After a bit of a lull, Geoff Johns’ Aquaman is back in full swing for me, as Aquaman has to deal with 3 major crises all at once. This was a packed comic, but I think in this issue Johns did the best job so far at balancing the triple-threat of The Dead King, the Scavenger and the plot to free Orm.
Here, one story takes precedence over the others, which is Aquaman taking on The Dead King, but the other two are constant presences in the background, and you know that even if Aquaman wins in Xebel, he may still lose the greater war. Johns drops a lot of mythology on us with this issue, as we find out more about the Dead King, and it’s certainly intriguing. We find out that Aquaman is not a descendant of this King, nope, Arthur’s family betrayed this guy and took his throne, which I think is very cool indeed, and makes the Throne of Atlantis more like a real-world monarchy, which are almost never unbroken. Aquman has no ‘divine right’, he just happens to be part of a family. But this isn’t just exposition central, as we do get a pretty hardcore fight between Aquaman and the King, including Aquaman smashing him to shit with a sunken battleship. Stuff like that does more to stop Aquaman being a joke than Johns’ more overt attempts.
As I said, the other plots are hanging in the background, as the Scavenger totally invades Atlantis and sits on the Throne. I have no idea who’s going to end up in charge at the end of this story, it could be the Dead King, it could be the Scavenger, it could be Orm, or it could just be Aquaman standing tall again. I prize unpredictability a lot, and this comic has a lot of it right now. Paul Pelletier continues to do good work on this title, it’s hard to replace Ivan Reis, but he’s managing it, the undersea world he’s depicting is very nicely detailed, and the character work is strong.