As demonstrated by my “Idiot’s Guide to Aquaman” article last year, it’s not too hard to make fun of Aquaman. He talks to fish, his costume is lame and his power set is often seen as useless if a body of water is nearby. Never mind the fact that he has a remarkably deep cast, loads of story potential dealing with the sociopolitical politics of Atlantis, and has one of the best villains in comicdom, Black Manta. It’s hard to take a character that talks to fish seriously. DC tapped Geoff Johns, the man credited for revitalizing the Green Lantern, Hawkman and JSA franchises, to reinvent and retool the character in the new Aquaman #1.
Johns tackles Aquaman’s apparent lameness head on by revealing that many denizens of the DCnU feel that Aquaman is a bit lame as well. The bulk of the issue is spent showcasing Aquaman’s various talents and explaining to various scoffers that he can do more than talk to fish. However, while Johns might have felt that openly addressing the issues that readers might have with Aquaman might be the way to go, the way he did so was a bit of a stretch. To me, it’s hard to accept that average people would approach a former world leader and member of the Justice League with such silly and demeaning questions. Would I approach Tony Blair in a restaurant and ask him why he’s not drinking tea? Probably not. However, Aquaman’s reactions to his detractors are priceless, with withering glances and threatening posturing being doled out after every query as to whether Aquaman needs a glass of water.
The rest of Aquaman #1 is spent setting up the character’s new status quo and the first threat he’ll be facing. The Trench are appropriately creepy and dangerous and Aquaman’s decision to move away from Atlantis opens the door to showcase what the character can do on land. Ivan Reis does an excellent job bringing Aquaman and his cast to life and makes the issue worth the read for the art alone.
All in all, Aquaman is a solid first issue which, while not groundbreaking, does deliver an suitable cornerstone to develop the character beyond the joke that he’s often seen as. It’s not a perfect issue, but it’s still enjoyable and accessible for new and established readers. Give Aquaman #1 a chance and see if Johns can turn your opinion on a character that can do more than just talk to fish.