DC Comics 2016
Written by Dan Abnett
Penciled by Scot Eaton
Inked by Wayne Faucher
Coloured by Gabe Eltaeb
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
Last issue we saw the start of Arthur’s next chapter as he tries to open an Embassy on the coast of Maine. Only Black Manta has other ideas as he killed and took the place of the Daily Planet reporter sent to cover it. Setting off a series of explosions creating mass panic among both the humans and Atlanteans present Lieutenant Joanna Stubbs of the British stepped up to help. We enter the battle between Aquaman and Black Manta this issue.
I think it’s funny that a young Arthur before he tamed his temper and learned how to be a King, leader and hero sought justice against Manta for the death of his father only to inadvertently kill Manta’s father. There’s poetic justice in that and this is what started a never ending feud and obsession for Black Manta. It’s a very done two page opening to demonstrate all that.
More impressive is the fight between the two men. That Dan is able to do with words and action here is remarkable. The characterization he’s bringing to the table in fleshing out Arthur even more than I think he’s ever been is fascinating to see. Even with the voice of reason in his side and his temperament bettered by years of ruling and with the Justice League Manta blinded by obsession doesn’t want to see the truth.
For those who don’t think Arthur is tough i’d like to point out a scene, you’ll have to pick up the book for the full effect of it, when Arthur removes from his shoulder some kind of spear Manta struck him with. I’m mightily impressed with that as is Joanna and rightly so because this is what defines a man and a hero. To see that so quickly in this run is Dan establishing that there is so much more to Arthur than you’ll have guessed.
I do like that the leader of the Atlantean Guard helps the surface dwellers to safety above all else. That and the fact that it was Manta who attacked should go a long way in people’s viewpoints though hatred is much more common and easier to fester than i’d like. Regardless of who takes the blame for this what we see trying to happen here is the important thing. The Embassy, the acts of the Guard and the way things play out all are important for the way things will move forward and the obstacles that will need to be overcome. It establishes an ongoing backstory to keep going throughout the run and that’s great in my opinion.
I really liked the interiors here. The opening was spectacular with it’s different style, feel and colouring. The flow of the story through the pages and panels of the issue was nicely done. The use of perspective and angles, backgrounds with all the water around was great to see used so well. The part of the fight when Arthur’s had enough takes his all-American surfer boy good looks and makes him so fierce as a formidable fighter it was a wow moment.
What Dan and company are doing with this already shows so much promise and potential. Dan brings a complexity to the storytelling that I can’t wait to see explored more. This could be one of the most memorable runs of Aquaman yet as things move forward.