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Comic Book Review – Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’ Aquaman #0


Caliburn24 here with a review for Aquaman #0.

The King of the Seven Seas has been re-booted many times and fared best in the New 52.  Geoff Johns has brought the character to prominence with the Blackest Night limited series and into the New 52.  The first issue eliminated all of the pre-conceptions of a character limited by the sea with someone offering to give him a glass of water.  Then, an explanation that his power is not to talk to fish, but to telepathically compel them to do his wishes.  Aquaman’s father, Tom Curry, is present throughout Johns’ run and his death is hinted at by Black Manta’s hands.  The first storyline, “The Trench” introduced a new threat.

In the third issue, Dr. Shin is introduced, a person who has helped train Aquaman and later became obsessed over finding Atlantis.  There is a slight diversion in the next issue where Aquaman is lost in a desert and finding a craft that is Atlantean.  Issue #8 focuses on Mera.  There is a brief look at her four years ago, sent by her father to kill Aquaman.  The next storyline introduces the Others, a super group that formed with Aquaman before he joins the Justice League.  They are being hunted down by Aquaman’s old foe, Black Manta.  It is revealed that Aquaman killed Black Manta’s father and Manta is busy collecting artifacts from Atlantis.  The final relic is the specter of the Atlantean king who sank Atlantis.

Now that we are up to date, now we’ll get to Aquaman #0.  The cover like all of the New 52 zeroes has the character bursting out of a comic page in this case page 2 of this comic book.  It starts with six years ago before the start of the New 52.  Arthur’s father dies in a hospital bed and then this shifts to the scene in issue #8 where Aquaman is confronted by reporters.  Reis’ pencils capture the emotion of Aquaman grieving over his father, an appropriate underwater setting, and excellent panel arrangements that show the power of the character.

Aquaman promises his dying father that he will find Atlantis and his mother.  Since the panels are from Aquaman’s perspective, Dr. Shin is heard, but not really identified from issue #8 and then Aquaman leaps from the lighthouse and into the sea.  Aquaman swims in the deep sea as a cinematic credits sequence runs.  This ends with Aquaman being confronted by a Megalodon, a giant Great White Shark, in a full-page panel.  He is able to drive it off with his powers and then after his search for Atlantis, saves a boat with a father and daughter.

The father tells Aquaman about a man in Norway who claims to be from Atlantis.  Aquaman travels there and finds Vulko.  In earlier continuity, Vulko is the nominal leader of Atlantis while Aquaman goes on his adventures.  Here, he is an exile from Atlantis.  This reminds me of the Ving Rhames character in the cancelled Aquaman television pilot.  Vulko explains about Aquaman’s mother, Atlanna, and how she returned to Atlantis to spare her child and his father.

She was forced to marry an Atlantean and her child is Orm.  This is Ocean Master who has yet to be introduced to the New 52.  In earlier comic books, he was the human half-brother to Aquaman.  Vulko further reveals that Atlanna was killed in an escape after Orm’s father was killed.  Vulko shows Aquaman a map to lead to the Atlantean king’s armory where he can find the trident which has become a handy weapon in the Johns’ run.  Then, Vulko leads Aquaman down to Atlantis, revealed in a final full-page, with the teaser of the next storyline, “Underwater.”

– Kyle