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Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

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Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:33 pm

So, last week I was clearly frustrated with Geoff Johns' first installment with Captain Marvel. It was frustrating to read and by the end of it, I was left to wonder why in the hell I keep running into a brick wall every Wednesday, then getting frustrated when the wall doesn't move.

I read fewer comics than I ever have when I actually consider myself an active reader. I feel little-to-no connection to the majority of the New 52, though I am still reading a handful of books.

Aquaman is one of them. This issue is why, despite my frustrations, I stick with this hobby and continue to deal with frustration. Because you never know when you're going to get a book that you truly enjoy for what it is.

I have always put my money where my mouth is with this stuff. Going back to the days of the 'Rama's message boards, I had always maintained that you can tell Aquaman stories, interesting Aquaman stories, quite easily. I felt it took only the slightest bit of imagination to use the character well, and the biggest thing the character needed was for the writer to show no weakness with Arthur Curry. You can't make the character incompetent or indecisive or a navel-gazer, constantly whining about his lot in life.

I had always felt that if you just played Aquaman straight, just made the character really confident and competent, a writer could do the one thing that is missing from many comics today and from the last few years: You can actually make a reader look at the book, read the book, with a sense of wonder. A sense of scale, of how powerful the ocean could be. Of how competent a character has to be to operate in that environment.

As much as I question some other things Johns has done over the years, I have absolutely no questions about Aquaman. I've enjoyed each of the issues at varying degrees and for different reasons, because to my way of thinking, Johns has been at his best with this run by doing the things he does best: Taking a character who, while well-known, doesn't really have a truly defining set of stories or personality characteristics. When Johns has that and is on his game, he absolutely has the skill to start dropping in pieces of "new history" here and there that make sense, make the lead character more interesting, and leads to better stories.

So, with that, I make this statement: Aquaman #7 is one of the best books I've read from Johns in many years, likely since the opening arc of the Justice Society relaunch for OYL.

Because Black Manta has never really been defined all that well in comics over the years despite nearly everyone knowing the character from cartoons, Johns is able to make him fit into what every superhero needs: A villain who is so freaking dangerous, you don't KNOW that the hero is going to win when they face off. Black Manta is nasty. He's really, really good at what he does. He's....scary. I don't know that Johns writes a scarier character than Black Manta.

Johns' first six issues have been planting seeds all along -- I knew that, some of them were obvious. The difference between this and the first installment of Captain Marvel was that I honestly feel, in how I perceive Johns' writing -- and I've read, what, hundreds upon hundreds of his books by now -- is that I truly feel that he is, for whatever reason, invested in this book, this concept.

I don't know, but I think Johns enjoys writing this set of characters, perhaps moreso than some of the books/concepts he's been involved with for years.

I would encourage anyone who hasn't been reading this book to pick up a copy of Aquaman #7. I'm not pretending this issue is revolutionary -- it isn't. It's the beginning of a "quest arc," where the hero and villain are going to reveal past history as they inevitably wind up in the same place at the same time and have a throwdown to end all throwdowns.

But see, that's what Aquaman needs. He just needs storylines that makes sense, do not reinvent the wheel. The character desperately needed to appear in straight-up superhero comic book, with art that is extremely strong and a writer with skill who isn't in a hurry to change everything in order to appear clever.

This one's going to be Aquaman vs. Black Manta, at the end of the day, folks. And that's OK. Because with comic books, it's how you get there that matters. It's always been that way for serial characters. It will always be that way. And that's OK.

With Aquaman, Johns gets that. This issue is exactly why I continue to read comic books. It was fun to read, fun to look at, fun to wonder what is coming next.

I hope that I get a few more of those from anyone/everyone working in the industry today.
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby avengingtitan » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:49 am

I swear Johns is bipolar. He writes a fantastic Aquaman and Green Lantern and then he'll write a shitfest like JLA. Its all over the place. I cant wait for the next issue of Aquaman. I havent been this interested in Aquaman since the last title that stared the other Arthur Curry.
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby Amoebas » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:54 pm

While I may disagree (a bit) on your critique of Johns' other work, Aquaman is one of the best books on the market for every reason you mentioned.

Great post!

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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby IvCNuB4 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:34 pm

This was a really good issue all around ! 8)
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby Herald » Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:10 pm

No thanks. I'm already tired of "Haw Haw!! We Townsfolk Think Aquaman and Mera Are Jokes, Even When They Blatantly Demonstrate Otherwise!!" Monthly.

Frankly, I've already seen confident and competent Aquaman in previous runs of his solo book, none of which needed the constant, annoying "metacommentary" about non-fans thinking that Aquaman is a useless hero due to Superfriends.

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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby Miracloman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:21 pm

avengingtitan wrote:I swear Johns is bipolar. He writes a fantastic Aquaman and Green Lantern and then he'll write a shitfest like JLA. Its all over the place. I cant wait for the next issue of Aquaman. I havent been this interested in Aquaman since the last title that stared the other Arthur Curry.


I guess he is one of those "when he get it right,he get it right and when he get it wrong he get it wrong" guys.
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby avengingtitan » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:59 pm

Miracloman wrote:
I guess he is one of those "when he get it right,he get it right and when he get it wrong he get it wrong" guys.

Yep.
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby IvCNuB4 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:21 am

Actually there weren't any disparaging digs at Aquaman or Mera this issue. Other a quick TV news blurb about Mera's actions last issue, this was all story and action 8)
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby Herald » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:18 pm

IvCNuB4 wrote:Actually there weren't any disparaging digs at Aquaman or Mera this issue. Other a quick TV news blurb about Mera's actions last issue, this was all story and action 8)


So what you're saying is that, in an "all story and action" issue, he still managed to fit in a dig. :P

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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby Amoebas » Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:08 pm

Herald wrote:
So what you're saying is that, in an "all story and action" issue, he still managed to fit in a dig. :P

Despite your wishing it so, that's not what happened.

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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby Punchy » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:52 am

Yay! An issue that’s not focused on bloody Mera! This was a big improvement over #6 and an issue that sets up some interesting mysteries and new details about Aquaman’s past. We start off in a jungle, and a mysterious woman is chased down and killed by Black Manta. That scene was pretty damn cool, I often get annoyed by how Johns seems to prefer villains to heroes, but I must admit that his take on Black Manta is great. I wonder what the deal is with these ‘Others’? It looks like it was some super-team that Aquaman was on before he joined the JLA, and each member has some kind of glowing gold artifact. It’ll be interesting to see what the other team members are like, and how they all link in to the central Atlantis mystery. That’s what’s making this series tick at the moment, there’s a central plot-line, but Johns is managing to tell interesting stories around it and not be completely tunnel-vision like he was at times with Green Lantern, where everything was too much about the upcoming Blackest Night. I loved the scene with Aquaman telling Dr Shin he killed all of the Trench too, that was bad-ass.

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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby IvCNuB4 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:49 am

I got the impression that each of the Others had a relic from Atlantis that they were probably safe-guarding. Maybe to keep anyone from obtaining them all ? Perhaps when used or joined together the artifacts form a weapon, or a map to or a history archive of Atlantis.
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:40 am

Punchy wrote:Yay! An issue that’s not focused on bloody Mera! This was a big improvement over #6 and an issue that sets up some interesting mysteries and new details about Aquaman’s past. We start off in a jungle, and a mysterious woman is chased down and killed by Black Manta. That scene was pretty damn cool, I often get annoyed by how Johns seems to prefer villains to heroes, but I must admit that his take on Black Manta is great. I wonder what the deal is with these ‘Others’? It looks like it was some super-team that Aquaman was on before he joined the JLA, and each member has some kind of glowing gold artifact. It’ll be interesting to see what the other team members are like, and how they all link in to the central Atlantis mystery. That’s what’s making this series tick at the moment, there’s a central plot-line, but Johns is managing to tell interesting stories around it and not be completely tunnel-vision like he was at times with Green Lantern, where everything was too much about the upcoming Blackest Night. I loved the scene with Aquaman telling Dr Shin he killed all of the Trench too, that was bad-ass.


Exactly. Punch is, and always will be, better at reviewing single issues than I am. He's dead on with the part I bolded for effect: Johns has done a really, really nice job of pacing this series.

Again, I encourage everyone who hasn't been reading it to check it out (Herald, your criticisms are consistent and, for the most part, valid on a lot of things, but I've simply been enjoying this take on Aquaman. No worries, we'll agree again soon...there isn't too much else from DC I'm actually enjoying nowadays, and I don't see that changing soon.)
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:48 am

IvCNuB4 wrote:I got the impression that each of the Others had a relic from Atlantis that they were probably safe-guarding. Maybe to keep anyone from obtaining them all ? Perhaps when used or joined together the artifacts form a weapon, or a map to or a history archive of Atlantis.


I really liked how Johns wrote/established that Atlantis itself had lots of enemies. That's important when you have a character like Aquaman, who does have some limitations with regard to how closely he is tied to one place.

Because of his Atlantean heritage and the fact that his powers are derived from water, Aquaman has to have an Atlantis. You want Atlantis to be strong and vibrant, as a result. You have to make Atlantis feel like a place that existed before Aquaman, has interesting residents who do things when Aquaman is not there.

I've always felt that Atlantis has, for the most part, been portrayed fairly poorly. Yes, they have a monarchy. But just like any government, some would support Arthur, some would support another person. Some residents would not care who was in charge. But it's ridiculous to always portray it as "somebody is either scheming for the throne if Aquaman is sitting on it, or the city is irrelevant if Aquaman isn't around."

Atlantis needs to have three-dimensional residents. If it does, think of the stories you can tell -- Aquaman is an interesting character to me, but at the same time, there are things that you can enhance that make the overall storytelling experience better with the character. Making Atlantis interesting is one of them.
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Re: Aquaman #7: Why I still read comics (spoilers)

Postby holtom2000 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:53 am

Don't you find a big reason for this title doing so well, outside johns writing it, is that it has so few changes from what just happened?
Generally speaking of course.

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