Saturday, April 18, 2020

Aquaman: Rebirth #1 (2016) Review

The Currymooners

Written By: Dan Abnett
Art By: Scot Eaton, Mark Morales & Oscar Jiménez, Gabe Eltaeb
Lettered By: Pat Brosseau
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: June 8, 2015


Did you know that if you drained the world’s oceans into an endless number of standard beer glasses, it would fill nine-hundred trillion glasses? And those glasses would completely cover every horizontal surface in over forty-thousand soccer stadiums? Did you know that? Because those are some pretty cool facts, if true. Look, the ocean is so vast and so deep that it literally defines the words “vast” and “deep.” And while we fart around in the barest sliver of it at the beach or sputtering in it close to shore, there are cubic miles of the place that are totally unexplored and unknown to modern science. And in those cubic miles are the freakiest, scariest monsters you have ever imagined. I don’t know why the ocean scares me so much, I guess it’s knowing that while bobbing around in the top few feet of a bottomless canyon you are totally at the mercy of whatever happens to sniff your scent. Can sea monsters smell through water? I don’t even want to think about it. Let’s tuck into the first issue of the Aquaman Rebirth so we can pretend to feel safe in the water again.

Explain It!

Maybe you were a lifeguard at the local YMCA for a few years in high school, or perhaps you had a summer-long pass to the nearby Slide N’ Splash when you were a kid, but if you’re someone who thinks the ocean is just a gigantic Lazy River then you’re a qualified idiot. The ocean is a churning, seething organism with more ways to kill you than riding an unlicensed interstate bus. If the extreme temperatures and crushing pressures don’t shut your frail body down completely, then there’s probably some plesiosaur-esque monster about to swim by and take a waist-down nibble. Here on Stupid Earth, we exacerbate the threat with pollution, but in the DC Universe, they’ve got Aquaman, that orange-shirted half-man, half-Atlantean king of Atlantis, who is basically on constant patrol despite being royalty. Today, he’s gotten the sea equivalent of wind about a plan to blow up the Spindrift Station, an Atlantean dry-land embassy in Massachusetts that looks like a row of dinner plates tipping over. Terrorist faction the Deluge don’t appreciate attempts to make nice with those on dry land because, let’s face it, we are assholes. They also don’t think half-breed Arthur “Aquaman” Curry is so great, and let him know as much as they attack him with two terrors of the deep that practically made me piss myself. I was standing waist-deep in water at the time, so it’s not like anyone would know.

Back at Aquaman HQ, Arthur’s wife Mera—that’s right, his wife. Did you not read Rebirth #1? Anyway, Mera, who has been mooning over Arthur the whole time and providing captioned narration about how he’s such a great guy, is telling everyone in earshot that he’s very smart and handsome as well. I mean, Mera’s got it bad for Arthur. She’s also concerned that the Deluge might blow up the Eastern seaboard with fusion bombs they have attached to their sea beasts, but woo! She’s hot for Aquaman, too. Garth is also hanging around this computer bank, I guess to let us know that Aqualad is now down with the program as well. The whole family is back together! I have to admit, it’s nice to see. Cut back to Aquaman, who is tangling with the Deluge while Mera provides some narration about his power to “talk to fish,” telling us that his communication is more coercive than suggestive. Aquaman proves this by making one of the fusion-laden monsters buck its rider off like some kind of untamed bronco. Mera points out that Arthur is not beloved on dry land, and to illustrate this we see three panels of a television news show, hosted by a guy who looks a lot like Niles Caulder, where they break Aquaman’s balls over a flood that killed a bunch of people. He’s the king of Atlantis, not the master of ocean currents! Sheesh!

There’s more of Mera’s narration, providing some of his origin story. I think that’s what this issue is: some catch-up for new and lapsed readers, or maybe just very forgetful ones like myself (thank you, Team Aquaman), while Arthur beats the snot out of the Deluge and their scary pets. When he’s finished, he heads over to Sam’s Seafood, not far from the lighthouse where his parents did the nasty and conceived him. His wife Mera—yes, his wife!—meets him there, implying that she knows he likes it because it’s where his father used to take him. And of course, the whole time you know he was like, “I want McDonald’s! Where’s my McDonald’s!” pushing aside a ten pound boiled lobster and mussels that just came in the front door moments ago. And that’s because children are fucking ingrates. They each get a bowl of chowder, but Mera barely touches her, instead making goo-goo eyes at Arthur and placating him during the whole meal. This scene is being recorded and viewed by the real culprit behind Aquaman’s woes: Black Manta!!! Of course Black Manta, who else could it be but Black Manta? A bank-robbing shark?

So if you were looking for a jumping-on point to start reading Aquaman, this is it. This book establishes the characters and their relationships, plus reveals a (if not the) Big Bad going forward. The comic looks great, the way water is rendered in some panels is pretty cool and the sea monsters look incredibly detailed and also horrifying (to me.) If you didn’t feel like reading Aquaman before, however, well there’s nothing here so compelling that will make you change your mind. It’s a good comic book, very well executed all around, and I say you should give it a look. If you don’t like it, chalk that up to your anti-Atlantean bigotry.

Bits and Pieces:

Are there any questions you have about Aquaman but were afraid to ask? Well this issue will probably answer them all. Like most of the Rebirth titles, this one establishes the status quo and provides some background for stories going forward. There's a Bad Guy reveal at the end, and you've probably guessed who that is already. The art is great, and the undersea scenes look especially good. It's a nice story that won't light the world on fire, but if Aquaman picks up and turns out to be a whirlwind of a book, you'll wish you had read this issue.



  1. I had two major gripes about this issue the first being the art I didn't really like it and the faces were really inconsistent the second being although I do love Black Manta being back he straight-up said in Suicide Squad that he had no reason to battle Aquaman so when did they let him out of jail and why the hell would he change his mind?

  2. Yeah the art was pretty bad up until the last couple panels and then it got pretty good. Kinda odd.

  3. I was worried about this one since I never know what to expect from Abnet. I was actually shocked that I didn't hate it. I thought it was well paced and did a good job getting to the point. The art was inconsistent as hell and some panels the faces looked crazy and others they looked really good. Even though it was obvious that Black Manta was gonna pop in at the end, I still marked out. 7.5 is fair considering the art was all wonky. I can't hold Abnet accountable for that since I am usually tough on him 90% of the time.

    1. Some of the faces are admittedly weird, but I liked the art! I think it was the monsters and the way water bubbles were drawn the I liked most of all.