Thursday, 6 March 2014

Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others (The New 52)


Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others (The New 52)
Everyone on this cover is angry at you.
Deal with it.

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artists: Ivan Reis

Collects: Aquaman #7-13

Background Information:

Here’s number three for Geoff Johns week!

It’s a strange time to be a DC reader. At the end of last year, a Batman series was cancelled, and for the last two years, people were saying good things about Aquaman!

When Geoff Johns took the series over at the beginning of the New 52, Aquaman was the laughing stock of DC. Rather than try to pretend that everyone actually loved the king of the seas, though, Johns decided to roll with the jokes made about him to really let the reader see the human side of Aquaman and bring some much-needed humour to the New 52. The strategy worked, and Aquaman now enjoys enough popularity to warrant a second series beginning in April.

Review:

Johns’ last Aquaman volume was an excellent request to readers to give the much-ridiculed superhero a chance. That request resulted in one of the most enjoyable collections in the New 52. For the second aqua-outing, The Others loses some of that humour, but that’s okay. It’s a new message that Johns is sending readers, and it’s leading somewhere excellent.

Before coming to the Justice League, Aquaman had a team of his own known as The Others. Each member possessed their own powers but also carried ancient relics from Atlantis. Now, the villain known as Black Manta is killing them off and taking the relics for an unknown employer. Aquaman joins up with former team-member, the almost-not-naked Ya’Wara to defend The Others and take down Black Manta.

In the last volume, humour really stood out as a defining feature of the series, and that’s not something that’s so abundant in The Others. The humour is there, absolutely, but the reader needs to look for it more than in the previous volume. In its place is a new, Indiana Jones-like feel that sees Aquaman traversing the globe, visiting ancient buildings, and uncovering lost secrets and artefacts. It’s a great vibe that helps Aquaman feel truly different to other DC books that are out there

It’s equally significant that here Aquaman spend very little actually in the water. If he uses water for anything, it’s travel. He hasn’t spoken to fish in this volume, and he has spent absolutely no time in Atlantis. It’s a smart move by Geoff Johns who I’m sure is still trying to change the perception some have of Aquaman as the “water-locked hero”. Aquaman’s awesome on the land too, and that really gets driven home in these issues.

By far, though, the best thing about The Others is that it goes deeper into Aquaman’s history with Black Manta. John’s is doing an excellent job at giving both Aquaman and one of his deadliest enemies multiple dimensions. I thought Aquaman had enough character development in the first volume, but leave it to Johns to give you just that little bit more.

It’s not all smooth sailing for The Others, though. There were plenty of moments in the book where I just wanted to see somebody underestimate Aquaman. Part of the fun of the last volume was seeing Aquaman blow the public’s expectations out of the water. Here, everyone is convinced Aquaman’s awesome. It’s sad to see that element go, because it was one of the best parts of the rebooted Aquaman. The result is that The Others ultimately feels less revolutionary than its predecessor did.

The art here is well done. Again, there’s much of that New-52 sameness, but it’s still beautiful to look at. There are plenty of page and double-page spreads that capture just the right feel for what Johns has written. The character designs are bright and colourful, yet somehow still come off as dark and gritty. That’s a hard line to walk and the combined efforts of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado pull it off wonderfully.

The Others is not as funny as the previous Aquaman volume, but it’s still highly entertaining and well worth the purchase. It gets four out of five almost-not-naked people.

****

+ Art is great.

+ Aquaman somehow is more fleshed out

+ Indiana Jones vibe works well.

- Art is still New 52’s sameness

- The humour is severely lessened

Alternate Option: Justice League: Villain’s Journey

This volume actually does a better job at investigating Aquaman’s public perception. If you miss that, this one should slate that thirst