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Review Group Week 294 - Aquaman #1

Written by Niam Suggitt on Wednesday, October 05 2011 and posted in Reviews

This week the Review Group takes a look at Aquaman #1. OUTRAGEOUS!

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The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

This week we've got another DC #1 for your delight and delectation, it's Aquaman #1! Can Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis convince us that Aquaman is actually cool? I very much doubt it, but you never know....


I was hoping this would be a good book. I didn't expect it to jump to my top 3 favorites of the New 52.


Aquaman tries to fit in with the surface dwellers and despite his best efforts, it just doesn't work as the people in eastern Massachusetts (and elsewhere one would assume) figure him to be a joke. Still, he's committed to trying and vows to remain on land, giving up his throne. Meanwhile some nasty creatures from beneath the ocean emerge - and are hungry.

There's plenty of laughs (at Aquaman's expense) but I get the feeling the humor could finally turn towards respect for the Sea King again - and with whatever the hell these "Trench" creatures are, that turnaround could come quick.

I loved that Arthur is giving up on Atlantis. I've never been a fan of my heroes being rulers - and let's face, Atlantis only has so many stories to tell before it gets boring. Kudo's for making Aquaman a land lubber!

And a big HELL YES! for the "created by Paul Norris" in the credits. I this would happen more and more often.

Writing - 9

Art - 9

Overall – 9


All the solicits for Aquaman #1 had turned me off this series before it even started. I hate the look of those new creatures from the deep. Luckily the story barely had those creatures in it, but they were set up for a nice issue #2.

Geoff Johns did a nice job playing up how lots of us look a Aquaman - as the joke hero from old Justice League. But Johns also made sure to show that Aquaman can be a bad-ass. I didn't know he was pretty much bulletproof, and could leap tall buildings in a single bound though. I like the changes.

The art was very good, and lots of character emotion was conveyed in facial expressions. Of course the storytelling aspects were well done too.

Now that I've seen some of these deep sea creatures in action, I'm kind of looking forward to seeing how this first arc plays out.

GRADE 7.5 of 10


So I guess we're meant to really like Aquaman now? This wasn't a great #1 and the fact that Geoff Johns decided to spend a whole issue addressing the fact that people think Aquaman is a poor character doesn't do anything but reinforce the fact that people think Aquaman is a poor character. If this is gonna be the hook for the series then I'm really not too interested, and the cookie-cutter competence of the art does nothing to make the book stand out from the crowd. I've said a lot of bad things about some of DC's relaunch titles but most of them at least had something interesting going on in the art department (Justice League aside) for a character that was on a high just before the relaunch, this is a poor start to the brave new aqua-world.



So I just read this and it certainly was a comic but nothing else of substance at all. Cleaning up all of Aquamans history to bring this new story to life and man what a big giant pile of fucking nothing it is. The art is Ivan Ries super hero work so it's awesome but man the Johns of flash up till issue like 207 or around there.


Fieldy Snuts

Aquaman #1 was a fanfic. The entire thing was pretty much a rehash of the same stuff he's used in all his #1's like GL & Flash Reborn and most recently Justice League: Insider jokes bout the perceptions of the character in the real world, a few angry looks and shows of strength lifted from 90's Image comics etc.

The entire thing was a letter from Johns trying to tell us "I know the character's been treated as a joke for years that nobody takes seriously, so lets apply the Johns formula that's been rinsed and repeated countless times over the last few years!". I mean the entire damn issue outside of those piranha people was structured around people treating Aquaman like a joke while he constantly uses Ben Stiller's Blue Steel look. He's basically become Namor with the mood to match.

Who gives a damn whether Aquaman is lame or not to the point where this is what the entire book is about, the entire issue reeked of Johns trying to tell us repeatedly "Boy I used to love this character when I was a kid, lets try the same stuff I did with Barry Allen and Hal Jordan to make him likeable today by adding brooding angst that drive him to make him more like Batman.".

Every damn "Rebirth" story by Johns does these things where he tries to make the character out like an insanely overpowered Mary Sue in debuts while making the perceptions others have of them a massive burden on their shoulders which pushes them to try to excel even further. 3 very diverse characters and the Johns push approach boils down to rinse and repeat. He's doing the same thing with Sinestro now where he made a character modeled after damn Hitler as an antihero with these same elements simply because he wants to write him as a leading story figure. I've grown tired of it, and using it on Aquaman of all characters isn't a winner for me.

I'd wager that if any new readers picked up this book it'd have been from the fake movie in Entourage rather than the character's failures over the years in his solo title. Like I said earlier, the book was a self-deprecating fanfic that was nothing more than lame jokes and brooding looks. Mix that with nice Ivan Reis art and you get Aquaman #1.

So yeah, same old stuff from Johns and some nice art from Reis.

1/10. The score was mostly driven by the art...though you can't have one knock it out of the park and the other one to flounder so badly and still carry it over the line.


This was the most excellent beginning to the all new, all different but still kindda the same, Aquaman!!! I am ecstatic to say that this is Geoff Johns at his best. With a nod to the ne'er do wells who will mock the one true Comic Book King of the Seas, Geoff lets us know that he's anything but a joke.

Perfect writing, perfect art. Perfect book. This is what Johns can do when he isn't trying to build ultra big events. He makes us love the characters we grew up with.

Story: 10

Art: 10

My Score: 10

Stephen Day

I used to like Aquaman back in the 80s when he was the leader of the Detroit League. He seemed like a strong character back then. I miss the character who was a little bit of a jerk; the character that used his psychic powers on the young members of that League to influence them in ways he wanted them to go; the character that had the Martian Manhunter nearly punch him out when he was caught in the act. Given that, I went into this issue with some hope that I would see a return to a character that isn't viewed as a joke. Johns tries to do that, I'll give him that, but sadly, from my point of view, he also fails. I don't see an Aquaman that's done right as a lame character and I don't want to be reminded that some people see him that way. It takes away from my enjoyment instead of enhancing it.

This Aquaman shows signs of strength, but it seems more surface than anything else. This isn't helped by the fact that the two big scenes this issue (a fight against some bank robbers and a scene in which Aquaman goes to have some fish a chips) both gave me the sense that they should have been a whole lot shorter than they actually were.

I did enjoy the one on one scene with Mera and the parts dealing with the carnivorous fish men on the first two and last three pages. The fish men is a little bit irritating though as that comes across as the meat of the story that Aquaman is going to be dealing with. There should have been a much bigger space dedicated to the main character's upcoming confrontation with them. Had he actually encountered them at some point this issue there would have been some interesting conflict -- something to really grab my interest and make me want to get the next issue. Instead we have an issue in which he wonders from one place to another with not really much happening to him.

On top of the two bits that I liked, I did come away with the sense of the kind of person that Johns' Aquaman is going to be. I will give him credit for that and admit that the writing is fairly strong along those lines. In the end it's just not enough for me to want to continue past this first issue.

4 out of 10.


This was not very good. 90% of this comic is people telling Aquaman how much he sucks. I personally felt this was the chance to show how he didn't suck and let him kick some ass, instead of recognizing the fact that everyone else in their fictional world and ours, disagrees. We don't learn anything about Aquaman, or what his powers are, (I didnt know he could fly around with water tunnel things or that bullets could not hurt him.) and for a first issue, I think some of this needs to be established

Another problem I had was the fact that Aquaman makes the decision to leave Atlantis, but we never see him ruling or any shots of his kingdom? It was all "Haha Aquaman, you talk to fish what a loser." "Mera, I'm leaving Atlantis to live here with these people." WUT

Reis artwork is good. Just solid, if not slightly boring, work.

Score: 3

Mammon, Fool Breaker

This issue is outstanding. Johns takes years of mockery and gives it the middle finger. Aquaman was a badass... Now he is just a stright shootin' son of a gun. He fucking eats the creatures who serve him. The art and coloring are supurb. I cannot wait to see what happens when Aquaman really gets the Trench's blood flowing.

I did have one issue though. The lack of Black Manta was glaring. I know they are saving his character for a later storyline, but damn, if they are not going to tell us a thing about Aquaman, they might as well teach us about Black Manta then.

This isn't the best issue i've ever read. But it sure feels like Aquaman has the ability to produce my new favorite issue. WATCH OUT Green Lantern #50, Parallex Rebrith. Your throne is in peril.

I rank this 8/10.



After reading this twice I still have mixed emotions on it. On one hand, I liked the jokes and jabs about Aquaman being lame and speaking to fish. On the other hand, it felt like reading a thread here about the character where the same jokes are rehashed and recycled. I'm not sure this was the best tactic for a first issue attempting to pull in new readers. I think the character would have been better served if Johns had shown us readers just how bad ass Aquaman could be and why those jokes aren't deserved. Still, there were a few things I really enjoyed. I liked the scene of Aquaman tipping the waitress with enough gold to put her kids through college and his intervention with the criminals. I also thought the scenes with Mera were well done. There was enough here to get me back for issue two. I just hope we get to see Aquaman kicking ass.


Not much to say here except Reis was awesome as usual. He's definitely one of my favorite artists out there right now.

Story - 7

Art - 10

Overall - 8.5


Story - It's often discussed how writers like Grant Morrison, Alan Moore and Matt Fraction are mind-bendingly brilliant because of their use of 'meta-commentary', that their work is just that little bit better because it's not only a story, but it's also about comics as a whole, or if not comics, then at least a particular character such as Superman. But it's often over-looked that good old Geoff Johns, the most mainstream of superhero writers, likes a bit of meta-commentary himself. The very concept of Superboy Prime is meta-commentary about internet whiners, and what would happen if they were in the DCU. Of course they'd fly around telling Jason Rusch he's not the real Firestorm. It's extra-juicy when you consider that the very whiners SBP is meant to be hate him with a fiery passion. Johns' brand of meta-commentary is a bit more direct than the one that Morrison et al uses, but it's still a lot of fun and it's interesting to see a writer who is normally so straight-forward show a certain amount of self-awareness and willingness to experiment.

But what does this have to do with Aquaman? Well, this issue is yet more meta-commentary, this time focused on Aquaman. The way Aquaman has been depicted in the comics has always been at odds with his public perception. In the old DCU he was the King Of Atlantis, a well-respected hero who kicked ass. But the real-world public saw him as a joke, he was a guy who talked to fish, he was fucking lame. Saturday Night Live and Family Guy and Spongebob Squarepants and every half-baked internet comedy site ripped the shit out of Aquaman. This was a barrier which stopped DC from being able to get people to read Aquaman, it didn't matter how cool he was inside the comics, people just thought of 'Sea-Man' from South Park and sniggered.

Rather than avoid this joke-status, Johns has decided to tackle it head on, and transpose the jokes made about Aquaman in the real world to the actual comics. So we have people calling Aquaman Tuna-Man to his face, or asking him whether he needs a glass of water, and being visibly embarrassed when he's the hero to save the day. Johns knows what people say about Aquaman, and believes the best way to dispel these jokes is to confront them head on.

And mostly, it works. By showing Aquaman calmly (and in a bad-ass way) defeat the bank-robbers without talking to fish, and by having him clearly explain how he doesn't actually talk to fish, Johns is exposing the media perception of Aquaman as a myth, and making the character legitimately cool again. It seems some readers have found this to be a little on the nose, but I think it had to be done if this new series is to stand a chance. Perhaps Johns does go a bit too far, but I am interested in seeing what this new Aquaman is like going forward, and what he'll do when faced by more than just snotty bloggers.

There are some problems with this issue. As with many of the other DC #1s not much actually happens. Aquaman stops a bank-robbery, goes to a restaurant, meets with Mera, decides he no longer wants to be king of Atlantis and Johns introduces the new villains. It's a slow-mover, but it kind of has to be, it needs to establish why the readers should like Aquaman and not laugh at him before he swims head-on into action.

I did also cringe a little when I saw that Johns was once again focusing on a superhero's daddy issues, just like with Hal Jordan and Superman, Aquaman's father and his death is a big presence in this issue, and it's getting a little silly that Johns does this with every single character. To be fair he switched it up with Barry Allen, who had mommy issues, but still, it's a crutch he keeps leaning on.

I also hate Mera, she's a terrible character and I'm annoyed that this is the one marriage in the DCU that wasn't erased in the relaunch. But thankfully she doesn't do much in this issue (although the 'stronger than Wonder Woman' thing was annoying) but I'm sure when Johns' crush on her takes on a more prominent role, my enjoyment of this series will plummet. Seriously, they get rid of Flash's marriage and keep this? Idiotic, at leas Iris was interesting.

Overall, this was a strong first issue, and one that made Aquaman interesting without making him into a joke. I may love his Batman: The Brave & The Bold incarnation (OUTRAGEOUS!) but that version of the character is still a joke, albeit a funny one. In this issue, Geoff Johns turns the jokes onto the reader, and shows that your online sniping and memes don't matter, Aquaman is cool now. It may be a little forced, but then so are the jokes about the character online. This as a direct challenge to the online fanboy, and to lazy comedians everywhere, I hope they take note.

Art - Ivan Reis has worked with Geoff Johns for so long now that it's hard to separate their work at times, they just work so well together. Reis has a clean, bright style that fits with Johns perfectly. I'm sure some readers find his work a bit bland, but for this type of story it's perfect, and Johns' attempts to make Aquaman into more than a joke wouldn't work half as well without Reis' art making him look as cool as he does. The colours by Rod Reis were also fantastic, and I can't wait to see how this art team depicts the underwater world.

Best Line - 'I don't talk to fish'


False Prophet

Solid first issue. Aquaman's a character that's always been unfairly criticized and mocked, mainly due to the godawful Superfriends cartoon that most morons can't let go of. Johns has set out to correct this and he's off to a good start. While not removing Aquaman's royal roots, Johns' puts it on the backburner and focuses on establishing a more "ground" level hero. Aquaman is a guy who just wants to be human in this new DC and let his kingdom figure things out for itself. It's not exactly a worthy goal considering it flies against his father's noble lessons of upholding responsibility, but Aquaman's always been flawed in this respect. Just like many of the DCnU books, this is a subtle "return to basics" of a property that's been far removed from such. The art's solid and I like the potential horror element being set up with the impending bad guys (guess fish brains aren't so underdeveloped after all)

Story: 7/10

Art: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Buck Turgidson

Ha ha. Aquaman is lame.


I dunno, the tone here just didn't work for me. Aquaman is kind of a cool character in his uncoolness, but making it the focus takes the fun out of it.

Story: 4

Art: 7.5

Overall: 5.75

I bloody love it when the same book gets both a 1/10 and a 10/10, just bloody love it. That's the benefit of having a diverse group of nutcases in a group I suppose. In the end, Aquaman #1 got a score of 5.87, which is certainly not outrageous at all goddamnit! 

Click this here linky to read the full thread, which is more about Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four or Geoff Johns' daddy issues than Aquaman #1 itself, but it's still a hell of a good time!

Next week is a DC #2, Animal Man #2! It was one of the best books of the relaunch, but can Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman keep it up? 

Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt

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About the Author - Niam Suggitt

Niam Suggitt, Punchy to his friends, is the most humblest of all the Outhouse writers.  His easy going manner and ability to see and recognize the point of views of those who he disagrees with has made him one of the most sought after members of our community to resolve conflicts.  Although he likes all of you, and considers everyone to be his friend, Punchy would prefer you use “Niam Suggitt” when quoting him for the front cover blurb on your book.  Follow this wonder of a man at @NiamSuggitt, if you want to, he’s cool with you either way.


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