Emperor Aquaman #1
On my journey as an aspiring writer, the one thing I’ve learned is to never write to your audience as if they’re stupid. It doesn’t matter what you as writer may think of the public at large, but the minute you’re committing words to paper, the question of “If I was paying to read this, would I want to be talked down to?” takes priority above everything else. Failure to do so, can not only cause your audience to feel insulted, but can cause such a severe logic gap which results in your story no longer working. Something that Emperor Aquaman #1 ends up suffering from, despite the writer’s best efforts to prevent this from happening. How so do you ask? All will be revealed shortly.Writing and Story:
From everything I’ve observed from Tony Bedard’s work, the justifiably worst thing anyone could say about his work is that it’s merely serviceable enough to make the story readable. Wasted words, directionless exposition, and atrocious dialogue sequences are aspects that rarely occupy any scripts of his, with this issue being no exception. From the monologue sequences, to the dialogue, the writing keeps the reader engaged enough to understand the characterizations and motives of the characters on a base level. In fact, the only real base structural issue ends up being how one can misconstrue the time jumps if their attention is not solely focused on the book (something that the Super 8 Advert Comic adds to). However, it is that same issue that got me to ask questions, which allowed me to uncover the biggest issue as to why the story presented doesn’t work as a whole.
Why does the story not work, you ask? Well, for me to truly expound on why, everyone needs to get up to speed with the important plot points this story presents. These points include (presented in Chronological Order):
- A marriage between Aquaman and Wonder Woman was arranged with the purpose to prevent war, only to have Aquaman murder Hippolayta on the wedding day.
- In response, Wonder Woman conquers the British Isles.
- Motivated by preservation, King Brion (Geo-Force) desires an Alliance with Atlantis, complete with comparing Wonder Woman to Hitler and Aquaman with Stalin.
- To establish his sincerity, Brion is set meet with Mera In Rome, only to be attacked by Atlatean dissidents, but is saved from impending doom by Mera, who sets the record straight.
- What Byron didn’t know though, was that the alliance (and everything that went with it) was subterfuge for Doctor Vulko to gain the data he needed to build a “Geo-Pulse” Emitter with himself being the weapon’s warhead. However, it is during this deception that Mera was murdered by Wonder Woman, to which is response was to sink Western Europe and Northern Africa.
- We also learn that while Aquaman was successful in sinking those landmasses, New Themyscira avoided such a fate, thanks to Tara Makov (Tera) and her own Geological Powers, hence why Aquaman calls for a concentrated attack on the Amazons at the end of this story.
With those points established, here are the questions that I think are important to this plot’s integrity. (These questions are asked in reverse Chronological Order, with the last question being the most important)
- Why should Aquaman sink Western Europe and Northen Africa if the British Isles were his main target?
- Why would Aquaman even begin to agree building such an extreme weapon in the first place and in turn place Mera in such a predicament, where she could get decapitated?
- Why would Wonder Woman attack the British Isles?
- Who would destroy Themyscria, and is that event connected to the one posted above?
-Why would Aquaman even murder Hippolayta (during his Wedding Day, mind you) in the first place?
In this reviewer’s opinion, it is these exact questions (with questions 1, 2 and 5, being far more important than 3 and 4) that not only cause Aquaman’s motivations to become flimsy, but cause the plot to weaken to the point where it no longer really works. Even the questions that do have answers are quite weak, and add very little in terms of character motivation, which affects story credibility. To put it succinctly, this book suffers from “Blackest Night Syndrome”, where the story falls apart against even the shallowest of analysis. With that being said, this doesn’t mean that I feel that every story should straight forward and not have the reader ask questions. However, a good story should not fall apart under those questions and a great story could use those questions to enhance the experience. Emperor Aquaman fails to do either, and by doing so, it fails the effort that Bedard put into this book.Art:
Between the writing and the art, if I had to pick any one aspect of this comic that made me ask “What could’ve been, it would most certainly be the art. Make no mistake, Syaf and Cifuentes work very well together in building the world where this story takes place. With the great use of color and the amazingly depicted backdrops, Emperor Aquaman has visuals that this reviewer considers to be very good, with some that even touch greatness. The first thing that holds it back from reaching that next level has to do with how rough the human drawings seem in some spots, with flaws that range from missing eyes, haphazardly drawn people in various spots and an air of Lifelessness in the action scenes. The second thing that didn’t please my eye is that the earth splash page wasn’t on the same level as the ones under the sea. In fact, the last splash page felt a bit rushed from where I sat, making me feel that this comic was under a very strict deadline that comes with event-mandated mini-series. At the end of the day, my disappointment with the art was far less stated than my disappointment with the drawing, simply due to the fact that the art showed those glimpses of excellence.Final Thoughts:
When I get right down to it, even though this reviewer feels disappointed by this work, he feels very little in terms of venom or disgust. Unlike Weird Worlds #1, Brightest Day #23 and Iron Man 2.0 #5, this book actually felt like someone tried their hardest to put out a decent product. However, when you have story that only works if you’re not willing to think about what’s happening on any level, then it doesn’t matter who is working on bringing this vision to life, it’s just not going to work. Bottom line, despite the promise that Emperor Aquaman #1 shows in some places, the lack of thought as to how this story would work, ends up making the whole entire thing fall flat.The Verdict:
Accessibly: 6Final Judgment: 4.25