully pulls of making Atlantis setting up its dry land embassy fun and interesting. That’s a big deal for future storylines but also because it’s a rather dry subject in the wrong hands. Mera and her minions are working on press packets for their big public statements as this issue opens and their learning dryland human custom is funny and interesting. Some might be annoyed with Mera being so focused on her public image, but it suits the characters desire to make peace with the world and establish their country as a valid one. At the same time Abnett infuses these conversations with tidbits of humor that make even the more boring political elements fun and light. On top of that, Aquaman’s battle with a new villain ties into the public speech Mera delivers at the end which gives the entire issue a cohesive feel.
Meanwhile the FBI agents go a long way in showing how we dryland humans perceive Aquaman and Mera and help draw us into this admittedly alien world. They also offer some nice comic relief although the hat-less character is a bit too cooky at times which throws off the professionalism you’d think the FBI would have.
Then there’s the big action sequence and villain characters which without a doubt add an interesting new threat for Aquaman and a fun bad guy to battle too. The character’s mysterious power has to do with water – I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers – and it’s a cool angle considering Aquaman should be most comfortable in the stuff. Clearly the villain can handle himself in combat too. Ultimately it’s an exciting addition that introduces something that will be fun to see explored in future issues.
“What about the art,” you might be saying. Well it’s flipping great and Booth makes me wish he was on this title forever. His detailed and thin line make Aquaman look thin, but strong like a fish. The bad guy is wild and something out of a Greek mythology play and looks fabulous in the 5 or so splash pages he appears in. Speaking of which this issue has a lot of large panels with some pages amounting to 2 or 3 panels – many in the battle but others with Mera just chilling – which could have felt like filler by someone else. Booth manages to make them interesting to look at either from the architecture of the Atlantis embassy around Mera or spraying shards of glass that engulf our hero in the throes of battle. Oh, and a certain someone mentioned in the intro? She looks fabulous in her costume with some cool looking flowing hair too. That’s typically hard to nail down and Booth does it easily.
It can’t be perfect can it?
One might argue (okay a lot of folks will argue) that the humor is dad-joke level funny. I for one enjoy a silly, campy, or downright groan worthy joke from time to time, but many of you might hate the heck out of the humor in this comic book.
A minor issue I had with this book is how Aquaman is portrayed which is more second fiddle to Mera more than anything else. Sure he gets the main fight sequence and plenty of time on page, but Mera is so well written he almost comes off as a supporting character!
Mera looks fantastic!
Is It Good?
Good story from cover to cover and absolutely no filler as Aquaman #50 establishes a new direction, a new hero, and a very compelling new enemy.