Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: Aquaman, volume 1: The Trench

Aquaman. Haha, I know right? What a lame superhero. He just swims around and talks to fish. He is so useless! Everyone knows this-- it's why Aquaman is a joke. It's why you probably shouldn't envy anyone who gets stuck with writing duties for the character. Like, take this Geoff Johns guy. He's writing the New 52 Aquaman. I wonder how he's doing?

Aquaman, I feel, can best be summed by the character's introductory scene.

A chase is in progress. The cops are in hot pursuit of a gang of criminals, barreling through the streets in a great big truck. Suddenly, in a flash of gold, Aquaman leaps through the air and lands on the street ahead of the criminals, standing proud and tall, brandishing his mighty trident.

...and nobody is impressed. The police wonder what Aquaman of all people is doing here and the criminals just laugh and speed up, intent on flattening the lamest superhero of them all.

The Aquaman stabs their truck with his trident, uses said trident to lift the whole truck over his head, and smashes it upside-down on the ground.
Pictured: Awesome super-heroics
Then the cops ask him what he's doing there and if he needs a bucket of water. Then Aquaman leaps away with a mighty bound and the cops are left in disbelief that they just got upstaged by Aquaman, and how they're never going to hear the end of this.

And that is the crux of Aquaman's personal story. He must struggles to find acceptance, not because he is a freak, but because, in a world where Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern exist, nobody takes him seriously. Which is a shame, because, as it turns out, Aquaman is AWESOME.

I've heard that, since the reboot, Aquaman has been one of DC's best-selling titles, and I can see why. Johns' version of Aquaman is a badass who keeps doing what he believes is right, even in the face of massive adversity. He is the laughing-stock of the superhero world, but he refuses to let this fact get to him. After all, there are lives that need saving. No time for something as trivial as PR.

Aquaman (or Arthur) lives in a lighthouse with his girlfriend Mera (Aquawoman, though neither of them like that name). Arthur's father was a land-dwelling human, but his mother was the queen of Atlantis, making him the heir to the throne. However, he doesn't particularly want to rule Atlantis, not least of all because the Antlanteans kept trying to assassinate him, because they don't like the idea of an outsider ruling them. In fact, Mera was originally one of those assassins.

The main story of "The Trench" involves a race of deep-sea dwelling creatures who have appeared in the surface in search of food. They are never given a name, but they're basically really hungry Deep Ones, except their not written by H.P. Lovecraft, so they aren't a metaphor for miscegenation.
These Deep Ones eat humans. They don't boink them.
 The creatures kidnap a bunch of people from the nearby fishing town of NotInnsmouth, and take them back to their home in a nearby deep-sea trench. How these people are able to survive such a journey, and, come to think of it, how the deep-sea creatures are able to survive above the surface, is never explained. Then again, this comic has Atlanteans, a guy who can control fish, and a chick who's basically a Waterbender, so maybe I'm thinking about this too much.

So yeah, it's up to Aquaman and his hot girlfriend to save the day.

There is a lot to love about this book. The action is great, Aquaman's struggle to find acceptance, balanced with his desire to do the right thing, makes for a great read, and there's even an issue dedicated to Mera, who, being an Atlantean, experiences quite a lot of culture shock living above sea-level.

It says a lot about their relationship that Mera was willing to leave her home and live in what might as well be an alien world just to be with Arthur.
Of course, romantic make-out sessions on sea-rocks count for a lot.
These characters are interesting, and they are likable, and dammit, I want to read more about them. I want to see Aquaman finally be hailed as the hero he is. I want to see Mera come to terms with this new world she lives in, and the new life she's made for herself there. I want these people to succeed. I want them to be happy.

So, yeah, in case you haven't guessed, this comic is recommended. Great characters, a great story, and some badass action equals "Buy this".

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