Review: Aquaman #17

Review by: Matt Eurice As a huge fan of the New 52 Aquaman, I really hate that month-long wait to see what Geoff Johns is going to do with this revived series, which has so far been an incredible success. #17 however, is far from the best book in the series. I’ve got to say this is the first book in the series I have been a little bit disappointed after reading and I’m not sure if it’s the books fault or mine for having very high expectations after the last story arc.

The story picks up as the epilogue to the Throne of Atlantis arc, basically to wrap up the events at the end of book #16. The story starts off with a group of illegal whalers, armed with what we come to find out is an Atlantean weapon recovered from the recent war between Atlantis and the surface. A group of Whale Wars wannabees, the Sea Devils, are about to get fried by an Atlantean cannon when Aquaman and several Atlanteans step in to destroy the weapon and prevent the poachers from killing the last surviving whale. Aquaman is intent on not harming anyone, but clashes with a new character to the series and member of his own entourage Murk, leader of the Men-Of-War. Murk pretty much has Orm’s back and clearly doesn’t appreciate being told not to kill anyone from the surface. Aquaman pretty gets served by the whale wars clowns, whose lives he just saved and then once again is faced with the fact that no matter what he does, he isn’t really wanted anywhere.

Aquaman_17_Full-665x1024The scene shifts to Aquaman meeting with Director Waller, who spends some time discussing the current politics between the surface and Atlantis. It’s revealed that Orm is likely to be sentenced to death if he does not plead guilty to a jury on the surface and that Vulko is still being held in Atlantis. She again points out that Aquaman really has no place yet again. Director Waller calls someone, letting them know that it would be a good time to move in and capture Mera for reasons unknown to the reader. Aquaman then spends some time playing with fish, telling them he will protect them and what not, followed by a pretty damn creepy cliffhanger involving a terrifying new enemy and foreshadowing the next story arc “Death of a King.”

Really, this issue went in a very different direction than I expected. At the end of the last book, it was revealed that Vulko was the one who incited the war and had the scepter; it seemed as though this major plot twist would at least bridge into the next story arc. However, Johns decides instead to completely pass over the conclusion to the war and also to avoid showing Vulko being imprisoned or captured. We get one reference that he’s awaiting trial in Atlantis and that’s it. This book took one of the biggest surprises in a recent comic and made it seemingly irrelevant and unimportant. Instead of an epilogue explaining the events of the recent arc, we get one that pretty much skips over them and undermines the importance of everything that just happened in favor of introducing the next arc.

Not to mention Aquaman comes across as a pushover and a depressed teenager in an instant which is a problem because that’s the Aquaman everyone makes fun of.  Overall, the issue wasn’t terrible, but the story was derailed and the transition between arcs a bit rough. Something very cool however, is that we get introduced to a new character that seems as if he may play a pretty important part in the upcoming story arc. Murk takes on the old Aquaman’s handicap, appearing to nearly gut a whaler from the surface with a blade implanted where his right hand should be.

We also get a big time cliffhanger showing the new villain announced for the “Death or a King” story arc, and this guy is pretty damn evil. Like undead, just wants to kill people evil. It definitely piqued my interest and now I’ve got to wait another damn month just to see who he is, since all you really see is a set of deranged looking eyes.

The art by Pelletier is still pretty damn good, but this issue seemed to have a few problems. No big problems though the art was a bit inconsistent. The panels featuring Murk and the new villain were extremely well done, detailed works; Murk especially had awesome facial expressions that really help to understand his character even though Johns pushes his discontent on the reader through his writing. Not Pelletier’s best, but not too bad.

If you aren’t already reading the series, I probably wouldn’t pick this issue up. If you are, it doesn’t really matter what I say, you’re going to buy it anyway. This is a transition between arcs and it definitely pisses me off that no more info was given about Vulko’s betrayal, but it does a decent job setting up the next arc. Hopefully Aquaman stops brooding and mans up a little bit in the next book, I don’t want to see him whining about his place in the world. I want him not giving a shit what other people think, being a real leader and not taking shit from Murk and kicking ass like he has been doing through this entire run. Don’t change what’s working, especially with a character who hasn’t worked for many writers in the past.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Paul Pelletier Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 2/27/13