John Ostrander returns to the pages of Aquaman, to tell another fun story about The Others that picks up pretty much where his previous story, Aquaman #20, left off.
Aquaman is swimming in the Ocean, when he’s attacked by some mutated animals. It turns out these animals are also attacking the island home of one of Aquaman’s team-mates in The Others, the total bad-ass that is The Operative. There’s a little bit of lame, unnecessary drama with The Operative not approving of his grandson Jason’s relationship with Sky, the newest member of The Others. But that’s soon done away with by the attack of some evil flying monkeys. In the course of the fight, Operative’s grandson is electrocuted by a mutant eel, and the helmet of Vostok is stolen by some of those pesky monkeys. Sky takes Jason into the Ghost Lands to heal him, and whilst in the Ghost Lands, our heroes discover that the person behind this attack, and the theft of Vostok’s helmet, is a mysterious sorceress.
Aquaman gets the other two members of The Others, Ya’Wara and Prisoner to join in (I liked seeing a bit more of what Ya’Wara gets up too when not part of this loose grouping, did anyone else think she’d make for a good guest-appearance in Swamp Thing?) and they head off to Hong Kong to fight this sorceress, whose name is ‘Madame Xan’. And yes, the similarity to Madame Xanadu is deliberate, as she turns out the be Morgaine Le Fay, Xanadu’s sister. Morgaine wants Vostok’s helmet to allow her to breathe in space and escape the Earth, which she believes is dying, however, it rejects her, and she instead vows to save the planet from the people on it.
The Others arrive, and instead of getting into a fight straight away, Morgaine tries to manipulate each member into joining with her to save the planet. These scenes were pretty rote, with every character instantly realising the trick, but the plot was saved by the fact that, surprisingly, one of The Others actually allowed Morgaine to possess her! Yes, Ya’Wara showed weakness, and let Morgaine in, and that almost cost the team this fight. However, in the end, Aquaman blasts her with a laser from his trident and wins. It was fun to see Aquaman go up against Morgaine Le Fay actually, because as she says, she has history with Kings named Arthur.
After the fight, Ya’Wara feels disgraced by the fact that she unwittingly betrayed her friends, and quits, and there’s also some stuff about how Sky can’t date Jason because he’s not a Native American. I’m not sure when or where these plotlines will be picked up, but I am interested in seeing them. The Others are a great bunch of new characters, and John Ostrander has a good handle on them. I certainly wouldn’t be averse to a mini-series by him.
The artwork here from Geraldo Borges and Netho Diaz was solid, unremarkable superhero stuff, but I think Borges in particular stood out, and kept a consistency with Pelletier’s style. If you like these new characters that Johns introduced, definitely pick up this Annual, it may not have anything to do with the crazy shit going in the main book, but it was enjoyable, and as I said, it’s about new characters, the New 52 needs to be more New than old rehashes in my book, and this stuff actually feels fresh.