Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Aquaman #3 Review and **SPOILERS**
We Can Be Friends Despite the Attacks On Each Other’s Sovereignty
Art By: Philippe Briones, Gabe Eltaeb
Lettered By: Pat Brosseau
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: July 20, 2015
**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**
One reason I think surface dwellers have a problem with Atlantis is because it is nothing like the city of Atlanta. There’s no nice restaurants, no permissive strip clubs, and no Freaknik. In fact, it really seems like a haughty, boring kingdom where you have to keep looking over your shoulder, in case some royalty floats by and you’ve got to kneel. Atlanta’s got a pretty kick-ass Aquarium, you know! We don’t need to get the bends hanging around some baroque SeaLab just to look at a swordfish! I think that if Atlantis wants to make nice with us surface folk, they should do more to promote tourism. Maybe get a baseball team or something. Let Starbucks open a franchise. Get with the program already. So how are Atlantean-surface dweller relations right now? Read on to find out!
The Atlantean embassy Spindrift is looking like a bunch of blown-out radial tires after Black Manta’s attack, and the U.S. government has assumed control of the site. This does not bode well for Atlantean head of security Murk, who probably left a magazine he was reading inside. Things get pretty tense between the U.S. military and the Atlantean military, until Aquaman shows up and tells Murk to stand down. He has a confab with one of the U.S. soldiers, and asks to talk to his manager. Later, Aquaman meets his homegirl Mera as she emerges onto a beach, and they have the usual discussion where Aquaman is trying to be all political and Mera is like a cavalier Zsa Zsa Gabor: “Dahhlink, don’t vorry yourself over ze zurface pipples. Zey are so gauche!” Aquaman tells Mera that he’s got to go to Washington, and Mera says he’d better have time for a proper goodbye, by which I assume she means a hearty handshake and probably a brief but warm embrace.
Let’s leave this idyllic beach scene for an abandoned airfield in Maine, where a handcuffed Black Manta sits before some lady in a costume from the Matrix and her three futuristic Nutcracker henchmen. The lady introduces herself as Black Jack, and she kidnapped Black Manta because she wants to meet anyone with the word “Black” in their names (Black Lightning is undoubtedly next.) I don’t actually recall Black Manta being kidnapped, incidentally, I seem to recall he was busted out of his armored car prison transport and greeted by the woman we now know as Black Jack, but I suppose we can connect the dots:
Black Jack: Hey we broke you out of your jail truck because we are bad-ass.
Black Manta: Nuh uh.
Black Jack: Totes, look at my rad rappelling skills and plus my posse of Nutcrackers.
Black Manta: You look like rejects from the Blue Man Group.
Black Jack: Join my sick clique of psychos!
Black Manta: Nah.
Black Jack: Well, if you won’t come peacefully…get ‘im, Nutcrackers!
…and so forth. Black Jack informs Manta that their group is known as N.E.M.O., but never details what that means (a delightful brain-teaser! Nasty Evil Murderous Oceanographers?), and that their mutual hatred for Aquaman plus his mad supervillain style makes him the ideal applicant for an entry-level position in their organization. Black Manta, predictably, says “Nah,” and sloughs off the handcuffs to start beating down Nutcrackers. Black Jack says that it’s disappointing to see it took him ten hours to break out of the cuffs, and while kicking butt Manta says it only took him two—he was merely waiting for the best opportunity to bust free! So wait a second, they drove ten hours to an airfield in Maine? Did they stop off for coffee and French Crullers at Dunkin’ Donuts?! There aren’t many places you can drive from any point in New England that you can drive for ten hours without leaving the region. But really…ten hours? Manta’s just biding his time, they’re all driving to Maine, what did they talk about? Who was in charge of the radio? How did they deal with pee breaks??
We won’t find out, unfortunately, since now the scene switches to…sigh…the White House. I was getting into that N.E.M.O. stuff, and now it feels like I accidentally switched the channel to C-Span. It begins with Aquaman and Mera showing up at the front gates to the White House, and act like a couple of Balki Bartokomouses reveling at the scene they’re creating. They get an audience with the Chief of Staff who is like the white guy in a rap music video, all hemming and hawing and acting super pompous. Aquaman and Mera…wait a minute, didn’t she say he’s better “have time for a proper goodbye” earlier in the issue? Either she didn’t know she was going to be his attaché, or that “goodbye” wasn’t proper enough. So they petition the Chief of Staff to have their diplomatic status reinstated, and he’s like “well y’see, er, ah, um,” and then elsewhere the Atlantean terrorist group the Deluge attack some ocean freighter, killing everyone aboard! While the Chief of Staff is still like “uhh, y’know, eh, ah, oh,” like a Winsor McCay comic strip character, the Feds bust in and arrest Aquaman for knowing the guys in the Deluge!
I really enjoyed the Black Manta part of this comic. The rest of it…not so much. I mean, it was boring. Are we going to see Aquaman on trial now? Is it going to be issue upon issue of Arthur Curry sitting quietly in a suit while his lawyer tells the jury, “If the Atlantean chain mail shirt does not fit, you must acquit!” And what the hell was up with that ten hours of elapsed time? Was that to compensate for the fact that the last issue took place entirely during one street fight? This all seems very sloppy and uneven from a storytelling point of view, and I wasn’t thrilled with the art in this issue. Maybe Aquaman will go to prison and we can just follow the adventures of Black Manta and N.E.M.O. for a while.
Bits and Pieces:
An uneven story and mediocre artwork result in a middle-of-the-road score. I really hope this book gets going, because here at the third issue I feel like we've gotten almost nowhere. There's a scene with Black Manta that's pretty cool, so there's some potential for a good story here. But the "fish out of water" shtick is beyond stale at this point.