Modern Aquaman writers can get a little too defensive of our hero. The character is often written in a way designed to refute decades of abuse hurled at the sea king. Dan Abnett mostly lets the character show his worth through his actions here. Issue five is essentially a long fight scene. Aquaman and his betrothed, Mera, utterly humiliate waves of soldiers. However, Aquaman's a leader and needs to show he wants peace even in the face of war. Through the whole issue, he's trying to minimize the political damage resulting from the initial attack that sparked America's aggression as well as the damage done by Mera's overzealous rescue attempt. There's a brief aside where some jackass voices the ill-informed assumptions of the masses. It's a bit of heavy-handed irony as we see King Arthur Curry easily demolishing everything the military throws his way. It also instantly puts you on Aquaman's side because he maintains the moral high ground throughout the issue. Despite people underestimating him, our hero never results to childishly overblown displays of power. He doesn't need to prove anything other than his capacity for wisdom, courage, and compassion. His interactions with Mera further develop him as an individual partially defined by his reactions to events around him. She and he are fun to watch as they bicker and flirt just a little amid the chaos of battle. The art is fantastic, clear and clean and easy to follow. The body language is well rendered, at times exploding with action and simmering with subtlety when needed.
Our story ends with what should be a predictable appearance. It is instead a pleasant surprise. As a Justice League member, Aquaman cannot act within a vacuum. His actions and plights are not limited to him in terms of blowback. One of the more interesting elements of Aquaman's mythology is the way he has to prioritize his hero work with his leadership duties. The events of this series so far constitute a major international incident that threatens to destroy Atlantis' image on the global stage. Abnett is doing an admirable job pressuring Aquaman from both sides of his sense of duty. Perhaps the events of this issue will increase the pressure. Perhaps the demands of duty will be relieved somewhat moving forward. Either way, I'm confident this creative team will hold your attention for at least a little while. You know, until this all gets wiped from continuity.
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Aquaman #5 Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Philippe Briones Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital