“If I can’t manage to be Aquaman NOW, there’s no point to me being Aquaman AT ALL.”
Every issue of Aquaman so far feels like it has all been building up to this. Deluge Part 1. NEMO, under the control of Black Manta, has launched their offensive, throwing the entire world into chaos. Aquaman and his cabinet struggle to deal with the situation before it escalates further. Will Aquaman be able to save Atlantis as well as the land dwellers?
Dan Abnett and Philippe Briones have stuffed Aquaman #12 with a ton of everything you could possibly want! It has palace intrigue, war, espionage, and global politics. And, even with all of this going on, Abnett and Briones still make room to examine the personal relationship between Aquaman and Mera and how Mera’s journey to the Widowhood has affected her.
Abnett’s dialogue is phenomenal, especially in how he is able to transition Aquaman from an executive doling out orders to his closest advisors to a caring and loving future husband for his hopefully soon-to-be bride to a soldier preparing to go to battle. It all flows seamlessly together. It also shows all the different roles that Aquaman takes on and how he balances them.
With so much happening, you might think the pacing might be off, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Abnett and Briones weave everything together expertly. They build up the tension and then expertly switch you to another scene to give you a different perspective or a whole different emotional vibe. And it all flows together expertly.
The story itself also has a number of layers and Abnett and Briones introduce some new and dangerous characters that may end up being wild cards as the story arc moves forward. It’s a group of characters that I hope we see a lot more of even after this arc. They have a ton of potential!
Probably one of the more underrated aspects of this issue is Abnett and Briones’ ability to constantly surprise you. Just when you think you have an idea of everything that Black Manta and NEMO are capable of, they use a new tactic or bring out a new weapon.
Briones’ artwork is solid. There’s nothing really unique with the panel designs. It’s pretty straightforward which makes it very easy to follow along. You won’t find yourself having to double check the page to make sure you are reading it in the correct order.
There are definitely some pretty awesome monster and creature designs. And you get to see one right off the bat. There are also a couple of panels that appear to pay homage to Star Trek which are nice little easter eggs. The emotions depicted on the characters’ faces are fantastic. You can see when they are stressed out, angry, serious, concerned, saddened, and determined. However, about midway through the issue the characters’ faces lose some of their detail and style qualities. They are rather bland and subpar; there is no real uniqueness to them.
Colorist Gabe Eltaeb uses a tried and true technique to great effect. Every time we see Black Manta he is surrounded with red light. It definitely gives him an even more villainous vibe. The one thing that is strange is the book is bright despite the grim nature of the story. That’s not to say there aren’t any dark parts; it’s just a lot brighter than you might otherwise suspect.
Aquaman #12 is what every superhero comic should aspire to be. It has an excellent mix of action, intrigue, and romance. You get to see an excellent display of Aquaman’s character as he puts on a number of different hats as he tries to put out multiple fires. The design is simple, making it easy to follow the story and the artwork has unique monster designs. You will definitely want to pick up this issue!
- Fantastic mix of action, intrigue, and romance
- Great dialogue
- Excellent examination of Aquaman and all the hats he wears
- Some of the art tapers off midway through the issue